This installment of the Deadly Gardens-series clocks in at 5 pages, 1 page front cover, 1/2 a page SRD/editorial, leaving us with 3.5 pages of content, so let’s take a look!
We begin this installment of Deadly Gardens with the twigman fetish, which can generate a wooden construct, which then may be directed by the user to attack and otherwise idles. I like this item per se very much, though the interaction of the item with save-prompting spells and effects make it a bit flawed – I assume auto-failure, but I’m not sure.
The pdf also features two terrain types: Razor Shale is EXTREMELY hard to climb and requires similarly high Ref-saves to prevent taking damage while doing so. Worse, it damages ropes… Shifting dunes move targets on them, necessitating Acrobatics-checks to remain standing…neat.
The titular creature herein would be the pretty neatly-drawn CR 10 catchweed, which is a Large plant that not only may grapple foes, it may also engulf them. It is also pretty quick and creatures trampled may similarly be grappled by the catchweed. Worse, being grappled makes you subject to not only constrict, but also blood drain…and it regrows rapidly when it can drain blood…. More nasty: Creatures caught within this carnivorous, oversized tumbleweed must save or be nauseated, further diminishing chances to survive the harrowing experience. An all-around cool critter.
We also get natural items this time around – the classic 8. These include soporific xtabay spore pods, the fortifying powers of wyvern adrenal glands…and more: Viper vine glands enhance bite etc. attacks to include a horrid fascination effect that dazes foes hit; leucrotta mandibles can yield non-fragile bone weapons, while thunderbird pinions, when added to flight-related spells and effects as additional material components, can yield temporary respite from the unpleasant effects of storms. The thorns of catchweed can yield bleed-inducing darts or ammunition and assassin vine berries can induce vomiting-based respite from ingested poisons – though the rules here represent a disjoint between fluff and crunch – RAW, the vomiting target isn’t even sickened. Finally, gryph ovipostors can help inject poisons into targets. Apart from the one hiccup and a type (Mmedium size), that is the best array of natural items in quite a few of these installments. Kudos!
Editing and formatting are good, bordering on very good – while not perfect, the pdf does try to represent some cool operations and stumbles a bit here and there, but I’d rather have a cool idea with slight imperfections than perfect blandness. Layout adheres to the 2-column full-color standard of the series and is pretty printer-friendly. The artwork is pretty cool and in b/w and the pdf, in spite of its brevity, comes fully bookmarked. Kudos!
Russ Brown and Matthew Carroll deliver one of my favorite critters in the line here – the catchweed is damn cool. Similarly, I really like the fetish, in spite of the save-issue. The terrain options are nice as well and the natural items offer some really cool tricks. That being said, the minor hiccups do drag this down a bit, which is why my final verdict will fall just short of my seal of approval. Still, this is very much worth getting and receives a final verdict of 4.5 stars, rounded up for the purpose of this platform.
You can get this nice pdf for just one buck here on OBS!