Sunday, November 18, 2012

Adventures on Gothic Earth By Jack W. Shear Review & Commentary

Adventures on Gothic Earth

Adventures on Gothic Earth

By Jack W. Shear

August 10, 2012
Perfect-bound Paperback
Interior Ink
Black & white
0.99 lbs.
Dimensions (inches)
8.5 wide x 11 tall


Tales of the Grotesque & Dungeonesque  series by Jack Shear is divided into a definitive series of projects. The first book is both introduction & overview of the Gothic world line & style of OSR play. The second in the series is labelled Expert & it actually lives up to the label in spades.
The last one in the entry so far is the campaign setting. The Gothic Earth critica 19th century Earth steeped in the Gothic vein of horror. Steeped very deep indeed.
The whole book is more then merely another campaign setting its an optional palette of stuff to add to an already rich setting.
The whole clocks in at 134 pages & its actually very useful for not simply Gothic horror gaming but gaming in general. Further rules for PCs are 5-29 & are surprisingly user friendly. The Gothic Earth Grimoire are balls to the walls Gothic flavored  spells, The Gothic Earth Bestiary is weird, horrific monsters in the grand tradition, That's pages 38-70 of nothing but monsters that actually fit the setting instead of simply another batch of monsters. The author uses random charts to take the usual suspects in new directions & keeps the players who even own the book guessing.
There's the DM's section which is a DYI fast adventure kit into & of itself.This little piece enalbes DM to generate an adventure possibly in fifteen minutes or less. The whole section is one setting dressing after another Gothic style.
Pages ninety -six through one hundred twenty seven cover the real meat of the book. This is some serious rpg setting material for a Gothic Earth. Notice I said a Gothic Earth. The material in this section is the type of stuff that I wish had appeared in "The Masque of the Red Death" setting back in the 90s.
 Sections One hundred twenty eight through one hundred thirty four and contain essentially another bunch of major magic items as well as the most well thought out appendix "N" of Gothic literature I've seen.
Reasons For Using Adventures on Gothic Earth 
  1. There's a complete setting laying between the pages waiting for PC victims 
  2. The material is complete but not complete so much that the DM can't add or subtract for the setting easily 
  3. The setting is taken from the material not copied from it. There's a more authentic feel here. 
  4. The tradtionial D&D conventions are thrown out the window with the bathwater & it really forces a campaign in new directions. 
  5. The book is a solid read so much so that I printed all three of these books out. 

Using The Adventures On Gothic Earth For Your OSR Game

Jack Shear knows his literature & gaming. On the whole this is an edition neutral book but there are certain conventions that mark the book being set right smack into the 19th century. This is very much an alternative universe where a very different sort of magic reigns. This is the type of world that Hammer wishes it had the budget for back in the 60s & only the very best of the films achieves this sort of atmosphere.

Each section of the material can & indeed must be cherry picked for the style of adventure that a DM is running. This is the process that I've used when approaching this book for the sheer volume of information that the author packs into it.
The truth is that most of the material is only going to useful one adventure at a time & will capture the "Penny Dreadful" atmosphere of the periods.

The material can be used as a background & padding for a more modern game when the world has gone into a more modern place. It does however function as a kit for the DM to use who, what, where, & when as needed for a total Gothic horror package.
The bottom line with these products is that for the DM on a budget these are just the thing to set the mood & rip into a bunch of PCs with little to no problem. They clock in price wise between 12 to 10 dollars American for ton of material. The only thing that comes to mind with that much horror style material is Trey's Old World setting.

You can check out & buy the book right Here or download a free copy right Here


  1. The quality of Jack Shear's work which he is giving away for free is first rate. Download whatever he has to offer gratis pronto.

  2. I have & Professor Shear's work is first rate. I fully expect to see a Gothic Earth companion or Gothic Companion in the works very soon. Nice blog sir.