Dreadmire [Spellbinder Games, d20]

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Press:ESDEVIUM GAMES LTD Spellbinder Games; 1st edition (December 23, 2005)


During the darkness of a waning moon unspeakable things skulk from the depths of Dreadmire, infesting the surrounding heath, farmlands and ranches. 
It is said that those who go in rarely return - at least not alive.
This expansive quagmire is a source of deadly diseases, demon cults, fatal venoms, immersed ruins, and ancient magic.
The combined forces of the giant owls, wild elves and quag druids cannot save the sinking forest.
The ubiquitous dark pollen is corrupting all that lives, perpetuated by the malicious tree devils and the malevolent Somesuch.
Dreadmire Swamp is the definitive reference book on adventure, life and unlife within the swamp.
Here you will find verisimilitude: rules covering swamp ecology, hazards, and encounter tables, and descriptions of harried villages, as well as details of nearly three hundred new creatures, such as mire giants, weregators, carnivorous plants, phantom mosquitoes, marsh elementals, monstrous amphibians, fungus demons, alligataurs, cannibal elves, evil druids, mud dwarves, bayou halflings, plant swarms, the disgusting anthroaches, and a terrifying goliath pelican.
There is ample room for thrills in Dreadmire, as simply trying to navigate a bayou is a dangerous prospect.
Three complete adventures also await parties brave enough to stare into the Dreadmire's thousand eyes, taking PCs from beginning to advanced levels.
Beginners brave the wetlands in The Great Bayou Halfling Boat Race.
Intermediate players trudge across the Bog of the Fungal Demon, avoiding black slime and abysmal shrooms.
Finally, Secrets of the Sinking Citadel vexes even the the most advanced players against nine eldritch liches that survived the Age of Necromancer Druids.
Both game masters and players will find a wealth of information about the swamp, from background information on isolated communities, to new monsters, new spells, new weapons, new magic items, and new classes, all suitable for any level of game play, and easily adapted to any c

From the Publisher

We are proud to produce what we think is the best swamp sourcebook ever created for Dungeons and Dragons, d20, OGL or otherwise. 
The quality and detail will amaze even the most cynical critics.
Randy Richards has created a Magnum Opus of Mire: over 215,000 words describing verisimulous rules, and tons of original creations.
Your dangerous journey into Dreadmire is sure to provide years of fantastical adventures.
Learn more at Dreadmire.com

From the Author

It occurs to me that if you are reading this book then you are most likely a muka, an outlander to the swamp. 
Practitioners of juju, the folk magic, probably already knew you were on your way, looking for that perfect gaming accessory.
But I will never say this book is perfect.
I was always struggling with myself, grappling to find the perfect balance between saying too much and saying too little.
The book in your hands is the culmination of painstaking, fascinating, and sometimes tedious research, including visits to real marshes and swamps.
Verisimilitude is my goal.
Dreadmire Swamp is also designed to be fun, and so you will find unusual and interesting ideas inside its pages.
I wanted to create more than just a swamp accessory; I wanted a full swamp campaign setting that could easily be plopped into any world you wish, like the generic games from the 80s.
In many ways this book recaptures what was lost from the 1980s; that sense that the writers love the game for the sake of the game, a concept lost in the brain drain of the late 1980s, the business oriented 1990s, and the corporate blandness of the new millennium.
I wanted to include in its pages all the gratuitous flavor and subtext you would have expected from those disco era authors.
It is a gamers’ book, designed by a gamer for gamers.
It has a lot of cool stuff, reworked concepts, freaky neat ideas, as well as nods to some old stuff that never quite went where you wanted.
From concept to completion, this book took approximately 15 years to produce; 10 years to research, 3 years to write, 1 year to edit and 1 year to illustrate.
By taking time we were able to make sure everything was just right.
I wanted to offer you the fascinating experiences I had living in a swamp for most of my life, crafted into fantasy game form.
Now, open this book and plan to have fun, because fun is what this book is all about (well, and verisimilitude).
Welcome to Dreadmire Swamp!

