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Libellus Ultra: Denizens of the Black 1


Libellus Ultra: Denizens of the Black 1
A d20 Future supplement from Old Kingdom Games.

Written by Alasdair Stuart, Chris Hill & Tiff Hill
Art by Matthew Vasey and Chris Hill.

Review by Roger Carbol

Disclaimer: I received a review copy of this PDF.

"Libellus Ultra: Denizens of the Black 1" (*libellus* meaning "little book", and *ultra* meaning "beyond", in case your Latin is a bit rusty) is a small (14 page) supplement for d20 Future, produced by Old Kingdom Games. It contains of 6 NPCs, 1 starship, and 3 alien races.

I'll review the various parts in specific, and then the entire product in general.

The NPCs: We get six NPCs here, varying in level from 2 to 5, which is a useful range for NPCs.

Importantly, all the NPCs presented here have motivations and goals. They each *desperately want something* in their own unique way. This makes them much more useful than many other published NPCs -- I hope other game authors take notice of this great approach.

The stat blocks are sometimes not quite right. Their CRs seem to be off, their hit points are a bit wonky -- that sort of thing. If you're the sort of person to notice, you're probably also the sort of person who can easily adjust their stats on the fly.

About half of the characters are illustrated with good, solid, monochrome line drawings.

The Starship: It's a good solid plot device, with a couple of compelling plot hooks. The illustration is a nice computer-rendered external view -- no maps are provided.

The Alien Races: Three races are provided, and they are all genuinely original, interesting, and full of plot hooks. All three are illustrated in a style similar to the characters.

Two of the races have a level adjustment of zero, while another has a +1 LA. In at least one case, the zero level adjustment is a bit questionable, but this shouldn't seriously impact the usability of the race.

My overall impressions of the product:

The writing is good, solid, and functional. The primary author, Alasdair Stuart, has numerous credits as a freelance writer, both within the RPG genre and beyond it, and the experience shows.

Don't be fooled by the cover -- the interior artwork is very nice and functional.

The work as a whole suffers a bit in that it seems to be a supplement for a specific d20 Future setting, but that setting is never described, even briefly. Knowing, for example, the Progress Level that the characters are designed for would have made them more useful. It can all be more-or-less pieced together, but I found the omission a bit jarring.

The OGL declaration is probably insufficient with respect to (infamous) Section 15, which might be an issue for you, or it might not.

The product is similar to Ronin Arts' Future: Datastream series, or their Modern Dispatch product line. If you're a fan of either of those products, you'll probably like what Old Kingdom Games has done here.

In Conclusion:

The average GM running a d20 Future or even a d20 Modern game will probably find something useful enough in this product to justify the reasonable price tag, especially if an errata is released for it. I doubt many will find it indispensible -- but I doubt it will go totally unused, either.
Date Added: 04/22/2007 by Roger Carbol
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