Hi, I've managed to read the Bestiary part of the Book of Beasts and I have to say that while I'm very impressed by the artwork, monsters concepts and encounters I'm much less convinced by the Resources parts.
I wish this pre-print phase also accepts feedback from the community with nothing set in stone, and tha it's not not only a backers' proofreading phase, so I'm posting my criticism in constructive way, full of ideas and reasoning on why certain things work and certain not in my perspective. And I can't tell you how much I would appreciate a feedback from the writers here
I think there is room for improvement on the Resources and the issues I point out are, in general:
- relying on already existing mechanics (the Vampyr is fantastic exception, an example of the opposite of this!)
- the abuse of "+X to this& that" bonuses mechanic, after a while it feels very, VERY gamey, in a bad way...like "kill&loot videgamey"
- the use of logical shortcuts like "it is strong, kill it and consume it and become strong too!" (when I consume a rooster I don't grew feathers and I don't become a bloody berserker against territorial disputes ). This logic shortcut has been used many times: he was vigilant/strong/resilient, the property transfers to you and whatever...
- balancement. A few things are really really out-of-place (to not say "broken") and should be re-evaluated.
And now the list:
Add a blank page after the cover before the double-pages artwork, for PDF-readers, so a reader can visualize paired pages properly. As it is paired pages are displayed divided incorrectly.
Frogmen weapon: no sense for them having +1 damage, they’re primitive weapons. If a player realise how powerful they are he would leave his hard-gained steel for a rude weapon made of fish bones.
Wanna keep them scary and powerful? Change description and keep stats as they are, example: “Their weapons are coated daily with the secretion of skin glands of the amphibian, so they have +1, the effect lasts one day only”.
Eggs: Ok, but how many eggs a cluster have? Frogs’ cluster are tens of eggs, wouldnt it be too much valuable at 5s/egg? Maybe a more easy approach would be setting the value for the entire cluster without counting the eggs…it's a minor thing though.
PAGE 17 Amoeba attack
Why should the PC recognize the face of loved ones if the amoeba was met away from home in a dwarven mine on th eother side of the map? I would delete that sentence or add a “MAY vaguely recognize” …
PAGE 15 Basilisk
“head of a rooster”. The (wonderful) artwork doesn’t have a rooster head.
Same for pag. 20: “snake-like monstrosity with the head of a bird”.
Maybe it’s unclear if the basilisk is born through a strange natural cycle of laying eggs near poisonous toads or otherwise it is a beast created through alchemy/magic. Not sure if this foggy origin is wanted or not. But is fine!
PAGE. 21: Resources extracted from the bog-men seems not that-well-connected to their lore. The logic connection between “rapacious vigilance” and 1d10 artifact dice for scouting seems a bit far-fetched, in particular if used while traveling.
Idea1: the Scouting roll should be used only in adventure sites or in locations (not while traveling) and -if successfull- grants a general awareness of where living things are in the place (side-effect: lose 1 point to 1 attribute…may DEX due to numbness sensation?).
Idea2: same as “1” but the awareness is related to treasure/shiny things. (I like more idea1 to be fair)
Idea3: in analogy to attack n. 6 (telepathic flashes of bog-men’s death) the elixir coud provide an effect similar to Awareness lore where you touch things and places and get info about their history.
Idea4: a Bog-men elisir or getting grasp of their main jewel may grant a sort of prescience about undead creature in a given area.
PAGE 24: “Diatrimas”. Nice inclusion. PAGE 25: resources from the dread-raptor. How should those special arrows be manages? Separately from standard arrows? In this case I thing there’s space to specify that. Also, to avoid “I want to recover shot arrows from the dead bodies” behavior maybe is the case to specify that the the roll made for checking if the arrows-dice degrade already comprise the attempt to recover arrows from dead bodies.
Also: “Weapon Bonus +2, Weapon Damage +1, and a D8 artifact die”. Ah-ehm, they are too powerful. I don't think tha adding good feathers to an arrow reshapes SO effectively. Give a +1 or +2 to the hit-roll and stop there, IMHO.
Pag. 40 – resources from spiders are material for +1 weapons. +1 weapons from spiders seems quite unrelated (no offence meant).
Why not poison or silk? I think these would be more coherent with the monsters being spiders instead of the abused (in fantasy) “+N weapons” …
Poison well, it’s poison, we have rules for that. Maybe lethal for females and paralysing for males and juvenile spiders (females kill, males bring food the the female).
Silk could be used to give a +1/+2 to (non-metal?) armor …maybe at the cost of making them more inflammable (+1 damage/round). Also silk would be useful to craft virtually-impossible-to-cut ropes. Also silk is absent in tyhe Forbidden Lands, having silk behave like…silk would be fine enough? You make silk clothes, they are expensive and give +2 to social interaction.
If wanna keep +1 material for weapons then I think there's room to add all three resources (+N weapons, poisons and silk) with different hard skill tests to harvest the stuff, or differentiate them based on spider sex/maturity.
Page 47 – IMP – is “they RESPECT iron” the right translation?
DRAWN TO MAGIC – Imps appear when overcharging AND rolling one or more “1s”. Too frequent? Honestly I would leave it to GM discretion. This game doesn't need another bashing on wizards and most important: another rule to keep track of.
Page 51: pencil marks from the Iron Dragon artwork overlap with the text, should they be erased to clean the paragraph?
Page 53: musing about game balance. Metal Resource from Iron Dragon gives +2 to weapons and +4 to armor. I understand killing that beast must be an epic thing and should grant an epic reward but maybe +4 to armor is too much? A fully armored character already offsets many attacks made by big monsters by having a comparable number of rolled dice. Considering this, providing a +4 to PC that (at that point) should already have a good set of armor and a good set of talents maybe gives too much invulnerability to already powerful PCs? Let’s consider that characters that invest in multiple dodges and/or parry talents and a good set of armor should be already in good chance to survive many dangers. Those characters have already survived the “funnel” part of the game (the start, with insanely high mortality), and from that moment forward they will become more heroic and impervious to damage, is +4 to armor opportune? I don’t think it is.
