today I'm going to take a look at the excellent adversary books put out by Raging Swan Press as well as Zombie Sky Press's awesome
This pdf is 22 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page, 1/3 of a page editorial/ToC, 1/2 page SRD, leaving 20 1/6 pages of content, so let's dive in!
Apart from the fluffy and crunchy content, we get 1 full-color cover-like world map page, 1 regular world map page and 1 beautiful full color encounter map page.
The pdf kicks off with approximately 2 pages of introduction to the new critters, which just plainly ROCKS. I just can't describe it any other way, the writing is evocative, supremely cool and made the jaded bastard of a reviewer, yours truly, immediately want o implement the Mosquitofolk. Now, that's quite a feat! After that, we get extensive statblocks of the different kinds of Mosquitofolk:
After being introduced to two varieties of common mosquitoes, we get a plethora of stats for Mosquitofolk for low-CRs till the upper echelon of mid-levels, providing a multitude of possibilities to torture your PCs with an extremely disturbing new kind of adversary.
-Mosquito, Giant (CR 1)
-Mosquito Swarm ( CR 2)
-Mosquitofolk, Hollow (CR 2): Undead Mosqutofolk
-Mosquitofolk, Blood Jumper (CR 4): Rank and file hunters
-Mosquitofolk, Secret Sting (CR 6): Agents and poison-using killers
-Mosquitofolk, Blood Blade (CR 7): Fighter-champions
-Mosquitofolk, Cage Glider (CR 8): Huge terrible mutations that catch enemies
-Mosquitofolk, Swarm Spewer (CR 9): Swarm-vomiting elite-mosquitofolk
-Mosquitofolk, Woundmage (CR 10): The casting, bloodmagic-using apex of Mosquitofolk society
we also get 5 new items common/alchemical items against Mosquitofolk.
After that, we get a beautiful full color map and 3 scenarios for the map, featuring different premises for the camp presented, including texts for the respective areas. Thankfully, we also get a version of the map without the map key and annoying letters. We also get a full color version of the world map and another full color page of another world map that is ripped asunder by a kind of rip.
Editing is top-notch, I didn't notice any mistakes. Layout adheres to the horizontal three-column standard and is beautiful. In contrast to other ZSP-titles, the file is (relatively) printer-friendly, although there is, as of yet, no b/w-version. The pdf is also extensively bookmarked.
Then, there's the writing. Once in a while, when reading a monster book, you encounter a critter that just blows you out of the water, that is just so disturbing and cool that you practically HAVE to implement them into your games. A critter so iconic you won't forget them in quite a while and just continue to use them or even base a campaign around them. Mosquitofolk are such creatures - supremely disturbing and cool, these blood-addicts that brought their own civilization down via magical engineering of their young just rocks HARD and made me reminiscent of the wonderfully detailed "monstrous arcana"-series of the 2nd edition days of old, to be more precise, of the wonderful books on Sahaugin and Illithids. However, there is one aspect that marrs an otherwise perfect pdf - the artwork. It's comic-style. And not creepy or on par with the other ZSP-artworks. That being said, this is still not enough to pull down an otherwise stellar book - be sure to check it out, I guarantee you won't be disappointed. My final verdict is 4.5 Rudii.
Next up on my list today is Raging Swan's
This book is 23 pages long, 1 page front cover, 1 page blank inside of front cover, 1 page title header, 1 page editorial, 1 page ToC and SRD, 1 page back cover and thus leaves 17 pages for the fellowship, so let's dive in.
What is the Fellowship, then? It's actually a fully written group of adventurers that makes for interesting adversaries for the PCs - either as foils or rivals. The first two pages give us and introduction for the group as well as a how-to-use and 5 sample encounters.
After that, we get to the group: Each of the members gets the full Raging Swan NPC write-up, complete with mannerisms, personality, hooks, distinctive characteristics and so on. The NPCs also come with their own b/w-portraits you can show off to your players -nice! This should, in my opinion, be the standard for NPCs and is just awesome.
Major Spoilers ahead, so players beware and skip to the end!
Still here? Good!
The fellowship is:
-Aurakraul (young adult green dragon, comes with a fully detailed hoard she wants to reclaim; CR 11): Nice twist on the greedy dragon trope.
