Blogs

The Scythe of Thanatos

by Lev Lafayette and Stean Vitasovic

The Scythe of Thanatas is an major artifact item for D20/Pathfinder and similar systems. It was originally used in Stean Vitasovic's D&D3e fantasy dark ages Balkans campaign c2001-2002, and whilst the statistics provided are for that particular context it requires little elaboration for other game settings or systems. In the original campaign it was discovered in a in same chaotic caves near a keep on the borderlands of the Vrhbosna province by a sorcerer of medium ranked ability. The Scythe's frustration at the sorcerer's attempts to use the weapon without proficiency in narrow underground passageways generated some hilarity. The Scythe itself, as an artifact, became a feature of the entire campaign as its ever increasing urges for greater bloodshed became dominant.

In Pathfinder the Scythe is a two-handed melee weapon. Note however that this is specifically the 'war scythe' which historically was primarily by peasants during uprisings (e.g., , Hussites, battle of Sedgemoor, Ko?ciuszko Uprising etc) which required a modification of the blade and shaft. The painting by Mort de Bara by Jean-Joseph Weerts (1883), illustrated the use of this weapon (and stands in contrast to the drawing in the Players Handbook, p100).

These weapons has the following statistics common to D&D3.x/D20/Pathfinder

Scythe: 18 gp, 1d6, 2d4, ×4, 10 lb., Piercing or slashing

The Scythe of Thanatas however is encountered as the traditional peasant's tool, that is, with the chine (blade) at right angles to the snaith (haft). As a combat weapon, it is automatically at -2 due to this design, in addition to any lack of exotic weapon proficiency. To convert it to a war scythe requires a simple Craft: Weaponsmithing check with a DC of 10.

Note that the depiction of Thanatos as the "the Grim Reaper" carrying a scythe was not the norm in ancient Hellenic societies who depicted Thanatos with either a sword or an upside-down (extinguished) torch. It seems that the version most familiar in the Anglophone world actually comes from Polish origins (which, at quite a stretch, also suits the Balkans). The Hellenic Thanatos was considered more neutral in overall disposition and appeared in a male form. Note therefore that despite the Hellenic association, this is actually a Slavic artifact and could even more justifiably be called "The Scythe of Marzanna" or similar.

Survival from Great Falls

by Adi Gondo Hartono


Efficient and effective character builds in Dungeons & Dragons have been a major feature since third edition, if not before then. This following example for 5th edition : How to survive a great fall (1000 meters & over) as level 2 Half Orc barbarian and still walk to tell the tale:

This is just a thought experiment, but I think I have figured out a way for my current PC, which I am basing this idea on to not die from falling off a cliff.

Interview with John Snead


Hi John, welcome to RPG Review. Let us start with a common question, how did become involved in roleplaying games? What were the first games you played and what did you think of them?

I started back in the early 80s with AD&D, I loved it at the time, but can't ever see myself playing any form of D&D again.

What games are you currently playing?

Sadly none at the moment. Until December, I was in a short playtest campaign run by Ben Lehman called Thousand Kingdoms. A few months before that, a three year free-from campaign run by our primary GM ended. She'll be starting a new one in a few months, which will likely last between 2 & 5 years. Other than that until last year I was also in a 2 year long Amber Diceless RPG campaign. Unlike most RPG designers, I vastly prefer playing to running games.

You have an extraordinary list of RPG credits associated with your name; White Wolf and Atlas Games' Ars Magica, Chaosium's Nephilim, Last Unicorn's Star Trek, supplements for White Wolf's Trinity, Exalted, Mage: The Ascension and The Awakening, and others, Green Ronin's Blue Rose, Posthuman Studios' Eclipse Phase... It's an extraordinary range. How do you find developing across such a wide variety of genres, styles, and game systems?

