Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Review of Races of the Shroud: The Apelord

I recently received a review copy of Races of the Shroud: The Apelord, the initial offering from One Bad Egg, and authored by Fred Hicks and Lee Hammock. This product, weighing in at 12 (electronic pdf) pages, currently retails for $1.99 at RPGNow. This is a 4e GSL (!) product which adds a new race to the D&D rulesets, complete with powers, feats, sample characters, and even a few sample adventure ideas.

First, despite the low price tag, The Apelord is really an aesthetically pleasing product. A clean, professional look, combined with some excellent art by fan favorite Storn Cook, really makes Apelord a pleasure to look over.

The apelords don't have that feel of many animal-human races in games, namely "An ape--that talks!", but instead are nicely (if briefly) fleshed out in terms of community, habit, and behavior. A few new (mostly physical) feats nicely round out this new race overview.

Perhaps the most interesting part of this product for me was the introduction of some of the monsters based on this apelord template. The Corrupted Undead Apelords are absolutely brutal, and there are some nice Brute, Lurker, and Minion variants. Many of the other apelord types seem particularly well-suited to shifting, ranged, and indirect combat, and the abilities and stats seem pretty well-baked, especially for higher-level baddies.

As mentioned, there are also a couple of adventure hooks, which are pretty standard. I won't call them "filler", but this section seems almost an afterthought after the excellent presentation of the race, feats, and monster types.

I'm not by any means huge into 4e, but short, useful products like this could definitely increase the appeal and scope of the game for me. This is the sort of product I'd like to see more of, which showcase some of the additions and bright spots of 4e monster use & design in particular. I've been burnt out in the past on animal-human hybrids, but the apelords here are presented in a thoughtful and fleshed-out manner that really make them stand as a race all their own. Many of the ideas here could (and will) be ported to other settings/systems as well. In short, if you're looking for an interesting addition for your 4e game that hasn't been run into the ground, give The Apelord a shot.

1 comment:

Olman Feelyus said...

Great review! Though I'm not going to be playing much 4e, I really like the idea of this product (the cheap price point, the modular nature, the nice production values, that it's the guys behind SotC who are doing it). I hope that the Evil Hat marketing mojo is powerful enough to reach beyond the internet zone and get out to the many D&D gamers who would not otherwise look past WotC's product offerings.

Personally speaking, I'm always ready for apemen in my campaigns.