Tuesday, March 12, 2019

A Pipeful Of Trouble Adventure By Bret James Stewart From D-oom Products For Labyrinth Lord Or Your Old School Campaigns

"All is not well in Brierfield. The idyllic halfling village has fallen prey to unknown bandits and marauders. These peaceful victims of shattered loves and broken dreams need a band of heroes to save them. Are you willing to help them in their time of needs?"

Sometimes a dungeon master needs a basic & down to Earth module & that's where A Pipeful Of Trouble comes in from Bret James Stewart. We get a low level halfling adventure with some heart & heat for the player's PC's. The production & layout are straight up too the level of  D-oom Products expectations. This adventure is packed with back to back old school value at seventy two pages of campaign setting set up goodness. This adventure packs in  NPCs,nasty opponents & NPC's, lots of dangerous adventure locales,

twists & turns for the PC's situations, plus a brand new
evil monster with its own brand of weirdness.
The cartography  for Brierfield, & the Merrywood route to the caves, along with the adventure  a cave and dungeon maps are very well done. But I can't help but feel that everything in 
Pipeful Of Trouble is an old fashioned campaign set up. While the Tolkein flavor is undeniable its not an adventure that talks down the players or the dungeon master. Here the flavor is akin to a fully fleshed out adventure that can be dragged & dropped as a prime introduction adventure.
While this is an introductory adventure for beginning characters the entire adventure feels like a European fairy tale mixed in the with strains of Tolkien shifted through the lens of Dungeons & Dragons.

:Mikalojus Konstantinas Ciurlionis - FAIRY TALE (FAIRY TALE OF KINGS) - 1909 has some of the magic of Pipeful Of Trouble adventure ideals. 

There's something to be said for bringing in a tradition Dungeons & Dragons style adventure with some solid beginnings for lower tier PC's. At this Pipeful Of Trouble succeeds in spades. The style of this adventure is one with clear goals & roadways of old school campaign ideals. This is a good thing for beginning characters & players in my opinion. The dungeon master is given all of the tools he or she will need to set up a fine campaign to beginning with.
There are several ways I can see using Pipeful Of Trouble, one is for a set up for a game of James Spahn's The Hero's Journey Swords & Wizardry rpg . All of the elements are present in Pipeful Of Trouble to really bring home the Tolkein while grounding a campaign on the dungeon master's stomping ground. The epicness of the adventure's background setting allows the dungeon master to customize certain adventure elements. 

But the place where Pipeful Of Trouble really shines is with the Goblinoid Games Labyrinth Lord retroclone game. The whole package slots right into LL with no trouble at all & really brings home that old school feel without giving the players loads of horrid worry. That isn't to say that Pipeful Of Trouble isn't going to kill your PC's dead quite the contrary. But it means that the players can have a solid time with the adventure right from the dice hitting the table.

Pipeful Of Trouble does three things at the table top level & does em right. It presents a great introductory adventure, there is some really nasty business waiting for the PC's, & the adventure serves as a prime price of adventure gaming perfect for introducing new players to the OSR & for killing off the PC's of veterans who get cocky with a first through third level adventure. Is Pipeful Of Trouble worth the money?! Yes I think so. The adventure succeeds on two levels, one it delivers on its promise for adventure! 

Thursday, April 5, 2018

Review & OSR Commentary On RPGPundit Presents #26: Mutant Hordes of the Last Sun For Your Old School Wasteland Campaigns

So today it wad great anticipation that I grabbed a copy of Rpg Pundit Presents 26 Mutant Hordes of the Last Sun. 
I asked for this copy of what looks like Rpg Pundit's dip into the OSR  post apocalyptic rpg scene with the Last Sun setting. Sort of a Dying Earth meets gonzo OSR rpg style game setting, Dungeon Crawl Classic or Mutant Crawl Classic players are going to feel right at home here as will Mutant Future rpg fans. There's also a good shot of Tolkein's Middle Earth playing to the strains of some weird Eighties sound track here. None of this is a bad thing for the OSR zine presentation of this setting;

