This installment of the Deadly Gardens-series clocks in at 5 pages, 1 page front cover, 1/2 a page SRD/editorial, leaving us with 3.5 pages of content, so let’s take a look!
Okay, we begin this Deadly Gardens-installment with something radically different – namely a new type of terrain, the stonebriar: These basically represent petrified thorn thickets – as such, either Strength- or Dexterity-checks can be attempted to pass through, with each 5 points over DC 10 providing 5 feet of progress, with Strength causing damage to the person trying to get through it that way. Slower, less lethal ways of passing through it also receive proper mechanical representation. And while I’d honestly usually complain about attribute-checks feeling a bit 5e-style, in this case, I think they’re justified: The terrain is rare and probably should be this hampering/deadly. The terrain does not count as plant material for spells and effects, and in my one nitpick, I do believe that stone-manipulating tricks should affect it.
The new material woodstone shared properties with steel, but is treated as wood and is treated as both wood and stone for the purpose of interaction with appropriate magics. Prices for all types of magics are included and the connection to the elemental plane of earth make sure that the respective wands and staves should be in high demand by appropriate people.
Now, as you may have guessed, petrified plants would be represented by a template – depending on the HD of the base creatures, this may increase the CR from anything between +1 to +3. The higher the base HD, the higher the DR – at first, these are /adamantine, later even /- . The template kills any fire vulnerability, but decreases the speed. Its slams become more powerful and they may forego the additional damage of critical hits in favor of a free Awesome Blow. The pdf does feature two sample creatures with the template applied, the treant as seen on the cover and a greater ophidian vine.
Editing and formatting are very good, I noticed no glaring glitches. Layout adheres to the nice two-column full-color standard of the series. The artwork provided is decent. The pdf comes fully bookmarked in spite of its brevity, which is nice.
Joe Kondrak’s first offering (at least to my knowledge) that has crossed my path…is surprisingly cool. Now the template could use a bit more extravagant abilities, granted – but it does represent its concept pretty well. The new terrain type and material are surprisingly well-crafted as well, making this a pretty impressive freshman offering. And, as you all know, first offerings get the benefit of the doubt! Hence, my final verdict will round up from 4. 5 stars for the purpose of this platform – certainly worth the low and fair asking price!
You can get this nice, inexpensive little file here on OBS!