On the Bringing and Binding of Toothcollectors (OSR) (Priority Review)
This pdf clocks in at 13 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 1 page ToC, 1 page back cover, leaving us with 9 pages of content, laid out in 6’’ by 9’’ (A5), so let’s take a look!
This review was requested to be moved up in my reviewing queue at the behest of my patreon supporters.
Okay, so first of all, this is a combination of a kind of mini monster-ecology with a grimy dark fantasy/horror flair, and a brief, sketch-like adventure.
The supplement doesn’t adhere to a specific OSR rules system. The stats presented for the eponymous toothcollectors note their HD, their armor “As leather”, and their Move as “Quick, erratic, upside down at night”; now, if you expect a standard tooth fairy trope, or its simple inversion, then you’re most assuredly new to Evey Lockhart’s supplements.
There is constantly this touch of the weird and uncanny. “Upside down at night” certainly evoked a disjointed and odd sentiment in me. The strength of toothcollectors is contingent on their collected teeth – they have 18 slots, and if they jame enough teeth in, they can’t close their mouths or speak anymore. They are superb assassins and excellent at sneaking around, represented by percentile values. They speak the languages of those whose teeth they have collected; and what they need for their services can be determined with 2quick d8 rolls: A blackened incisor, for example. They are obsessive, and at day, they dream, sending rhizomes into the soil, communicating, forming and dissolving strange alliances. A d8-table lets you determine their personality – oh, and nonhuman teeth have special effects. Powers. They crave some of them, yet won’t admit to it…and others will need to be forced into the little…things.
And yes, before you ask: The supplement does describe the somewhat grimy ritual required to call and bind a toothcollector, and I really enjoyed that one. I’d immediately back a book of ritual magic penned by Evey Lockhart.
Brief notes and minor SPOILERS for the low-level mini-module follow. Potential players should jump to the conclusion.
The module deals with a magic-user who won’t leave the basement of a stonemason, which her rented. It’s up to the party to kick out the magic user from the strange, subterranean observatory where he observes the Red, Red Moon with a telescope pointed at the eye of a dying toothcollector. The module comes with rudimentary maps sans player-friendly versions or grid, but on the plus side, effects like acidic paste note how they can be dealt with in ways other than succeeding the saving throw. Also a plus: The magician ahs a few unique tricks, though these do suffer a bit from the system-agnostic approach; not unduly so, though.
Editing is good on a formal and rules-language level. Formatting could be employed in a somewhat tighter manner, but isn’t bad either- Layout adheres to a one-column standard, with a red moon on the side, and the utterly weird, frightening artwork for the toothcollector drives perfectly home how alien they are. Cartography is functional and b/w – not impressive, but it does its job. The pdf has no bookmarks, but needs none at this length.
Evey Lockhart is one of the RPG-authors whom I’d consider to be auteur, though she’d probably scoff at that. She knows horror and has a distinctive voice and theme; if I’d had to classify it, I’d probably call her aesthetic one resounding from the American hinterlands and the downtrodden; a neon-neo-hobo’s nightmare- and dream-visions. They might not all be for me, but there is something compelling about them. As an avid fan of beat poetry, I tend to adore her more poetic supplements, but this one here? If you dislike the whole poetry-as-game-text-angle, then rest assured that this is not that artsy, and instead depicts a compelling little ecology well worth checking out if you like your fantasy grimy and weird. My final verdict will clock in at 3.5 stars, rounded up due to in dubio pro reo.
A little aside: The author has, time and again, made her work available for PWYW to help those less fortunate/screwed by the system/corona/etc. This book used to be PWYW, but now isn’t anymore, and clocks in at $10.00 – a hefty price for the booklet.
I did a little research on social media, and found out that she’s having issues with the medical system. So yeah, usually, I’d say that the current price of this supplement is high and round down from my final verdict. However, considering the history of her offerings, and the twisted joy I got out of this, I think that rounding up is still justified. Just be aware that the bang-for-buck ratio here reflects the author being in dire straits, and not greed. So if you’ve been enjoying Evey’s work (like “Stark Naked Neo Savages”, or “Smile with Us, Friend”), it’d be a good way to show it now.
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