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[Let's Read] Nyambe: African Adventures

s/LaSH

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Thanks for the read-up!

First off, I was most struck by the ndalawo shadow leopard. Why does a leopard get a call-out as a unique kind of shadow spawn? Well, leopards are nocturnal primate-hunters, one of the closest things humans have to a natural enemy. It makes sense that they'd be excellent monsters of the darkness.

Overall, it's an interesting setting, well worth re-reading to get a better feel for it. But it's different in some key ways; the restrictions on armour and resurrection and literacy seem to push the whole game into a more "gritty realistic" direction. That's not a bad thing, assuming they got the balance right (which I cannot judge from here). But I'm also a little bothered by the decision to make a flagship Africa-based product more grounded and gritty. I might have liked to see something more aspirational and mythic - not that Nyambe isn't absolutely soaked in myth; I'm just thinking specifically about the role of the players.

Only a little bothered, mind. Taking on all of Africa is a monumental task, and simply getting something coherent out the other end is impressive. I suspect you could build a dozen other settings based on various African cultural traditions, each cohesive and epic in scope, and have very little overlap.
 

David Howery

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so, the monsters. The ones I wrote up were:
Djok demon: my original didn't specifically call it a demon, but it was a good decision on Atlas' part. No real basis for this one, other than the common idea across Africa and Asia that a lot of troublesome animals are possessed by evil spirits. The basic idea was a malevolent cloud of energy that moved around the land, possessing animals and wreaking havoc until it got killed.
Eloko: A straightforward translation of an African mythical monster.
Malata Plant: again, no real basis, just a plant monster that can become really powerful if not stopped fairly early on.
Mokele M'Bembe: straight translation of a cryptozoological critter. A lot of ink has been used over a lot of decades in talking about this one.
Nommo: cross of mythology, cryptozoology, 'ancient aliens', and a sci-fi story. The Nommo is a mythological being, has been discussed in cryptozoological books, appeared in those 'ancient aliens' books so common in the 70s, and were featured in one of the Dream Park novels.
Samat: something I created way back in 1E days. Atlas changed this one a lot from my original, which was a humanoid lizard race, ancestors of current lizard men, troglodytes, etc. Atlas turned them into ancestors of the Yuan Ti, and toned down the (probably overwhelming) magical powers I'd given them.
Barozi: This one got changed a lot. My original was a lion inhabited by the soul of an evil cleric or mage. I modeled them after the notorious Tsavo man-eaters, and had their sole purpose in life to stalk, kill, and eat humans to gain power and eventual reincarnation as a human. Atlas changed it into a template applicable to any large animal.
 

Libertad

Knight in tarnished armor
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I've heard this happens a lot to non-Europe settings.
Funny you should mention that; I won't review it just yet, but I am reading Svimohzia: the Ancient Isle, and while it does have some good ideas it's definitely darker and edgier than Nyambe/Spears of the Dawn/Southlands: the country sections of the noble houses and wars read like the most controversial parts of the Game of Thrones TV show, with all that entails.

so, the monsters. The ones I wrote up were:
Djok demon: my original didn't specifically call it a demon, but it was a good decision on Atlas' part. No real basis for this one, other than the common idea across Africa and Asia that a lot of troublesome animals are possessed by evil spirits. The basic idea was a malevolent cloud of energy that moved around the land, possessing animals and wreaking havoc until it got killed.
Eloko: A straightforward translation of an African mythical monster.
Malata Plant: again, no real basis, just a plant monster that can become really powerful if not stopped fairly early on.
Mokele M'Bembe: straight translation of a cryptozoological critter. A lot of ink has been used over a lot of decades in talking about this one.
Nommo: cross of mythology, cryptozoology, 'ancient aliens', and a sci-fi story. The Nommo is a mythological being, has been discussed in cryptozoological books, appeared in those 'ancient aliens' books so common in the 70s, and were featured in one of the Dream Park novels.
Samat: something I created way back in 1E days. Atlas changed this one a lot from my original, which was a humanoid lizard race, ancestors of current lizard men, troglodytes, etc. Atlas turned them into ancestors of the Yuan Ti, and toned down the (probably overwhelming) magical powers I'd given them.
Barozi: This one got changed a lot. My original was a lion inhabited by the soul of an evil cleric or mage. I modeled them after the notorious Tsavo man-eaters, and had their sole purpose in life to stalk, kill, and eat humans to gain power and eventual reincarnation as a human. Atlas changed it into a template applicable to any large animal.
Thanks for sharing. The Samat can cast various spells at will and can use Quicken Spell to effectively cast 2 spells a round, but the spells they do have are less killing and more hindrances, such as Cause Fear, Deeper Darkness, Entangle, and Polymorph Other. They actually don't deal that much damage for a creature of their CR; I presume they're meant to be used in tandem with yuan-ti minions, using their spells to inconvenience parties while the abominations/halfbloods/etc put on the hurtin.
 

David Howery

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The Samat can cast various spells at will and can use Quicken Spell to effectively cast 2 spells a round, but the spells they do have are less killing and more hindrances, such as Cause Fear, Deeper Darkness, Entangle, and Polymorph Other.
my original version was one I created for a high level adventure, and they had a raw connection to the weave of magic that gave them horrendously powerful magical abilities. It was appropriate for facing off with a high level party, but likely overwhelming for mid-level PCs...
 
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