Tuesday, September 13, 2016

Review: Pyramid #3/50 - Dungeon Fantasy II

Cover Art
To me, this is a funny issue in the Dungeon Fantasy series for Pyramid. Altogether, everything is really good, all of the articles are great supplementary material for any Dungeon Fantasy game, but altogether, it seems like there is not a really good theme or direction besides "here are some really good things for Dungeon Fantasy." But anyways, let's take a closer look.


Love the small table
of contents.
This issue, from December 2012, runs 39 pages and includes 8 features, and the editor intro and Odds and Ends. This issue is very data/content heavy with lots of loadouts for later occupational templates, lenses for existing templates, new racial templates, powerups, a dungeon, and a few monsters. A really wide gamut of stuff, and no specific theme in particular. There is little in the way of new rules, or guidance, though the Random Thought Table has some thoughts on playing around with some of the rules, and there is some fluff for the setting of the included adventure. Art and pull-quotes are on par, and complement the material well, though art is a bit sparse. Each article has a different list of prerequisite material as the theme for the issue is pretty loose, so I'll describe each by themselves.
As to whether I'd recommend this and to whom... The material is all really good, but most of it requires having a large selection of previously released books and pyramid articles. I'd recommend looking at the in-depth coverage of each article to determine if this issue will help you or not, but if you are a collector who at least has most of the existing Dungeon Fantasy books, this is definitely a great expansion.

Races as Professions

This 6 page article by Sean Punch expands a few of the templates from Dungeon Fantasy 3 into full-fledged 250 point characters, which is the only big prerequisite to get the full use of it. It gives stats for a 250 point version of Dwarf and Elf. The Dwarf is a burly survivalist with tinkering knowledge, the Elf is a lithe, intelligent, but fragile thing with a mix of Archery and Magery abilities. Both templates include good notes on customizing, a decent amount of power-ups, and guidance for the GM to make use of the niches of the character. I've never specifically used the templates, but they do look usable and interesting, but perhaps a little thinly spread as they occupy a jack-of-all-trades kinda space.

Dark Summonings

This 7 page article by W. A. Frick is a kinda expansion for Dungeon Fantasy 9 which includes new lenses for the Necromancer and Diabolist, a generic "upgrade" lens to make other classes into summoners, and a vampire racial template suited specifically for Dungeon Fantasy. The first lens, the Gray Necromancer is a "positive" take on the dreary original, focusing more on how to use the lines between life and death to help people rather than hurt them. The other lens, the Infernal Diabolist adds lots of fire, hexes, and curses to the repertoire of the original Demonologist template. The two templates include an awesomely detailed restructuring of their newly allowed spells.
After this, we get two 50 point multi-profession lenses so that other classes can spec into the abilities of summoners. The Death Knight to allow one to use necromantic magic, and the Demon Knight adds Demonologist abilities to any other template. Note that while the templates have the word "knight," they may be applied to any template.
The article ends with a 60 point Vampire racial template, which has a new mechanic in that it uses a "blood pool" to fuel special abilities. It's an interesting template with a lot of useful abilities, and challenging weaknesses. The template includes recommended professions and power-ups, which I always appreciate. Again, never used this content, but I think it does some really good stuff for Dungeon Fantasy 9.

Saintly Power-Ups

This 4 page article by Antoni Ten Monrós is basically the Dungeon Fantasy 11 treatment for Saints. This article requires Pyramid #3/36 and GURPS Powers: Divine Favor to be as useful as possible. It gives power-ups for Saints, Warrior Saints, and their evil counterparts in the way of lists of appropriate advantages already statted out with limitations and enhancements. Especially interesting are the Dual Prayers and Practiced Petitioner advantages. It ends with some new crazy high level prayers as well with learned pray costs in the 40s and 50s. It's a really nice update for people who like the previous Saint lens article.

Eidetic Memory - Super Dungeons

This six page article and one page (overly abstract) map by David L. Pulver is a discussion on Super Dungeons, giant dungeons, obviously, and how adventures might work in them. It starts with justifications for why a giant dungeon might exist underground. It then goes into how to handle mapping and travelling. This preamble leads to the example dungeon, The Caverns of Willowdeep.
The description includes a few hundred years of history, notes about big players, a few nearby major landmarks, and some random encounter tables, and descriptions of the first 16 rooms of the megadungeon, which one can add to more rooms. It includes stats for three original monsters as well, but does reference a few books for more (Dungeon Fantasy 2, 5, Monsters 1, and the Basic Set
I like the dungeon a lot, but haven't used it because I haven't found an opportunity for it yet. I think the map included is a bit too basic, but it does illustrate the concept they were going for, and does it well, so that's something. I think I would use the advice to create my own megadungeon one day, if I ever felt like making a megadungeon.

More Dungeon Fantasy Loadouts

I like Dungeon Fantasy 13 - Loadouts a lot. Until you have the loadouts, you don't realize how helpful they can be. I don't really have much to say about this 5 page article by Matt Riggsby, except that it is great and includes loadouts for the following:
  • Justiciar (Pyramid #3/10)
  • Mentalist (Dungeon Fantasy 14)
  • Demolisher (Pyramid #3/36)
  • Musketeer (Pyramid #3/36)
  • Monster Slaver (Pyramid #3/47)
And notes for the Mystic Knight, from Pyramid #3/13. Great resource.

Power-Ups for Assassins

This two page article from Peter V. Dell'Orto talks about the other template from Dungeon Fantasy 12: the Assassin. It's got some cool new perks and the royal Dungeon Fantasy 11 treatment. I've never given the Assassin template much thought, but this article does give it some enviable benefits.

Random Thought Table - On Plato and Power

This two page article by Steven Marsh explores two thoughts. The first is Platonic Taverns and reflections on using the same fixtures in multiple places and how to make that interesting. The second is a thought exercise, They Keep Growing... and Growing... and... talks about switching up how many character points a player might earn per session and what that might mean for a game.
I always enjoy the Random Thought Table, and this one is no different. I like the idea of giving players more points per session and starting with dramatically less points, but I've never exercised it. At best, it'll be an interesting twist on the standard, at the worst, it'll ruin the tension and buildup of the campaign.


A tongue in cheek single page feature with two dangerous snowmen monsters for Dungeon Fantasy. I won't spoil the story of the inspiration because that's the main thing, If you don't like the goofy theme, they can be easily reflavored as other monsters.

Other Thoughts and Conclusion

The Odds and Ends article includes a Murphy's Rules comic, so that's cool. I like the issue overall, but its big weakness is how it is not focused on any one thing and depends heavily on a bunch of different prerequisites. If you have most of the prerequisites I mentioned, it is a great issue, otherwise, it's hard to justify buying it.

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