Spooky Gardens: Autumn Special (PFRPG) PDF

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Deadly Gardens is a series of short PDF documents that each feature a brand new plant monster to use in your Pathfinder Roleplaying Game or OGL campaigns. In addition to a new monster, each volume will also feature supplemental material based around the natural wilderness theme.

This special volume is three times the length of a normal Deadly Gardens volume and the material all has a horror / occult theme as well as the natural wilderness theme. It also contains a mini-adventure that draws heavily on the included material.

In this volume:

  • Brain Pumpkin CR 5
  • Pumpkin-Headed Creature Template
  • 4 Pumpkin-Headed Creatures: Pumpkin-Headed Bull, Pumpkin-Headed Goblin, Pumpkin-Headed Hound and Pumpkin-Headed Villager
  • Gloom Bough CR 8
  • Vengeful Creature Template
  • 3 Vengeful Creatures: Vengeful Bones, Vengeful Ghast, Vengeful Wraith
  • 6 Haunts: A Murder of Spirits, Despair of Victory, Grasping Dead, Suffer No Apologies, Thundering Death, Together in Death
  • 4 Natural Items: Brain Pumpkin Pulp, Gloom Bough Heartwood, Necrotic Flesh, Skeletal Powder
  • Rules for using Brain Pumpkin Pulp and Gloom Bough Heartwood as Natural Power Components for spellcasting.
  • 1 Magic Item: Spirit Cudgel

Authors: Jacob W. Michaels, Russ Brown
Artists: Liz Courts, Keith Wood
Game System: Pathfinder Roleplaying Game or OGL
Pages: 13

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An Endzeitgeist.com review


The first extra-length special of the Deadly Gardens-series clocks in at 13 pages, 1 page front cover, ~1/2 a page editorial/SRD, leaving us with 11.5 pages of content, so what do we get?

Well, after a brief introduction, the first piece of crunch we get is the spirit cudgel, a +2 gloom bough heartwood club that protects the wearer as protection from evil when an incorporeal undead comes within 60 ft. Okay, I guess.

More interesting would be the first creature, the delightfully twisted CR 5 brain pumpkin - basically, these thinking plants have dangerous tendrils and a gaze that can enthrall those subject to it, who thereafter get close to the pumpkin, only to have it implant a brain seed (a new infestation) in their brains, which then proceeds to subvert the host. Implantation also ends in a short-term confusion effect. If the host fails to remove the seed (which requires magic!), he'll turn into a pumpkin-headed creature (CR+1 template), of which 4 sample builds are provided. Additionally, the killer pumpkin has an array of rather twisted SPs...however, this sentience does have a price - in a cool Achilles heel, the creature is subject to mind-affecting effects, unlike normal plants. f you want, you can combine these more mature body-snatcher pumpkins with AAW Games' "A Frightful Time" kid-friendly module, since said module sports pretty much such creatures as foes...only more goofy and less potent. Just add this creature, change the hook, et voilà - nastier, adult scenario.

The second plant covered herein would be the CR 8 Gloom Bough, a huge, bone-white, leafless tree with an affinity for negative energy. These trees increase the numerical penalties and bonuses of emotion-effects and those sans numerical effects seen their saves penalized while in the presence of these sinister trees. Gloom boughs can convey general emotions and hijack emotion-based effects - both spells and even barbarian rages, though effects that need to be willingly ended require a save. Absolutely awesome: The sinister trees work in symbiosis with haunts, increasing their potency. Following the theme of emotions, there is the vengeful creature template (CR +1,with 3 sample creatures applied, ready for use) that grants a fear aura and a sonic damage-causing, stunning shriek. The template didn't blow me away, but I did enjoy the 6 sample haunts added to the fray - from spectral crows and horsemen to critical miss-punishing ego whips, skeletal arms from the ground or a harsh demand that may castigate the hapless, the haunts may not be too subtle, but they are generally well-crafted and fun - particularly compelling would be a compulsion to slay teh kin of the affected - really nasty one!

Now, one of the staples of the series have been natural items harvested from defeated creatures and we get a bunch herein as well - from the gloom bough heartwood already hinted at in the beginning to skeletal powder, zombie flesh and brain pumpkin pulp, these are pretty awesome. The new, negative energy resistance granting drug bone white makes sense when facing evil clerics and the use of parts of the monsters as power components further provides depth for the two plant creatures featured herein.


