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Serpent Amphora — Free Adventure in the Scarred Lands
Publisher: Onyx Path Publishing
by Martin S. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 06/21/2016 15:11:05

I was agreeably by this adventure. It starts smoothly with the characters participating in a series of competitive events. There several events and the mechanics of how the competition is resolved is quite easy to run. After the festivities, a battered stranger stumbles upon the characters and gives them a powerful artifact containing a body part from a god. Not long after, the group is attacked by serpent men looking for the artifact.

After loosing the artifact, the characters will have to go after the serpent men and finally battle them for the artifact in an epic conclusion. Although short, the adventure leads to many possible follow-ups.

A lot of advice is given for the GM to run the adventure, manage the encounters and making it a very nice adventure. I really liked the final battle as it is quite hard, but not completely insurmountable for low-level characters. This adventure makes for a fun evening and offers a lot of diversity!



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Serpent Amphora — Free Adventure in the Scarred Lands
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Mini-Dungeon #002: Hobgoblin Lair
Publisher: AAW Games
by Martin S. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 06/20/2016 12:09:04

This module is pretty straigthforward: Hobgoblins, lead by a Bugbear, have been ravaging the area and the characters have hunt them down. These small dungeons are built to be short adventures and therefore, not a lot of details about the lair or the hierarchy of the adversaries are provided. However, the module contains many good opportunities for a GM to drop elements of a campaign. Since the details are vague, the lair can be placed anywhere. Hints of dwarven origins can be found as the pc's explore the lair. Overall, a good dungeon crawl with a few traps, but nothing out of the ordinary.



Rating:
[3 of 5 Stars!]
Mini-Dungeon #002: Hobgoblin Lair
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#30 Haunts for Objects (PFRPG)
Publisher: Rite Publishing
by Martin S. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 06/15/2016 14:04:11

Haunts are great! They are part traps, part undead, but more interestingly, they are useful to create an atmosphere and tell a story. The haunts contained herein are well crafted and all have nice background that can generate a short adventure or be a ppart of a greater story. We even get a haunted location, The Temple of the Worm God that could the center of an adventure in itself. The background details are abundant.

All the haunts in this book are narrative gold and will help a GM craft interesting haunted locales.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
#30 Haunts for Objects (PFRPG)
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" The Ogre's New Boots"
Publisher: Wayward Rogues Publishing
by Martin S. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 06/10/2016 15:11:21

SPOILERS AHEAD

This short adventure is set in the town of Brighton that is part of the Shattered Skies campaign setting. The adventure begins as the characters are at the Laughing Dragon Inn. A gnome child runs in the Inn and yells that ogres and belchers (a goblin variant) kidnapped his father. He wants help. The characters go to investigate the ambush site and after dealing with the group of belchers searching the wreckage, they can follow a trail leading to the belchers and ogre’s lair. As they enter the lair, they may witness the Ogre giving a performance for the Belchers. They can participate in the performance or attack and try to rescue the kidnapped gnome. Once they complete their exploration and save the gnome, they return to Brighton and are welcomed as heroes by the gnomes.

The story is interesting and pretty straightforward. I like that the characters have the opportunity to do more than just fight the opposition. They may even have an advantage fighting the ogre if they convince him to put his boots on (which is not too hard). However, they encounter the ogre before they get to the cobbler (the kidnapped gnome), so should they unleash all they have against the ogre, he may not last until that encounter. But, they have some serious opposition. It is doubtful they will be able to fight only the ogre upon first encountering him.

The trip to the ogre’s lair is, in my opinion, lacking in details. No map is provided, although the focus of the adventure is not the trip to the cave, it would have been nice to have an idea of where the encounter areas are located. Even with the guidelines provided to help enliven the trip, the encounters seem to be added as an afterthought. I think that one encounter complemented with a table of random encounters should the characters get lost would have been better, but that is a matter of preferences. With a little adjustment, the encounters provided could work well.

The maps accompanying the encounters are all in color and are beautiful. No complaint here. The best art is the cover, but the art inside the book is nice as well.

The crunch is a bit weird from my point of view. It seems like the adventure was written to played as part of the Pathfinder Society scenario because tiers are often used to describe how the encounters can be scaled. Speaking of which, some encounters will need a bit of adjusting. While guidelines are provided to accommodate groups of level 1 to 5, some suggestions would be tough on a group even if they are higher levels. The adjustment proposed for the traps guarding the entrance to the lair are an increase in damage dealt. While this is a viable solution, one bad roll or a lucky GM could kill off a few characters with these traps or have a group seriously deplete their resources over these traps. Maybe having a few belchers attack while the characters are trying to deal with the trap would have been a more scalable solution should things turn bad.