" In the gonzo world of the Last Sun, human beings are an endangered species. After the Great Disaster, human numbers have steadily declined throughout the world. Although a few areas still contain a human majority (like the city of Arkhome, detailed in RPGPunditPresents #16 and #20), true humans are a very rare breed throughoutmost of the world.
While humans have been hunted to near-extinction in some areas (like the Middle-Northern Wildlands, detailed in RPGPundit Presents #15), it was mostly mutation rather than depredation that
has apparently doomed humanity. The time of the Great Disaster, when the Dark Ones entered the world of the Last Sun and waged war against all life, caused an enormous amount of ecological damage to
the world. The disappearance of the Ancients, crash of G.O.D. into Emergency Mode, and rebellion of the AI Daemons meant that there was no central control. The loss of the Dwarven Machineholds to the
servants of the Dark One also meant that all the machinery that kept strict control over the climate of the world was no longer accessible.
The war of the Pythian Elves and their allies against the Dark Ones on the surface of the world created devastation, both technological (radiation and other toxic effects) and magical. As a result of all this,
not only did many humans die, but many more were mutated into horrific monsters and monster-races, like the humanoids usually described as goblin-kin. A majority were changed into what are now
simply referred to as mutants—they are human-like, but no longer human creatures"
So basically Rpg Pundit is steadily working on an OSR post apocalyptic rpg and testing the waters of the marketplace with a slick mutant race generator with a strong eye towards the gonzo end of the spectrum. This product clocks in at eighteen pages & is full of random generators for everything from your mutant's tribal factional background, powers, type, color, & potential additional physical qualities. In addition there's a psychic powers system built into the product that can work in a wide variety of OSR products. Finally there's a random mutant quirky qualities & weirdness table. And there's actually a couple of pieces of pretty decent artwork along with the usual quality layout to the product line. 

Mutant generators walk a very fine line when it comes to execution they have to have enough useful information & lots of great random tables without taking away from the tool box nature of the product. Rpg Pundit Presents 26 Mutant Hordes of the Last Sun succeeds in that regard. The three dollar price tag means that the dungeon master can roll up a wide variety of NPC mutants without breaking the bank. It also means that the players have addition customization tools right at their finger tips. There's enough meet on the Mutant Hordes of the Last Sun eighteen pages to give a good idea of the direction of the product without boxing the players completely and utterly into the setting.
There's just enough guidance to randomly determine if your PC is a mutant, and what kind of classes he can play without strong arming the player into a corner of dead ends & penalties that many other OSR & old school post apocalyptic products have done in the past. Yes I'm looking at you Ares section of Dragon magazines of ages past.
There's a lot here that can be done with Rpg Pundit Presents 26 Mutant Hordes of the Last Sun
from factional NPC mutant characters to full fledged psychic mutant PC's whose presence won't destroy your wastelands.
The inclusion of a working psychic powers system is a nice addition for only three dollars & I can see using this generator for creating humanoid mutant alien species as well. This generator would work well for creating mutant tribes & NPC's on failed colony worlds for science fiction or science fantasy worlds. There's enough here to add mutant PC's to a wide variety of OSR games. The three dollar price tag makes this a nice & solid product for use with OSR games. I don't know if the Last Sun setting is for me but the Rpg Pundit Presents 26 Mutant Hordes of the Last Sun is a welcome addition to the post apocalyptic Dungeon master's arsenal. So this one is a five out of five in my book!

GRAB RPGPundit Presents #26: Mutant
Hordes of the Last Sun RIGHT HERE

Thursday, March 29, 2018

Depravity and Debauchery Las casas de putas de Satanás A New OSR Mega Dungeon Location & Setting

To me the winds that die and start,
And strive in wars that never cease,
Are dearer than the level peace
That lies unstirred at summer's heart.

More dear to me the shadowed world,
Where, with report of tempest rife,
The air intensifies with life,
Than quiet fields of summer's gold.

I am the winds' admitted friend:
I share those ancient mysteries
They whisper to the trembling trees
Or roar along the heavens' end.

And when my spirit listless stands
With folded wings that do not live,
Their own assuageless wings they give
To lift her from the stirless lands.

Within the place unmanifest
Where central Truth is immanent,
Lies there a vast, entire content
Of sound and movement one-in rest?