-Dhoean Talthar (half-elven bard 4/ranger 4, comes with a hawk-animal companion; CR 7): Sociopathic mastermind of the Fellowship. I LOVE this character. Seriously, this guy is thriller-movie-villain material.
-Holg (half-orc ranger 8, comes with a wolf companion; CR 7): Holg has a nice twist to him that can be summed up in "Reincarnation gone wrong".
-Lafithel Traivanna (elven sorceror [gold dragon] 8; CR 7): Beautiful, pampered and petty, she is the spoiled, yet driven capricious member of the fellowship and comes with loads of roleplaying potential.
-Vola (half-orc druid 8, comes with a wolf companion; CR 7): A great twist on the "evil" druid, Vola actually desires to be the smart predator and takes an impassionate stand towards her deeds.
The fellowship, as presented, is rife with potential for roleplaying, tragedy and internal strife. They can act as foils or even allies for the PCs. Or, you could just throw them at the PCs as cannon fodder. you don't want to do that, though, as their write-ups are simply cool and very, very detailed, coming with a plethora of potential ideas to use them.
As a great form of bonus content, we get a two-page IC-journal entry of adventurers who slew the dragons hoard as well as an appropriately-scribbled-looking map to the unclaimed hoard - it's one-step-beyond content like that, that makes a pdf truly shine.
The pdf closes with the obligatory page to introduce DMs to reading the stat-blocks.
Editing is good, I only noticed one minor typo. The pdf is extensively bookmarked and layout adheres to the beautiful and printer-friendly b/w-Raging Swan standards. The artworks for the NPCs rock and their detailed write-ups are well-worth the low price of the pdf. Due to the amount of praise I heaped on the characters, you can already gather that this is going to get a good rating, thus the following suggestions should be taken as being extremely nit-picky: I would have loved to see a a section on their group-tactics in a sample encounter. One of the encounters mentions how complex an encounter with the whole group would be and thus I would have loved some detailed round-by-round-sample tactic of them as a group e.g. ambushing the PCs. While not necessary, this (and minus the one typo) would have crowned the book with the full 5 stars - my final verdict will thus "only" be 4.5 Rudii
Finally, we'll take a look at Raging Swan's
This pdf is 23 pages long, 1 page front cover, 1 page blank inside of front page, 1 page editorial, 2 pages titles, 1 page SRD (also containing reprinted info on the Antipaladin), 1 page ToC (also containing 3 demonic patrons) and 1 page back cover, leaving 15 pages for the Antipaladins.
The Antipaladins herein all get their own b/w-artwork as well as the whole Raging Swan NPC-write-up complete with hooks, personality and mannerisms, including nice adventure-seeds.
The Antipaladins are:
- Aelire Maiaral (Half-elf Antipaladin 4, CR 3) Spurned love gone wrong.
-Petrok Uren (Human Antipaladin 6, CR 5) Former Aristocrat with psychotic urges.
-Steren Wearme (Half-elf Bard 4/Antipaladin 4, CR 7) Nihilistic, beautiful bard.
-Duerrin Thramek (Dwarf Antipaladin 6/Fighter 4, CR 9) Violent dwarven leader.
-Eseld Cass (Human Barbarian 5/Antipaladin 7, CR 11) Female leader of a savage tribe.
-Tharon Zaspar (Drow Antipaladin 8/Rogue 3/Shadowdancer 2, CR 13) Ice-cold, savant-style killer.
-Vaerosk Izuzygax (Aasimar half-fiend Antipaladin 13, CR 15) Corrupted celestial paragon.
Layout adheres to the printer-friendly b/w-standard of Raging Swan, the pdf is extensively bookmarked and I didn't find any typos or editing glitches. On to the fluff and crunch:
The Antipaladins are just simply awesome - each is distinctive and goes beyond "I'm an evil foe!" - They are, quite frankly, top material and all have their merits as villains that make you want to implement them in one's campaign. Especially Steren caught my attention and drove and expanded the concept of what one would expect of an Antipaladin. The content is plenty, the quality of the NPCs is top-notch and quite frankly, there is nothing negative I could say about any of the Antipaladins apart from "I want more!". Thus, my final verdict will be a full 5 Rudii - go get these nasty guys and make your PCs rue the day they met them!
All right, that's it from me for this week, next time I'll have some monsters for you!
As always, thank you for reading my ramblings,