Monday 13 February 2017

GM Gems Hardcover Second Printing

The Second Printing of GM Gems was written by Lou Agresta, Rone Barton, Russell Brown, B. Matthew Conklin III, Elizabeth Courts, Adam Daigle, Ashavan Doyon, Tom Ganz, Stephen S. Greer, David Hall, Stefan Happ, Ed Healy, Tim Hitchcock, Phillip Larwood, John E. Ling, Jr., Hal Maclean, Rob Manning, Greg Oppedisano,Greg Ragland, Craig Shackleton, and Patrick Smith. The project manager was Stephen S. Greer. Art was provided by Laura Lakey, Stefan Poag, William McAusland, and Peter Mullen. The publisher is Goodman Games.

Disclosure: I did the Dungeon Crawl Classics rules conversion on this project.

This is a good-sized hardcover book with a lot of material in it. Because the book is intended to be mostly system-neutral, there was a lot of content which did not need conversion at all. Some things required fairly heavy work because of the difference in assumptions between 3rd Edition Dungeons & Dragons (which the 1st printing of GM Gems used as its default) and Dungeon Crawl Classics.

Let's look inside.

Introduction: What it says on the tin.

Chapter One: The Urban Experience

  • Alchemical Mishaps: Written by Rone Barton, B. Matthew Conklin III, Elizabeth Courts, Tim Hitchcock, Phillip Larwood, and Greg Oppedisano, this is a d% table of things that might go wrong when messing with potions or strange chemicals. Or unexpectedly right. Because of the major difference in magic between games, this required some conversion. Because of the similarities of what might happen, it didn't require much. 
  • 100 Dockside Events: Written by Rone Barton, Russell Brown, B. Matthew Conklin III, Elizabeth Courts, and Hal Maclean. This is another d% table, with things that might be happening by the docks. Most of these things could be used as potential adventure hooks.
  • Local Folklore and the Truth Behind the Myths: Writers Elizabeth Courts, Tim Hitchcock, and Hal Maclean provide 13 examples of folklore the PCs might hear, the truth behind them (unless the judge decides otherwise!) and adventure hooks that can be used in relation to the folklore.
  • Memorable NPC Frills: Russell Brown provides a d% table of quirks that make an NPC memorable.
  • Rites of Passage: Lou Agresta, Rone Barton, Elizabeth Courts, Ed Healy, and Tim Hitchcock provide 20 examples of things PCs might have to do to enter into elite societies. This is useful fodder for the Dungeon Crawl Classics judge, who needs to devise means by which PCs may Quest For It. 
  • Specialty Shops: Writer Ashavan Doyon provides four shops that might "cater to the unusual needs and wants of adventurers", complete with adventure hooks.
  • Unique Taverns and Inns: Rone Barton, Russell Brown, Elizabeth Courts, and Rob Manning provide 8 taverns and ins which might appear in the judge' campaign. 
  • Unusual Holidays: Rone Barton, B. Matthew Conklin III, Elizabeth Courts, Ed Healy, and Tim Hitchcock provide 15 fantasy holidays, complete with adventure hooks. Particularly in pre-industrial worlds, holidays mark the progress of the year. If your campaign milieu doesn't yet contain a Moon Hill Sapping, this article will help.
  • What’s In Those Pockets?: This is a d% table by John E. Ling, Jr. If your game includes thieves, these things are always useful.

Chapter Two: Getting There is Half the Fun

  • A New Look at Caravans: Adam Daigle, Stephen S. Greer, Stefan Happ, Ed Healy, and Patrick Smith provide five unusual caravans that might be used in the judge's campaign. I have used the Tinker's caravan in my home game to good effect.
  • Extraordinary Campsites: Adam Daigle, Greg Oppedisano, and Greg Ragland provide 16 campsites which are more than just a spot beside the road. In the same way that Weathertop was more than a generic campsite in The Fellowship of the Ring, these camping places can make a routine part of the adventuring life a bit more memorable. And they come with adventure hooks.
  • Roadside Ruins: Writers Russell Brown and Greg Oppedisano provide 10 strange ruins with adventure hooks. The judge may use these for color, or develop them into full adventures.
  • Traveling Merchants: B. Matthew Conklin III, Elizabeth Courts, Stefan Happ, and Tim Hitchcock provide six unusual merchants who may be met on the road.
  • War Torn: On the March: Russell Brown supplies a d% table of encounters in an area rife with conflict.
  • Weathering the Storm: Ed Healy, John E. Ling, Jr., and Greg Ragland describe 13 fantastic weather events, complete with adventure hooks.

Chapter Three: The Dungeon

  • Alternate “Wonders” for the Rod of Wonder: Elizabeth Courts, Dave Hall, Tim Hitchcock, Rob Manning, and Greg Ragland provide a d% table for alternative effects when using an item such as a wand of wonder. "Banal mechanical boosts and transmutations are not all that fanciful. Returning true wonder to powerful magical devices, below are 100 new ways to shock and amaze!" Dungeon Crawl Classics judges should consider that any object may produce one or more effects from this table. 
  • Empty Rooms Worth Describing: Rone Barton, B. Matthew Conklin III, Elizabeth Courts, Tom Ganz, Tim Hitchcock, Rob Manning, Greg Ragland, and Craig Shackleton present a d% table of "empty" rooms, with neither monsters nor treasure, but which are likely to capture players' imaginations.
  • Familiar Creatures with Unfamiliar Faces: B. Matthew Conklin III and Elizabeth Courts supply 12 (not 20) unique creatures as well as a d20 table to change the appearance or ability of monsters. What this really means for the discerning Dungeon Crawl Classics judge is that they gain a dozen new creatures. Because of the differences between 3rd Edition and DCC monsters, this is one of the articles that required the most conversion work. 
  • Left Behind: Writer Hal Maclean supplies five familiars whose masters are gone. The familiars wizards may gain in Dungeon Crawl Classics are very different than those in 3rd Edition Dungeons & Dragons, so this is another article that required serious thought to convert.
  • New and Unusual Light Sources: Adam Daigle, John E. Ling, Jr., and Greg Ragland provide 21 alternatives to the humble torch. 
  • The Nose Knows: Russell Brown discusses the sense of smell. "Explorers of deep underground tunnels, castle dungeons, and sealed chambers in ancient tombs all have one common experience: the strange and overpowering smell of these places. Describing smells to your characters can add depth to their experience, create a sense of horror and dread, and give important clues about recent events or foreshadow the next encounter they’re about to have."
  • Noxious Substances: Lou Agresta, Elizabeth Courts, Stefan Happ, Tim Hitchcock, and Greg Oppedisano provide 18 things you would really rather not come into contact with. There is a minor formatting error with the last one, "Vapors of Drowned Deep One"; don't miss it as a result!
  • Short Encounters for Short Attention Spans: Writers Rone Barton, Elizabeth Courts, Stephen S. Greer, and Tim Hitchcock offer a d% table of minor encounters to liven up a dull moment.
  • 100 Unique Treasures: Rone Barton, B. Matthew Conklin III, Elizabeth Courts, Stephen S. Greer, Tim Hitchcock, and Greg Oppedisano complete the product with a d% table of interesting alternatives to yet another hoard of coins and gems.

Even the most creative among us benefit from the creativity of others. Overall, this volume is an excellent resource, which I am happy to have on my gaming shelf, along with 50 Fantastic Functions for the D50, The Dungeon Alphabet, The Monster Alphabet, and the Random Esoteric Creature Generator.

Get It Here!

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