Wednesday, January 19, 2022

Insiders Peek: Nordland Bestiary

 Douglas Cole of Gaming Ballistic launched a kickstarter for a full color bestiary for the Dungeon Fantasy Roleplaying Game (Powered by GURPS). I knew from prior experience this was going to be a very good book and went in as much as I could afford, even adding the VTT tokens for Foundry as an add-on though I don't have a license (I'll give my copy as a late Christmas present to someone who does). Also bought the hard copy as I know it will be excellent in quality and appearance, even if I am unlikely to be playing face to face instead of over the internet. His products are just that good and well worth supporting!

The author shared a preview copy with some people to get feedback and gave me permission to post this sneak peak.

Overall Impression

As expected the layout is very nice! I like that each entry gets a good picture and each picture includes a shadow of a Viking to help scale things. The descriptions, stat blocks, and summaries all are easy to read and pleasing to the eye. Also included is just enough humor to make reading it fun. The way an entry is laid out it will be very easy to just turn to a page and have the relavant information jump out at you. The addition of the creature reference cards, standup art, and Foundry tokens will also be very useful in helping the GM and players get a fast feel for each creature.
As should be no surprise to anyone who has bought material from Gaming Ballistic, were getting good value for our money here!


Honestly? This was a pleasant surprise!  I expected the standard bit, but what I saw was so much more useful and fun. As this is for a specific setting the author was able to tailor some things. The "Not Norse Mythology" cosmology section was brief but gave a good feel for the Nine Worlds and had me thinking for a moment "I didn't realize the void was like that!"  The entry blends together the Lovecraftian Elder Things into the setting in a very fitting manner that suits the mythology. The origin and function of each of the Nine Worlds works well and is very evocative, while being fairly close to the source mythology as I recall it.
But you know what really stood out and made me take notice?
The section on faerie and how it blended with Irish and European folklore as well as common tropes into what feels like a cohesive cosmology.  Also the trait descriptions for various advantages and disadvantages really works for me. It made me want to play in the setting.

The Creatures

The bulk of the bestiary is of course the creatures, and I have only seen up to the letter E in the sneak peak. 
  • Aesir: What would a Norse bestiary be without some Aesir? So far only the Dark Pack are here but boy do they stand out as fearsome and fun foes! Not just wolves, but undead wolves that keep coming back!
  • Alfur and Faerie: We get some standards from folklore but also some new, or at least relatively unknown critters as well. Further the examples fit together in a way that gives is chaos and diversity, yet flows well enough that new creatures are easily inspired. Frankly, they just make better sense as a whole than I have often seen.
  • Animals: Each animal entry covers several known species, typically with a collage of pictures. Animals are often overlooked but they provide not only low level foes but also useful companions and background. We have the staples here, and a few odd ducks that you wont always see.  Also of course there are dire and giant versions.
  • Demons and Elder Things: They have a set place in the cosmology and we get to see some interesting and scary varieties.
  • Dragons: A nice variety here too, with more to come; These are typically creatures of Jotunheim and come in a good variety of scariness.
  • Elementals: They hail mostly from Nifleheim which I found an interesting choice and contrast with the typical elemental and para-elemental planes we see in That Other Game.
I wont go into detail on the specific creatures, we have so many good ones and some nice creatures to bring a gleam to any DMs evil or appeal to the avarice of most delvers.

Summary or Buy This Now!

This project promised a great deal, and no surprise its delivering on that promise. I am confident that not only is it going to be well worth my money, it will help generate even more goodness for GURPS, The Fantasy Trip, and Dragon Heresay in the future.

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