I Know not this: yet in my heart
I feel that where all truths concur,
The shrine is peaceless with the stir
Of winds that enter and depart.
The Winds  (1912)  by Clark Ashton Smith

On the edges of the Jornada del Muerto a number of boom town cities have grown up around the great alien green black buildings, plazas, & step pyramids that sizzle in the deep desert heat. These appeared over night & the world marveled the golden artifacts,strange technologies, & weird glowing auroras that appeared around the skies around the pyramids.
Mutants, adventurers, outlaws, gamblers, & aliens from 'elsewhere' all converge around villages, towns,etc. as fortunes are made and lost in the otherworldly locations surrounding these pyramids. The whole place is known as
Las casas de putas de Satanás or Satan's whore houses because of the number of demons & monsters of myth & legend that have been seen & have killed people. Las casas de putas de Satanás is twenty five miles of some the most dangerous extra dimensional alien ruins, dungeons,  & weird landscapes that dominate  the desert floor.

The local army, authorities, & occasional CIA Vanguard teams  try to cope with the mutant horrors, giant irradiated monsters, and worse that comes out of the deep desert & the volcanic lost world jungles. Meanwhile fortunes are made on the weird artifacts coming from the 
Las casas de putas de Satanás. Back in the Eastern United States  & in South America a technological revolution has been taking place from these artifacts. But some are saying that these artifacts are allowing 'dark forces' to have influence on reality. Hidden alien presences & so called gods have been sprinkling cults throughout the states & beyond. Several joint US/Mexican militery bases have sprung up around the area including St.McCready,
Plissken, & Hicks all named after various war heroes.

So I've been wanting my own mega dungeon for a long ti
me now & I'm going to start tackling it with this new project that I've outlined in the last entry on this blog. Personally I think that I'm going to take the Lovecraft Circle approach to the dungeon location & use some of the ideas of Clark Ashton Smith.

I'm going to be using a lot of  Labyrinth Lord,Apes Victorious  & Mutant Future in this one along with a good solid core of Adventurer, Conqueror, King's line.

A lurid poster of the play Dr. Faustus being performed in one of the numerous dance hall theaters around El Marro.

More to come!

Monday, March 26, 2018

VHS Era Old School Post Apocalyptic Gaming Campaign - OSR Commentary

I haven't been happy for a while now with certain aspects of my DYI OSR gaming more specifically the lack of post apocalyptic & cult classic horror table top gaming. A work has been taking its toll on my life in certain aspects in a positive direction. We've gotten busier & busier in the home sewing machine repair realm. That's a great thing but its left me with a bit less time to blog & enjoy myself but today I decided to put down some of my thoughts on my corner of the OSR. The fact is that since about last Thursday or so I returned to Gamma World & Mutant Future. Yes I love both games go figure. But I like a much softer apocalyse then what's been presented in both of those game systems. Truth be told I add in bits of Fantastic Heroes & Witchery with Adventurer,Conqueror, King's rpg system to get the right balance of domain level play. Also my players weren't comfortable with the gun rules of Fantastic Heroes & Witchery's gun rules so we went with ADK's Guns of War.
Two things right off I don't care if certain authors  or designers don't get along that's not my problem. Second I've paid for these games & under the games terms of fair use I'm going to use them at my table as I see fit. If my players are happy then I'm happy. So don't bother telling me that me that you got a problem with what I'm writing behind the scenes I don't have time for OSR pissing contests. You've got to understand that there's going to be damage adjustments & other system considerations using Labyrinth Lord & Labyrinth Lord Advanced's monsters & also a fair amount of Realms of Crawling Chaos.
So over the weekend I got a chance to view some cultclassic VHS era horror films that I love. Ghosthouse a horror film from 1988 has pretty much almost everything I'm looking for to kick off a campaign.
"Ghosthouse (Italian: La Casa 3) is a 1988 Italian horror film directed by Umberto Lenzi and produced by Joe D'Amato. It co-starred Lara Wendel and Donald O'Brien.
Its plot focuses on a deserted house where the visions of a ghostly girl and her haunted doll wreak havoc on those who enter it."
The film is the unofficial sequel to Evil Dead II.[1] In Italy, The Evil Dead was released under the title La Casa (The House), and Evil Dead II became La Casa II. "

So basically this isn't our world at all. About 1920 or so the rise in interest in the occult & the supernatural reached a fever pitch. The occult was a fringe hobby along with a part time religion. The 'Dark Forces' of the world gained a toe hold. Events escalated in the Depression allowing Hitler and his cronies to gain in power but in 1940's both the Axis & Allies employed dangerous time & dimensional continuum shattering experiments. The Fifties saw the first mutants among mankind & the rise the giant monsters.
The early Eighties saw the beginnings of the 'Little Wars' small scale atomic & dimensional warfare allowing even more supernatural seepage into our world & the rise of the mutant front organizations. The Cult of Cthulhu has been working its way into the foundations of society opening doorways for their masters. Meanwhile technologies have become incredibly dangerous as the US government & other world powers use agents, adventurers, and others to try curtail the advancing monsters destroying society from within.
This is a world with a slightly higher technological level built upon the backs of genetically modified apes & other mutate animal species after finding the secrets to this genetic fount head out in the fringes of reality.

