Gavin Norman Archive

  • Preview: Winter’s Daughter (5e/OSR) NOTE: This is not a review in the traditional sense – it is a developer’s commentary, a preview of sorts. I try to be as SPOILER-free as possible below, but I do mention some themes and design paradigms employed.   So, I worked on the latest Dolmenwood adventure, “Winter’s Daughter“ – an adventure, originally penned for the B/X-rules by Gavin Norman. In the original iteration, it clocks in at 24 pages, and I converted it to 5e, which extended the page-count to 36 pages. Why the page-count discrepancy? Well, let me explain!   First of all, “Winter’s Daughter” is an introductory adventure for Dolmenwood, and as such, it does introduce players to several of the leitmotifs […]

    Preview: Winter’s Daughter (5e/OSR)

    Preview: Winter’s Daughter (5e/OSR) NOTE: This is not a review in the traditional sense – it is a developer’s commentary, a preview of sorts. I try to be as SPOILER-free as possible below, but I do mention some themes and design paradigms employed.   So, I worked on the latest Dolmenwood adventure, “Winter’s Daughter“ – an adventure, originally penned for the B/X-rules by Gavin Norman. In the original iteration, it clocks in at 24 pages, and I converted it to 5e, which extended the page-count to 36 pages. Why the page-count discrepancy? Well, let me explain!   First of all, “Winter’s Daughter” is an introductory adventure for Dolmenwood, and as such, it does introduce players to several of the leitmotifs […]

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  • Wormskin #4: Ye Ruined Abbey of St. Clewd Pt.II (OSR) This installment of the Wormskin-‘zine that depicts the strange and wondrous forests of Dolenwood clocks in at a massive 72 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page inside of front cover, 1 page editorial, 1 page ToC, 1 page back cover, leaving us with a massive 67 pages of content, laid out in 6’’ by 9’’ (A5), so let’s take a look!   Full Disclaimer: I converted the latest Dolmenwood module, “Winter’s Daughter” to 5e. I have no stake in the Wormskin-zine, and have had it for a year, slowly portioning my reading of the zines to when I got frustrated or bored. And yes, I bought them all long […]

    Wormskin #4: Ye Ruined Abbey of St. Clewd Pt.II (OSR)

    Wormskin #4: Ye Ruined Abbey of St. Clewd Pt.II (OSR) This installment of the Wormskin-‘zine that depicts the strange and wondrous forests of Dolenwood clocks in at a massive 72 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page inside of front cover, 1 page editorial, 1 page ToC, 1 page back cover, leaving us with a massive 67 pages of content, laid out in 6’’ by 9’’ (A5), so let’s take a look!   Full Disclaimer: I converted the latest Dolmenwood module, “Winter’s Daughter” to 5e. I have no stake in the Wormskin-zine, and have had it for a year, slowly portioning my reading of the zines to when I got frustrated or bored. And yes, I bought them all long […]

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  • Wormskin #3: Ye Ruined Abbey of St. Clewd Pt. I (OSR) The third installment of the Wormskin-‘zine clocks in at 56 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page inside of front cover, 2 pages editorial, 1 page ToC, 1 page back cover, leaving us with 50 pages of content, laid out in 6’’ by 9’’ (A5), so let’s take a look!   Full Disclaimer: I converted the latest Dolmenwood module, “Winter’s Daughter” to 5e. I have no stake in the Wormskin-zine, and have had it for a year, slowly portioning my reading of the zines to when I got frustrated or bored. And yes, I bought them all long before getting the chance to work on “Winter’s Daughter”. I have […]

    Wormskin #3: Ye Ruined Abbey of St. Clewd Pt. I (OSR)

    Wormskin #3: Ye Ruined Abbey of St. Clewd Pt. I (OSR) The third installment of the Wormskin-‘zine clocks in at 56 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page inside of front cover, 2 pages editorial, 1 page ToC, 1 page back cover, leaving us with 50 pages of content, laid out in 6’’ by 9’’ (A5), so let’s take a look!   Full Disclaimer: I converted the latest Dolmenwood module, “Winter’s Daughter” to 5e. I have no stake in the Wormskin-zine, and have had it for a year, slowly portioning my reading of the zines to when I got frustrated or bored. And yes, I bought them all long before getting the chance to work on “Winter’s Daughter”. I have […]

