Sunday, September 24, 2017

Arriving on Gathox

In the short time I've been a member of the Hydra Cooperative, there have been a few products we didn't get to publish that we would have loved to do. Gathox the Vertical Slum was one of those that got away. It landed with Mike Evans DIY Games, who Youwasted no time getting it out, so now everybody can see the wonderful and weird products of David Lewis Johnson's imagination.

You may know Dave as a talented visual artist whose work has graced a number of small press publications--including my very own Strange Stars. The same creativity so on display in his visual work informs Gathox, which I will thumbnail for you as a locale like something you might have seen in the halcyon days of Heavy Metal magazine. More specifically, Gathox is a world-shambling giant with a ramshackle, multiethnic (and multi-species) city built on top of and in him. Dave spends over a 130 pages outlining the locations, people, and races of Gathox, plus he provides variant rules he uses in his campaign. 

To give an idea of the tone, let's take the Gongwarped Fishmen, one of the races/cultures thumbnailed in the book. They are fascist-fishheaded beings, who live underground and practice secret and forbidden pseudoscience. Even worse are the species-supremacist, chicken people called Vulzari who reproduce by transforming others into more of their kind. See what I mean about Heavy Metal?

The supplement goes on to outline locations in the city and interesting NPCs. There are pretty short and punchy: more detailed than the original Wilderlands of High Fantasy, but with an economy of words not found in the a lot of modern, major publisher books.

Next comes the section on house rules, which is substantial. Variant classes are given that again convey the flavor of the setting like cosmic doctors (Nne of several types of magic-users, or more precisely "mentalists.") and mutants (Complete with random mutant tables!). A simple skill system is introduced in the form of "wheelhouses" and there are new rules for health and healing. Gathoxian equipment is discussed--and in many cases illustrated. Finally the subgame of "gangland play" is introduced that does similar things in a loose way to some of Blades in the Dark's gang rules but with a thoroughly old school implementation.

If any of this sounds interesting to you, you should pick this up, because I'm only scratching the surface here. The only fault I can find with it (and it's a small one) is that it could have used more of Dave's art! Yes, there is a lot of it here, but their were some spaces in the layout that practically begged for more.

Anyway, you can get it on rpgnow. So go get it already!

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