Monday, November 14, 2016

Review: Dungeon Fantasy Denizens - Swashbucklers

Is there such a thing as
over illustrating?
Dungeon Fantasy Denizens, a series dedicated to taking a deep deep dive while focusing on a single professional template. This is the second in the series so far and has to do with the Swashbuckler from Dungeon Fantasy. These books, do recycle a lot of material, it's practically part and parcel to the mission statement of the line - group all the disparate nice details about the one profession in one place. On the other hand, there is a decent quantity of enhanced material and totally brand new content here. I think we are broaching a 1:3 ratio here of new to old, which is decent, all things considered, and some of the new stuff is really nice. Let us then proceed even further then in pulling this book apart.


This is a 37 page pdf, pretty decent size, with chapter 1 starting on page four, and the final chapter ending on page 35, giving a total of 32 pages of content. Chapter 1, 17 pages long, is about the major templates and lenses for swashbucklers and the cross training lenses. Chapter 2, 10 pages long is about power-ups and ways to spend points and money. The final chapter, 5 pages long is an equipment catalog.
This book specifically reprises content from Dungeon Fantasy 1, 3, 7, 11, Pyramid #3/61 and #3/64, and Low-Tech and Martial Arts. Aside from that, there's a few new tidbits here and there, which probably comes to be 30% of what's provided. If you don't own the majority of these books, prefer having all the notes in one place, or just really like Swashbucklers, this is a pretty good resource. If you own the great majority, there is still some new content that is pretty good, but it can feel a bit thin overall. The book is mostly data first in the form of templates, power-ups, and equipment, then guidance with tips on how to get the most out of them, with just a little bit of rules, and next to no fluff.
Art is decent, but probably recycled, and pull-quotes are entertaining and topical. Even when information is "recycled," there are a few touched up pleasantries added to them. As someone who owned the vast majority of the source material I found that the new content was just enough to tip the scale in favor of feeling this was a worthwhile purchase. Let's now look at each chapter in detail.

Alternate Swashbucklers

This chapter goes over important templates and lenses for Swashbucklers. It starts with the vanilla configuration from Dungeon Fantasy 1, adds the three spin-offs from Pyramid #3/64, adds some lenses to accent the characters further, and finishes with the cross-training lenses from Dungeon Fantasy 3 and elsewhere.
The big nice new thing here is guidance on converting the 4 templates into 125 point versions. The three alternate templates are fun as well if you don't have Pyramid #3/64. The Lenses seem obvious in hindsight, but are well thought out, with some like the quarterstaff based Swashbuckler lens being completely unique. The cross-train templates add the choice and marginal categories for all professions that came after Dungeon Fantasy 3, so that's neat... wait! It doesn't have Incanter in the list! Shame! Nah, not really, it's probably not a good combination... A martial incanter probably requires building a 250 point character from the ground up. All and all, this chapter is a lot of retread, but with a few hidden gems.


This chapter takes the information from Dungeon Fantasy 3 and 11, and expands it further. Especially novel are power-ups for the three spin-off templates, but among several existent power-ups there are a lot of brand new ones as well, especially among the perks. Every One's a Critical, Put It In HIS Eye, Like Lightning, Superstylin', and Sharp Dressed are my favorite (new?) ones among many others. The aside on appropriating familiars and pets from Dungeon Fantasy 5 sounds like a cool idea too, but I think falls a bit short for me; I really think a supernaturally smart horse is definitely in genre for a swashbuckler. Oh well, I can always adjust things to taste, and the idea is a good springboard to build on.


This mostly focuses on clothing, weapons, and magical implements for Swashbucklers. Clothing bears special mention because a lot of power-ups in the previous chapter are built around the concept of dressing foppishly. It's not anything that didn't already exist in Low-Tech, but it is a good synergistic reference to have the information right there to look at in one place. The Weapon table is also basically a quick reference of swords you can mostly find elsewhere with a few amusing surprises like the Absurd Rapier, for example. There's also a few interesting new modifiers mixed amongst existent ones for custom built swords, and those are among my favorite things. Finally, the magic items, in my opinion are a bit hit and miss, but I do appreciate that they include ballpark dollar values, even though previous Dungeon Fantasy books abhorred and scorned the idea of unique magic items having a dollar amount. I hope this holds true for the magic item supplement for the Dungeon Fantasy Powered By GURPS set as well.

Other Thoughts and Conclusion

There is just enough new content here that if you already own all the prerequisites and really like Swashbucklers, Dungeon Fantasy, or both, this book is worth it. If you don't have Pyramid #3/64, and you enjoy Dungeon Fantasy, then this is almost a guaranteed win for you. If you are less than enthusiastic about the trappings of Dungeon Fantasy, or have a weird problem with Swashbucklers, you might not like this. Personally, I think Swashbucklers are awesome, save for the fact that most fencing weapons are thrust impaling, and several monsters in Dungeon Fantasy have injury tolerances that reduce the efficacy of such tremendously, though this book offers some strategies to alleviate those pain points (and if you use Know your own Strength, the thrusting problem is fixed.) All in all, "content" describes my reaction to this book.

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