VHS tape by Tumi-1983

All is not well in society as the major religions are calling for the end of the world as NASA & other governmental organizations stock pile caches of technology, relics, and more in bunkers all over the world & the USA. Riots of mutate workers & servants have happened in several major world cities and these are on the increase even as strangely garbed travelers wander into our home towns & other cities from Elsewhere.

Much of this came from reading through the Mutant Future Wiki Gamma World Entry over the weekend & taking a look deeper into the first Edition Advanced Dungeons & Dragons Dungeon Master's Gamma World Conversions again for the billionth time.

More coming up very soon

Friday, May 5, 2017

Commentary Running The Outer Presence From Kort'thalis Publishing Using The Silent Legions Rpg System Rules By Kevin Crawford - Actual Play Event

"The world is broken in hidden ways. The truth is concealed for the sake of mortal minds. The unendurable reality that boils behind the stars is veiled by the pleasant blindness that human sanity requires. Yet every comforting shroud must fall in time, and for these investigators, that time is now."
So let's peek behind the shroud of Silent Legion today!

So like a couple of years ago the Silent Legions rpg  had its kickstarter. This OSR game by  Kevin Crawford was successfully funded then it was put on a shelf someplace along with a myriad of very positive reviews. For months now I've had the pdf sitting on the dark corners of my hard drive & its time to do something with it. So what does Silent Legions bring to the table? A number of things that might look familiar to Stars Without Number dungeon masters.
  • Tools for creating eldritch gods, alien races, black sorcery, unique Lovecraftian magical artifacts, fantastic demi-planes of dream, and unspeakable cults of foulest evil. Make your players afraid of the dark again- give them an enemy that's a genuine mystery to them!
  • Guides for the creation of horrific monsters, building them from basic templates elaborated by unique qualities and special flavors of horror. Use the example templates for a quick abomination or flesh them out to be a special nemesis for your players.
  • Region creation tools for building your own sections of demon-haunted Earth, including sixty location tags to define the special torments of your land. These tags are largely compatible with the other tags found in Sine Nomine products such as Stars Without Number and Scarlet Heroes, so you can mix things up for even more dread chaos.
  • Adventure templates for quickly producing an investigative adventure suitable for sandbox use. You can create "blank" templates out of raw plot elements and then drop them on top of your region; the blank spaces in the template interlock with the location tags to create an instant adventure no matter which location receives the template.
  • Cult rules that adapt the popular Faction system from Stars Without Number for the dark machinations and secret feuding of the malevolent cults you create. Keep your world in a steady downward spiral whether or not the PCs are there!

    So mechanically how cross compatible is Silent Legions with other OSR systems? Well according to the author's comments on Drivethrurpg;"

    Silent Legions, Other Dust, Stars Without Number, and Spears of the Dawn all share the same system, albeit with a few genre tweaks for the individual games. Scarlet Heroes uses its own system built for one-on-one gaming, but even there, it remains basically compatible with the SWN series, trading the skill system for "traits" and using a slightly different system for saves."

    I did a quick review of the beta rules way back in 2014  after a few edits & some tweaks the game was out in the wild for sale by Kevin Crawford.  And that's all I've done with the game system. Sigh. The problem has been that players are used to Call of Cthulhu, Chill, Trail of Cthulhu, etc & don't seem to realize the strengths of the game system that make up Silent Legions as an rpg. Its far easier to get OSR or old school players into a game of Dungeons & Dragons then it is to get them into horror game but that's not all there is to Silent Legions. As an OSR  source book well that's where this is one of the strengths of the game. It actually works well to enhance other old school & retroclone systems and can be used as a fast replacement system for Call of Cthulhu. But what does this mean? Well it means that your Fiend Folio 1st edition Advanced Dungeons & Dragons book just became a go to horror monster source book. 

