Jeffro's Space Gaming Blog

Microgames, Monster Games, and Role Playing Games

A Quick Look at Whisper & Venom from Lesser Gnome

I got a copy of this stuff from Lesser Gnome as part of an epic Gamer Care Package. It’s neat enough that I thought it was well worth a quick look™. I didn’t really know that this was even a thing until I ripped open the shrink wrap; maybe this is all news to you, too!

24″ x 18″ color poster map — This thing is gorgeous. The style of map here is very much like one of Tolkien’s hand drawn maps. The colors are crisp and the details are sharp. Watching my son take a look at it, he is drawn in immediately… looking for each tower, cave, and settlement. This is an impressive piece of work and it will enhance the gameplay. No, I don’t want to put this on the wall. I want to play a game with this!

Companion Map Booklet — Nothing fancy here. Just something to help you run your game. The color maps maybe didn’t translate to black and white as well… but I don’t care. I’m glad for the sort of sanity this injects in to my frantic attempts to manage a hectic game session.

12 Monster Cards — I had a set of something like this when I was a kid. (I bought ’em at Kaybee Toys along with some TSR microgames!) And yeah, the point is immediately obvious. I’ll say, “you walk around the corner and you see… this!” And then I’ll hold up the card. Oh, yeah. Mine came with a temporary tatoo. Heh.

The Whisper Vale Regional Setting Guide — This is the bare minimum you need to put the big poster map to work. The booklet is about forty pages long and it does not go overboard. It’s just a page or so on some towns and regional features… and then several pages of non-player characters and encounter charts. I can’t tell you if it’d be your thing or not, but it at least does not fall into the “failed novelist” genre of gaming materials! This is not the Forgotten Realms… and that’s fine by me.

Whisper and Venom — This is 76 pages of dungeon that’s only a day’s journey from the setting’s main settlement. Yes, that’s a Jeff Dee cover. The keyed areas begin with a very brief passage in italics that could be read aloud. This is followed with the usual game master information for the location. In my quick read through of this, the scenario strikes me as very much focused on fighting. The monsters are pretty well all new to me, so the various encounters do come off as being very different than my randomly generated dungeons. So while this is a traditional “hack and slash” adventure, it’s going to have a less derivative feel than the “orc / gelatinous cube / giant spider” sessions I just got done running.

Altogether, this looks like the work of a hobbyist that is knocking himself out making the coolest thing he could come up with. The retail box set that this stuff was produced for even came with custom miniatures. (Crazy!) This kind of lavish production should be familiar to anyone that’s supported something on Kickstarter in the past couple of years. Yeah, I rant about that sort of thing occasionally. In this case, though, I glad somebody pulled this one off. More people putting their dream game together and making it a reality is a good thing in my book.

All of this fancy stuff costs money, though. And I tend to view roleplaying as being the cheapskate’s hobby myself. But unlike the last module I looked at from Lesser Gnome, this one is available in PDF format. So in this case, both cheapskates and folks that want all the frills got what they wanted. Check it out!

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