About the Author

Randy Richards has been playing Dungeons and Dragons since the late 70s, but started in earnest in the early 80s. 
"In the 1980s," Randy says, "we had the Basic D&D boxed game in our Gifted & Talented class, and I used to play a Cajun halfling.
The other kids loved it, especially the accent." Randy graduated from Chalmette High School in 1984, then from college in 1989, and moved to Tennessee.
Commenting on the decision to move, Randy says, "My family is from Cades Cove in the Smoky Mountains.
I just wanted to get closer to my roots - not to mention its gorgeous up there - so I moved to an area near Gatlinburg." The move proved to be beneficial for Randy's career in photography.
"People know me for my writing," he says, "but they don't know my day job is photography.
Olan Mills, which operates out of Chattanooga, hired me to work for them as a kids photographer, then a glamour photographer, and finally a church directory photographer." After five years in Tennessee, Randy was transferred to Baton Rouge, Louisiana, and started a family.
"This is when I first got published.
I wrote 'Dark Magic in New Orleans' for Dungeon Magazine.
After receiving hundreds of complimentary letters from people all over the world, I decided to start writing on a regular basis.
There really wasn't time, but while driving I would make notes on anything available: cardboard boxes, gum wrappers, paper cups, anything!" In the late 90s Randy hosted a series of Gen Con events that included the co-creators of D&D, Gary Gygax and Dave Arneson, and other big names including Frank Mentzer and Lisa Stevens (CEO of Paizo Publishing).
This got my name known in the industry, although at the time that wasn't my goal.
I was just trying to have fun and spread the joy." So a few more years went by before Randy got the idea to write a book.
"My daughter was getting older, and I wanted to have more time for her, so I decided to start my own photography business.
The icing on the cake is that I h


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Comment List (Total:8)

