Friday, March 27, 2020

OSR Review & Commentary On James V. West's Black Pudding Heavy Helping Vol. One From Random Order Creations For OSR & Old School Campaigns

So I've been away on repair work today but that didn't stop my other half from making sure I had my OSR plate full with a bit of James V. West's  Black  Pudding Heavy Helping Vol. One From  Random Order Creations. So no one sent me this nor gave it to me. My wife bought it for me because she's a bit worried that I'm going into OSR with drawl. I'm not but thanks to my wife for thinking of me from across the pond. So all of the first four issues of the OSR fanzine Black Pudding is put into one gonzo & well done collection.

  All of the wonderfully weird character classes featured in Black Pudding are here with the savage gonzo factor of James & other guest authors put into the savage dungeon master style of Mr.West's artwork. 

Monsters, treasure, adventures, spells, hirelings, character sheets & even micro adventures are here.
Do you wanna sample of the sort of weirdness that I'm talking about? 'Pay What You Want For issue #5 of Black Pudding here. 

Here's the over all thing about James V. West's Black  Pudding Heavy Helping Vol. One . Everything in this fanzine is gear to actually be used in an OSR campaign especially along the lines of Labyrinth Lord or the 1981 D&D Basic Set edited by Tom Moldvay, and its accompanying Expert Set by David "Zeb" Cook. And why Heavy Helping works as a collection is because there's a weird ass gonzo consistency to the entire book grinding for a an OSR or old school campaign feel throughout the volume. The layout & writing is well done & very much up to James V. West's usual standards!

Black Pudding Heavy Helping Vol. One  feels like peeking at some old school dungeon master's campaign journal that they spent years building. But Black Pudding Heavy Helping Vol. One  is actually useful at the table top level.
Why is Black Pudding Heavy Helping Vol. One  actually useful at the table top level? There's a myriad of reasons but let's hit on my top five really: 

  1. There's a butt load of new PC classes that evoke that natural gonzo factor but peer past that & you see actual thought here. Some of that thought is deranged but in a good & old school way. The PC classes work on their own merits. 
  2. Those beautifully weird character sheets that have everything going for them. 
  3. A solid vision throughout the Black Pudding Heavy Helping Vol. One  book echoes the fanzine approach that works. 
  4. The mini encounters evoke some of the material that we've seen in early issues of  'The Dragon' magazine back in the TSR days. 
  5. Even though this material is geared for Labyrinth Lord I can see Black Pudding Heavy Helping Vol. One  easily being used with other OSR or old school systems. 
There's even a bunch of one page dungeons, NPC hirelings, and much more in the form of lots & lots of random tables. These are a staple of OSR products but in Black Pudding Heavy Helping Vol. One  they are an asset not a hindrance for campaign play. There's even material here to improve or expand upon the great & classic PC classes of cleric, fighter, wizard, & thief. Then there's magic house rules, followed by the classic Black Pudding fanzine covers. Black Pudding Heavy Helping Vol. One  gets a healthy five outta five. 

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