It’s that most wonderful time of the year yet again, the time when we dump the dice out of our stockings and roll the Holiday Dodecahedron to see how many days of Christmas we’ll have this year!

As with every year, it wouldn’t be a true 1d12 Days of Christmas without Krampus, our favorite germanic holiday demon. For our first random day of Christmas, the Ultanya blog gives us a freebie OSR magic artifact – the Bag of Krampus!

Teratic Tome is a retro-styled monster manual compatible with OSRIC and other old-school fantasy role-playing games. The cover and interior have been designed to capture the look and feel of some of the classic AD&D hardcover books of the early to mid-80s – the fonts, organization, and colors are all there, and a dead tree copy of this tome would fit right in next to the original orange-spined core books.

The monsters within are truly monstrous, not just big and hairy, and could easily cover a shift to let one of Clive Barker’s Cenobites have a day off. There seems to be a strong theme of creatures that seek out specific victims – the Acronical, for example, is an insectile beast created by ancient priests to find and destroy those who have been unfaithful to their spouses, as well as any who have aided and abetted such activity. The Epexiant is a tentacled serpent who seeks out those who are so wracked with grief that they do not wish to carry on with their lives. (What it does when it finds one, I won’t go into.) And these are not even entries from the demon or devil sections!

These are not monsters for a cheerful, fairy-taleish dungeon crawl. The dragons feature a list of horrific events that occur to herald their approach – unnatural weather, animal slaughter, and much worse. The halflings keep hell hounds as pets, and torture their captives for entertainment. If you’ve been looking for a bestiary to flesh out a Lovecraftian mythos styled fantasy campaign, I think you need look no further.

The artwork is superb, and other than a few typos and a section where some paragraphs were repeated, the layout and content is excellent. It’s difficult to read most of the entries without getting ideas about how to work them into a game, even as you’re shuddering at the thought. And that’s really where Teratic Tome shines – the attention to the details and motivations of the creatures really brings them off of the page.

As a side note – there’s an interesting twist on the way treasure is handled that would be worth using in most of your OSR games, even if you don’t get a lot of use out of the monsters.

Because I review a lot of RPG products with young people in mind, I feel obligated to say that these are NOT monsters to put into a campaign that you’re going to run for your kids. Please don’t. Save these for the grownups. And only the grownups with strong stomachs. Please.

My two gripes: The beautiful retro-styled cover isn’t a part of the PDF, and I think reading the monster entries before bed every night for the last few days may have given me nightmares. And some plot ideas. Okay, make that one gripe. (EDIT: Rafael informs me that the cover is now part of the PDF, so I am out of gripes.)

Check out Teratic Tome at DriveThruRPG

Here’s a clever AND nifty tutorial for making classic blue-grid dungeon maps using Microsoft Excel and Paint – Drawing Dungeon Maps in Excel – A Quick Tutorial.

While I personally would probably use a graphics program instead, this is a great alternative for those who don’t have the experience with them, or find them to be too “fussy.” (And I agree quite a bit with that latter opinion, sometimes…)

 

wjw

(Yeah, it’s the second post in a day after an absence of over a month. Try to contain yourselves.)

About 10 years ago, Wizards of the Coast put PDFs of a lot of classic AD&D 2E modules and supplements up on their website. I can remember begging a (non-gamer) friend of mine to download all of them for me and burn them to disc, because I didn’t have a CD burner yet. Then, after I got a burner, I forgot I already had them, and downloaded them all and burned another copy.

Then a few years later, when backing up files from my old, ailing computer, I forgot I had already burned them to disc… and burned another copy.

But back to the point. Recently, Wizards took all of them down, sending lots of ten-year procrastinators into a panic. Thankfully, Michael Curtis at The Society of Torch, Pole, and Rope has discovered a way to still get them, through the Wayback Machine at archive.org.

Not only that. but this good gentleman has graciously supplied a list of links to every one of the classic AD&D products!

Now I can finally download them all and burn them to disc! And so can you!

(Thanks to David Shepheard for the link!)