I've been sidelined by real-life lately, but I had an alarm set for this Kickstarter project. This one is the Old-School Essentials Fantasy RPG Box Set. I missed it the first time around a few years back but managed to score just one book from one of my favorite local gaming stores, Iron Buffalo Games.
Thursday, February 24, 2022
Monday, August 16, 2021
Author's Note: Sometimes, life kicks you in the balls. Sometimes it just doesn't stop. If you don't laugh some or all of it off, you'll go nuts. This post is in that laughing spirit.
It pokes fun at my situation, skewers my reviews and pays homage to a spammer that used my 52 Weeks of Magic series to promote a consignment shop by implying items sold were possibly magical. It also promotes a kickstarter campaign by Todd Leback.
Todd Leback's Basilisk Hills Compiled Hexcrawl Kickstarter
Last year Todd Leback used Kickstarter to publish his book, Into the Wild. Mr. Leback's project was very successful, having met many, if not all of the stretch goals. In getting this project off the ground, Mr. Leback offered a preview look at his book which I reviewed. Even in the rough form, it was excellent.
I should be re-reviewing Into the Wild now that I have a physical copy. I haven't because real life intrudes. Back on July 19th, my house burned. I am meeting the the structural engineer this week to see what parts of the building can be saved. For the most part, the entire contents of the home were completely destroy, burned to ash.
Well, not everything.
Into the Wild survived, as did the contents of two boxes that the book sat on. It was something of a miracle. This on Print on Demand title survived 1000° C heat. Amazing.
This book is incredible. It was printed on high quality paper, in full color. The artwork is great and the maps are excellent as they are informative. This title is 221 pages and covers everything you need to run a Hexcrawl campaign by expanding Mr. Leback's prior works: Classing up the Joint, Domain Building, Hexcrawl Basics, Random Weather Generation, OSR Expanded Classes, and Wealth by NPC level.
And it's affords protection from normal fires, 5' radius.
In all seriousness I am not trying to imply that if you back Mr. Leback's kickstarter for Basilisk Hills Compiled Hexcrawl that it will protect your home from fire.
I am telling you, you need to back Mr. Leback's kickstarter at the $25.00 Ultimate POD and PDF level to receive protection from fire.
I've been a gamer since the 1970s. I can assure you that lesser works by Gary Gygax, Monte Cook and Dennis Sustare are not even fire resistant and absolutely do not confer any sort of bonus to your gaming shelf like Into the Wild does. Back then, we had some clues that most books were not fireproof. The Satanic Panic proved that great piles of the Holmes Editions D&D Box Sets were not proof against fire. Now we all suffer from a paucity of mint condition copies and tragically high eBay prices on sets that don't even come with chits. Don't let the Panic back in with it's crazy book burning and over the top rants targeting gamers of all types.
Only you can prevent book burning. And buying a copy of each of Mr. Leback's products is a good start.
If Basilisk Hills Compiled is 1/10 the book that Into the Wild was, it should be able to save your game shelf from this:
Friday, June 4, 2021
Updated 4/29/2021. I got my digital copy and ordered my print on demand. This update changes very little, except to add the excellent artists names, page count and to provide links to DriveThruRPG. This one has also been added to my 5 of 5 star listings. Once I get my POD, it might shift to five gold stars.
June Update - I need to re-review this based on the hardcopy I have.
As happenstance would have it, I have been granted a couple of great opportunities this week. I have yet to back to a kickstarter and at no time in my decade or so on the web have I been able to review a product that is still in production. On Thursday morning, I got the chance to do both. God, I hope I don't screw this up.
Let's have some transparency. Every since I was a kid, I have collected books. Not just any books, but galleys. These are preproduct books sent out to authors and editors so they may do their final proof before printing. Sometimes, they have to do this several times. This is essentially What Todd Leback has sent to me. I feel really comfortable with this format even though it is never something that you would see on a store shelf.
Second, I have tested, playtested and been a part of study groups on a lot of consumer products. A ridiculously amount of products, everything from flossers to cameras to wargames. There is a reason why I am the way I am. :)
And item C: I dropped a $20 on the Kickstarter. During this review, I am receiving updates from Kickstarter. I am ignoring those and focusing entirely on the presented copy for information. This will cause this review to age poorly in the next 28 days or so. Please check out Kickstarter for updates. (This project is done, you can view the Kickstarter, but I doubt further updates will be forthcoming.)
Publisher: Old-School Essentials
Author: Todd Leback
Editor: Brian Johnson
Layout: BJ Hensley
Cartography: Todd Leback, Aaron Schmidt, Adrian Barber
Cover Art: Jen Drummond (jendart.com)
Interior Art Adrian Barber, Dan Smith, Carlos Castilho
Artists: Is currently a stretch goal. TBA.
Rating: 5 of 5 stars.
So, what am I reviewing: a Kickstarter or a book? Definitely, the book and only the book. Reviews, especially of unfinished products are best done by the numbers. Or the main questions:
- Who is the author of the book?
- What is the idea of the book?
- Was the idea delivered effectively?
- What are the strengths?
- What are weaknesses of the book?
You'll notice that none of those things have to do with stars or ratings, and unlike my other reviews I have not offered a star rating at the outset. And I might not do so by the end. I have only had 48-72 hours to review the material so I have spent most of my time digesting rather than playing or planning.
Todd Leback is the author of a series of books on Hexcrawling. He has also written on topics such as domain building and authored a one page dungeon. He started playing with the Red Box D&D set and enjoys the OSR style of play with family. This is his second Kickstarter and he runs a great Patreon page which provides 5-8 pages of Hex based content to his patrons every 3-4 weeks.
Previously, I reviewed Mr. Leback's Hexcrawl Basics.
The premise of Into the Wild is to bring several other publications together in one book and link those concepts to kick an OSR style campaign up to the level of domain play. Into the Wild is a 200+ page book which marries hexcrawling to domain building. These ideas came from many of his previous works, but this is not simply a compilation of text. These separate works are merged together seamlessly and are amplified. While some parts of the text are recognisable as being from prior works, they have been edited in away that allows the reader to flow from one idea that was a single book to another, which is different from a compiled collection or an omnibus.
The book is based on Old School Essentials, but that merely means a tiny bit of tweaking is needed to adapt it to other OSR rulesets.
The intent is use hexcrawling to engage players into a more complex style of play by bringing domain building into the fold and expanding on it with additional features that would interest high level characters. Mr. Leback does this in 200+ pages with maps created in Worldographer. While this document was offered to me "with no art", it contains over a dozen maps which are illustrative in nature. Additionally, he also includes many tables and charts to simply and clarify the ideas in each section.
Like Mr. Leback's previous works, copious examples highlight the various details of hexcrawling, weather, domain management, wealth and character options. This is one of it's strengths. Another good point is the fact that it required a great amount of table time to develop these ideas. Into the Wild shows it's table time very well. It is the product of many years of work and playtime by both the author and his audience. He has merged player feedback with his writing style to produce tight product based on the idea of play.
One weakness of this work is that it introduces new ways of using DM provided data, which is an inherent flaw of all hexcrawling activities. It's not something you can simply drop into a campaign mid-stream without some sort of introduction. That is not a terribly big deal because hexcrawling and domain building are now "things" that players will understand.
You could use Into the Wild for low level characters to engage in all the guts and glory type things adventurers do while also running a domain level campaign where a handful of high level characters interact the lesser characters on a larger, more regal scope. This style of play puts the players very close to the DM when it comes to planning, while still maintaining the general mechanics of D&D.
All and all, this is an excellent book that will only be improved by the stretching nature of a Kickstarter. I look forward to seeing the completed work.