Thursday, December 31, 2015

Retro Review of Atlantis: The Lost World Source Book By Bard Games For Your Old School Campaigns Part II

When it came to the second age of Atlantis and a DM needed monsters and creature only Bard's Games's
Bestiary fit the bill. This book was the second section of the Atlantis: The Lost World Rpg Source Book and it has a ton of material in it. From mythology to created creatures the Bestiary delved into them all weaving its monsters and races through a  kaleidoscope of imaginary races and beasts all the way to the pits of Hell itself.  Here's a break down from Wayne's Books; "Return to the second age of Atlantis to a time when  the race of men was young, and giants still walked the earth... when ancient dragons lay sleeping beneath the ocean waves, and the woods of Avalon and Stonehenge were alive with the haunting songs of the magical Sidhe. Encounter the strange and wondrous inhabitants of a bygone age in the Bestiary.
• The Alicanto, a fabulous bird that feeds on precious metals
• The Zephyr, beautiful winged folk from the Continent of Mu
• The Hantu, so-called "earth-bound demons" of legend
• The Ahl-at-Rab, reptilian rulers of the desert sands
• The Kraken, fearsome monsters of the deep
• The Zazir, diminutive and industrious creators of nature's wonders
• And many, many more...

With a separate section for fantasy role players, featuring stats for hundreds of monsters and wild animals, lists of encounters, and much more..."

If you were reading Dragon magazine in Eighty Eight then you were thumbing past advertisements and adds for Atlantis: The Lost World Source Book By Bard Games which contained two different source books under one cover and it was great value for the money. Make no mistake the book was strongly influenced by both Hollywood films such as Clash of the Titans, Legend, and many others.
 This book was packed and it was wall to wall artwork and background, there's a ton of the Atlantis splat book background campaign history in each of the creature sections with special attention paid to the Fey, fairy races, and old world mythological resources strained through the lens of the Atlantis setting.
 There were a ton of races, setting details, adventure hooks, possible religious and magick bits sprinkled though out the book and it covered everything including Undead, Atlantis: The Lost World had its own internal rpg house system that dove tailed right into the resources of the Arcanum
 Races got a first class treatment in this book with incredibly in depth entries perfect for sword and sorcery games set during the second age of Atlantis, there were non human cities, maps, settings, and more waiting for the dungeon master to cherry pick what they needed or wanted. Best of all the book could be used with OD&D, AD&D 1st edition, Runequest, Tunnels and Trolls and other games on the market with several conversion charts included.
 There were hints and suggestions of how the placement of monsters was done in the entries for each of these races of creatures within the bounds of Atlantis and beyond. Most of the entire Old World was used or at least Atlantian analog places and settings. The book went into some detail with a bit of history about the monsters and not even the undead were spared. The artwork is wacky, black and white line art but it fits the spare and leanness of the world of Atlantis.
 The giant races had a ton of detail and added several bits to their mythology making them prime antagonists and a playable race as well. This was one of the differences to other monster manuals of the time. The Atlantis books treated the creatures as more then mere cannon or dungeon fodder they were races with history, traditions, and culture behind them some going back thousands of years.
 Humanoid races were treated differently as well drawing down solid legends and backgrounds to the usual suspects. Sure the orcs analogs were there but there were desert dwelling serpent men and horrors beyond count waiting to murder adventurers in the night.
 Demonic and semi demonic races were also in evidence with all of their own charms and legends surrounding them. These horrors spoke of the mating of man and something else. There's more then a bit of Lovecraft and Robert Howard between the lines here in the monster entries but stats for these creatures are way in the back of the book.
 Monsters including the usual suspects such as the Dwarves and Elves of D&D fame are here as well closer to their inspiration from mythology and the movie Legend then the Monster Manual.
 Monsters of Earth, Sky, and Water are also here and they're mean as hell too, some of these races have an aura of menace and murder about them in spades enough to give many of the usual suspects from the Fiend Folio a run for their money.
 Werecreatures and horrors of the night are given their due as well, there is a sense that this isn't simply an Alternative age of mythology but something of an alien world entirely. The book reeks of Appendix N style Weird Tales action and in several spots delivers exactly that style of vibe making the Bestiary a perfect resource for OSR games such at Lamenations of the Flame Princess and Dark Albion a perfect fit.
 Remember those various charts and formula from the Compleat Alchemist? Well,  the Magical Hybrids and Constructs chapter has all of those monsters and more. This is one of those sections that the DM in some of the games I played in back in '90 or so were forbidden from referring back to this book for useful tid bits unless the appropriate rolls were made.
 The Monstrosities and Oddities chapter were for a wizard to look through for help with their latest hybrid monsters or worse. Its a particularly good chapter in a book full of bloody useful stuff.
 You get ton of monsters from myth and legend sprinkled thoughout the product and it really lets the DM know the details of a species without bogging down heavily on the gaming aspects of the creatures and monsters it describes.
 The undead are treated with something akin to respect and a sense of horror that just can get under your skin very quickly when you realize the full implications for adventurers. Ghouls are very Lovecraftian with a hint of menace from legend. Use some of these with some caution they can cause a lot of damage.
 Speaking of damage one difference with the religions of Atlantis as an appendix the PC's have full breath and depth of the setting's faiths. This makes this chapter something the clerics in the party are going to thumb though.
 Devils, demons and the infernal races get their due along with the spirit realms of Atlantis: The Lost World  setting. There's a ton of details here including infernal rulers, monsters, a lot of Atlantian occult details and more.
 Lots of the spiritual entities are given full fleshed out entries along with highlighted bullet points about bits and pieces of their full identities and place  within the spirit realms.
 The rulers and entities of the Elemental planes are also in evidence and their chapter opens up all kinds of possible alternative plane hopping and crousing on adventurers parts.
 The Genie, demons, and other horrors of the Abyss and the various Atlantian Hells are mean , dangerous, and can cause adventurers incedible amounts of stress and death.
 Many of the Earthbound demons are a part of the setting's spiritual realms as well as the various campaign and setting material driving the overarching plot in the landscape of  Atlantis enabling a DM to play merry havoc with adventurers out in the wilds.
 The sheer variety of monsters can be a bit overwhelming and placement is critical, there are several key points and even a smaller monster driven adventures are easily handled with handy tables and charts referencing everything into easily read sections of material.
Even the realms of the dead get their due and some of the cosmology issues of earlier edition games are elegantly handled in the Atlantis books. This also means that games such Astonishing Swordsmen and Sorcerers of Hyperborea can easily benefit from the Atlantis: The Lost World Source Book because the material is easy to convert and with a little fifth grade math can be used for all kinds of adventure design and custom old school adventure builds.
 There's a sense of completeness about the Atlantis: The Lost World Source Book  as if we know that this book is only one that we're really going to need. Is it any wonder that with such an almost system neutral gaming system within the bounds of this book. This makes book an invaluable resource for the old school gamer who wants to flesh out his own material.

All in all the Atlantis: The Lost World Source Book By Bard Games is a must have for any old school DM or player. The material here is fresh and interesting, as it was in 1988 and can be used with a wide variety of OSR games. The trick is to know how and where to apply the monsters and setting material as the DM needs.

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