Saturday, July 11, 2009

REVIEW: 100 More Calamitous Curses

If the late James Brown was the hardest working man in show business, then James Mishler may be the hardest working man in the old school movement. In recent weeks, he's produced a flurry of new PDF products for Castles & Crusades (all of which I'll be reviewing over the next few days), but the one that really solidifies my awe at his industry is 100 More Calamitous Curses, the sequel to his previous 100 Calamitous Curses, which I reviewed earlier this year.

Most of what I'd say about this product I already said in my review of its predecessor. Once again, Mishler has come up with 100 inventive curses for the delectation of the referee and the dismay of players. If anything, the curses in this product are even more clever than those in the earlier release. They're certainly far more complex, which undoubtedly explains why 100 More Calamitous Curses is 15 pages in length -- three pages longer than 100 Calamitous Curses. The increased word count has also led to an increased price. This product sells for $3.00 compared to the $2.50 (discounted to $1.00 for the moment) of the original.

100 More Calamitous Curses is ostensibly a Castles & Crusades product, but the game mechanics are light enough that referees of almost any fantasy roleplaying game will be able to use them without much difficulty. This isn't a "must have" product, particularly if you haven't yet exhausted all the curses in its predecessor. But, as I said of low-level adventures, you can never have too many random tables when running an old school campaign. Likewise, there are so many clever ideas contained within the descriptions of these curses that they could easily be pressed into other uses by referees, such as spells, magic items, or even special attacks by monsters. 100 More Calamitous Curses is a veritable goldmine of inspiration and is heartily recommended.

Presentation: 6 out of 10
Creativity: 9 out of 10
Utility: 8 out of 10

Buy This If: You're looking for even more ideas for unpleasant magical effects to inflict on the player characters.

Don't Buy This If: You don't like curses or already have enough ideas for them in your campaign.

3 comments:

  1. From one of the sample curses given at the site:

    #52: Curse of the Danse Macabre: [The skeletons and zombies] dance and pirouette, cavort and sashay, slowly but surely making their way toward the accursed one, and when they arrive at the accursed one's location, they dance continual circle around him, calling out his name with their dead voices. If he flees, they follow, forming a long conga line of death and undeath.

    If you've ever seen a certain very early Disney "Silly Symphony," you'll know why this one made me laugh. :)

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  2. Thanks for reviewing this, James, it is on my Wish List. James Mishler is a machine when it comes to producing quantity and quality. His stuff is incredibly creative, often funny, and always very usable.

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  3. This sounds really good, and a great value. However, regarding the use of cursed magic items by the DM, doesn't every player avoid actually trying anything out until it has been identified (either by bard examination or spell)? Granted, the old identify spell pretty much railroaded the magic-user into trying the thing out immediately, but characters could usually find someone else to identify them for a price.

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