Review : Dungeons & Dragons Libris Mortis

by Lev Lafayette

Introduction and Product

As a 192 gloss page hardback Libris Mortis is very well-bound, with a colourful cover piece of a graveyard summoning. The contextual internal art, of colour and monochrome, is of highly variable quality although shows some notable aptitude in creativity; the bored lich is a particularly nice piece as an example. The book comes with a one page table of contents, but no index. The content is in two colum justified serif text with good use of white-space and clearly marked chapter title and page numbers in the margins. As with all books in the edition, the use of black-on-yellow chapter pages is annoyingly difficult to read. The writing also leaves a little to be desired; it is far too vebose, often chatty, and there are an unexpected number of minor typographical errors.

The content consists of seven chapters; Introduction and All About Undead (14 pages), Character Options (17 pages), Prestige Classes (16 pages), Spells (13 pages), Equipment (6 pages), New Monsters (51 pages), and Campaigns (57 pages), which are all pretty much what they say on the tin. As can be easily ascertained, this is primarily a book for new undead monsters and undead campaigns, and the review with emphasise those areas as appropriate.

For its own part, the first major chapter starts of by bringing together various definitions of the undead, and provides an excellent variant rule of 'Haunting Presences'. It also deals with the rather ambiguous issues of undead physiology and does so more as a collation rather than bringing the disparate implementations together. There is all too brief discussions on undead psychology, society, and religion although for the latter the 'Evening Glory' deity of undying love is at least interesting. The chapter concludes with various aspects of fighting undead including knowledge checks, tactics, and of course the time-honoured favourite of ability and level drains that the cold hands deal.

RPG Review Cooperative is now Incorporated

Application confirmation

Your application to incorporate your association has been approved.

Please find attached your certificate of association.

If you paid by cheque, the tax invoice for the payment is attached for your records. If you paid by credit card, please find attached the receipt of payment for your records.

For further information on your obligations, view our Running an incorporated association page.

Any future notifications and communications from us will be sent to you via this email address.

Consumer Affairs Victoria

50 Years of Deception? Teach The Controversy!

Masters of Duck and Leath

Plot Summary: A group of Gloranthan Ducks are hunting an ogre in the Upland Marsh. They find themselves transported to the Cumbrian Leath, where they encounter a young woman who has been struck unconscious. Helping her, she talks about a man-eating monster that is rumoured to live in the area. The talking ducks are taken to the family's homestead where they are (eventually) warmly welcomed. The family explains that a wicked knight, Sir Daffyd, with his men-at-arms and squires have been oppressing the local people and trapping them within their dungeons.

Twentieth Issue: Monsters and Aliens

The twentieth issue of RPG Review has been released with the following content:

Administrivia, Editorial, Letters many contributors p2-4
Hot Gossip: Industry News by Wu Mingshi p5
Bunnies & Burroughs by Lev Lafayette p6-11
Alien and Monster Reviews by Lev Lafayette p12-26
Aliens in Eclipse Phase by Martin Tegelj p27-30

World War III for Twilight 2K: How It Could Have Occurred

The background assumption is that the 1991 coup [1] in the Soviet Union was a lot more aggressive and successful than the historical version (which lasted two days and led to the breakup of the Soviet Union). In this alternate history a much wider section of the KGB and the Soviet Army backed the coup, and the State Committee on the State of Emergency was able to reunite the Soviet Union with force of arms following a demands by Helmet Kohl (and an increasing military presence) to renegotiate the Polish border from the Oder-Neisse line [2]. Moving rapidly, insurrections also occurred among hardline communists in the former Warsaw pact (such as Intermovement [3] in the Baltics), calling for Soviet intervention. Ignoring international protests, in 1992 the Soviets retook their former territories in the Eastern bloc, despite majority civilian opposition.

Review of Apocalypse Games

As a setting genre of roleplaying games, the apocalyptic has done moderately well. Indeed, the sheer number of games that have been realeased which can be considered "apocalyptic" is extremely large, although many of these are either small, independent publications that have not gained significant market traction or, as will be revealed, have a tenuous association with the genre. In terms of real history, the term used to mean a revelation. It is certainly the case that the scenarios described in biblical book of Revelations that has led to a contemporary association of the Apocalypse as meaning "End Time". It is this association that people understand the term, and therefore that is what will be used in these descriptions.

Syndicate content