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The Stygian Library $13.13
Average Rating:4.9 / 5
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The Stygian Library
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The Stygian Library
Publisher: Dying Stylishly Games
by Cameron W. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 01/22/2021 20:33:44

Wonderfully evocative with copious art by Alex Sorensen that nails the tone perfectly.

Even if you just cherry-picked monsters or ideas and never ran the Library with the procedure as written you'd more than get your money's worth.

My only gripe is that usability of the PDF would be greatly improved by including links within the text.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
The Stygian Library
Publisher: Dying Stylishly Games
by Michael M. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 03/28/2020 19:49:07

I am currently using this at my table. The table rolling is a bit difficult and time intensive on the fly (although it's worth it for the emergent situations) but I recently automated most of it, which should solve that problem. This supplement is a beautifully creative and mentally stimulating work of art. It is guaranteed to be an interesting destination for your players, and is easily worth it's $5 pricetag. However, I have 3 minor complaints.

  1. The most confusing issue is that it seems to liberally mix up the white and grey librarians throughout the text... in several places making the white librarians the shepards of the dead, but elsewhere it is the grey faction. Likewise, there are grey librarians tending to the calculator, but white tending to the sheol computer... it's self-contradictory, and could be easily fixed.
  2. The treasure available throughout the library seems a bit biased toward being overpowered and way too plentiful and random for an OSR product. (though that's easy enough to fix on the fly, I guess). It's as if no-one gave thought to balance. For example, let's run the numbers on searching the first room of the library. Searching in any room (even the entrance foyer) for 1 turn gives a 20% chance (!) of finding some sort of valuable treasure. Right off the bat, that treasure has a 45% chance of being a magic item. Your level 1 player has a decent shot at either a +2 (!) weapon with some auxilliary magical property, an eye that sees through walls or invisible, robes that see in the dark, potion of invisibility, etc.
  3. On the other hand, once you reach a certain depth (15), you are vastly more likely to get less valuable treasure as you go deeper because Cavegirl introduces a d20+d10+d6-2 mechanic that (unintentionally?) introduces a curve biased toward results landing in the middle of her table, instead of equally weighted. Normally it wouldn't be an issue, but that same table is designed to linearly scale the deeper you go (higher rolls generally better). The depth mechanic is a brilliant idea, but the execution of it doesn't seem to have factored in any probability curve, particularly for the treasure table (which is the OSR is the most important table to your PCs :D ), but paradoxically - also for the encounter difficulty.

That all said, overall, I'm very happy with this product, but Cavegirl may want to correct the several inconsistencies for clarity (particularly the crucial librarian faction mixup). I understand this is a cup-of-coffee priced product from a lone author. She is obviously very creative and must be a joy in person :)



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
The Stygian Library
Publisher: Dying Stylishly Games
by Lucas D. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 03/23/2020 09:19:43

It's highly atmospheric, filled with great ideas and thematic detail, and based around simple, easy to get, trackable mechanics for measuring the party's progress.

I've run it in D&D 5e and it works perfectly fine. Obviously it's an OSR product, so it requires some work to port, but the core of the experience is there, and my players really enjoy it.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
The Stygian Library
Publisher: Dying Stylishly Games
by Jeremy H. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 02/03/2020 13:02:23

Geek Gamers did a YouTube video and suggested this. Stygian library is delightfully creepy and wonderful. I am really glad to have it.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
The Stygian Library
Publisher: Dying Stylishly Games
by David R. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 09/15/2019 16:24:17

This is a strange, clever and oddly beautiful book. Essentially a bizzare library generator, the descriptions are highly evocative and creative. You can get loads of ideas just from flicking through it.

It is intended to bo used at the table to create the environment on the fly, but I cheated and used it as a pre-generator as my group has a poor inactivity threshold.

Lots of lovely fantasy art from the early 20th century (copyright expired), I've discovered a few artists I hadn't heard of.

I've been using it in a USR adventure so I had to recreate the stats for that, but it wasn't hard. The players loved this part of the adventure and it certainly put them outside their comfort zone.

Emmy Allen/Cavegirl is one of the most imaginative and different RPG writers out there at the moment. I look forward to reading more of her stuff.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
The Stygian Library
Publisher: Dying Stylishly Games
by Michael M. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 09/13/2019 11:26:24

Excellent, eminently playable supplement. Loaded with atmosphere and imagination, this can be dropped easily into just about any game or campaign. The Library can function either as a brief side-quest or visit or be expanded into the site for a full adventure.