Overall, it is a good adventure although I think that the suggestions to scale the adventure could be a bit more appropriate and the story is pretty straightforward. I like the idea of the ogre who wants new boots because his feet hurt, although I have trouble wrapping my head around how exactly the cobbler managed to trap the boots like he did being a prisoner and probably having been provided with the minimum equipment. The adventure having been released after the gazetteer of the Town of Brighton, it would have been nice to have few references to that product should the GM wish to expand some encounters or areas. Lastly, I am not sure about the God of the Belchers, the Lava Child. Although it is a nice optional encounter, I would think that some kind of power struggle would take place between that being and the Ogre. Admittedly, the Ogre was only looking from a crowd of admirers, but still, I feel like something is missing here, both seem unaware of each other’s presence in these caves.



Rating:
[3 of 5 Stars!]
" The Ogre's New Boots"
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Monster Hunters RPG
Publisher: Avalon Game Company
by Martin S. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 06/02/2016 13:46:46

This book presents options to play a Gothic Horror themed campaign or a game set somewhere in 1911. This book does not provide a set of monsters or present locales or cities. It is important to note that the material contained herein is based on the Pathfinder Rules.

Almost half the book is dedicated to character origins and classes. Character origins are background that can help flesh out a character and also provide a few options beyond what is accessible through a class. Each origin also provide a summary explanation as to why a character from such origin would choose to become a hunter. These origins provide the same versatility that races provide in Pathfinder, though obviously, everyone is a human herein.

The next chapter presents character classes. Players can become exorcist, hunter, magician, murderer, scientist, scoundrel, soldier, spiritualist, vagabond, white witch, prize fighter. I will not into the details of all the classes, but most of them are built around talents that can be chosen from a list and bring diversity to each class. Many of these classes are not proficient with any weapons which I find quite refreshing because this book is set in a close approximation of our world (albeit more than a hundred years ago), so not everyone would be good at using a weapon. However, these classes usually have access to spells and other interesting abilities that more than make up for the lack of weapons. Of all the classes, I found the scientist the least appealing. It has similarities with the alchemist class, but the Scientific Gadgets class feature seems a bit over-complicated and I am not entirely sure what they are supposed to do. I did not get the chance the play with it, but I think I would need to see it in action to better understand the class. The last class, the prize fighter, is a monk archetype that works quite well in this more modern setting. It seems very fun play. The other classes seems interesting, but I think that the capstone for the Magician, transcendence, is an overpowered ability making the character pretty much immortal.

The next two chapters cover skills, feats an gear. They are expansion of what you have in the core rule book, providing new rules and adapting other rules where appropriate. A large portion of the gear is dedicated to firearms, which are not used in all pathfinder campaign.

The chapter on combat provides additional rules for using firearms in combat. The rules are fairly simple and the part on called shot presents easy rules to make combat more fun in my opinion. A brief chapter describes what life was like in 1911 and suggests resources to help bring this period to life for your players.

Chapter 8 provides tricks and tips on how to run a game for Monster Hunters. This is a nice chapter that helps to bring into perspectives the differences between a fantasy game and a gothic horror game. I feel however that many Ravenloft supplement back in the days of 2nd edition were doing a much better jobs at providing guidance than this chapter but still, the right elements are there.

The book ends with a short sample adventure that helps to emphasize on what was discussed in the previous chapter. the adventure is straightforward and lacks details, but does provide a nice starting point and great foundation should a Huntmaster (as GMs are called in this book) wishes to expand it.

Overall I really enjoyed this book. I did not get a chance to run a game using these rules yet, but I feel like it would be easy to do using this book as a reference. The additional rules are simple and easy to grasp. They feel appropriately grim and would make for nice change of pace. I like that the classes are simple and easy to play. I also liked the rules on called shots. Tough I am not a big fan of this, I think these rules made sense. If you liked Ravenloft of you would like to play in setting similar to what Bram Stoker and Mary Shelley described, than this is for you.



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Monster Hunters RPG
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Parapsychologist, Hybrid Class
Publisher: Wayward Rogues Publishing
by Martin S. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 05/31/2016 09:43:22

This new hybrid class is a blend of cleric and sorcerer, clearly oriented towards spellcasting. Parapsychologists can use a limited selection of simple weapons and are not proficient with armor or shields. Their spellcasting works like a sorceror although the book fails to provide a table for the number of spells known. The spell list is made of spells from the cleric and sorceror lists, obviously. The characteristic that will help the parapsychologist in his spellcasting is intelligence.

As you read the abilities of the class, you will notice that some unfortunate typos coming from abilities similar to other classes found their way in the text. For example, eschew materials mentions the sorceror instead of the parapsychologist. There is also a mention of wizard level. Overall, they do not prevent understanding, but are a bit annoying.

