Olympian Breed Is a new product from Palewolf Publising. This is a dual release with the first , free, PDF focusing on the characters and the second PDF containing the first adventure in an ongoing. What is it about? As the name suggest the story is set in ancient times. To quote from their website:
“These adventures take place in the age of heroes before Homer’s Iliad and the Odyssey. You are transported to a fantastic era when demigods roamed the world slaying horrifying titans and fulfilling ominous prophecies. Within these tales, you explore all the classic themes that are so prevalent in Greek mythology such as, heroism, faith, love, tragedy, generosity, and sacrifice. This is an age of myth, before the beginning of recorded Greek history, where great heroes clashed against the darkest of terrors. Throughout the game, the players fight to overcome their own human trappings and prove to be more than just mere mortals. They also discover that their Godly parents are far more human than they were lead to believe.”
It is written for the Explorer Edition of the rules and requires the Fantasy Companion for the Monsters and the Supers Powers Companion for the characters. Compatibility to the Savage Worlds Deluxe rules is not a problem but I wish they would have specifically referenced the latest edition of the rules or at least acknowledged them.*UPDATE 05.01.12* Vikki Felde from Palewolf posted a comment below clarifying the rules situation and I will quote it here:
Vikki Felde – Regarding the rules, we did convert everything to be compatible with the Deluxe Edition of Savage Worlds. The original was written with the Explorer’s Edition but that was updated. Unfortunately, the text talking about it was not updated to reflect that.
The PDF´s are professionally designed and the production value is good throughout. The artwork fits and is not overburdening the presentation. It is just enough to start your imagination. There is nothing extraordinary springing to mind but it all fits well together and the PDF is pleasing on the eyes. They are not bookmarked in any way but due to the small page count that is not much of an issue.
Olympian Breed – Setting & Character Creation Guide
The Setting guide is available for free from DrivethruRPG. It has a total of eight pages. One Page is the Cover, one page is a map of antique Greece and 2 Pages for the character sheet. So the real content is more like three and a half pages as about half the space of one page is taken up by an art piece.
The first page gives a short introduction into the era, the characters and the area. This description is very short and contains no specifics and only short references to places and people. If you are not too familiar with greek lore you need to visit the local library or do some further Internet research to really build a world to play in.
The Historic Map is nice to look at and shows you the area around Greece. It is an antique real world map and as such has no references to Mythical Greece. I am no scholar and would put it in the 1800 maybe? It also seems color coded but there is no explanation of the colors anywhere.
Character Creation section basically tells you to use the Super Powers companion to build your characters and replaces the Super Powers Edge with a new one that has some extra flavor added for the setting but essentially works similar. Besides this change there are no new edges and only one new Major Hindrance, “Destiny” which is exactly what it says.
Next up is a short equipment list of three weapons and five armor pieces. The weapons: Dory Spear, Trident and Xiphos “Short Sword” are iconic for the age and a good addition to the basic armory from the Explorers Edition. Same for the armor, the Aspis Shield is a staple of the time as is the Thracian Helmet or a Sculpted Leather or Bronze Armor. They are mostly illustrated and all have a short description.
The last page is referring to character backgrounds and is a list of eleven question to ask your players about their characters. Nothing extraordinary but gives some direction for the characters fitting the era of ancient heroes and puts them on a path.
And finally the character sheet takes up the last two pages. It looks good and has enough space for all your character information needs.
Olympian Breed: Act One
The first adventure for Olympian Breed is available for 2,99 $ at DrivethruRPG. From the seven page PDF one page is the cover and the last Page is left blank.
The used artwork is serviceable but seems a step down from the works used in the Character Creation guide.
I will not go into details of the story to not spoil anything. The adventure is more of an encounter. It consists of a short introduction to the area, some important NPCs, a fight and a send off. There are no plans for any of the areas nor are there any paper miniatures for any of the monsters. The stat blocks contain all necessary information to run this event. There is a nice sidebar explaining what needs to happen during the encounter. This is a good idea as it keeps the GM focused on the tasks that need to be accomplished for the story, even if it is not really complex in this case.
Overall the offering is a bit meager as the background is described but not in any detail. Why are the characters there? What do they do? There is a table for rumors but there is no mention anywhere that the players actually have a reason or place to look for them or why they would. There is a lot of world building left to the GM to flesh out the area and make an adventure out of these pages.
As you may be able to tell already I am overall disappointed in these PDF. The character guide is free so the value of that PDF is good. It seems more like well represented notes to get you started to create your own ancient setting then a real setting guide however.
The Adventure however is another matter. Story and content wise I am left with the feeling this is basically a blown up one sheet with some added flavor and background sold for the price of a full adventure. I hate to write something negative but this PDF is overpriced for the content delivered. There are many other adventure PDF out there that cost one or two dollars more but have ten times the content including maps and some even paper miniatures. As it is I can not recommend this adventure to anyone unless you specifically look for a short encounter set in ancient Greece.
*UPDATE 14.01.12 With the change in Price to 2,99 I have to revise my statement. The price is good for what is delivered now. Still a tiny bit short on the content but easy to forgive as the production values are good and the writing excellent. Definitely a line to follow if you are into ancient Greece mythology.
They already announced the next part in the adventure series and I hope they will improve on the base they have laid. The writing is great and the context is given in an easy to digest format. I get the feeling the writer knows his mythology very well. I wish Palewolf Publishing the best for the future and will continue to keep an eye on their releases as the writing hints at great things to come.