Maybe a pre-statted armor set like the one from the Mire Drake (p. 61) is more balanced and controllable from a balancement perspective?
Page 60 –Mire Drake’s DANGEROUS ALLURE is PCs INSIGHT vs Drake’s WITS. On a failure PCs lose 1 turn. On a draw? Nothing happens, right? Just a question ...
Page 64 Mummies: DRAWN TO HUMAN ENTRAILS: Mummies attacking the highest STRENGTH character because he’s the most “full-of-intestines” seems…silly motivated? Also let’s consider that, in general, rules that dictate which target the monster hits subtracts from the GM ability to manage the balancement of a given encounter by not letting him split or diverge attacks towards many players. I really think that rule is bad lore-wise and from a game-management perspective. No offence intended: there are margins for it getting better, for example keeping only the last sentence: “If the person dies, the mummy will – regardless of the circumstances – spend one round ripping out and eating the victim’s heart”. It's enough.
Page 65: Mummy’s resources: grind them and consume the powder to get a +3 STRENGTH for one round. I’m no against the effect by itself but the explanation boils down to a “it’s very strong, consume it and become stronger!” and it’s not convincing for me, also it’s not that thematic. Why not making the powder as a sort of defense against undead and/or a catalyst for necromancy spells? Or why don’t make it a required ingredient for some alchemic potion?
Page 69: Nature Spirit resources. Instead of the usual +N to an attribute (Empathy in this case) why don’t make it has a potent pheromone-style elisir of love/charm that lasts for one day and then leave the victim with the awareness of having been deceived? A one-shot charming effect that can be resisted through WITS (with a malus equal to the successes rolled in the crafting roll used to extract the porfume).
Page 71: Possessor description: “It prefers to possess humanoid bodies, whose physical appearance is distorted and assumes features similar to the flayed form of the bloodlings, but larger, stronger, and covered in spiked, demonic armor” doesn’t fit the artwork with normal-body-warrior. Unimportant overall, as for the Basilisk, but worth pointing it out if there are any plants to update artwork/description before publishing the book.
Page. 77 – Rat King’s bone flute. Does it grant immunity to Fear-attacks too? By the wording I would say so. Maybe too powerful and not coherent with other magical artifacts in FL always having a side-effect.
Page 81 – Stone Troll. The resources extraction is dedicated to dwarves only. I’m perfectly ok with it and I think there is space to add some dedicated additional effects from various monster resources for specific magic lores usage (see: bog-men elisir awareness advice).
Page. 89 Skolopendra feces. I’m starting to think so far I’ve read too many “+X bonuses” to given rolls. If the stinking material strike fear in monsters and creatures let’s subtract 2-3 dice from their attack and making them prone to runaway (GM’s discretion: at the start of the encounter or after having suffered some wounds). Let’s make it work as a repellent instead of a +X to attack rolls.
I understand there is some rationale in giving bonus to players instead of giving malus to enemies, but doesn’t it seem… too “videogamey” after a while?
I think the repellent nature of this resources should be used as a chance to avoid bad encounters more than “let’s have a +2 buff to kill that beast”.
Page 93. “The swarm is intelligent so you can extract and consume its intelligence and have a bonus on WITS and LEAD THE WAY tests” explanation quite convinced me that having Resources is good, but maybe not every monster deserves having them.
Idea1: making the powder ad ingredient to spells (D8 dice to spellcasting instead of WITS) and a more potent ingredient for rituals (d10 dice to casting rituals).
Idea2: a hard LORE test for Sorcerers too know that capturing the biggest insects and consuming them grant the ability to control/summon the swarm (dedicated ritual) and unleash it against a settlement. This controlled “unnatural” swarm dies off after a day.
Idea3: the dead insects have great appeal over demons as hyper-nutrient food for creatures made of mog. This can be used as a bait for bestial demons. How? With which mechanics? I don’t know, I don’t care: narrative above rules.
This last on is my favourite.
TUPILAQ: it’s ok. Having a guideline for a ritual to create it would be good.
TWISTED ENT: it’ ok, but after having read all these monsters I’m convinced there’s a chance to create new mechanics instead of attach the resources to some already existing mechanic (+X to a given roll of poison of any kind).
Idea1: let’s extract a lifeblood that make you allucinate and step into the existence plane made of dreams and nightmares in which you can contact a given kin, when she is asleep.
Idea2: Wanna keep the resource tied to existing rules nonetheless? Fine, we have enough chances to make poisons: let’s extract a LIQUID DISEASE instead!
UNDEAD DRAGON: basically you extract cocaine. Ah ah
I think at this point we have seen enough “bonus to this&that” to be honest. Can an Undead Dragon give anything more interesting worth of his majesty? I bet he can.
Idea1: A one-use-only resurrection powder?
Idea2: A +12 dice to one necromancy spell/ritual?
Idea3: Material for a magical inscribed object that contains one free spell in addition to the one inscribed?
Idea4: Material to build a compass that point to other alive dragons…and their gold-stash (the undead will still jealously wants to steal their lifeforce).
These are really random ideas conceived in 1 minute, I believe a brainstorming contest from the fans will bring out some REAL COOL STUFF!
VAMPYR: YES!! YES!! YES!!! This is an excellent example on how to build an interesting resource that does not rely on “+X to this&that” videogamey mentality where everything you drink gets you some kind of bonus! Again: YESSSSS. More like this one
Any feedback from writers of players is welcome ^^