• Francois DesRochers

Scholar’s Review #55: World Book 27: Adventures in Dinosaur Swamp


Author: Kevin Siembieda & Todd Yoho

Release Date: February 2006


GENERAL


General. As a companion piece to the World Book 26: Dinosaur Swamp, we revisit and expand on the latter with some incredibly well presented and pertinent information for the region. In addition to the various dinosaurs already presented, we get over 20 more monsters to incorporate. The book then offers some great information on the Cherokee Camp Preserve’s position within the Dinosaur Swamp, and even more information on the City of Char. There is a heavy amount of the page count (45 pages) of adventure ideas in the context of the Second Neenok Expedition exploring the region (easy to have PCs join or link up throughout the campaign), or a treasure trove of 101 Adventure Ideas followed by even more Hook Lines and Sinkers (HLS). If you are imagining an adventure along the Eastern Seaboard, this book certainly and justifiably contends for your attention.


SECTIONS


Words from the Authors. With a small introductory text by Todd Yoho, Kevin provides several pages of information for GMs, tips on how to integrate player choices into the adventure, creating and using tension/interaction between players, and running a mission of exploration in the wilderness where there is no law or centralized government. The Dinosaur Swamps are ever changing, so leverage this (e.g. dinosaur migratory patterns change, a storm floods the route in forcing the expedition to find a new way out). The geography itself, equipment failure/loss, starvation/dehydration, hygiene (something always underplayed in this environment), climate and weather (e.g. impacts of hurricanes).


Wraith Brigades. Haunting Entities in the form of spectral Union/Confederate soldiers. Initially unsure what to expect, the entry is well represented. Includes an optional Wraith Soldier RCC, which I thought was also well done.


Creatures and Dinosaurs. I wasn’t quite prepared for how much of a mini-bestiary this book would become.

  • Alien Rex. An alien version of the T-Rex

  • Carnosuchids. Dinosaur cousin to the crocodile.

  • Devil Eel. Also called the Centipede Eel (blech…) that attacks like a viper mixed with an Aliens face hugger, only with claws.

  • Devilsaurus. Warped horse body with giant talons and a multi-eyed head with surprising agility. I’ll be honest, not sure what the +176 MDC to the Main Body is about…

  • Devil Unicorn. A reprint of the information from World Book 14: New West.

  • Duckbilled Honkers. A reprint of the information from World Book 14: New West.

  • Frilled Swamp Runner. Pack hunters that resemble a small, emaciated Raptor. Oh yeah, can learn to speak human languages (like a parrot) and spend PPE to run on water (like… Jesus?). I doubt Spielberg will ever go for it….

  • Giant Hunter Turtle. A demonic turtle with six clawed feet. Stack a Corrola on a Camry, and park another stack next to it and you get a sense for the size. Watch out for the tail. Does not come equipped with air-conditioning, but I’ll bet that tail makes a fair breeze as it whips by your head.

  • Giant Petal Turtle. A *more* demonic turtle, this time with *eight* clawed feet. To give you an idea, we need more than a few Toyotas; same stacks and tge Giant Hunter Turtle, but with M1 Abrams tanks.

  • Giant Swamp Turtle. Alien snapping turtle; just as ornery. Smaller than a Corolla.

  • Gruesome Tarbids. Giant spider-like inhabitants of the Horror Forest, with an anti-magic venom.

  • Leatherwing. Reprint of information from World Book 14: New West.

  • Lepidosaurs. Raven-sized avian dinosaurs with high intelligence and limited magical abilities.

  • Panthera-Tereon. Giant sabre-toothed lion from another world.

  • Raptor King. A solitary Raptor-looking creature that thinks itself a humanoid, with human-level intelligence, spell casting abilities, and limited psionics. Uses humanoids for information, worshippers, slaves, or food. Necklaces and bracelets are a dead give-away though. Great, a mutant dinosaur with a personality complex.

  • Razorback Rhinoceros. A demonic rhino-like omnivore (I know, really helpful), it likes to pick fights and eat large predators. I guess they're always on the look-out for a good scrap and meal.

  • Razormouth Frogs. Solitary creatures, has an interesting habit of swallowing armoured targets whole and regurgitating them in order to try again. Comedic elements aside, likely a pretty traumatizing experience for the PC. GMs, you’re welcome for the encounter idea.

  • Saurian Terror. A giant, demonic avian dinosaur-like creature.