    Now I've heard it argued that OD&D & AD&D 1st edition are horror games which to a certain extent is absolutely true depending upon the tone & take away of the campaign setting. But when you incorporate a family of berbalangs who are straight out  of Filipino myth into a modern or a Dark Ages fantasy game using the bits that Silent Legions brings to the table well now your onto a full  blown horror campaign. Several of the monster from the Fiend Folio are perfect fodder for the dream realms of Silent Legions ala HP Lovecraft's Dream Lands.

    Just the other week I ran a group of my regular D&D retroclone players through a modified version of
    The Outer Presence From  Kort'thalis Publishing using Silent Legions. The results were both horrific and very satisfyingly from a dungeon master's perspective. The by play went very well as the players dealt with Miskatonic University and quickly headed to Papua New Guinea set during the 1600's. The results were a TPK but things went off very well. The players were very happy but wanted a bit more meat to their PC's then simply the profession rules of the Outer Presence. Sometimes less is not more especially for experienced players.

    I'll be back with more commentary on Silent Legions as I get into the game a bit more but it looks like I'm going to be needing a hard copy of this game sooner then later. Well get more into some of the deeper aspects of Silent Legion next time.
    Until next time keep em rolling!

Wednesday, December 21, 2016

Commentary & Review Of Adventurer, Conqueror, King's Rpg System Adventure AX1: The Sinister Stone of Sakkara For Your Old School Campaign

"Over a millennium ago, when the borderlands were in the dark grip of the Zaharan Empire, the empire’s sorcerer-priests erected a profane temple to house the terrible artifact known as the Stone of Sakkara. Using the Stone, the sorcerer-priests could birth monsters and abominations with frightening ease and magically command the loyalty of chaotic creatures. The Stone brought its evil masters great power throughout the fell empire. "

Clocking in at eighty pages AX1 The Sinister Stone of Sakkara is an introductory adventure for the Adventurer,Conqueror, King system hearkening back to classic TSR era B/X adventures such as Keep of The Borderlands. By that  I mean that it takes all of the existing ACK's products within the Autarch lines and puts them into play as a homage to adventures of a bygone era. The idea of the lone Auran/Roman style keep on an Ancient Egyptian/Mesopotamian border that they have conquered is used as the backdrop for a very well thought out adventure. Here the action is centered on the factions of the dungeon & the PC's must deal with the fall out of the evil that slumbers here.  There is a bit of everything in this adventure as its meant to do exactly what the Adventurer, Conqueror, King rule book lays out. That is to explore, deal with, get hired, hex crawl, fight, battle, & play while getting an entire feel for the ACK's system with both the players and the dungeon master cutting their teeth on the  The Sinister Stone of Sakkara .

Everything has a pseudo Lovecraftinan sword & sorcery vibe mixed in with the Auran empire setting. Monsters & encounters have that late night Saturday matinee mixed with a Mountain Dew war game feel. There are actual motivations, as well as reasons why the PC's are here in this part of Türos Tem the place  is presented as the stronghold of a realm controlled by a high-level NPC, with its maps, buildings, population, revenues, costs, and morale score all detailed and provided. This makes modifying and adding it into your own home game campaigns a snap. Many of your standard ACK's humanoids are present but there are far more sinister things lurking as lots of slimes, molds, jellies, fungus, & worse crawl through the AX1.

If the players are stupid & make poor decisions their going to have their PC's killed in no time flat, this is a great module but parts of it can be very unforgiving as the writing and design is very tight. Its well done and easily modified but you're going to have to think on your feet. Yes your PC's might end up with their own domain but they might end up a victim of the very evils that they're investigating or being killed by one of the multiple factions of this realm. Action is fast, reactive, and the plot moves along. There is a sense and story to the history of the region that echoes bits of  Robert Howard, Michael Moorcock, with a blend of Caesar and Rome thrown into the blender of this module.

NPC's function as movers, shakers, possible patrons, or flat out enenmies of the PC's & the ambitions that they bring to the region & your table. This is a place of sand,blood, evil, & flat out mayhem. Expect no quarter if crossing the wrong person or their hidden agendas. The powers that use this region do so with intent and guile. This is because the whole adventure of AX1: The Sinister Stone of Sakkara  is a guide as well as adventure intended to take the PC's through the whole of the ACK's system in miniature.

