The Stronghold is a new fanzine by Boric Glanduum. It is a print-only zine which you can buy for USD $5.00 – 6.00, depending on your location.
It is named after the author’s blog. While the content is old school in spirit the stat blocks are mostly given for 3.X.
Delivery was pretty fast considering it was overseas. The zine comes at 24 pages plus cardstock cover. The cover art by Jay Penn is freaking awesome! The interior illustrations are also pretty nice. However, there are some quirks with this product. One table does not line up properly and different base fonts are used. I find it a bit strange that the pages are cut a bit crudely. It doesn’t look as smooth as comparable zines. That being said, the booklet is easy to read and that’s what matters.
So, what’s in it?
There is a random d30 table (yeah, d30!) with found items. Not the magic ones but those seemingly useless and mundane items. I like that, it’s a nice idea and pretty neat if you have to come up with something on the fly.
Next up is the Vat of Variance, a barrel which changes your physiology. Some random tables determine your alteration, for instance, serpentine heads or arachnoid legs. I’m not really excited by this one though it could be part of an adventure where someone uses the vat for nefarious purposes.
Then there is an entry for the monster type Mimic. It comes with different sub-classes like Keg and Cask Mimics, Clothing Mimics and more. Stats are given for D&D 3.X. The information goes way beyond what you have in a normal monster handbook and is very handy.
Then there is one page with Missives from the ‘Hold, a humorous table about noses and boogers. Actually, this entry is pretty silly.
What I find useful again is a list of three ready-made Treasure Tables which come at 1500 gp value.
The zine ends with an entry for a NPC gnoll, Rogka, and a map for their turf, the Environs of Chot Lake. It’s a good write-up.
For me, the content of the zine varies in usefulness but overall it’s a nice read. Kudos for using a d30 table. While there is nothing that blew me away there are some things I can see myself using. I’m a bit on the fence about this zine. I would say it compares mostly to Tim Short’s The Manor and I somehow find The Manor more inspiring. However, this is The Stronghold’s first issue so it might lose its rough edges in the future.
As things are now, it’s a solid no-nonsense fantasy zine. While I enjoy those weird and gonzo fanzines much, I’m glad to see that the ordinary fantasy still gets some love.