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Review: Beasts & Barbarians Golden Edition

If you've been reading my posts, you know I've become a huge fan of Gramel and it's Beasts & Barbarians products. When Golden Edition came out, I run to buy the pdf right away. This new 210-paged document gives you mainly two new things: New images (which I like a lot, even if I had a small hope of having color graphics instead B&W), adventure generator, npc collection and a bunch of new monsters.

New coverIf you haven't read Review: Beasts & Barbarians for Savage Worlds yet or aren't familiar with the Player's guide, you should read that review now as this version includes the original PG with little fixes.

Additions and changes to the PG section

There are some small additions to the original parts of the book. A new creature type is introduced in addition to Henchmen - Right hands. Injuries and incapacitation rules have also gained a few very fitting additions, allowing for example last heroic actions or death curses. 

Here's Umberto's list of changes:

-Error fixing 
-New art (lots of it!) 
-Modified the Brute Edge (now it is a little stronger). 
-Added starting languages number 
-Added 2 items: Gladiator's Armband and the Caldeian Dagger (this one based on a forum's member suggestion) 
-Heroic Incapacitation and Last Actions rules added (wound parts was in the GM Appendix of the PG). 
-Small tids and bits all around (for example the Chackram rules were changed).


Adventure generator

Adventure generator works by drawing cards. By drawing 4, you get the elements of the adventure. Like most generators, the results you get still need some work - but I don't think there's currently any generator out that would generate you an adventure that would allow you to run a game with no further preparations. Each entry on the generator gives hooks, ideas and cliches you could use, which helps you build your adventure.

My initial test got following building blocks:
Setting: Wildlands
Adversary: schemer 
Conflict: Survival. 
Reward: Relationships. 
Entry: Wrong Place and Time.
Atmosphere: Defenders
Twist: Personal matter
Climax: Race against time
So... this adventure could be in Savannah, where a Slaver who's inciting conflict among local tribes tries to drive things even worse. Heroes get in a village right before it's attacked by a slavers, and they've heard that the villagers are the only ones that can tell about the great treasure they've heard of. The village has lost it's warriors because of schemes of the slaver lord, who is later revealed to be cruel father of one of the characters that abandoned his children. If slavers won't get to the village, they will set fire to the savannah, and pc's must escape (and help villagers escape), and when about to get safe, they'll meet the slaver and his forces. As a reward, in addition to info the PC's have been looking for, the old witch of the village provides the heroes amulets that connects the witch to them, which may help them when encountering troubles in the area.

Works for me - until there'll be an adventure generator that requires even less thinking!


New monsters

Amount of monsters is about doubled. Additions include for example a giant vulture (very fitting to the theme) and Daughter of Hordan, a Marilith -like creature with an interesting background. Demonic Mastiff has now been fixed to have a pace 7, and now the creature really makes sense - and there's one uncommon D&D miniature I've always hoped I could use somewhere, and despite it's slightly too large size I'm going to use as it: Nessian Warhound.


Warrior womanThe NPC collection is really great. You get a large amount of characters, both area-specific (like Ivory Tribes gazelle hunter or Cairnlander warlord) and generic (like brigand lords and barbarian warriors) to region-tied ones (like Cairnlord Warlord and Ivory Tribes Warrior). Each entry has a few customization examples, so in a way you're get a much larger amount of npc's.

One thing that annoys me - and this isn't specific for B&B, and perhaps just a personal matter - my issue is that stat blocks are part of actual text content and spreading between text columns. My view to creature/npc statistics is that they should be on a clearly defined area, possibly some kind of box, and they definitely should be on single column. This allows you to print them separately and prepare a collection of npc's for your game session, or perhaps cut out a section to be given to players if you want them to play npc's. While I've been getting tired of 4E, this is one example where that game's usability design can be seen.

The adventure

While generally quite linear, I like it's flavour - like I've liked all B&B adventures I've seen. If you think you're ever going to play this adventure instead of running it, skip to the below paragraph, there's some minor spoilers following.

This time the adventure is completely about actions of humans. A vengeance-thirsty amazon general is running a mining operation to finance his revenge and revolution and is gathering slaves from a poor nearby village. The game includes defensive preparations, a large combat/small mass combat (depending how detailed you want to go), tracking and possibility to get lost in wilderness, a fearsome monster, some sneaking (and being captured is taken into account as a possibility) and an epic end fight between 3 factions.

Few things to be aware of

Those that are expecting a huge amount of new things when comparing the page amount to the original Player's Guide might be a bit disappointed. The font size has increased and the layout has a bit more air; a page full of text now has about 600 words while in the previous version it had almost 1000. While amount of content in the original PG was incredible compared to the page count, I printed it in booklet format which made it very difficult to read - I don't expect this to be an issue with this version.

On the other hand, the size of the new version makes it difficult to print as a booklet - it might be a better solution to print it as 3-5 smaller booklet. Fortunately a print version is coming, as this product is likely to work better as such. If you want the print version, you should check Studio 2 Publishing's pdf+print combo package.

And about amount of new content, I'm almost happy that the book doesn't have as much new content as the page count indicates and it was almost completely GM stuff, as the original PG is pretty complete package already, and I was afraid it could become flooded.

Once again, I had issues when trying to read the file with my mobile (Nokia C7). Images show well this time - at least those I wait to appear. Most of the text renders so slowly - sometimes after a minute of wait, I started to get one letter at a time - it was practically impossible to read with the device. On my mini-laptop the pdf works with no problems though. I'd be curious to hear if this is just my phone, if it works better on other mobiles.

Final words

Even if I've been quite critical about some things in this review, I still love this product and consider it absolutely worth the cost. If you are interested enough to read this far, go buy it now! 

If you're interested in buying the pdf, you can buy it here.

If you're interested in print version, you can preorder it here.


Average: 3.4 (104 votes)

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