Saturday, January 12, 2019

5th Edition Horror

5th Edition Horror is a supplement released by Fat Goblin Games. And if horror is something you want to focus on in your 5th edition game, this book is essential.

Before I get into the content, I'll mention the tome's specs. It's a 132 page soft cover. The interior is in crimson and shades of grey. The art is fitting for the subject and either gothic or horrific. Visually the interior looks like a 2nd Edition Ravenloft book, which is perfect given the subject.

Now let's dig into the content.

The first chapter discusses horror in roleplaying games. This short chapter discusses what horror is, how to add it to rpg's, and different types of horror. While it's only a few pages, there's some great advice and info here.

The second chapter includes several new races for your games. They are caliban, changeling, graveborn, ravenfolk, shadeling, werekin, and wretched. Each one definitely fits into the horror motif. My favorites are the caliban and the wretched. Technically originating from any race, these poor misshapen souls can be quite brutish and are despised by civilized folks. My other favorite races is the wretched, which are essentially playable flesh golems. Ever wanted to play Frankenstein's monster? Here's your chance.

The second chapter focuses on character classes and is packed full of new goodness. We presented with a new class, the apothecary. This class is a mixture of magic and science and could fill some interesting roles in a party Their creations can heal and restore, or damage and control. My only critique is that it's called the apothecary, but in the description the class is often referred to as the pharmacist. Every class gets a new specialty too. Here are a few of my favorites. The possessed berserker barbarians rage comes from literally being possessed, a curse, or some sort of unholy lineage. Even if you don't have a horror-centric campaign, there are some great roleplay possibilities with this one. The corrupt contemplative is really cool. It's a corrupted monk who's abilities are death related. Finally their's a new warlock patron, the undead lord that's a perfect fit for Ravenloft. The warlock's patron could even be Strahd himself... which would be quite a twist.

Chapter Four includes six new backgrounds. A few of them have alternate versions which extends the selection. Chapter Five includes the monster lore skill and some of the thought behind it's creation. There are 18 new feats to add a dark twist to your characters. My favorite is the Underdog feat which gives you bonuses when the odds are against you, but also have to have 6 successful death saves to stabilize.

Chapter Six focuses on equipment. There's a nice discussion of improvised weapons and shields. There are many new equipment packs and several useful new items (including rules for stakes).

The seventh chapter focuses on magic, including spells, rituals, and magical items. The spells add a nice touch to villains and can also help heroes fighting the darkness. There are new rituals that feel perfect for a horror game and there are also ritual-rules for non-casters. These sound like they'd be great adventure starters. The magic items are a mixed bag of horrific and cursed items. There are also some excellent tools for those that heroically shine their light into the darkness and fight it's evil.

Chapter Eight focuses on poisons, diseases, and haunts. Of note, a disease that could cause the zombie apocalypse is included in this chapter. Chapter Nine gives codified rules for madness, a classic element of horror fiction and games. Chapter Ten gives tips on creating horror adventures and looks at various places they could take place.

Chapter Eleven is the meatiest (pun intended) chapter in the book. This discusses monsters and other villains. There are 23 new monsters (well mostly new, a few are D&D classics that didn't appear in the 5e Monster Manual). There are some other creature types, but most of the monsters are undead or aberrations, which are the most iconic horror foes. My favorite monsters are the new corpse dragons. These dragons are probably not what you're expecting from the name. They aren't necessarily undead abominations, but are horrific creations tied to classic medicine. There are six villain templates that can expand pre-existing monsters. These templates are helpful because in addition to giving crunch adjustments, they are include descriptions on how to use the villain archetypes.

As I said at the start of this review, if you want to inject a dose of horror into your 5E you will WANT this book. There's so much horrific content and it's all fantastic. If you're planning on running Curse of Strahd you NEED this.

I've ran Curse of Strahd once already, but now that I have 5th Edition Horror, I really want to run it again. There really isn't anything in the book that could be incorporated into WOTC's re-imagining of the gothic horror classic. The doll monster, for example, gave me a great idea on how to expand interactions with my all-time favorite npc, Gadof Blinksy. Shadelings are great substitutes for Darklings, if you wish to allow and outcast Vistani as a character. Ravenfolk could definitely have a tie to the wereravens that watch over Barovia.

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