Game: Dogs of War: Series 1: Issue 1
Publisher: Mystic Eye Games
Review Dated: 3rd, May 2003
Reviewer’s Rating: 6/10 [ On the ball ]
Total Score: 6
Average Score: 6.00
Dogs of War series 1/volume 1 is short and to the point. You know, a bit like a pitbull or perhaps a particularly ferocious terrier. Since half-breeds seem to be the flavour of the month, both the NPCs in the download are, perhaps that should be short and to the point – like a pit terrier.
Short and to the point means 16 pages, $2.50 and two NPCs. The two NPCs are used to hang a bunch of other stuff off, templates, prestige classes and spells. It’s the usual d20 fodder. Some of this – not an insignificant chunk either – isn’t new. Author Charles W. Plemons III has collected bits and pieces from the OGL that seemed to interest him and has put them together in a way that’s designed to interest us. Contributing books include Tome of Horrors, Spells & Spellcraft, Spells & Magic, The Assassin’s Handbook, Arms & Armor as well as contributions from Sean K Reynolds. You don’t need any of these books to use Dogs of War; it’s the other way around, buy Dogs of War and get bits of these books with your download. It’s heavy use of the OGL.
The first of the two ugly NPCs is Trelise Hellstromer – a female half-fiend two-headed troll. We have her picture, her story and her stats. The idea is you can pick her up and put her into your game. We’ve got extra advice if your game just happens to be set in Gothos or Bluffside – the two campaign worlds supported by Mystic Eye. You have most of this three times over, stats and game meal (background, motivation, appearance) for Trelise in three stages of her life, Trelise at three different Challenge Ratings. We’ve a Monster Manual style entry for Two-Headed trolls and if a Two-Headed troll character tempts you there are attribute adjustments too (but no ECL). We finish with a bunch of new spells and the designer’s notes. They’re not new spells, of course, nor are the rules for Two-Headed Trolls new either, they’re just probably new to you and are examples of how Dogs of War 1/1 makes good use of open gaming content resources.
The second NPC is Ogu-Ky – a female half-medusa harpy. We’ve got her picture, her story and her stats again. As with the troll, her stats and motivations are done three times for different points her life, different CRs and quite different character classes too. Ogu-Ky begins as a bard and finishes up as a Shadow Mage prestige-class (Bard/Assassin/Shadow Mage). The whole prestige class is printed here.
Dogs of War uses plenty of colour. The text is printed on a background of weathered parchment, the stat blocks appear on different background colours; shades of green for the first (and weakest) version of the NPC, then yellow and then red. It’s a good idea but it doesn’t scale up very well. When Acrobat opens up my copy of Dogs of War 1/1 on my computer screen (and appreciate there are different screen sizes and settings, but mine aren’t uncommon) the background is too pixelated. The corners of the comment boxes suffer quite badly.
A product this size is unlikely to wow. There’s just not enough room to come up with an inspiration idea and build it into a winner. Dogs of War, if the series continues like this, are likely to be either a hit or a miss. If you find the NPCs interesting then the download will work for you and it’ll be nice and cheap too. On the other hand, if the NPCs just fail to grab your attention, then it’s an easy to ignore supplement and a couple of bucks down the drain. I really wasn’t tempted very much by either of these two ugly ladies but I did enjoy reading their backgrounds. I was also interested to see how the author brought bits and pieces together from all over the d20 world. Dogs of War 1/1 has benefited from being something a little new. That’ll probably wear thin for Dogs of War 1/2 but we’ve been promised something bigger and nastier for that.