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  • Wormskin #2: Lankshorn (OSR) The second installment of the Wormskin-‘zine clocks in at 50 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page inside of front cover, 1 page editorial, 1 page ToC, 1 page back cover, leaving us with 45 pages, laid out in 6’’ by 9’’ (A5), so let’s take a look!   Rules-wise, Wormskin favors B/X-rules, but adaption to other OSR-systems is pretty easy. This means e.g. HD, descending AC, etc. My review is primarily based on the print version, though I also consulted the pdf-iteration.   Now, as before, this is another look at the strange and wondrous area known as Dolmenwood, but it should be noted that this installment is somewhat different in focus, in that we […]

    Wormskin #2: Lankshorn (OSR)

    Wormskin #2: Lankshorn (OSR) The second installment of the Wormskin-‘zine clocks in at 50 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page inside of front cover, 1 page editorial, 1 page ToC, 1 page back cover, leaving us with 45 pages, laid out in 6’’ by 9’’ (A5), so let’s take a look!   Rules-wise, Wormskin favors B/X-rules, but adaption to other OSR-systems is pretty easy. This means e.g. HD, descending AC, etc. My review is primarily based on the print version, though I also consulted the pdf-iteration.   Now, as before, this is another look at the strange and wondrous area known as Dolmenwood, but it should be noted that this installment is somewhat different in focus, in that we […]

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  • Wormskin #1 (OSR) The first installment of the Wormskin-zine that depicts the unique and wondrous Dolmenwood-setting clocks in at 42 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page inside of front cover, 2 pages of editorial, 1 page ToC, 1 page back cover, leaving us with 36 pages, laid out in 6’’ by 9’’ (A5), so let’s take a look!   I own the softcover print version and mainly based my review on this version, though I also consulted pdf v.1.5.   However, by now, the first Wormskin-booklet has actually been upgraded and includes an expanded iterations of the B/X-Essentials Demihumans of Dolmenwood-pdf. This bonus pdf clocks in at 21 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page inside of front cover, […]

    Wormskin #1 (OSR)

    Wormskin #1 (OSR) The first installment of the Wormskin-zine that depicts the unique and wondrous Dolmenwood-setting clocks in at 42 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page inside of front cover, 2 pages of editorial, 1 page ToC, 1 page back cover, leaving us with 36 pages, laid out in 6’’ by 9’’ (A5), so let’s take a look!   I own the softcover print version and mainly based my review on this version, though I also consulted pdf v.1.5.   However, by now, the first Wormskin-booklet has actually been upgraded and includes an expanded iterations of the B/X-Essentials Demihumans of Dolmenwood-pdf. This bonus pdf clocks in at 21 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page inside of front cover, […]

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  • B/X Essentials: Demihumans of Dolmenwood (OSR) All righty, this FREE installment of the B/X-Essentials series codifies some of the delightfully weird things that roam Dolmenwood on 12 pages, 1 of which is the front cover, 1 page inside of front cover, 1 page editorial, 1 page ToC, 1 page back cover, leaving us with 7 pages of content, so let’s take a look!   We begin this installment with a brief foreword before introducing us to Dolmenwood’s elfs, the fairy elf, who has Charisma as a prime requisite. Contrary to standard rules, an elf may raise Cha by point swapping during character creation. The race-class requires at least 9 in Charisma, Dexterity and Intelligence. The race-class caps at level 10, […]

    B/X Essentials: Demihumans of Dolmenwood (OSR)

    B/X Essentials: Demihumans of Dolmenwood (OSR) All righty, this FREE installment of the B/X-Essentials series codifies some of the delightfully weird things that roam Dolmenwood on 12 pages, 1 of which is the front cover, 1 page inside of front cover, 1 page editorial, 1 page ToC, 1 page back cover, leaving us with 7 pages of content, so let’s take a look!   We begin this installment with a brief foreword before introducing us to Dolmenwood’s elfs, the fairy elf, who has Charisma as a prime requisite. Contrary to standard rules, an elf may raise Cha by point swapping during character creation. The race-class requires at least 9 in Charisma, Dexterity and Intelligence. The race-class caps at level 10, […]

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  • Welcome to Dolmenwood (system neutral) All right, so this humble FREE pdf clocks in at 6 pages, 1 of which is the front cover; the second page contains the editorial – and the rest provides exactly what it says on the tin: An introduction to Dolmenwood!   While Dolmenwood is a kind of serialized campaign setting, in that it is expanded in the Wormskin-zine, and while the setting’s rules are presented in B/X as the chosen OSR-rules-setting, this pdf is 100% player-friendly, and should be considered to be a kind of a teaser trailer for PCs. On a rules side of things, this means that this does not feature rules, and as such, it gets the system neutral tag on […]