Once again we've got that classic collapsing empires of earth’s Late Antiquity (250 – 750 AD) as the mirror of the age of Auran that AX1 is set.  A turbulent era in which ancient glories were drowned in a torrent of violence & murder. So this is a perfect place for the PC's to make their mark as they come to explore the dungeons & environs of The Sinister Stone of Sakkara. I was somewhat shocked by how underpowered the NPC's are in this adventure, well not really. This adventure's NPC's reminded me of Dark Albion's 'anyone can be killed' in the Rose War attitude. Because there's also an almost boom town/end of empires set of circumstance that surrounds the setting of the Sinister Stone of Sakkara. This is so that the PC's can not only make their mark but possibly take over the local domain if their very lucky.

Illustration of gnoll diplomacy, requested by Jeff Binder

Certain things about this adventure stand out such as the fact that it integrates & plays around with Adventurer,Conqueror, King's Domains of War. The aspects of military & trade details is fitted in seamlessly within the adventure but its a weird fit in some respects unless of course you're used to war games being a part of your old school systems. The aspect of the war game as a part of the dungeon crawl hearkens back to the old school roots of OD&D when empire building was part and parcel of the gaming experience. Many independent companies kept this style of table top adventure going even as AD&D took another twist. AX1: The Sinister Stone of Sakkara builds upon & to some degree advances this concept on paper. How? By making the players take their PC's center stage or dying in the attempt. Even the description has this conceit built right in, "AX1 includes a two-level dungeon filled with chthonic horror along with a friendly stronghold from which your adventurers can explore the region."

Illustration of a raven spying on Lady Valerian and Hometri Socolo, requested by Florian Hübner

AX1: The Sinister Stone of Sakkara isn't Dwimmermount & for that I'm thankful. Even though I'm an experienced dungeon master there are several systems that Adventurer, Conqueror,King brings to the table that I need a bit of hand holding with. There is also the fact that introducing new players to this system is an added stress but reading through AX1: The Sinister Stone of Sakkara the experience doesn't seem so bad. I really like the Character Motivations table, which adds an interesting twist to the 'reason a PC is this way' and the motive for adventure. 

The motives  for the adventure in part are the war bands of beast men looting, sacking, pillaging throughout the countryside to gather sacrifices to power the Stone’s birthing pools again. Local farms and hamlets have been laid low and destroyed.
This sets up everything for the PC's to get into the deep end of this adventure & perhaps become entangled in the adventure's plot and weird horror that echoes through out. All in all I did enjoy looking through & reading 
AX1: The Sinister Stone of Sakkara. I think its a four out of five for the style, utility of use at the table, an economical use of writing and some fine gaming designing in the old school traditions.

All in all I think that X1: The Sinister Stone of Sakkara does a fantastic job of presenting not only a great quality introductory adventure for Adventurer,Conqueror, King. But a great set up for a possible domain and base for the PC's all the while bringing the high quality Autarach standards we've come to expect.

YOU CAN GRAB  AX1: The Sinister Stone of Sakkara here!

Thursday, December 15, 2016

A Review Of Adventurer, Conqueror, King's Lairs & Encounters book For Use With Your Old School Campaigns

There are times when I need to know facts about monsters such as background, where the monster is dwelling, how long the horror has been in its location, the social background of the beast, are there others of its species within a certain number of square miles, & more. All of this material sometimes needs to be joined together in a concise & coherent way. Well that's where Adventurer Conqueror King System: Lairs & Encounters comes in. This book breaks down all of these details & more. This book continues the high caliber standard set by the other Autarch titles. The physical book isn't out quite yet but the pdf sells for around ten dollars. Everything in this book is geared toward creating monsters that can deal with PC's on an even footing & then come back for more.

