Even though I have a Patron PDF I'm sorely tempted to buy a print copy for my files, but I'll stick with the PDF....for now. It is my Patron copy I'm specifically reviewing, so I know there might be some minor differences, such as a watermarked PDF in the retail version vs. my "clean" copy.
The Book of Lairs is "ACKS Compatible" and was written with this system in mind, but with my not knowing anything about ACKS, I didn't really see anything that stood out as an impediment with the stats or layout. My gut says you wouldn't need to really figure any conversion on the fly for your standard OSR game....odds are you'd read not what was written down, but what it needed to be. A good portion of the monsters might already be in your game system of choice already.
I really liked the.....for lack of a better word..."crude" art of the lairs. The lair drawings are great and Simon could have cleaned everything up and painted it in Photoshop (or the like), but hand coloring in the lairs gives the book a nice personal touch that I really enjoyed. The color isn't excessively deep (i.e. printer ink overload) and the effect really makes the artwork "pop". I did a test-print of a page on my black & white printer.....nope, this really needs to be seen/used in color.
|Table of Contents|
This table of contents is the biggest single issue I had with the book and as far as a PDF goes, not having page numbers is really a non-issue. If I was reviewing a physical book the lack of page numbers (on the table of contents or the pages themselves) would be a big deal.
There are a couple of minor issues I've found with the PDF, but they fall into the nit-picky and I'm looking for them categories. I will list them here only for the sake of helping Simon put out an even better product next time. The bookmarks in the PDF aren't standard. Some are capitalized while the majority aren't. The new monsters generally have two bookmark entries, one for the lair and one for the monster write-up. They should be distinguished from each other (i.e. both bookmarks for the "I" lair simply read "Imp"). Lastly, as far as the bookmarks go, several entries have some needless punctuation in them.
The scanned art for the book is pretty good, but some of the pages needed to be cleaned up more. For example the Wraith lair has some extra markings along what would be the spine of the book. You can also see the edge of the scanned page on some of the illustrations, like on the Jabberling and the Xiang Yao.
Overall I think The Book of Lairs is a product that would find a good home at most GM's table and would work really well when you just need to insert one more encounter for the night.