    Welcome to Dolmenwood (system neutral)

    Welcome to Dolmenwood (system neutral) All right, so this humble FREE pdf clocks in at 6 pages, 1 of which is the front cover; the second page contains the editorial – and the rest provides exactly what it says on the tin: An introduction to Dolmenwood!   While Dolmenwood is a kind of serialized campaign setting, in that it is expanded in the Wormskin-zine, and while the setting’s rules are presented in B/X as the chosen OSR-rules-setting, this pdf is 100% player-friendly, and should be considered to be a kind of a teaser trailer for PCs. On a rules side of things, this means that this does not feature rules, and as such, it gets the system neutral tag on […]

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  • Dolmenwood Referee’s Map (system neutral) This map is awesome and full-color. You can download it for free; it sports heraldric crests of Dolmenwood’s noble houses on the side, notes the position of the rune stones in the setting, the ley lines, is VTT-friendly, notes the GM’s points of interest, etc. It’s beautiful it’s useful, it’s actually FREE, and even the print version (which I do own!) clocks in at a ridiculous $1.50 – a price this assuredly is worth.   If you’re a referee interested in Dolmenwood, download this right now. If you’re a player, download the “Welcome to Dolmenwood”-teaser instead. This map does contain important information not intended for player’s hands. Now, when do we get a player’s version? […]

    Dolmenwood Referee’s Map (system neutral)

    Dolmenwood Referee’s Map (system neutral) This map is awesome and full-color. You can download it for free; it sports heraldric crests of Dolmenwood’s noble houses on the side, notes the position of the rune stones in the setting, the ley lines, is VTT-friendly, notes the GM’s points of interest, etc. It’s beautiful it’s useful, it’s actually FREE, and even the print version (which I do own!) clocks in at a ridiculous $1.50 – a price this assuredly is worth.   If you’re a referee interested in Dolmenwood, download this right now. If you’re a player, download the “Welcome to Dolmenwood”-teaser instead. This map does contain important information not intended for player’s hands. Now, when do we get a player’s version? […]

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  • B/X Essentials: Monsters (OSR) This installment of the B/X-Essentials-series clocks in at 44 pages of content if you take away cover, editorial, TOC, etc. My review is based on the premium print edition of the supplement, which I received for the purpose of a fair and unbiased review. The pdf is laid out in 6’’ by 9’’ (A5), just fyi.   In case you were not aware: The standard version is perfect bound. The premium edition has crisper text and colors and is staple bound.   Anyways, but I digress: So, in case you were new to the series, this series reproduces the much beloved Basic/Expert rules from back in the day and present them to a modern audience, remaining […]

    B/X Essentials: Monsters (OSR)

    B/X Essentials: Monsters (OSR) This installment of the B/X-Essentials-series clocks in at 44 pages of content if you take away cover, editorial, TOC, etc. My review is based on the premium print edition of the supplement, which I received for the purpose of a fair and unbiased review. The pdf is laid out in 6’’ by 9’’ (A5), just fyi.   In case you were not aware: The standard version is perfect bound. The premium edition has crisper text and colors and is staple bound.   Anyways, but I digress: So, in case you were new to the series, this series reproduces the much beloved Basic/Expert rules from back in the day and present them to a modern audience, remaining […]

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  • B/X-Essentials: Cleric and Magic-User Spells (OSR) This installment of the B/X-Essentials-series clocks in at 37 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page inside of front cover, 1 page editorial, 1 page ToC, 2 pages of SRD, 1 page back cover, leaving us with 30 pages of content, formatted in old-school A5 (6’’ by 9’’), so let’s take a look!   This review was moved up in my reviewing-queue due to me receiving a print copy of the book.   So, after the extremely impressive reorganization of the B/X-rules Gavin Norman provided in the first two installments of the series, where we got perhaps the best, most sensible organization of the rules in its extremely hackable presentation, we now dive into […]

    B/X-Essentials: Cleric and Magic-User Spells (OSR)