Would love to see a 5E conversion for the monsters, but that's a minor quibble. Tons to love here, and makes a great addition to any DMs toolkit.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
The Stygian Library
Publisher: Dying Stylishly Games
by Steven E. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 06/21/2019 06:37:45

Quite simply one of the best, most usable supplements I've ever purchased. Room-by-room dungeon generators that are detailed enough to be fleshed out, yet rapid enough to be used at the table on the fly, are extremely rare, and this one works a treat. Its theming is incredibly cohesive and manages to strike a fine balance between whimsy and grimness that so many OSR products seem to miss: dark, but not too dark; funny, but not too funny; complementary tendencies that help create a unique tone. Well worth the asking price.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
The Stygian Library
Publisher: Dying Stylishly Games
by Dylan A. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 06/04/2019 21:11:11

[TL;DR - If you liked Gardens of Ynn, just go buy this right now]

The Method

Library uses the same "flowchart generation" mechanic as Gardens of Ynn did. The library's layout starts from scratch on every visit. When the players enter, the DM rolls for a location, a detail that modifies it and an encounter with a strange inhabitant. From there, the players backtrack or Go Deeper to discover the next location. Progressing further into the Library opens up stranger vistas as the tables are modified by your Depth score (the number of rooms you have progressed from the entrance). Lurking in the shallows gets you help desks and reading rooms, while high Progress scores reveal dissection theatres, jarred brain storage and infernal gateways.

Using the same system as before allows us to take a more objective look at Library. Since it doesn't have the same the rip-your-dick-off feeling one gets when looking at a completely new and fresh idea, I can focus on the content of the adventure and how it all hangs together without spending all my time extolling its innovations.

What's Inside

Emmy can really go the extra mile in filling out a module. The locales and descriptions cover anything and everything you could want in a library. In addition to the ever-present bookshelves we have catalogues, display cases, storage vaults, printing machines, phantom storage and the dreaded Sheol Computer!

The 'descriptions' section adds the interest and replayability to exploration in the Library. It's one thing to delve a dungeon with a changing layout, quite another when the rooms have different properties every time. Again these are really good: silent, negligible gravity, too small, too large, semi-corporeal and time-locked are a few examples.

Rather than filled with desolate, rotted grandeur like Gardens, The Stygian Library feels lived-in. The librarians (little jawa-like robed figures of 5 different orders - red, yellow, black, gray and white) guard vital areas or putter around, fixing things and attending to emergencies. Researchers and university students wander through. Occasionally a demon shows up to bargain for your soul. Even the random encounter tables change based on the PCs' actions!

The FORTY-piece bestiary is my second favourite part of this module. It ranges from hungry books and dust moths to ink-elementals and neurovores (renamed Mind Flayers). Such a comprehensive list feels like a callback to the style of Red & Pleasant Land: a complete OSR crawl setting in a single book. You could probably run an entire campaign in the Library and (although your players might tire of the scenery) you'd never run out of foes.

While it might be possible to fight everything, it's not exactly the spirit of the module. You're just as likely to be drawn into a conversation with the skeleton cleaning-crew or some talking mice. In this respect the feel is similar to Gardens, which bore the fairy-tale legacy of R&PL quite distinctively.

And the tables! Even if you never run this module, $4 for the pdf is justified by these alone: Types of Books, Extraordinary Books, Treasure, Magic Weapons & their Properties, Rumors, Dreams & Portents... fuck me man. This is what I want to see in a damned OSR product. All the entries are interesting and imaginative, starting from the basics and spreading outwards into bizarre stuff (the extraordinary books especially can change your PCs' lives forever).

Progress

So the PCs want information. Where do they go, the local sage? The church? A book club? Wikipedia?

To the Stygian Library! Wherein, an abstracted 'progress system' is included for tracking how close the PCs are to their informational goals. Speaking to the inhabitants about related topics, learning more about the library's layout (such as it is) and finding relevant books will all increase your progress score, which starts equal to the highest INT score in the group and must reach a certain number based on the obscurity of the information sought (20 is basic information in most libraries, 40 is something heretofore undiscovered).

This is a good idea, but I wonder how I would describe this to my players - "You feel closer to your goal"? "You're on the right track"? It's a somewhat dissociated mechanic. The PCs have no choice but to move through the dungeon and hope for encounters/loot that could increase their progress score, rather than analyzing the environment and deciding on their next move.

