Journal: Quarantine day 8 Social distancing is taking its toll. I can’t stop scrolling online Social Media Apps!
Wait! What’s this? A pretty cover and Oh! some wicked creative ideas! BRB
Not having a job for a bit has a silver lining: I’m getting caught up on TONS of reading, especially gaming stuff I just haven’t had time to get to. And I have been pretty lucky. In addition to picking some really cool books (REH’s original Conan stories, The Witches of Wenshar – Barbara Hambly) I’ve been able to grab some fun indie pubs, modules and zines.
Last month I did a crappy review of What Ho, Frog Demons from Chris Kutalik. I haven’t done any kind of book review in years! So I’ll try to be more thorough with this zine review of The Phylactery, from Planet X Games.
Let me start with saying this is not a sponsored review, but I did get a “review” copy of the PDF when the Kickstarter pledges went out. Based on the quality of this offering, I am sorry I missed out on the KS, and will be trying to get my hands on a print copy shortly…
This is exactly what a zine should be, creative, irreverent, and useful.
We have great art from Ed Bickford, Lawrence Hernandez, Adrian Landeros and Je Shields (sigh, another rabbit-hole of, um, research). I thoroughly enjoy the full-page Throne of Chaos piece and depictions of various slimy, gooey creatures that are a theme of this booklet.
What’s in it?
Welcome to THE PHYLACTERY, a Kickstarted zine funded solely by the OSR community! This lil’ judy is jam-packed with all sorts of ideas, plot hooks and interesting, crunchy bits that you can use to jumpstart your heroic fantasy RPGs. We’ve tried to give it the heart and feel of the old school RPGs we grew up playing ourselves back in the day but with our own Grindhouse aesthetic.
We go in assuming you already have the core books to play your favorite games and instead jump right into as much OSR-inspired material as we could pack in here. Within these pages you’ll find new adventures, quirky NPCs, wondrous magical items, all new monsters, fell locations, relics from beyond the mists of time and all sorts of resources for your tabletop games.
Indeed. The issue starts out strong with an artifact, the Throne of Chaos. Containing some wonderful, whimsical effects, this is one of my favorite sections. Stash this treasure in a dungeon when you’re ready to mix things up for your party!
Next up, almost two dozen pages of adventure hooks based on descriptions of monsters, NPCs and magic items. “Forbidden Demon Cults from the Outer Void” reveals three new Eldritch Horrors for your campaign. There is plenty here for hours worth of terrorizing, er, challenging your PCs. I’ll be keeping this list handy for when the Rogue says, “I’m going to talk to that dude in the corner, sitting by himself.”
The zine also includes adventures ready to drop into your own campaign. “Corpse Garden of the Myconid King” has an interesting origin, and could be run either in Horror- or a Gonzo-style. I think it would make an awesome campaign-starter for some low-level (3rd-5th) characters.
“Utos, the Isle of the Shattered Moon” is a fun wilderness adventure setting that would be perfect for a shipwreck or a stop-over while a PC party traveling by sea needs to flee from some pirates. It offers a fantastic opportunity to drop in a little extra Cosmic Horror like Robert E. Howard’s The Black Stone (link to a free PDF, if you haven’t read it, I urge you to do so ASAP) or Queen of the Black Coast.
The third “adventure” is a hex-crawl map with eight locations for exploration and clever PC challenges. These are loaded with ideas for expanding your campaign setting or simply as a succession of one-shots. All of the maps are clear, professionally drawn, and have a great deal of character. The artwork in general is fantastic, which helps establish the theme and embellishes the NPCs.
The zine finishes with four new monsters, with complete stat-blocks, high-quality illustrations and descriptions. New monsters always come in handy.
Overall, I would rate this zine as a five out of five. I should really come up with some sort of categories for these reviews…
Anyhow, follow Planet X Games on twitter and check out their products on Drive-thru RPG.