By Thilo Graf
This pdf is 23 pages long, 1 page front cover, 1 page blank inside of front cover, 1 page editorial, 1 page back cover and half a page SRD, leaving 18.5 pages of content.
This instalment of the TRIBES-series once again features an great poem/excerpt from a song to serve as an additional hook on the page with the ToC, that also lists statblocks by CR, the new feats, etc.
After that, we get the obligatory introductory page on how to read statblocks for novice DMs and after another page chapter header, we are introduced to the Troglodytes.
Their history, ecology and so on take up 2 pages. The troglodytes worship an elder evil at behalf of their aboleth master. A side box is given explaining the tribal art of the troglodytes and Amon-Pyr, said elder evil, is also given a short portfolio (including domains, favoured weapons etc.).
On the next page, we get 6 new battle feats (including nice fluff-lines for each feat) as well as two alternative class features. The feats are:
- Cavern Stride: In caverns, you can treat 10 ft. of difficult terrain per round as normal terrain and 5-foot step in it.
- Dark Knowledge: Gain the spell-like abilities to cast death watch and doom once per day. However, no caster level is given for these. I guess the prerequisite caster level 1st could be a hint that the feat uses the same casting ability as the primary casting class.
- Greater Cavern Stride: Move 30 ft. through difficult terrain in caverns as if it was normal terrain.
- Greater Dark Knowledge: Gain Darkness and Death Knell as a spell-like ability. Same problem as with Dark Knowledge, though: I don’t know which caster-level the new spell-like abilities get.
- Greater Rending Claws: If you hit enemies with both claws, one of the attacks deals 2 points of extra damage. Stacks with Rending Claws.
- Rending Claws: : If you hit enemies with both claws, one of the attacks deals 2 points of extra damage.
The alternative class features are:
- Barbarian: Cave Dweller, replaces fast movement, grants +2 Ini, Perception, Stealth and Survival, increases +1 at 8th level and 5 levels thereafter.
- Fighter: Unarmored Warrior, replaces Armor Training, gain +1 dodge bonus to AC and CMD, +1 every 4 levels thereafter.
On the next page, we get 4 new cleric spells (I’m not entirely sure why they are cleric spells, not druid, witch or adept spells, which would have felt more natural to me):
- Aura of the Grave (Clr 2): Shield of negative energy punishes people attacking you.
- Greater Weight of Ages (Clr 4): Temporarily age character up to venerable age, with cumulative penalties. Nice idea.
- Wall of Water (Clr 3): Both available as dark water, blocking sight, or turbulent water, making it hard to cross the wall. Unfortunately this spell features a typo, it should read “several effects”, not several affects”.
- Weight of Ages (Clr 3): Temporarily age character up to venerable age, with cumulative penalties.
On the next page, we get two new magic items, both including their own artworks, lore sections, personality & background, requirements and anything else you might require:
- Abrul’s Bane: The fluff text at the top speaks of a whip, when this is clearly a long sword. An editing mistake that could have been avoided. Other than that, a nice weapon.
- Black Whip of Amon-Pyr: A dark whip with an entrapped priest’s spirit. Nice.
After that, we get the next chapter (including the chapter title page) of statblocks and encounters. Three sample encounters are provided, lone scout (EL 4), scavengers (EL 6), scouting group (EL 8) and raiding party (EL 10). There are also modifications for each encounter provided. The beginning of the chapter also features the statblocks for the tribe’s non-combatants:
- Ebon Lake Young (CR 1)
- Ebon Lake Female (CR 2)
After that, we get to the main meat, the statblocks, which also feature a nice little fluff-text for the DM to read to the players as well as a short little extra block for all critters with barbarian rage, showing their changed statistics:
- Master of the Ebon Lake, Irfel-Thoth [elder aboleth] (CR 9): Perhaps due to me loving Aboleths to death, perhaps due to “Sunken Empires” or “Darkness without Form: Secrets of the Mimic”, I somehow felt this Aboleth rather lacking. I would have loved for him to have some special abilities or at least get mannerisms, hooks, something to make him stand out more. As written, it’s “just” a cool Aboleth.
- Acolyte Guard [Degenerate troglodyte cleric 3/barbarian 2](CR 7)
- Ebon Lake Warrior [Degenerate Troglodyte barbarian 1](CR 3)
- Ebon Lake Hunter [Degenerate Troglodyte barbarian 1/ranger 1] (CR 4)
- Ebon Lake Champion [Degenerate Troglodyte barbarian 3] (CR 5)
- Garix, Ebon Lake Chieftain [Degenerate Troglodyte barbarian 2/fighter3] (CR 7) Unfortunately the chieftain is not given his own block on personality and behaviour.
- Lesser Acolyte of Amon-Pyr [Degenerate Troglodyte cleric 3](CR 5)
- High Acolyte [Degenerate Troglodyte cleric 7] (CR 9)
We are also given a new template, the degenerate creature template, including sections on ecology, combat & tactics of degenerate creatures and their lore.
Finally, we are given the CR2-basic statblock of the Degenerate Troglodyte as well as the necessary information and stats to design more tribal members.
Layout is, as always with Raging Swan products, great and printer-friendly. I encountered minor typos (see review), something that didn’t happen in the first instalments of the TRIBES-series. The b/w-artwork is of the high quality I’ve come to expect. Anybody who has been following my reviews knows that I’m a total sucker for Aboleths and anything remotely Lovecraftian and thus I’ve been quite hyped about this instalment of the TRIBES-line. While the pdf conveys the old-world-flair I’ve come to love about Raging Swan books and thankfully (as btw. all of their files) doesn’t fall into the magic item-inflation trap, I’ve mainly had one impression, namely the one of untapped potential. There is an alternate class feature for the fighter, yet apart from the chieftain no troglodyte has fighter levels. How did he get them? Does he have any goals? Why does the Aboleth have no special characteristics byond being a big bad Aboleth? Why don’t we get e.g. the stats for the artifact he is looking for? Why are the troglodytes tactics so…boring? Swarm the enemy and beat them to pulp might work for the degenerate creatures they are, but e.g. under the direction of their Abolethmaster, they might e.g. use their walls of water to their advantage. What about underwater tactics? If e.g. the space for some of the rather boring and rules-ambiguous feats would have been used for a section like that, the book could be better. Don’t get me wrong, this is still a nice book, just not on par with the rest of the TRIBES-line. Due to the editing glitches and the rules-ambiguous feats, I’ll settle for 3.5 stars, rounded down to 3.
Troglodytes of the Tentacled One is available from: