There is an annoying goblin part of my brain that always emphasizes “value” whenever I make a purchasing decision.
- “This meal has 20% more food in it for the same price.” But do I like this meal as much as the other? Do I actually want 20% more of this food?
- “If I buy two cans at once I can save $15.” I only need one can. If I never use the other one, then it’s a total waste.
- “Get this now, you might need it later!” What if I don’t need it later? Why shouldn’t I just get it later?
That same goblin in my brain sometimes prevents me from finding value in smaller games.
- “Why pay $20 for this 30pg zine when you can get 500 pages of DCC for $40?”
- “Instead of reading this one-page adventure for free, let’s buy a compendium for $60 so we have them all!”
- “This thing isn’t even 10 pages long! How good can it really be?”
And you may have a similar goblin yelling in your own brain when you look at Nate Treme’s work. I urge you to ignore that goblin.
Nate Can’t Stop Making Games
On his itch.io store Nate has over 40 products available: adventures, spells, NPCs, rules, bestiaries, OSR, lyric games, sci-fi, weird fantasy, steampunk, and everything in between. And that’s just on his Itch. As a an occasional Patron of Nate’s, he is constantly releasing small, high-quality supplements that regularly impress and inspire me.
The man will not stop making cool shit.
However, it’s easy to listen to the little goblin in your brain and ignore his creations because of their small stature. Many rulebooks and adventures fit on a single page, or even a single business card.
He doesn’t make filler, of any kind, for any reason. You JUST get the good stuff. This creative strategy lets Nate completely finish a project and then move on to the next cool idea. He never gets stuck in one place, never stagnates, and continually surprises me with whatever he invents next.
And yet that stupid goblin in my brain struggles to see the value. It would rather have 150 pages of crap and filler than 1 page of genius. If only I could kill the goblin in my brain…
Haunted Almanac Kills the Goblin in Your Brain
Well. That’s convenient!
Games Omnivorous collected a TON of Nate’s best work into a big beautiful omnibus.
Within its 200 pages it contains:
- Tunnel Goons rules + 7 adventures
- Prole rules + 2 adventures
- In the Light of a Ghost Star
- 10 one-page RPGs
- 5 micro-settings
- 13 multi-page adventures
- A few misc NPCs, creatures, and spells
For the goblin in your own brain, if you bought all of these things from his itch page indivudually you’d pay $127. But Haunted Almanac is just $40.
Now that we’ve satisfied the goblin in your brain, let’s actually take a look at this beautiful book.
This Beautiful Book
Games Omnivorous (specifically Guilherme Gontijo) is famous for their high quality production, but I think Haunted Almanac stands out even among their impressive catalogue.
Further along I’ll share some spreads from the book and you’ll see the brilliant magazine-style that makes each spread feel fresh and unique.
So…how can I review everything that’s in here? It’s a LOT of stuff! I don’t dare try to cover everything.
Instead I’m going to list ONE thing that I love about every piece; whether it be a single monster, a cool idea, a funny joke, or bit of art. This is not even the best part of each game, just my personal favorite detail.
Let’s do this!
Things I Love in No Particular Order
Tunnel Goons: Difference between roll and DC is the damage dealt. A genius simplification that keeps the game moving.
Moldy Unicorn: This was my first Nate Treme book that I ever read! The barroom encounters are an absolute riot.
Astral Curse of the Iron Gnomes: There is an enemy that uses pieces of itself to form minions scattered about. When you kill a minion, it dissolves into a puddle and slowly crawls back to be reabsorbed, leading players right to the monster.
Eternal Caverns of Urk: The peoples of Urk table could be used for any weird little village. Example result.
Up from the Muck: The primary reward is a marriage alliance.
The Forgotten Shrine of the Slime Toad: The most valuable treasure is this weird snot that gets you high.
Shrine of the Black Hound: In a mirror the Pcs see a strange creature following them. If addressed, the being gives them an helpful clue. I also love that the key reward is summoning a great hound that will kill a creature of their choice.
Viridia’s Garden: A gardening lich is making plantling goblins.
Prole: There is a really clever bit of design where the page appears to be transparent, but isn’t? Hard to explain, but it’s beautiful and striking and I WILL steal it.
Pilgrims of the Nighted Path: Candy acts as XP, health, and currency all at the same time. Also it’s neat to see kids interacting with truly scary things, rather than just “it was all a dream” nonsense.
