Thursday, December 24, 2015

Review & Commentary on Tales from the Game Tavern issue #2 From Ultanya Publishing For Your Old School Campaigns

This is the time of year when families gather and gamers will steal off to the gaming table to add in that extra time of adventure to grab some experience points. Over the last couple of years Krampus has been gaining in popularity and now Tales From The Game Tavern Issue two features a whole round of articles and merry mayhem centered around this entity. But is it any good for your old school campaigns and is there adventure potential here under the tree for your PC's this year? Let's find out!

Right its that time of year again when the forces of Saint Nicholas and Krampus are visiting children around the world Ultanya Publishing sent me a copy of their OSR fanzine. The pdf is packed with twenty seven pages of Seasonal OSR adventure fodder for your old school or retroclone campaigns. Here's what you get packed into a system neutral set of OSR rules. The first thing we get into is a quick overview of the Krampus demi god and the traditions associated with him. There is something a bit horrific and dangerous about this entity. We get into a bit of what is now referred to these days as Gygaxian monster ecology with the Krampus. There were more then a few ideas swimming around in my head reading through this issue.
  • Klergy of Krampus: This is a secret organization that assists the Krampus, basically these are his secret priests and clergy. We get both background and some guidelines on how these entity identifies his targets. Basically adventurers might find themselves trying to save a target of these being of power.

  • Figurines of Mischievous Power: We then get a complete set of figures of power created in the workshops of wizards with a slant towards those of a Fey or Impish school of magic. They can be very dangerous in their own right and might be the basis for either a mini adventure or a full blown encounter. There are four of these minor magic items and could fit right at home in either a Lamentations of the Flame Princess game or as a part of Red & Pleasant Land dark fantasy or fairy tale campaign.

  • The Frozen Man: This is a mid level encounter with a very, very, dangerous and horrid Winter themed monster as a mini adventure encounter. The thing has the potential to make a party's life pretty damn complicated and could potentially form the basis for an entire adventure all by itself.

  • Gruss vom Krampus:This is the real heart and soul of this issue, a fully fleshed out adventure starring the Krampus itself or at least having it as the center of the adventure. You get a fully realized adventure location that you can stitch right into your own Dark European or Germany style campaign. There's plenty here to work with including a rumor table, dark locations, adventure complication and a quick map of the area. This adventure could work equally well as a Raven loft setting adventure or as a part of a dark fairy tale woven into a Lamentations of the Flame Princess game.

  • Krampusnacht Curios: These are twelve minor magic items left behind by the deadly and decidedly devilish Krampus himself. These relics are both interesting and dangerous for PC's to encounter and one or two could be added into the adventure  Gruss vom Krampus for just that extra sort of kick in the pants to adventurers.

  • Roast Beast Soup: This is in game recipe with some very interesting and weird potential for in game setting material. Basically this is a piece that was inspired by Dr.Seuss's story ' How The Grinch Stole Christmas'.
 Tales from the Game Tavern issue #2 has a lot going for it and I can actually see using much of the Krampuscentric holiday gaming material. Much of this issue fits right into the back end of a dark fairy tale OD&D, AD&D 1st edition or a retroclone system campaign. I can potentially see using about ninety percent of this material in a Dark Albion or Lamentations of the Flame Princess game where everything is both familiar and alien at the same time. The ideas here are meant to be added into or used to foreshadow the coming of Saint Nicholas and his brother the Krampus whose the focus of Tales From the Game Tavern. But does it work and is it worth spending the cash for the book or download. My short answer is yes it is. There isn't a ton of artwork in this product but there doesn't have to be. This is solid gaming content and its easy enough to pick up some public domain artwork for that purpose.

 Now the real star of  the show is the adventure Gruss vom Krampus  now without revealing too much its quite plain to see that by tweaking the adventure with the contents of this issue its plain that Tales from the gaming Tavern could be used as mini holiday campaign. Or this book could be used as a jump off point for a whole series of adventures centered around the Krampus. All in all I was pleasantly surprised and delighted to get this issue. There is a ton here that can add just that bit more old school holiday hi jinks and horror to the holidays.
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