  •     My favorite part of this book is the chapter on new character races. The second chapter consists of "People and Places" and the best part is the "Omnibus of Regional Factions"...
  •     Reviewed by Cherie Fisher for Reader Views (08/06)"Dreadmire" is the ultimate swamp guide to use when playing Spellbinder games. It is a resource guide compatible with the d20 System - the rules used in Wizards of the Coast's role-playing games. The most popular of these games is Dungeons & Dragons that is a role-playing game involving acting, storytelling, social interaction and war games. You work with other players to create characters and develop them during each adventure. There is one Dungeon Master who controls the monsters, enemies, and adventures and referees the game. The other players create fantasy characters and work together to defeat the monsters and advance further in the game."Dreadmire" is a resource book filled with vile creatures, diseases and evils. It is best described on the Dreadmire website as "During the darkness of a waning moon unspeakable things skulk from the depths of Dreadmire, infesting the surrounding heath, farmlands and ranches. It is said that those who go in rarely return - at least not alive. This expansive quagmire is a source of deadly diseases, demon cults, fatal venoms, immersed ruins and ancient magic."The author Randy Richards spent 15 years researching and writing this book - it probably helps that he is a resident of "swampy" Louisiana. I found the book to be incredibly detailed and a great resource for players. He has entire chapters devoted to descriptions such as swamp ecology, swamp residents, villages and belief systems, descriptions of the swamp Gods and three new adventures. I was also pleased to see how gender friendly the book is - not using gender specific terms and there are many female characters described throughout the book."Dreadmire" takes you into another reality and becomes the survival guide that will help you to come out this quagmire alive. Its descriptions and 3 full-length adventures involve hundreds of new Monsters, Spells, Magic Items, Special Weapons, Indigenous Classes, Unique Deities, Distinct Factions, Bizarre Mysteries, and Illustrations which will help only the very bravest to survive.Received book free of charge.
  •     I received a sample copy of the Dreadmire book for review, and I was fairly impressed upon paging through the book.
  •     I couldn't put this book down. Amazing illustrations, amazing detail, amazing new monsters, etc. The effort that went into this is Tolkienesque.
  •     A very unique book, Dreadmire gives some information on a swamp campaign, similar to some books that WOTC released (such as frostburn, stormwrack, and sandstorm). there are alot of things they left out (such as racial stats for bayou halflings and some other new races that are introduced), as well as spells for clerics. the new classes (most are 20 level progressions) are interesting; some are good, some are weak, and some are completely useless outside of the dreadmire setting. my favorites include the deathslayer (EXTREMELY useful if you are running an undead-heavy campaign); the lightworker and their counterpart, the darkworker (both get shapechanging at 12th level); and the Phyxius, which is only useful if you really like birds and flight. there are also new items to use. new monsters and are.... odd, at the very least. unique, to be certain. most of them are made by adding a few templates to existing creatures. there are also a few maps an enterprising DM can use, and numerous NPCs that can be placed in a game. there are even a few basic adventures.certainly worth a look. more usedul material than the miniature's handbook, for sure! i use it regularly whenever i have the chance to. not the best book ever, but certainly interesting.
  •     This book offers three full adventures and alot of other goodies too. it is well worth the price.
  •     Chapter 1: The map region covers over 700,000 sq miles of terrain of which the Dreadmire swamp covers about a third. The chapter covers an overview of the formation of the swamp and the environments that feed the swamp itself that reads much like a text book in tone and presentation. This in turn turns in to a brief overview of the world itself.The next three sections are important first for there information and second as the encounter tables are keyed to each. The sections cover areas of the swamp called The Thicket, The Backswamp and the Perdition. These describe the three basic zones of the swamp from the edge to its heart, they are again textbook descriptions covering the overall feel of the environment from basic encounters to the level of inherent evil present as one travels deeper in to the swamp itself till one comes to its heart.The problem with the three mentioned sections is the map has no reference of them and there is no way to translate there presence with the rest of the information given. This is a problem because the encounter tables included in this section require the DM to know where the party is at any given time as they travel the swamp itself. It's as if the information was from another map badly translated to the campaign map given in the book. The Auther may consider to modify the campaign map with an overlay that shows these regions for reference, this would increase the utility of the information and the encounter tables. Travel rates are specific to each region based on a flat travel rate per day but allow the usage of a Bateau boat that travels based on a 16 hour day. This section has less utility as it does not use any of the overland movement conventions based on the SRD itself nor does it offer a Survival roll DC for getting lost.There is a brief description that sets up the haunted swamp concept but again is hard to tie in to the overall map. Also the size of the overall area lessens this material greatly, why worry about a haunted swamp when you are over 500 miles away.The section rounds out with an encounter table keyed to the basic four regions. It uses a table to first determine the type of encounter then has the DM roll on a specific table to determine what has been found. Characters can stumble across a random disease, and active terrain feature or some form of creature. The tables are not well balanced versus the regions and CRs and would make life short for any low level character wondering about. Also the utility of the table is much reduced as it was not keyed to the printed regions on the map but to the Thicket, Backswamp and Perdition and rounded out by the fourth region Inhabited.There are some good ideas in this chapter and much work for the DM to make it workable, the clear text helps to guide the DM and makes it easier to present to the players, and this combined with some of the reference material in the back make describing the complex environment much easier. The down side much of the game effects are under described and require the Dm to both define and develop as she may see fit.Chapter 2 This section perks up quite a bit and brings out the value of the product. The section covers people and places and works to bring the setting alive as far as to what everybody is up to. Combined with the map this is where the DM can start planning her adventures or develop her own place in the swamp.The first section is a listing of the regional factions, here we have an overview of the people, where they live, and how they