today I'm going to take a look at the compilation of Richard Pett's excellent articles!
Your Whispering Homunculus
This pdf is 169 pages long, 1 page front cover, 2 pages editorial, 2 pages ToC, 1 page SRD and 1 page back cover, leaving 162 pages of content, so let's check this out!
"Your whispering Homunculus", or YWH, for convenience's sake, is a column in KQ written by Richard Pett, one of the undisputed masters of creepy adventures and perhaps one of the greatest adventure writers of our current generation. But what exactly do these columns cover? Details. Any DM worth his salt is aware that details go a LONG way to making a given setting immersive and believable and YWH provides exactly that, in spades. Being a collection of articles with added new material, the articles herein run the gamut of crunchy to being primarily fluff-concerned and cover quite an interesting breadth of topics - and interesting may mean hazardous and at the same time amusing: the first article features 20 dumb bets - which include swallowing coals, balancing axes handle down on your chin or eating raw potatoes. If you ever needed to drive home that the commoners around here aren't the brightest lights in the sky, this will be a godsend. Of course, once the PCs have succeeded in besting a local, their gathering information endeavors may be thwarted by something different - like 50 topics of conversation that may be used as hooks to create your own adventures, red herrings, or just spicy fluff. Later in the book, we also get a neat little local-topic-of-conversation generator.
Horror is hard to pull off, as are weird moments and thus, 30 weird moments are provided for your convenience that range from creepy singing children to strange occurrences and mass hysteria, which could be easily tied to the 20 new village legends.
Of course, not only occurrences can serve as fluff - 50 characters passing by and 50 weird circus/freak-show-style performances are also included in this book. Of course, the PC may also spend their coin in 100 strange new shops and emporiums and potentially purchase 100 new pointless objects that may very well serve as either red herrings or adventure hooks at your discretion or one of 50 strange treasures (which come with GP-values). If the PCs buy one of the magic items for sale, they should beware - while not cursed, there are 20 malfunctioning magic items which add a bit of spice and unpredictability to the world and magic - which is always good. Predictable magic disenchants me.
After having had a magical mishap, the PCs may want to dine and 50 local delicacies can add a certain twist to the local menus, perhaps being available only on one of the new 20 local holy days also contained herein. Perhaps they are trying to sell one of the 20 humanoid treasures or even forget about one of the 27 strange things they could encounter in the sewers. And should they go out at night, they might e.g. meet Tarb Rustwind, who is convinced the PCs are haunted by an invisible demonic pig named Sabdyne - and he's only one of 20 strange fellows!
Friends of our often neglected d12 will rejoice, for there are a lot of neat "dozen" tables - from barkeeps to insides of pit traps, weather changes, starting disposition modifiers in conversations, minor afflictions, battle-scars on monsters, watch captains, goblin chiefs, unusual rooms (e.g. a sludgery...) and village squares provide quite some food for our poor d12 to be used. Oh, and if your PCs are in the city, be sure to make sure of the new 12 consequences of bad rain and 10 instances of bad snow in the city! And if afore-mentioned goblin chiefs need some servants - there are 100 goblin features make them distinctive!
If you want the PCs to go to the horse fair (perhaps due to owning 4WFG'S "Phantasia Zoologica" or NNW's "Steeds and Stallions", a sample one, including a race, is provided, as is an article on (un-)common breeds of dogs and advice on how to freak out players and play to their sense when their PCs are alone, but they obviously aren't.
There is also an article that uses the troll-touched template to introduce us to a variation on the concept of adaption/degeneration. More on the appetizing side is the new feat and 20 sample ales that add magical effects to dwarven ale.
I already mentioned monster scars, but in this book, we also get mechanical rules for monsters that have actually been mangled - from disfigured nymphs to hydra-stumps to an extremely cool mini-bestiary on one of my favorite critters Ankhegs! I'm not sure whether it should be worrying, but this section contains content I have also used in my campaign with variants prior to reading this. Pett is in my mind! AHHHHHH.....Oo The Bestiaries also have a section on variant Basilisks and the trog-kin template.
A short article explains a subschool of malignant magic, variants of regular spells that impose a toll on their casters but are also more effective than their regular versions - I would pay for a malignant treatment of ALL spells in the Core/APG/UM/UC, as they make for a great take on magic that is inherently...taxing and potentially corrupt.
Random encounters and adventure seeds also get the patented Pett-advice on increasing their details and potential creepiness-factor. And have I mentioned the stats for the master, his homunculus and the homunculus's familiar stirge?
Editing and formatting are top-notch, I didn't notice any glitches. Layout adheres to the standard-paperback one-column standard and artworks, where applicable, are stock. While the print version is nice, there is something jarring in the pdf: Pages 31, 35, 41, 51, 63, 77, 81, 87, 93, 111, 115, 121, 129, 151, 157, 163 are empty in the pdf. While I get that you want new chapters to start on the left when holding a physical copy, I found the blank pages to be irritating in the pdf - if you print out the book, you'll have a lot of blank pages. The pdf comes with extensive bookmarks. What can I say about a book that compiles perhaps one of my favorite series of articles from one of my favorite authors? The content is top-notch. Unfortunately, the organization of the content is not flawless - why e.g. not put the variant monster-entries back to back, the templates back to back, the random weather entries back to back etc.? Organizing the book according to themes would have made it much more user-friendly. Instead, the book opts to present the articles as they've been written. While ok, this makes the feeling of the overall book rather disjointed and potentially harder to navigate than necessary. Don't get me wrong, I think ANY GM can benefit greatly from the lecture of this book - it's a smart, cool set of tools to enrich your game with details, details, details and even some cool rules here and there. However, I also think that the organizational decision and lacking structure hurt the book and that the blank pages in the pdf are unnecessary at best and potentially very irritating at worst. Thus, while I want to give this book the full blown 5 Rudii plus seal of approval, I just can't. Instead, I'll settle for a verdict of 4.5 Rudii for the print version (in which the blank pages make sense) and a verdict of 4 Rudii for the pdf due to them making no sense there and the lack of organization of the articles. Still: Go ahead and check this out! Chances are you'll gibber with glee!
All right, that's it for now, as always, thank you for reading my ramblings,