The Hill Cantons was one of the first #OSR blogs I discovered last year when I got back into the D&D scene. I was looking for more info on the Old School scene, because I quickly discovered that D&D 5e was a completely different game. Chris Kutalik’s take on the Implied Apocalypse of the AD&D milieu is brilliant and I urge you to check it out.

Beets for the Beet God

what ho frog demons book reviewKutalik has also published some of his campaign setting for the rest of us to share, in a deeper way than just the blog postings. Described as “pure Slavic/Vancian/Moorcockian acid fantasy, What Ho, Frog Demons is the fourth stand-alone, mini-sandbox adventure in the Slumbering Ursine Dunes series. Fever-Dreaming Marlinko was an experiment in reforming the city setting book: sloughing off the tedious bits and cranking up the most adventurable qualities. What Ho, Frog Demons is a similar experiment: what happens when you rev up a regional setting book really high for pure play at the table.”

That seems cool enough on its own, but, man, beets? A Beet God?

Definitely something I need to check out. I ordered the paperback version from DriveThru and it is a quality book. The glued binding is sturdy and the card-stock of the cover has held up well despite being toted around in my bag for a couple of weeks.

I have to say I love this book. I am definitely an Old-School guy, and not really much of a fan of Gonzo weirdness, but the gonzo here is just enough to bring some humor to the table. The origin of the demonic infestation is perfectly reasonable. The adventure hooks are creative and clever. Both adventures (written for Labyrinth Lord) are detailed enough to convey the message and atmosphere, but not so detailed that you get bogged down, making conversion/adaptation to other systems a breeze. I have complete confidence that I can drop some of this into my own campaign setting, tone down the gonzo and turn up the weird/scary.

I really, really want to take the idea of Dilettante Cultists and RUN.

The artwork by Luka Rejec is a powerful part of this book, it really grabs your imagination and sets the tone. I especially like that there are illustrations of some of the more colorful NPCs your party may encounter. Again, setting the tone and the scene and maintaining the mood are essential to a gaming environment like this. The artwork is a great resource.  The maps are clearly drawn and easy to read.

This region of Marlinko Canton is described with useful tools like encounter tables, NPC lists and an absolutely wonderful Infection Index – describing how conditions spiral out of control as the Beet God spreads its contagion. All in all this is a home-run of a supplement. If you only get it for the inspiration factor of the various tables it’s worth it.

Five Stars!

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