This pdf clocks in at 32 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 1 page foreword/how-to-use, 1 page ToC, 1 page advertisement, leaving us with 27 pages of content – these pages are formatted for A5 (6” by 9”), which means you can comfortable fit 4 of them on one A4-page, should you elect to print this out.
So, what do we get this time around? In contrast to the first Roll XX-book, this one has a more limited scope: In general, the questions and answers are framed by an aesthetic that could be summed up as dark fantasy. The general formula has also evolved, if you will. Take a look at the first first question, innocent enough: “What’s on the banquet table?” You roll a d10 for a first dish and one d10 for the sides. You’d for example get “Mortrews and peas with saffron.” However, that being done, you may elect to roll another d10 for the “However…”-part of the respective entry. These caveats range from the innocent “the food’s old and rotted away” to the creative (“The food’s actually not food but parts of a gelatinous cube, properly carved and dyed into appetizing shapes.”) and finally, the horrific – in the latter instance, guests have been gutted, their entrails looped around plates and tureens.
Now not all of the entries adhere to this formula: There are questions that feature only 10 replies to choose from, sans meta-modifications like this: When deciphering ancient, dwarven runes, you may for example stumble over a PC’s name, generating paranoia via the insinuation of the PC being a liar…or one can find out that the current hero of the Northern clanholds has actually fallen in battle…a long time ago…so who’s on the throne?
Thing to find in dust-shrouded sepulchers can carry unpleasant side-effects are nice and the effects of sprung traps similarly are neat…though e.g. a reference to manticore venom somewhat puzzled me, considering that the majority of fantasy games I know off do not feature poison amid the builds for these beings, mythologically-correct though the reference may be. These fluff-only quick and dirty trap effects certainly can help an experienced GM, though personally, I think that the system-neutral formula here works a tad bit less well.
More fun, at least for me, would be a quick “new threat”-generator, which can yield results like: “It’s the Plague Minotaur which increases its strength in direct proportion to the extent of its injury.” Origin-lands of demons and the things you can find on corpses as well as an amorphous blob-generator make sense to me.
The pdf also contains a monster generator, which sports 10 sample names, 10 descriptions, 10 patterns, 10 victims and 20 appearances that can be combined with one another. Beyond these cosmetic aspects, 10 appendages and 10 abilities, 10 defenses and 10 general attribute (armor, health, intelligence) are featured – all in all, a nice way for a GM looking for a unique threat, but starved of time and creativity to get the creative juices flowing.
Editing and formatting are very good, I noticed no serious glitches. Depending on the length of a given d10-array, you either have a 1-column or 2-column standard in layout, sometimes mixed on one page. The pdf is b/w and bereft of artwork, but does come with extensive bookmarks, which allows for quick navigation of the electronic file.
Adam Burke, Rafael Chandler, Mason Deming, Matt King, Jim McCann and Jon Schweitzer have delivered a fun little GM’s helper-type of tool…and better yet, it is actually PWYW! This means you can literally check this out sans risk and leave a tip you’d consider appropriate. Personally, I firmly believe that this is worth getting; there are some nice ideas and dressing-components to scavenge from this, even though the file does stumble a couple of times over its system-neutral aspect. Hence, my final verdict will clock in at 4.5 stars, rounded up for the purpose of this platform due to its PWYW-nature.
You can get this nice dressing-file for PWYW here on OBS!
If you like it enough to grab it in print, that version can be found here on lulu!