I suppose that's really my only complaint about this module - procedural generation removes an element of choice. I feel like we're treading into some sort of bizarre double-blind quantum ogre territory here. The players can't plan or make informed decisions, because there is nothing to plan for until the next room is rolled up.

On the other hand, this is ameliorated by the Library being such a sociable place. Instead of learning geographical & tactical information about the layout of the dungeon (a normal exploration-based method), the players interact with the inhabitants to learn about the social landscape, faction allegiances and the rules (social or uh, metaphysical) which govern the place.

Conclusion

Will I use this in my game? Hell yes. Few people are doing this kind of fantasy in the OSR and I'd rather have more modules like this than another grimdark excursion. (I can do those myself anyway). I will throw in some new rooms, monsters and treasures specific to my campaign but I'm sure anybody would.

One final caveat: like Ynn, prolonged adventuring in this region could have long-lasting repercussions throughout your game world. Plan your trips accordingly!

[This review is based only on the PDF version.]

Originally posted at: https://terriblesorcery.blogspot.com/2019/06/review-stygian-library.html



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
The Stygian Library
Publisher: Dying Stylishly Games
by Malthe G. U. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 10/30/2018 09:35:08

Can be run straight away, with no or little prep. Very atmospheric. Weirdly both creepy and kind of cute in places (it certainly allows that kind of gameplay). Strange and wonderful environment, but imediably relatable. Like Gardens of Ynn there are elements clearly inspired by Alice in Wonderland/Through the Looking Glass. It also has a bit of Jorge Luis Borges and Umberto Eco, a hint of Lovecraft's Dreamlands and a good dash of old school science-fantasy; all in all it might be the most wonderfully horrible fun you can have for $4!



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
The Stygian Library
Publisher: Dying Stylishly Games
by Tamas K. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 10/29/2018 04:19:59

The Stygian Library follows the same structure as The Gardens of Ynn: it is a procedurally generated environment, with plenty randomness, but also with a strong thematic coherency at the same time.

The Library is made up of randomly generated locations (mostly rooms). The player group begins on Depth level 0, then move deeper and deeper. For each step, the DM rolls a Location and a Detail, combines them. The Depth rating is always factored into the generation of the next room, so the Stygian Library gradually opens up, and the players are able to reach the more obscure and weird places.

There are also randomized Events and Encounters with the inhabitants of the Library. The Bestiary is quite extensive, full of library-themed creatures: animated books, origami golems, dust elementals, and, of course, the Librarians: they are divided into five color-coded orders, each with its own set of duties, spells, abilities.

I really dig the atmosphere and the tone of this setting. This is how Emmy describes it in the introduction: Whilst some of the contents in this book can be portrayed in a rather dark light (it is, fundamentally, about necromancy), it’s not intended as a particularly grim setting. One thing that often strikes me about the fiction I enjoyed in my youth is how the dark and the whimsical so often go hand in hand. Not as a subversive contrast, but rather how the imagination (when allowed to wander) will flit between ideas that fill us with wonder and with dread. Like exploring an empty house, all it takes is a slight change in context (nightfall, say) to make the experience creepy. So, The Gardens and the Library are built using the same principles, There is one major difference between the Gardens and the Library. Ynn is all about exploration, wonder and adventure. The Stygian Library offers the same "sense of discovery", but it is also vast (potentially infinite) repository of knowledge, so it is very likely the player characters visit it with a specific goal in mind.

Emmy presents a simple, but elegant subsystem for tracking the players' progress towards their goal. There is a Progress score, its initial rating is tied to the highest Intelligence rating in the group. The score increases if the group talks with somebody knowledgeable, or finds a book about the topic they are researching, etc., and decreases if the party is lost or misinformed. The DM sets the difficulty of finding the information (e.g. 20 for basic knowledge, 35 for dangerous obscurities). If the Progress reaches this value AND the group is deep enough into the Library, the precious information is found.

Furthermore, the presence of the Librarians, their active and engaged factions, also gives the Stygian Library a different, more "narrative" style, than the slightly more passive, dreamy, utterly lost inhabitants of the landscapes of Ynn.

So, overall, I think The Stygian Library is not only a great follow-up to The Gardens of Ynn, but also presents its own developments.

The only minus is that the .pdf is still just a simple text, without any hyperlinks or bookmarks... This book would benefit ENORMOUSLY from a well-marked structure. For example, it'd be great to be able to click a header on the Location Table, and be taken to the description. Maybe something for a future edition?

Review originally posted at https://eldritchfields.blogspot.com/2018/10/reviewoverview-stygian-library-by-emmy.html



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
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