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D&D 5E Jasper reviews Survivalist’s Guide to Spelunking


Rotten DM
Survivalist’s Guide to Spelunking Review

Authors Thilo Graf, Douglas Niles, and Stephen Yeardley. AAW Games Publisher.

TLDR Binding Excellence. Good black and white artwork. White paper with black ink in good size font. Lots of fluff, lots of charts, and light weight crunch. Fans of authors and DMs looking for ideas. 4 stars.

Survivalist’s Guide to Spelunking (SGS) was a Kickstarter product. For my $39 I was supposed to get the SGS pdf + hardcover, Applied & Aggregate Spelunking PDF + Print on Demand, Tools and Tables PDF + POD, Drider of the Underworld PDF +POD. As of this writing I have all the PDFs except for Applied. The Hard cover came in the first Monday in August. Tools and Tables are the from SGS but sized to fill one or two tables per page. (Bigger sized for old eyes). Drider contains various Drider inspired PC classes, feats, spells, and monster Driders.

I ordered this due to having mad money, being bored and it mentioned mining. As my group was trying to steal a mine in Icewind Dale I was interested.

The cover is very dark and not eye popping. The binding is excellence. It is puts any 5E WOTC binding to shame. Layout is three columns which is strange but works. Artwork is black and white. White paper with black ink with a readable font. However, some of font sizes in some tables are a little hard on these old eyes.

The book is narrated by Dugmore Dumple a retired dwarf. This done in a light hearted joking matter. Each chapter opens with Dugmore comments. Which sometimes comes across as padding the page count.

Chapter 1 is a chatty introduction. A little funny.

Chapter 2 For Beginners. This is a repeat with charts of what is elsewhere in the PHB, and DMG. The Sloping chart is interesting for those who like crunch. “Units of Stock” is mention but refers you to Chapter 7. Mostly padding.

Chapter 3 Caves and Climbing. 3.1 Types of cave. Living Cave has flowing water, dead cave does not. This section has beautiful definitions. 3.2 Underworld theories Hollow Earth to Swiss Cheese. Beautiful padding. 3.3 Climbing. New Climber’s Kits are good and mentions planned out climbing routes. I had to look up on the net Vestraadi which is a PC race of the publisher. No stats are given in the book.

Chapter 4 Mining. This one of reasons I bought the book. The overview gives real world definitions for various underground spaces. The cubic foot dug per adventuring day is Str * rock type on table 4-1. Compare to 1E Dungeoneer’s Survival Guide, the mining rates are very low. In my Icewind Dale AL group, I figured 125 cubic feet were cleared per hour. SGS rate for 16 kobolds only has 224 cubic feet being cleared per adventuring day. On table 4.1 I think Kobolds should dig as well as Dwarves. Table 4.2 shows the seam direction and is determined by 3d10. I like it. The last table is what is in a mine determine by % dice and location on the crust.

Chapter 5 Momentum. A new system to run chases and adds Maneuvers to combat and spell casting. Excellent chapter, I found nothing to nitpick.

Chapter 6 Hexcrawling. A good chaptering on hex crawls, a method of drawing 3D maps, and getting Lost.

Chapter 7 Survival. Abstracts tracking supplies to “Unit of Stock” which is water, food, light source/ Bedding. Good system little old school but with add atmosphere to crawling the Underdark.

Chapter 8 Foraging Hunting. Builds on the “Units of Stock” rules. Includes rules for dressing out your food source. An excellence addition to 5E.

Chapter 9. Light or Darkness. Introduces the notorious infravision with very little guidance. Fire elementals are blinding but undead are invisible. Light source information from other source books are repeated. Some new lights sources are included. The Darkness Timetable is interesting.

Chapter 10 Breathless. Adds “Breath” rules; this is either straight out padding the page count or a wonderfully evil dm idea.

Chapter 11 Hazards. Adds Terrain Damage value (TDV) rules. Guidance and ideas of add different types of Hazards are interesting. This chapter has some good ideas.

Chapter 12 Complex Hazards. Mainly charts dealing boundaries of the elementals and possible damage/benefits.

Chapter 13 and 14 are tables connecting with other chapters. Some good ideas.

Chapter 15 Environmental Conditions. Chart for Hyperthermia and Hypothermia. And new conditions tied back to other chapters of the book. Some interesting ideas.

Open Game License notice and 3 page of one inch hex grids.

Summary. A good deal for your money. Most of the chapters are idea generators with some light rules.

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