Some of the highlights of this include the following:
  • More than 135 ready-to-play monstrous lairs - that's at least one lair listing for every possible monster lair mentioned in the Adventurer Conqueror King System. The lair listings are designed to be used both as domain and adventure plot points that can be shaped to the adventures that DM wants to run.
  • New subsystems for sandbox play, including rules for populating 6-mile hexes with lairs based on the terrain and extent of settlements in the region, and rules for searching for lairs in the wilderness factoring in terrain density, aerial reconnaissance, splitting up to cover more ground (never split the party!), and these are one of my favorite bits of Lairs & Encounters.
  • Additional mechanics for monsters, including ability scores for monsters, proficiencies for monsters, and young monsters. This takes the monster from simple hazard & a quick encounter to a fully fleshed out NPC. This ties in with the Taming & Training rules which hits & then paves the way for fully fleshed out pets. The system ups the anty for  taming and training monsters, complete system details  on the lifespan, roles, tricks, trained and untrained value, supply cost, training period, and the trainability modifier of every monster in the game.  All of this means simply that monsters, animals, pets, even live stock have a fair market value. Another addition to the dungeon that gives players even more trimmings to add to the PC in, out of, and as a part of the dungeon.
  • These are pretty well done a complete system for creating your own unique we bring our same rigorous attention to details, customization, hacking of  traditional D&D style monsters for the dungeon and the wilderness as well as urban materials. 
There are samples throughout the book presenting the types of details on monsters that I haven't seen since the days of the 'ecology of' Dragon magazine articles. There are samples of monster lairs and the details that go with them. There are lots of uses for all of this material and I have to say that it back ties into the Adventurer, Conqueror, King main rule book. This is a welcome and wise decision to the DM who wants to bring the monster goodness to their tables. 
Here's a good example of the level of detail that I'm talking about that appears in the Lairs & Encounters book:"
A fortified camp, with barracks, tents, and a large command pavilion, surrounded by a log palisade, is home to renegade mercenaries from the Company of the Black Thorn. They survive by raiding towns and robbing caravans and travelers. 
Cartography by Simon Forster
Cartography by Simon Forster
There are 100 Brigands (AC 3, Move 120’, HD 1, hp 5 each, #AT 1 weapon, Dmg by weapon, Save F1, ML +1, AL C) equipped with leather armor, shield, sword, and shortbow, and another 100 mounted Brigands (AC 5, Move 120’, HD 1, hp 5 each, #AT 1 weapon, Dmg by weapon, Save F1, ML 0, AL C) with chain mail, shield, sword, and riding horses.
They are led by Inthorn, their captain (AC 7, Move 60’, F9, hp 45, #AT 1 weapon, Dmg by weapon +6, Save F9, ML 0, AL L/C), equipped with spear +2, sword +2, plate armor, shield, and a plate-barded medium warhorse. He wears a red-plumed bronze helm of alignment change, which has turned him chaotic and led to his band going rogue, as well as a dragon-hide sword belt studded with hematite (900gp) and a wrought gold necklace set with thorn-shaped hematite (1,200gp).
Inthorn keeps a war-chest of 7,000gp, which is about one month’s operating expenses for the band. In a small locked coffer, trapped with a poison needle, he keeps 7 bloodstones (50gp each), 5 amethysts (100gp each), 6 amber (100gp each), 3 topaz (500gp each), and 1 sapphire (1000gp each). He keeps 3 wrought gold goblets (700gp), a gold decanter (800gp), and gold bowl (500gp) in the command tent.
Inthorn has 4 lieutenants (AC 6, Move 60’, F5, hp 25 each, #AT 1 weapon, Dmg by weapon +2, Save F5, ML 0), 5 sergeants (AC 6, Move 60’, F4, hp 20 each, #AT 1 weapon, Dmg by weapon +2, Save F4, ML 0, AL C), and 10 corporals (AC 6, F2, hp 10 each, Move 60’, #AT 1 weapon, Dmg by weapon +1, Save F2, ML 0, AL C), all equipped with plate armor, sword, lance, and warhorse.
Accompanying the mercenaries-turned-brigands is Dairin, a powerful chaotic wizard (AC 0, Move 120’, M11, hp 22, #AT 1 weapon or spell, Dmg by weapon or spell, Save M11, ML 0, AL C). Dairin wears elven cloak and boots and carries a wand of enemy detection (20 charges) and a scroll of cloudkill and conjure elemental. His spellbook has the following spells: burning hands, charm person, detect magic, magic missile, shield, sleep; detect invisibility, invisibility, knock, mirror image, web; dispel magic, fireball, fly, invisibility 10’ radius, protection from normal missiles; conjure elemental, cloudkill; death spell
Inthorn’s new lover is Olyma, a priestess of Nasga (AC 8, Move 90’, C8, hp 28, #AT 1 weapon or spell, Dmg by weapon or spell, Save C8, ML 0, AL C). Olyma is equipped with polished black plate armor +1, a whip, a spiked mace, a shield, an unholy symbol (a silver statuette of a bat-winged woman with a whip), and a potion of poison. She wears a pair of engraved silver armlets (600gp each) and a platinum tiara set with a ruby (1,300gp)." Needless to say that this sort of work is scattered across the board in Lairs & Encounters. This makes Lairs & Encounters a monster path book, that is not simply a source book but a source book that creates within its wake a way of detailing a monster as much as the setting within the context of an adventure or campaign.

