Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Review: GM Gems

GM Gems is from Goodman Games. It contains 64 pages of adventure hooks, random charts, and miscellaneous stuff designed to stimulate the game master's imagination for $15.99. It claims to be system neutral, but it's clearly aimed at Dungeons & Dragons 3.5, complete with challenge ratings and other stats.

In some ways GM Gems is similar to the much larger book "Toolbox" by AEG. Where GM Gems excels is in its format of a readable description of a place or event followed by details and adventure hooks. It's exactly the kind of stuff that I look for when thumbing through books for ideas. How can I steal this hook?

One adventure hook example was a local legend about a little boy who drowned and now when it rains the pond in which he died bleeds red. It turns out to be an angry nixie with the blood coming from soil deposits. These are the kinds of quick hooks that an experienced game master can parley into a night of adventure. Good stuff.

The book does have it's share of meaningless charts, such as the not so great "Memorable Inns" naming system, but it makes up for it with many more interesting charts, like the "Memorable NPC Frills." Using our address as a random number generator: 1950 gets us:

19: Flesh eating beatles crawl beneath her skin. She calls them her "pets" and orders ales for them at inns.

50: Long braided hair woven with golden thread and gilded leaves

That's just fun stuff! As quirky as it may be, players appreciate interesting hooks and people.

The table of contents includes:
  • Alchemical Mishaps
  • Empty Rooms Worth Describing
  • Extraordinary Campsites
  • Familiar Creatures with Unfamiliar Faces
  • Short Encounters for Short Attention Spans
  • Unique Taverns and Inns
  • Unusual Holidays
  • 100 Unique Treasures
There's a free preview here.

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