David A. Hill’s follow-up to Avremier offers a grand expansion to a uniquely fetching OSR world. Fans of the Original Edition and the many excellent retro-games that spring from it, take heed.
This is the second in a series of reviews focusing in on Mothshade Concepts “Original Fantasy RPG” supplements series. These supplements offer both a glimpse into a unique and intriguing game universe and new classes, spells, and races. Based on the earliest version of the Gygax/Arneson rules, these products are compatible with and easily adapted to OD&D, BECMI, AD&D, or most of the retro-clones thereof.
Dhavon offers two new character options in the Wildwalker and Guttersnipe. Subtypes of the Ranger and Thief classes. The Wildwalker takes a long sidestep away from the LOTR based roots of the OSR model by focusing more on the extraplanar and eldritch aspects of the wilderness. Avremier has extensive wilderness areas, and man is largely a stranger and newcomer. In such a setting, this character could be as important to a well-balanced party as a Fighter or Cleric. The Guttersnipe offers a variation of the thief with enhanced combat and toughness, a reflection of a life carved from the lowest rungs of the urban ladder. The ability to use improvised weapons that function and do damage just as well as real ones is a clever addition.
The Cleric gains a great deal of exposition here, and the concept of Deminities is enlarged a bit here. The Avremier pantheon of minor gods is perhaps the richest such offering since James M. Ward’s work in the original Deities and Demigods back in the old First Edition days. Strong words, yes, but I’ll stand by them. A single glance down that last of names fires the imagination and inspires adventure ideas. Briar King and Cider Jack, Jenni Pumpkinseed and the Patchwork Man. Hill has referenced Colonial America as an inspiration for this world, and the Washington Irving feel of those names certainly injects that feel here.
The Adventuring Company as a chartered and regulated concern is not new, but I can’t say that I’ve ever owned a rules set that addressed the concept in much detail. DMs will find much of use in the rules governing professional adventurers.
Rules are provided for reknown and infamy, and the concept of the Solemn Oath is one that jumped out at me. This is essentially a voluntary geas, and a grand idea for adventure hooks of all types.
A fine selection of monsters is also included. Wasp Rats and Tanglewood Squirrels (who gain thief abilities in large numbers) are a few of my favorites. I won’t say too much here (players may be reading), but the Monster sections alone in these books justify the purchase.
Treasures and Magic Items brings a fair assortment to the table. The miscellaneous magic items table is worthy of inclusion in any old-school DM’s treasure hoard.
The Underworld and Wilderness Adventures section focuses in on locations important to the campaign setting itself. Worth a read, as Hills ideas are all at least very good, and many are brilliant. You may find yourself dropping many of these concepts into your own sandbox.
The physical quality of the books are fully the equal of the original TSR products. The paper and cover stock both feel correct. You can expect them to wear in the same way as the original supplements did. They are made to be used, and are worthy of such affections. NOTE: my review copy is one of the limited prints that Hill self-published. These are available through DriveThruRPG, but the print will vary. Those of you who buy from DriveThru know the format.
Don’t forget to write your name, address, and phone number on the inside front cover with an ink pen. It’s tradition, you know.