Bandits of the Rampant Horror
By Thilo Graf
This pdf from Raging Swan Press is 26 pages long, 1 page front cover, 1 page blank inside front cover, 2 pages editorial & ToC (featuring a table of creatures by CR and cool rhyming stanzas to offer something for your bard to rhyme about), 1 page offering advice for novice GMs to read statblocks, 1 page SRD, 1 page advertisement and 1 page back cover, leaving 18 pages for the bandits, so let’s check them out, shall we?
Featuring an aptly-written introduction to the subject matter, we are introduced to the order of the rampant horror under Tallega, the feudally organized order of dread Spriggan knights mounted on Krenshar. Those of you not owning Bestiary 2 need not fret – all the necessary information to use the knights is given in this pdf. Featuring a nice overview of the history of the order and the Spriggan diaspora as well as a lore-section, the order makes for a delightfully sinister twist of the Arthurian myth, as they keep searching for an evil artefact called the Scabrous Grail, including stats and lore-sections for the dark chalice.
After 3 sample encounters, we are introduced to the Spriggan Knights and following the innovation of Wererats, we get 8 sample names for the Spiggan knights, all featuring enough character to make the statblock not just another monster. The regular knights are Spriggan fighters 2 (CR 5) and they ride advanced (CR 2) Krenshar steeds. We also get statblocks for the rank-and-file Spriggan-at arms (CR 3) and for the cadre of 4 troubleshooters (diviner 3, CR 5). The latter also get 4 sample names and personalities, offering another dimension to them if you desire to use them as written. It should be noted that each of the Spriggan statblocks include a separate section on their alternate large forms.
Baron Tallega Raundrev (fighter 2/rogue [thug] 4, CR 9), the petty, vicious ruler of the order makes for a truly twisted take on an incompetent, craven ruler seeking legislation, but make no mistake, he is not to be trifled with, as his Bulette mount makes for a devastating adversary in itself…and he has more associates. After all, what would even a mockery of a fiefdom and a court would be without a proper troubadour? He and all other NPCs get the extensive RSP-treatment, offering pieces of information on mannerisms, hooks etc. Excellent!
Canerous and Vercherix, a dread Ettin bard (level 4, CR 8) with an unique ability makes for a crude and bawdy singer. Even more interestingly, one of the heads is in love with the baron’s paramour while the other hates her, making for an interesting love "triangle". Even better, we get a full song for the bard to recite – great support!
The troubadour ‘s (and baron’s) fey-blooded harpy paramour (sorc 8, CR 9) comes with her own nice piece of artwork and sample encounter and, while cool, the true star among the baron’s court is definitely Varisthu, the Vargouille bone-orcale (level 6, CR 9) who tends to the fallen with his decapitated plague zombies and Vargouille friars, seeking to further add to their ranks. Seeking regeneration via the grail, he is a legendary beast waiting to be reborn, the dread spiritual centre of the order to the baron’s worldly might.
Editing and formatting are top-notch, I didn’t notice a single glitch. Layout adheres to the printer-friendly 2-column RSP-standard and offers us some nice pieces of b/w-artwork. The pdf comes fully bookmarked and with a screen-version optimized for use with e-readers. Author David Posener has created a gripping, enticing, original, cool, depraved, sinister and well-crafted group of NPCs both players and DMs will be sure to remember. With additional support like the rhyming stanzas, the sample song, the rp-potential within the group, all the names that make individuals out of statblocks and the sheer imaginativeness of this offering (Vargouille oracle, baby!), I practically am forced to give this my highest possible rating – 5 stars and the Endzeitgeist seal of approval. Well done – I want to read more by David!
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