    B/X-Essentials: Cleric and Magic-User Spells (OSR) This installment of the B/X-Essentials-series clocks in at 37 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page inside of front cover, 1 page editorial, 1 page ToC, 2 pages of SRD, 1 page back cover, leaving us with 30 pages of content, formatted in old-school A5 (6’’ by 9’’), so let’s take a look!   This review was moved up in my reviewing-queue due to me receiving a print copy of the book.   So, after the extremely impressive reorganization of the B/X-rules Gavin Norman provided in the first two installments of the series, where we got perhaps the best, most sensible organization of the rules in its extremely hackable presentation, we now dive into […]

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  • B/X Essentials: Classes and Equipment (OSR) The second B/X Essentials-book clocks in at 47 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page inside of front cover, 1 page editorial, 1 page ToC, 1 page advertisement, 2 pages of SRD, 1 page index, 1 page back cover, leaving us with 38 pages of content, laid out for 6’’ by 9’’ (A5). So, what is this about?   First things first: This was moved up in my reviewing-queue due to me receiving a print copy of the book. My review is primarily based on the premium print version of this book, though I have taken the pdf into account as well.   Okay, so the Core Rules-supplement in this series was made to […]

    B/X Essentials: Classes and Equipment (OSR)

    B/X Essentials: Classes and Equipment (OSR) The second B/X Essentials-book clocks in at 47 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page inside of front cover, 1 page editorial, 1 page ToC, 1 page advertisement, 2 pages of SRD, 1 page index, 1 page back cover, leaving us with 38 pages of content, laid out for 6’’ by 9’’ (A5). So, what is this about?   First things first: This was moved up in my reviewing-queue due to me receiving a print copy of the book. My review is primarily based on the premium print version of this book, though I have taken the pdf into account as well.   Okay, so the Core Rules-supplement in this series was made to […]

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  • B/X-Essentials: Core Rules (OSR) This rule-set clocks in at 37 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page inside of front cover, 1 page editorial, 1 page ToC, 2 pages of SRD, 1 page index, 1 page back cover, leaving us with 29 pages of content, laid out for 6’’ by 9’’ (A5). So, what is this about?   First things first: This was moved up in my reviewing-queue due to me receiving a print copy of the book. My review is primarily based on the premium print version of this book, though I have taken the pdf into account as well.   So, this is Basic/Expert-gaming (for the uninitiated, that’s where the “B/X”comes from); you may know the rules from […]

    B/X-Essentials: Core Rules (OSR)

    B/X-Essentials: Core Rules (OSR) This rule-set clocks in at 37 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page inside of front cover, 1 page editorial, 1 page ToC, 2 pages of SRD, 1 page index, 1 page back cover, leaving us with 29 pages of content, laid out for 6’’ by 9’’ (A5). So, what is this about?   First things first: This was moved up in my reviewing-queue due to me receiving a print copy of the book. My review is primarily based on the premium print version of this book, though I have taken the pdf into account as well.   So, this is Basic/Expert-gaming (for the uninitiated, that’s where the “B/X”comes from); you may know the rules from […]

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  • Wizardzine #1 – The Aquatic Issue (OSR) This e-zine clocks in at 52 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 1 page ToC, 4 pages of SRD, 1 page space for notes, 1 page back cover, leaving us with 43 pages of content. It should be noted that, as in most OSR-supplements, the pages are formatted for booklet-size (6’’ by 9’’, A5), which means that you can fit up to 4 pages on a given sheet of paper when printing this out. Personally, I’d at least contemplate getting the softcover PoD – I based most of review on that. All righty, let’s take a look!   Ah, one more thing, in case that’s relevant to you: The OSR-engine employed […]

    Wizardzine #1 – The Aquatic Issue (OSR)

    Wizardzine #1 – The Aquatic Issue (OSR) This e-zine clocks in at 52 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 1 page ToC, 4 pages of SRD, 1 page space for notes, 1 page back cover, leaving us with 43 pages of content. It should be noted that, as in most OSR-supplements, the pages are formatted for booklet-size (6’’ by 9’’, A5), which means that you can fit up to 4 pages on a given sheet of paper when printing this out. Personally, I’d at least contemplate getting the softcover PoD – I based most of review on that. All righty, let’s take a look!   Ah, one more thing, in case that’s relevant to you: The OSR-engine employed […]

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  • From the Vats (OSR) This FREE pdf (the print copy costs a measly $3.00 for at-cost printing!) clocks in at 54 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 1 page ToC/foreword, 2 pages of SRD, leaving us with 49 pages of content – though, as most of the time for OSR-supplements, the file is formatted for a 6’’ by 9’’-standard, which means you can try to fit up to 4 pages of content on a sheet of paper when printing this. Personally, I consider the super low price for print to be well worth it – my review is mostly based on the softcover print edition of this supplement.   Okay, first things first – this is basically a […]