Editing and formatting are very good, I noticed no significant glitches. Layout adheres to Rusted Iron Games' two-column color standard and the pdf provides gorgeous artworks for the critters - in color for one (see cover), while the gloom bough gets a beautiful pencil-drawn b/w-illustration - kudos! Beyond these, the pdf also sports some nice, smaller pieces of b/w-art. The pdf comes fully bookmarked, which is nice to see indeed.

Russ Brown and Jacob W. Michaels deliver two killer plant-creatures, both of which sport unique and fun mechanics, which are further complemented by the awesome power-components and interesting mundane, natural items. Granted, I saw the killer pumpkin done before, but the incarnation herein is nasty and unique and does the trope more than justice. I'm a sucker for haunts, so I enjoyed these as well - while the grasping skeletal hands may sound trite, the haunt dealing damage based on movement is pretty cool (and dangerous). That being said, if I have one complaint here, then it's that the two templates don't live up to the cool drug, items and critters - they are pretty standard fare as far as I'm concerned. Still, at the low asking price, my final verdict will clock in at 5 stars.

Endzeitgeist out.

Spooky Scary Gardens


Disclosure: I received a review copy.

It is no secret that I am a fan of the Deadly Garden series, but this product really knocked it out of the park. My only feasible complaint about the line to date is that I wanted more, and Spooky Gardens delivered!

The monsters here really evoke the themes of horror, and are terrible even if they happen to not be a threat (to higher level parties, for instance). The very idea that they exist is enough to provoke fear.

The book wasted as little space as possible, giving you 13 pages (1 for cover, and 1/2 for OGL). Everything else is packed with monsters, a neat template to make your undead more horrifying, a magic item, and even some useful items that you might derive from these creepy creatures.

The statistics are of course top notch, and the art is amazing. Get this book if you like monsters, horror, or even just spooky things. You won't regret it! 5 out of 5 stars and my approval!

Community Manager

Now available!

1 person marked this as a favorite.

I've heard there's retail ninja art in this one!

Community Manager

1 person marked this as a favorite.
JGray wrote:
I've heard there's retail ninja art in this one!

Well, if it was a good ninja, you wouldn't see it! :P

1 person marked this as a favorite.
Liz Courts wrote:
JGray wrote:
I've heard there's retail ninja art in this one!
Well, if it was a good ninja, you wouldn't see it! :P

I'll have to look at the other art, then. :) Keith is the illustrator of my webcomic, Mysteries of the Arcana. This is his first RPG gig and I'm thrilled for him.

4 people marked this as a favorite.

Thanks Liz!

You can see Liz's art on the cover and here is a link to Keith's piece on the R.I.G. facebook page.

Both Liz and Keith have done some really cool character art for Rusted Iron Games as well!

1 person marked this as a favorite.

Love the art of the gloombough; really looking forward to seeing what everybody thinks of it.

RPG Superstar 2015 Top 16

Oops! I just noticed that I missed something in my last editing pass of the product description. The product does not contain a mini adventure. It was cut due to the product being past deadline.

The work done on it will appear sometime in the future as a separate full length adventure product.

Sovereign Court

Review posted!

Thanks, Lorathorn!

1 person marked this as a favorite.

Yes, thanks for the review Lorathorn!

Here is a bit of a teaser for those that enjoyed Jacob's work (the Gloom Bough and most of the haunts) on this product. He is going to write an entire volume of Deadly Gardens! The one he is writing will be a bit of a departure for the series, breaking some new ground. It should be released sometime early 2016.

Reviewed first on endzeitgeist.com, then submitted to Nerdtrek and GMS magazine and posted here, on OBS and tabletoplibrary.com.

Scarab Sages RPG Superstar 2015 Top 16

1 person marked this as a favorite.

Thanks for the review, EZG!

1 person marked this as a favorite.

Frozen Gardens coming up as well; will catch up! :)

1 person marked this as a favorite.

Glad you liked it, Endz. Thanks as always for the kind review!

1 person marked this as a favorite.
Rusted Iron Games wrote:


Here is a bit of a teaser for those that enjoyed Jacob's work (the Gloom Bough and most of the haunts) on this product. He is going to write an entire volume of Deadly Gardens! The one he is writing will be a bit of a departure for the series, breaking some new ground. It should be released sometime early 2016.

Just to close the loop on this.. the product I was referring to was Deadly Gardens Player Companion: Verids which Jacob did an awesome job on and is available now! It also features a fantastic piece of full color art from Keith on the cover.

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