Saturday, June 27, 2015

Review and Commentary On The Complete Vivimancer From Necrotic Gnome Productions For Your Old School Campaigns

There are important books that come out and then there are books for OSR games that you wonder how you ever did without them at the gaming table. Years ago, I downloaded Theorems & Thaumaturgy, which is available as a free download now: it  contains (among many other things) a basic version of the vivimancer class. The Complete Vivimancer  is essentially not only as a follow up book but an expansion of this class that does some awesome things with biosorcery, magic items, spells,etc.  This is because I've been reading and following through The Complete Vivimancer From Necrotic Gnome Productions after tearing into the free monster & adventure book Out of the Vats .
The Complete Vivimancer does exactly what it says on the tin. It brings eighty eight pages of sheer  wizard master goodness of  gene splicing, cross breeding,and the Vivimancer as a  corruptor of nature itself. In the first two pages of the book we get a complete overview of this class and then the book jumps into the deep end of the darkness . For the advanced edition version of this class we get Elves  and half Elves as the preferred racial foundations for the Vivimancer.  This enables them to advance up to 10th and 11the levels respectively. This reenforces the alien aspect of the Elven race and this is part of an under current theme  in the OSR that Elves really are far more alien to the humanity.  A fact that came in loud and clear in games such as LoFP. This supplement takes full advantage of this fact and even through it claims to be for Labyrinth Lord. There are ton of options for adding this book to both OD&D and its retroclone systems all the way through the various Advanced editions.                                                                      

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   Another added bonus is the amount of time it takes the vivimancer down in the lab to master the craft of  flesh warping, genetic meddling, neural manipulation, and vat growth to become a  master of mind slaves, mutants, symbionts, parasites, and viruses.The guidelines for this book's chapter are very nice and helps to flesh out the laboratory details and adds a certain Lovecraftian something to the class. The book details a ton of spells for levels between one all of the way to nine. And here's where the book really starts to take off for me. The spells have flavor and add a ton of resonance  for me for the backbone of the Vivimancer as a whole. These twisted freaks are putting together the horrors and weirdness that adventurers loath to encounter. Remember those random monster tables that created horrors with the claws of a lobster, the head of a giant monkey, and demons blood that the DMG guide had in it. These are the wizardly guys putting those together. The magic item section proves that in spades. We get an overview of items for these twisted practitioners of the bio sorcery arts over and over again. Here's why you want one of these guys in your party, not only are they going to know the ins and outs of the biology and applications of this stuff they're going to want some of this of stuff as their  own which means favors and big ones at that. The last sections are appendixes on mutations and psionic powers, these are really needed because of the bio science fantasy and fictional nature of this class. There's lots of icky stuff in this book, slime laden weirdness that brings to mind all of the really cool VHS nastiness of the Eighties horror movies, science fiction 'B' films, and lots of other wonderfulness but it also clocks in with  all of the pulpy bits from the science fiction, fantasy,etc. of the 1930's thru 1950's. As far as I'm concerned this is win/win.
     So let's get right down to brass tacks, is this a good book and even a necessary one? Yes not only is this a good book but it has a huge range of possibilities at the gaming table. You really do want a mad scientist type in your party, you want them as vile villains as well. This brings the dual nature of the class as a whole. This book gives you every last tool to pop these guys into the post apocalyptic wasteland, the science fantasy deserts of your choice, as dimensional travelers and invaders, as motivators for adventures, adventurer patrons, twisted healers, & the list goes on and on.
  In my own Warlords of the Outer Worlds setting, I'm using these guys sparingly and lovingly as a twisted faction. Applying what I've learned about them after reading about them over the last week or so, I've come to the conclusion that one can take the frame work and backdrop of the  Vivimancer and apply their own creations to the class without losing the vitality and freshness of these twisted practitioners of the dark arts of bio sorcery and mad biological magicks. So five out of five for one of the more original and flat out weird books and PC classes to come down the pike in a very long while.

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