I think a Game Master need more than enemies to challenge their players. From a simple storm though diseases to supernatural dangers roleplaying games always featured challenges which couldn’t be overcome with stunning displays of swordsmanship, archery or offensive spells. 101 Hazards and Disasters really add a lot of options into the Game Master’s hand to make interesting and dangerous “environmental” encounters instead of combat.
So, what is in the book ? Well, it seems Steven D. Russell didn’t wanted to waste any space, as on 38 tightly packed page we receive the title 101 Hazards and Disasters, and nothing else. That’s a lots of content for just $5,99 ! The book is presented in the regular 2 column format, with a small quantity of art included. I think there is one thing which could improve the presentation : indexes. It would be great if we could see an index by CR at least, but if I could check a list with the question “which hazards could appear in a dungeon or in the wilderness ?” could be nice too.
As with other 101 books, we receive many different options to use : we have dangerous dungeon flora and fauna (mushrooms, moss etc.), places touched or cursed by divine powers (like Forbidden Sight, Hubris Site and many more), parasites, environmental hazards (Tropical Cyclones, Geysers etc.) and dangerous places (Burning House, the top of a cart running with full speed, Conveyor Belt of Doom), as well as dangerous magical crystals and other hazards. The dangers are ranging from CR 1/2 to CR 25, so I think you may find a challenge fro any player groups. for every single danger we receive information in how to detect them, and how to neutralize them, if it’s possible. Of course, you wont stop a CR 25 Meteor Strike, but exterminating some dangerous mushroom, or redeem a cursed or magically disturbed site is almost always possible in one way or in another.
As you may expect it from Rite Publishing, some unique hazards are also included : it’s entirely possible for unlucky adventurers to turn into a raging dragon to kill anyone in sight, lose their memories, or experience a hurricane inside a dungeon. The possibilities are endless, and inflicting unexpected dangers on players could always spice up a gaming session, even if the suprpise is much bigger than the danger itself.
I think 101 Hazards and Disasters is a really good book. The different hazards are greatly varied in severity and theme, they are clearly defined, and the CR levels seems to be right on the mark. I still miss and index, which would be a great help, especially if somebody has to work with multiple books to create an adventure, but even with this minor problem I give it 4,5/5.
If you are interested, the book is available at DriveThruRPG, here.
Zoltán “Cain” Mészáros