interact with each other and in most cases an authority figure that runs the show. In this case the information is clear and focuses on the high points of each culture and there relationship to the swamp. This is where the DM is expected to develop his own ideas from the information given. The cultures run from the sophisticated to the barbaric, noble to black heart evil. Also the horror swamp subplot can be found throughout the text creating a reason that such races are just so and giving the DM a much needed list of villains and subplots.The second section gives us the Faiths and Deities. As the above civilizations we have a brief description along with an authority figure. Many adventure hooks present themselves along with a quest to return a chained god to power. These are left to the DM as to what she may or may not need at any given time. The Gods cover the full range of influences and are focused on the local environment and cultures. One God, Marais, features in the myth of the swamps creation and is mentioned in the first chapter, maintaining an occult feel to the environment.The third section covers smaller communities. The number of these communities is quite small versus the overall size of the map but do serve as an example as to how these communities function in the setting. The format is per the DMG and includes all information based on population levels and authority figures. The largest section is the thorp Iota that includes a detailed description of the Live Bait tavern, though no maps are given. Iota also provides a jumping off point for local adventures as needed by the DM. They also have a section that shows the love of the author for his Bayou Halflings were we look at a section of there culture, special locations, holidays and manners of speech. The Bayou Halflings also pop up all over the above descriptions and are one of the prominent cultural groups.The last section covers the mysteries of the swamp, keyed locations that add mysteries and adventure ideas to the landscape. Again these are short descriptions that require DM development. Some locations are part of the overall haunted swamp plot and can be used for quests that center upon that story element.Other than the inclusion of a new player skill, wave-slide, and the standard information for the Gods there is no real character information given here nor are there any instructions on how to create player characters out of the given races. Other than the new classes and prestige classes found later in the book there is no listing of feats as well. Some of the specific races found in this book like the Alligataur have no player character info given other than they can advance in character levels. The Dm will have to use the techniques given in Savage Species to develop these as a player character race.The section also includes no maps of the various locations but this is not uncommon for this type of product. The presentation is mostly text with a light scattering of pictures; there is a lot of information here to digest.Chapter 3: Here we find three adventures that take place within the swamp and underworld environments. He we also find a brief description of how the adventures are designed using the following format. Role playing, avoidance, programmed and EL for combat encounters.The first adventure is the Great Bayou Halfling Boat Race. Hear the PCs are roped in to crewing a Goelette (swamp boat) for a Halfling called Arseneaux Hammertow. The adventure is supposed to be used to introduce the players to the swamp realm through a series of encounters. There is no map for this adventure, instead using a series of programmed events to move the game forward. The race takes the characters through 300 miles of terrain and should take the party a good three weeks to accomplish, but none of this is noted or experienced in the adventure. Also this adventure is noted as being one for beginning levels but many of the encounters will kill a low level party of one to three levels. Another caution is the constant usage of the plot hammer. Many encounters have predetermined results, where the presence of the characters is not taken in to account. Any Dm must carefully read through the adventure before running it to determine if it fits his style.The Bog of the Fungus Demon and the Secrets of the Sinking Citadel are both site based adventures. As they are similar I will review them both here. Both these adventures cleave to a first edition feel and are more balanced than the first adventure. The adventures introduce many of the new creatures in the monster chapter. The DM again is reminded to read through each adventure to determine if it fits his style of play and make any changes necessary. Here the author stops the plot hammering allowing the party to explore each environment. Also all necessary maps are included to play. The last two adventures are a good read.The product is confused as to what it thinks it is; a campaign source book or an environment book. It's too weak on both counts. It lacks terrain rules for the swamp such as getting lost or detailed descriptions on how to run combat or navigate the hazards.The source book side is weak and underdeveloped; the horror story too scattered in parts and left to the DM to make it work. The player's information includes new pc classes that are too strong for regular play but offers no updates to skills for the environment or feats. There is no information on new character races. The spells are workable and fit the environment; the magic items are short listed and not organized by type but are functional, a few though are not priced well for effect are not well balanced and again require the DM to review.The creatures section does add new monsters to the mix including a few "inspired" by other D20 source books. Mixed in with this are add-ons to existing MM creatures, hazards and benign encounters, this concept helps to pad the count to 264. The add ones are usualy a single paragraph that adds some new ability to an existing monster, in many cases ignoring both the impact on the creature itself or as to the effect it has on the game.The monster recipe suffers from the same problem the author has with the rest of the book, if it was hard to figure out it must be the DMs problem. as a quote from the book for one of the recipes we find this entry, " Hit Dice, Speed, AC, Attacks, Damage, Space/reach, Saves, Treasure: May decrease or increase based on the new size, shape, carapace, or special qualities or attack forms. There is no set amount or formula, although you should keep play balance in mind." Here we see how the DM and not the author needs to figure out how this works, templates from other sources work much better and provide better direction than this.The reference section is material culled from different sources but in no way presented as gamming material. Its just lists with minor definitions, information available and copied from public sources.One note on the language matrix, its just a bunch of fonts keyed to the common alphabet, no effort was made by the auther to present new languages, there usage or meanings. In this system a word like "dog" is the same in draconic as it is in common just with different fonts, I wish japenese was as easy to interpret.Q
  •     I've been reading through my copy of Dreadmire and have to say this is one of the most interesting reads I've had in a long time.

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