Welcome to Loden: The “villain” is just a simple miscommunication. Also a skeleton marching band is the big reward.
In the Light of a Ghost Star: Exploring a haunted earth using sci-fi rules is really neat and evocative. I also love the character sheet design.
Radikal Quest: The class names are *chefs kiss*.
Automaton: Reminds me a little of my own game, Kintsugi. We need more goofy robots at our tables.
Brim & Feather: DO NOT SPEAK TO THE TREES UNLESS THE SKY IS OVERCAST!
Mecha Dudes: You must use these rules with an official D&D adventure that was obtained illegally. HA!
Snail Knight: An almost-boardgame with great maps.
Neanderthal: Your stats are STR, DEX, FIRE.
NOSR: Instead of HP you track energy, which can be used to cast spells. Kinda like Troika!, which I love.
Wander: The luck spell can be used to add OR remove luck from a target.
Smol Business: The goblin illustration belongs as a tattoo somewhere secret.
Yeggs: The font and art of Yeggs really evokes this dirty, British crime drama. Kinda like the movie “Snatch”.
Sequencer: Another board-gamey idea with a GORGEOUS board design.
East of East: The entire adventure is inspired by a quote from The Hobbit. As an aside, I’ve always wanted to make a game based on this line from Gandalf: “There are many things in the deep waters; and seas and lands may change.”
The Lost Isle: The Titan Sword is a location in the books. I like to imagine it’s the same sword from his newer work, “Kozmik”.
Doomlands: The robots in this setting looks more like mars rovers than humanoids. Also the desert map is beautifully abstract while also being really useful.
Stolen City: The “cover art” of this section is really beautiful and sells the tone.
Sweet Bark Island: There is a wizard who dances in the moonlight every night to summon The Moon Queen. The adventure is delightfully ambiguous about whether this strategy will be successful.
Bad Frog Bargain: The town well was cursed and anyone who drinks from it experiences a range of bizarre effects. When I run this I will make sure that the players are the FIRST to discover this phenomena!
Beneath the Mausoleum: There’s a fun escalation where a corpse is tangled in a giant spiderweb. Then in the next room the giant spider corpse is covered in a bunch of spears. A cute little rise in danger from one room to another.
Barrow of the Elf King: A group of bored skeleton guards use passive aggressive language to convince intruders to leave. “Okay now, it’s getting late. Time to go. We’re very tired.”
Cursed Chapel of the Sludge Mother: There is a machine that can be powered up and released from the dungeon. If the players follow it they’ll learn that it was programmed to hunt dragons! I love the idea of players follwing this robot around, taking all the dragon hoards after it completes each mission.
Death Chemick Gas Station: I love the map. The metal pipes and tubes remind me of Doctor Suess illustrations.
Fever Black Mountain: After the initial intro to the adventure, it immediately follows that up with “That’s the lie told to unwary travelers”. Very fun start to a solid adventure.
Lair of the Sad Mage: The font used makes you work to read it; evoking the arcane secrets that are contained within.
Temple of the Bat Serpent: ASCII dungeon art! I love it!
The Mephitic Laboratory of the Pescamancer: The big scary is absent, giving the dungeon a mystery vibe rather than a boss fight.
The Primeval Holt of the Elk Lord: A primary export of the nearby forest is rubber, so you get LOTS of funky rubber items. It’s a fun change from metal/wood loot.
Thalassic Zigurat of the Lost Prince: A magical food called a “Surgeon’s Apple” makes your skin transparent.
Tomb of the Swine Prophet: The questgiver starts things off by admitting he told another adventuring party about the hidden treasure first, making this a race to the goal.
What Child is this?: My absolute favorite adventure by Nate. The concept and execution is just so brilliant and funny while still being dangerous and difficult. I won’t spoil anything here.
Unwanted Magical Companions: An overbearing guardian angel that smothers you.
Monster Maker: I rolled and got a Purple Smoke Bear who couldn’t care less.
Spells of the Inverted Mountain: Lifetaker must be cast on a child 3 months old or younger. When the caster next sleeps, their mind is switched with the child’s. I shudder to think of a player using this on the baby from What Child is This.
I’m so thankful that the Haunted Almanac gave me the opportunity to explore more of Nate’s catalog of wonders. I wish I could have seen the value before they were collected in this beautiful tome, but better late than never I guess. Don’t make the same mistake I did!
Defeat the value goblin in your brain and purchase a copy of the Haunted Almanac from Exalted Funeral or Games Omnivorous.