By Thilo Graf
This instalment of the TRIBES-series is 34 pages long, 1 page front cover, 1 page blank inside of front cover, 1 page overview, 1 page editorial, 1 page ToC and SRD, 1 page introduction on how to read stat-blocks, 1 page ad and 1 page back cover. That leaves 26 pages of content.
The first chapter (6 pages) gives us an introduction to the 4 vastly different Brethren of the Crimson Altar. It is here that I have to insert a kind of disclaimer: I love vampires, I really do. And I’m in team Dracula, I.e. I think that vampires a) should never, ever sparkle and b) have very specific ideas on what vampires should be able to do, power-wise and how they should not act. (Like morons à la in John Carpenter movies.) To cut a long story short, I love my vampires intelligent, crafty, strong and devious. It’s hard to satisfy me in that regard. The different vampires presented here succeed flavour-wise in that endeavour. We also get a statblock for Kulan-Wyr guardians, lvl 11 skeletal champion monks and the intelligent, malevolent crimson altar. The chapter closes with one page that neatly sums up the particular things to consider when battling a vampire – change shape, create spawn and vampiric weaknesses – all compiled on one page. Nice.
The next chapter (10 pages) details the Brethren in the complex manner one has come to expect from Raging Swan, i.e. complete with mannerisms, distinguishing features, hooks and even favoured disguises! It should be noted, that in contrast to other Raging Swan TRIBES-supplements, these statblocks are almost Rite Publishing-level complex, which is VERY NICE. We also get statblocks for Bat and Rat-swarms and each Brethren gets his/her own artwork.
The final chapter (10 pages) of the pdf features encounters with the Brethren 5 sample encounters, one of which is actually a smear-campaign against the PCs. This chapter also features 7 stat-blocks and has some neat ideas as well as artwork. The final page of the pdf collects the statblocks by CR and type with page-references.
I very hard to satisfy when it comes to vampires. This little book did it. It is extensive and provides a sufficiently deadly cabal of bloodsuckers with ample roleplaying potential for your perusal and features excellent editing, formatting, writing and b/w-artwork to boot. For the very low price, you practically can’t ask for more. It’s the best instalment of the excellent TRIBES-series as of yet and will be nigh impossible to surpass. An excellent resource. My final verdict practically has to be 5 stars.