    From the Vats (OSR)

    From the Vats (OSR) This FREE pdf (the print copy costs a measly $3.00 for at-cost printing!) clocks in at 54 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 1 page ToC/foreword, 2 pages of SRD, leaving us with 49 pages of content – though, as most of the time for OSR-supplements, the file is formatted for a 6’’ by 9’’-standard, which means you can try to fit up to 4 pages of content on a sheet of paper when printing this. Personally, I consider the super low price for print to be well worth it – my review is mostly based on the softcover print edition of this supplement.   Okay, first things first – this is basically a […]

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  • Narcosa (OSR) This massive book clocks in at 108 pages, 1 page editorial, 2 pages of ToC, 1 page weird glyphs, leaving us with 104 pages of content. The full-color cover artwork is included as a jpg and the scale-less map is also included thus. I own the softcover print version of this book, which sports the map as a back cover, just fyi. I will base my review mostly on the print version. While there is also a hardcover version, I do not own it.   This review was sponsored by one of my generous patreons, to be undertaken at my leisure.   “Someone has read Carcosa!” Ouch, ouch, ouch…hey, I promised I’ll use that quote! Anyways, this book […]

    Narcosa (OSR)

    Narcosa (OSR) This massive book clocks in at 108 pages, 1 page editorial, 2 pages of ToC, 1 page weird glyphs, leaving us with 104 pages of content. The full-color cover artwork is included as a jpg and the scale-less map is also included thus. I own the softcover print version of this book, which sports the map as a back cover, just fyi. I will base my review mostly on the print version. While there is also a hardcover version, I do not own it.   This review was sponsored by one of my generous patreons, to be undertaken at my leisure.   “Someone has read Carcosa!” Ouch, ouch, ouch…hey, I promised I’ll use that quote! Anyways, this book […]

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  • The Complete Vivimancer (OSR) This massive supplement clocks in at 90 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial/ToC, 2 pages of SRD, 1 page back cover, leaving us with 85 pages of content. It should be noted that the pages adhere to a 1-column standard and the pdf is formatted for an 6” by 9” (A4)-booklet size-standard – if you print this out, you could potentially try to fit multiple pages on one sheet of paper, but I would not recommend that here, due to some elements of the layout. Instead, I’d suggest going for the PoD-softcover. My review is primarily based on the print version of this supplement, which was kindly provided by one of my patreons, with […]

    The Complete Vivimancer (OSR)

    The Complete Vivimancer (OSR) This massive supplement clocks in at 90 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial/ToC, 2 pages of SRD, 1 page back cover, leaving us with 85 pages of content. It should be noted that the pages adhere to a 1-column standard and the pdf is formatted for an 6” by 9” (A4)-booklet size-standard – if you print this out, you could potentially try to fit multiple pages on one sheet of paper, but I would not recommend that here, due to some elements of the layout. Instead, I’d suggest going for the PoD-softcover. My review is primarily based on the print version of this supplement, which was kindly provided by one of my patreons, with […]

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  • Theorems & Thaumaturgy Revised Edition (OSR) This massive supplement clocks in at 138 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page blank inside of front cover, 2 pages of editorial/ToC, 2 pages of SRD, 1 page back cover, leaving us with 131 pages of content, so let’s take a look!   First things first: This review is mainly based on the softcover, though I do also have the pdf. Both were provided by one of my patreons for the purpose of a review at my leisure. The pdf is formatted for an approximately 6” by 9” (A5)-booklet-size and you can, if you choose to print this out, fit up to 4 pages on a single sheet of paper.   The default […]

    Theorems & Thaumaturgy Revised Edition (OSR)

    Theorems & Thaumaturgy Revised Edition (OSR) This massive supplement clocks in at 138 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page blank inside of front cover, 2 pages of editorial/ToC, 2 pages of SRD, 1 page back cover, leaving us with 131 pages of content, so let’s take a look!   First things first: This review is mainly based on the softcover, though I do also have the pdf. Both were provided by one of my patreons for the purpose of a review at my leisure. The pdf is formatted for an approximately 6” by 9” (A5)-booklet-size and you can, if you choose to print this out, fit up to 4 pages on a single sheet of paper.   The default […]

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