  • Spiny Creeper. Nocturnal hunter-scavengers. Imagine a demonic tick, now imagine it is the size of a golden retriever (blek!).

  • Tiger Claw Raptor. Raptors with tiger stripes.

  • Titan Raptor. As advertised on the tin (literally – these are the ones on the cover). Bigger cousins than the 'regular' Raptors, still hunt in packs (clever girl....).

  • Tree Prowler. A sinewy demon that is all mouth, legs and claws. Although slower on the ground, it is a… demon in the trees.

  • Tri-Tops. Hulking herbivores with a pretty wicked charging gore attack. Your bog-standard Triceratops.

  • Tyrannosaurus Rex. If you’re expecting me to describe this entry, I defer to Stephen Spielberg. Go watch Jurassic Park, like, any of them.


Native Americans in the Dinosaur Swamp. The vast majority of the Cherokee Reserve are those returned from their sojourn with the Nunnehi and Traditionalists that have settled there. Isolationists, this is reinforced by the geography; based on the ruins of Marietta, South Carolina, they claim the SteelTree Forest and its surrounds as their territory and are hostile to pretty much everyone. This segment provides some good overviews for notable persons, including a small cell of modernist ‘revolutionaries.’


The Ocmulgee Mound Complex. Originally presented in World Book 26: Dinosaur Swamp, we explore the unique powers of the site. Includes details and powers for the Great Temple Mound, Funeral Mound, Cornfield Mound, Lesser Temple Mound (and special rules if the PCs should ever reconstruct it), Southeast, Northern and Two Brothers Mounds, Burial Grounds and the Earhtlodge. A lot of the mystique from Stonhenge, merged with Stone Magic pyramid abilities and Indian mysticism.


More on the City of Char. A series of notable characters are fleshed out (both within and external to Char), as well as three City Rat gangs that reside in the city, which is a nice take of the classic trope for the OCC.


The Second Neenok Expedition. Launched out of New Lazlo, this section fully explores (pardon the pun) the mission, aim and personnel accompanying this intrepid explorer into the wilds of the Dinosaur Swamp (cue Jurassic Park theme). Includes such notable characters as Mr Brain, a Mind Melter. Presents the Lazlo model Behemoth robot, which apparently makes the bog-standard model, once selling for 100 million credits, now a steal for a measly 54 million…. We finally get to see Neerok’s character, and provides his RCC, the A’rac, later reprinted in World Book 30: D-Bees of North America. A series of Hook Line and Sinkers and adventure setting information is followed by a 101 Adventures random encounter table, as well as dimensional anomalies (many with further random rolls within); I particularly liked 59% A Raptor King. In case you thought that was it, yet another series of HLS comes at you!


Horune Pirates. I found this reprint to be particularly frustrating. It is topical, but an unnecessary inclusion. Secondly, and more glaring to me, is the sudden change in font to ensure it fits in the 9-page count this obviously needed to fill.


New Eco-Wizardry Constructs. Another couple of pages of EW items. Nice.


Other Equipment. Provides a series of NG produced items that any daring explorer of the Dinosaur Swamps would be remiss to not purchase.


IMPRESSIONS


Initial Assessment (8/10). As a companion pieces to a previous World Book goes, this one is a solid entry. Well presented, it adds both topical and usable information on the region, most notably the vast array of critters (a veritable mini-Bestiary in and of itself, with 24 entries), but also the plethora of adventure ideas listed under the Second Neenok Expedition. The additional information of the Cherokee Camp Preserve and the Ocmulgee Mound Complex may be something some GMs only pay lip service to, but it, along with the expansion of the City of Char gives a healthy dose of background information to liven up any campaign set in this region. There is the irksome reprinting of the Horune Pirates information, at a different font so obvious to make it fit the ‘filler page count,’ but it is easy to flip right on past. The artwork is a strong in support; Kent Burles style is really suited here, and Apollo Okumara has some really dynamic pieces. My favorite piece has to be the Raptor King on page 49. For me though, the real winner is the GM and the myriad of adventure ideas presented in the HLS and 101 Adventure Ideas. These are a veritable gold mine that can be easily ported to other regions with only a few tweaks to China, South America, Africa, whatever region you are adventuring. Well worth its page count for any group adventuring in this region, it is a bonus for any GM looking for a plethora of encounter ideas and beasts to use for their campaign encounters.

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