Although Gallant & Bold has been translated to English, Ogres de Gel has not. Let me anyway present it here (not review it), as I know some of you readers can decipher French well enough, and since, it's in the OSR tradition, play it as is or adapt it to their favourite engine.
There will be no spoilers here, it's only a presentation of the campaign and some comments on how its information is laid out and communicated.
The campaign is meant for level 3 adventurers and starts in Moulin-le-Gel. For a level 1 party, the author proposes to start with the dream and play the travel to the village, roughly 4 sessions leading from level 1 to level 3.
Here is the introduction text:
While dreaming, one of the adventurers receives a message from their sister, Gunnore, thanks to one of humanity's deities. It's a call for help, she and several of her comrades have been kidnapped by ogres. Gunnore is a young wizard who recently took up the village mage office in the region of Val-de-Gel (frost vale), on the northern border of the Keandal realm. The adventurer gathers his party and they depart for Moulin-le-Gel (frost mill), the village where Gunnore is practicing.
This is followed by an explanation of the campaign and its secrets. And since the environment is one of extreme cold, the campaign lists four simple rules to stress the inconvenience of travels across those lands. The fourth rule concludes by reminding the referee to allow for adventurer creativity in the fight against cold and snow.
Moulin-de-Gel (frost mill) is then described carefully. It should become the base of operation for the adventuring party. Moulin-de-Gel, despite its name, is miraculously warm enough for humanoids to live and that warmth is necessary for the party to recover from the bites of the surrounding cold.
An act centers on a place or node of the Val-de-Gel (frost vale). The campaign is composed of eight acts and each follows a standard articulation:
The Presentation is a two to four paragraphs introduction to the act.
The Approaches is usually a bullet list of entry points for the location. Acts with composite locations have multiple approaches.
The Location Description is the classical indexed map with numbered list of descriptions. Each act location is chewable without frenetic page turning.
What can be drawn or Followup Events are a bullet point section about what happens after the act was dealt with successfully (or not).
Around the Location is also a bullet point section, it lists hints at what can be found around the location for overly creative adventurers or referees that want to spice up the approaches.
Apart from the cover, it is all black and white, and easily readable. The illustration and the clear articulation makes it easy to find one's marks within the booklet.
There are no blocks of text to read as-is to the players, and it's great like that.
NPCs and Monsters
The NPC and monster stat blocks are three to five fingers tall. Please note that Gallant and Bold rolls 3d6 for attributes, the lower the better, because attribute checks are roll above.
Quick translation guide: Niveau ➞ Level, CA ➞ Armor Class, JS ➞ Save Throw, MV ➞ Move (in 5 feet squares), PV ➞ Hit Points, FOR ➞ Strength, INT ➞ Intelligence, SAG ➞ Wisdom, DEX ➞ Dexterity, CON ➞ Constitution, CHA ➞ Charisma.
In italics there are two adjectives flagging each NPC, it's a nice guide for the referee when those come into play. and since all the NPCs are illustrated, the description of the NPCs is easy.
The NPCs stat blocks are found where they appear in the campaign, while there is a bestiary at the end of the booklet for the generic monsters.
The monster stat blocks are simpler, no attributes for them. There are eighteen monsters listed there, and of course, most of them are adapted to the cold. CV ➞ Hit Dice.
As I have written above, those stat blocks are easily adaptable to other games with STR/DEX/CON/INT/WIS/CHA, Armor Class and Hit Dice. At the end of the booklet there are also stats for the Coureurs d'Orages game by Islayre d'Argolh.
It's a 78 pages booklet, it's clearly laid out and the illustrations are glorious. I have included three of them here. They are very inspiring, well, at least for me. The author, John Grümph, is a gifted writer, designer and illustrator, I am always looking forward to his new publications, detailing each image is a pleasure.
What I do not like:
- One of the creatures, kani kong what the fuck? Fun anyway.
(update 2021-07-28: John Grümph explained to me the why of the creature and it makes complete sense)
What I like:
- It feels just right, not poor, not extravagant, a beautiful onion of an adventure
- Enough leeway for improvising referees and enterprising adventurers
- The Matterhorn, that giant canine tooth, surges to the heaven in two wonderful illustrations
Tight, clear, al dente, I warmly recommend it, it's cold out there.
Ogres de Gel on Lulu