Where ACK's is designed expressly for the purpose of providing interesting domain-level play, putting the "game" back into the endgame; Lairs & Encounters takes the domain level game applies that concept into the background of the monster. This means that the concept of the monster becomes two things one it becomes the competition, the horror, the mythological concept and antithesis to the PC's within their domains. The second thing it does is makes the animal or being that is being used within a game as much of a resource as any of the other natural game elements to be exploited by the DM. It means that those within your domains are going to be far more eager to seek the protection of those more powerful than themselves.
This gives a whole other aspect to monsters as protection, rulers, etc. within those hexes that parties seem to continue to crawl through.

Another thing about Lairs & Encounters that's the 'encounter' part there is the gravity  of history in many of the encounters that are created within this book. Many plug into the 'official' ACK's setting but they can easily be applied to your own campaigns for example:"
The ground here is torn up by the remains of nine ancient Zaharan scythed chariots, broken and partially covered by webs, dust, and sand. Here and there the jagged blades stick up from the scattered chariot wheels. Each character passing through or searching the area has a 1 in 6 chance of stepping on one of these partly-buried blades and suffering 1d3 points of damage. 18 skeletons (AC 2, Move 120’, HD 1*, hp 4 each, #AT 1 weapon, Dmg 1d6, Save F1, ML N/A, AL C), with rusted mail and jagged, broken scimitars, litter the ancient battlefield in clusters near the chariots. They will rise to attack if blood is shed. "  This is something to keep in mind when designing your own encounters and this book has the tools, guidelines, and more to help you out with that.

Something else to keep in mind is that Lairs & Encounters plugs into Domains at War, ACKS' expansion focusing on mass combat and how it relates to all other aspects of the game, from monsters in domain management to mercenary wages to mercantile supply and demand all centered around the aspects of the monster. By popular demand, they have distilled just the mass combat system itself to an ~8 page kernel which they are planning to add as an expansion but Lairs & Encounters slides right into the backside of this material. That means that all of those battle grounds, war fields, places of violence, ancient war sights and more have the real potential to turn into adventure locations unto themselves. This is something to keep in mind when running games after a party has passed through hex '5671' and they're entirely done with looting the bodies and the bandits, mercenaries are dead. Their foes can rise again to cause problems for the locals and you might have to back to clean up your messes.
There are several reasons to really get into
Adventurer Conqueror King System: Lairs & Encounters: 
  • When you want a really well thought out lair for an adventure or hex crawl that not only blends into the setting but enhances the adventure material adding in another layer of adventure 
  • Sometimes competition is good & monsters can add an entirely unforeseen complication for those domain owners. Monsters domains can also be a readily made domain for PC's to take over(Lairs & Encounters can make that process very wily and interesting as well). 
  • Fast set up and lots of prefab encounters that can be dragged and dropped into your own adventure enviroments to serve as bridge gaps when you've got fifteen minutes before your players arrive and nothing written. 
  • Expanded war game ties for domains of war that make those war games an actual part of the adventure with monstrous tie ins. 
  • This book can be used to enhance, expand, and blow life into the factions and background of existing or classic modules to give new twists on modules or adventures that parties have already played through. Take Keep of The Borderland and suddenly it becomes more then a simple introduction adventure, it becomes an introduction to factional warfare with monsters surrounding a tiny island of humanity in the wilderness on the border of war! Drag & drop in some of the encounters and the entire tone of the adventure changes!
  Adventurer Conqueror King System: Lairs & Encounters is a very useful book with lots of utility at the table the mechanics to create balanced new monsters, new spell powers, and other enhancements for foes itself is worth the price of admission because it can be applied for any OSR retroclone game with B/X D&D at its heart. Is it worth the ten dollar price of admission? Well in a word yes if you're used to creating your own adventures with in the confines of your campaign world and you want a book with the right tools for the job. Adventurer Conqueror King System: Lairs & Encounters ties directly back into the Adventurer, Conqueror, King main rule book making this one very thought out monster & encounters  book.
Do I think its worth the money for this book? In a word yes! Go buy it and will I be using it!