Probably a lot of people already know that Necromancer Games is going to be releasing a Swords & Wizardry Tome of Horrors. Some of the information about it is scattered here and there, so it's worth a recap/summary here. The official description and preorder page is HERE.
Quick Disclaimer: I've realized in re-reading this post that it might sound defensive, since I'm answering questions rather than hoo-rahing the book. I'll hoo-rah the book when I see it, but don't take this as defensive - I'm compiling answers to several questions that have been asked on the net so that they're all in one place.
First off, this is a Necromancer Games product - not Frog God Games, but the original Necromancer Games company. It will be distributed by Frog God Games, just as Necromancer Games products have generally been distributed by other companies in the past (White Wolf, Troll Lords, etc). This fact is largely irrelevant to gamers, but it does introduce a couple of variables that I'll discuss in the second part of this article.
The book is being released in one Pathfinder version and one Swords & Wizardry version. The production teams (other than layout and Bill's final editing) are completely different. The Swords & Wizardry adaptation of the monsters is being done primarily by John Stater (of the Land of Nod magazine).
The page count on the Swords & Wizardry version is, like the Pathfinder version, estimated at around 1000 pages; the book comprises the monsters from all three volumes of the 3e Tome of Horrors. The reason the Swords & Wizardry version will reach this page length is because of extra material: each monster will have an encounter lair or hex description with it. If this were being written by a Pathfinder author (no offense to PF guys, but the style is very different), I would be eyeballing this additional material with grave doubts. However, it's being done by a serious old-schooler who has already demonstrated awesome skills at doing this sort of thing.
Back to that page count question. One significant reason for keeping the monsters to roughly one-per-page is due to a layout issue - you can only digitally re-size illustrations a certain amount before they start to pixellate. All the illustrations were done to match with long monster descriptions (3e), so they'd require a lot of re-sizing and possibly cropping to fit them into a layout where there were three or more monsters per page. Result - pick between (a) short monster description, big illustration, and whitespace or (b) 3+ monsters per page, but pixellated illustrations with shapes that cause the text to dodge, bob and weave just to stay readable. Neither would be an attractive option. The third option that Necro invented is pretty good, in my opinion.
Given that issue with layout (need to keep illustrations fairly large), adding a lair-type description with each monster is a fairly elegant fix in terms of what to do with the remaining white-space. This is especially true since many of the monsters from Tome of Horrors I are re-treads from the AD&D books that will already be familiar to old-school readers (this isn't true of the ones from volumes II and III). For the re-tread monsters, the only added value here is the illustration and the lair description; the lair description alone, if John maintains the quality of what he's done for Land of Nod, will be worth the cost of that page.
If we just crammed in the monsters, the book would likely be shorter, but the only added value on several of the monsters would be the illustrations. Now, monsters from the original Fiend Folio or MMII are included for more than just completeness.
More in the next post.
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