Apart from their spellcasting, parapsychologist have foresight. At 1st level, the ability allow to roll a D20 and keep the result to be used before their next turn. I did not use the class in play yet, but that ability seems less useful than the 8th ability, Foretell which is a more powerful version of bless/doom. Both abilities have duration/use per day appropriate to their strengths. The parapsychologist can also help people suffering from insanity to recover faster with his psychoanalysis ability. Thankfully, the ability can be used only once per day to prevent abuse. The class can also attack targets with mind bolts or mind blasts. Just like the channel energy ability, the parapsychologist can decide if his mind blast ability will be used to harm or heal people. I like that the effect is not determined by the character's alignment.

As he gains power, a parapsychologist has access to Telekinesis and Lesser Astral Projection. Telekinesis can be used at will starting at 15th level. This is a pretty powerful ability, I am not sure how about the "at will", but since I did not playtest the class, I cannot really judge how it affects a game. the capstone of the class is Eternal Reincarnation. As long as portion of the parapsychologist exists, the character is reincarnated in a new young body. Unless an enemy knows about this ability, this makes the character close to immortal. Seems a bit powerful to me, although the ability is gained only at 20th level. Lastly, the progression table of the class mentions bonus feats at level 6, 12, and, 18. Alas, the book does not provide a list of feats to choose from or a type of feats. I assume this is an oversight.

After the entire spell list, the book concludes with a nice discussion on insanity and its use in the game. It presents a fairly simple system and lends itself to great storytelling. The last part of the discussion presents 5 types of insanity that can affect a character.

This is an interesting class that reminds of the days I was running a Ravenloft campaign. I think it would be interesting to play but I feel like some abilities like the Eternal Reincarnation and the Telekinesis at will at 15th may make this class too powerful. I like the flavor of the class the fact that it is versatile in its spellcasting. Even if the table of spell known could be borrowed from the sorcerer, the list of bonus feats is big omission if one were to play a parapsychologist. Any GM running a campaign in which insanity has its place could use this class easily after fixing the few missing items.



Rating:
[3 of 5 Stars!]
Parapsychologist, Hybrid Class
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Creator Reply:
Thank you for your review! This classes bonus feats were meant to be from the general list of feats, allowing for variable customization. The cap stone ability of the class is quite powerful...We will probably look into updating this one. Thanks again.
Midgard Adventures: The Forgotten King's Tomb
Publisher: Kobold Press
by Martin S. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 05/09/2016 12:20:40

***SPOILERS**

This short adventure is set in the world of Midgard, a campaign setting created by Kobold Press. After providing a brief background for the adventure and a preview of how the adventure will most likely unfold, the adventure starts with the characters being contacted by a dragonkin general looking for adventurers raid a tomb. Information is provided to help GM run the adventure with the pregenerated characters at the end of the book or to run it with other characters. There is also a nice piece of art to depict the map the general will give to the characters. After the meeting, the characters can select a minor magic item that will serve as upfront payment for their troubles.

After the trek through the hills, for which an encounter is provided, the characters can easily reach the tomb. Before entering the tomb, the group will be set upon by soldiers turned zombies. After defeating the undead, the characters can explore the tomb and fight a few guardians until they the room where the unnamed king rests. There, they can discover that the magical writing is created by a variant allip that can turn its babbling into words. Then, the adventure concludes with guidelines on how the general will reward the group and how the knowledge gained can be by the Dragon Empire. The last few pages present five pregenerated kobold characters.

I did not rate the adventure very high because it is pretty straightforward without any surprises or interesting encounters. It is not bad at all, just unremarkable. The foes are ok and one of the room provides a formidable environmental challenge as well as hosting a mud elemental, but the ending left me wanting. While the variant Allip is a nice touch, there is no great discovery. I also felt like the conclusion did not provide a lot of place to expand.

I would summarize my review by saying this is a dungeon that is well designed and well balanced, but it does not innovate and feels almost like a sidetrek. If you are looking for a short low level adventure, that would be it. While the adventure can be adapted to any campaign, it does have an Egyptian feel. But the rooms do lack interesting feature that would make the players feel like they are visitng a tomb form an ancient king. While reading the adventure, there were not just enough details to help bring a sense of wonder at discovering the tomb. The adventure can be use in any campaign set in the desert.



Rating:
[3 of 5 Stars!]
Midgard Adventures: The Forgotten King's Tomb
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A Spiteful Legacy
Publisher: Wayward Rogues Publishing
by Martin S. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 02/23/2016 13:49:57

This review contains spoiler, please do not read if you plan on playing it as a player.

This module is intended for a group of 1st level characters beginning their careers and can easily be used as the start of a new campaign. However, pretty much all of the encounters in the adventure are CR 3 or more, which makes it a very tough adventure for a 1st level group. It might be wise to have one 2nd level character or a larger party of 5 or 6 characters.

Using one of the several plot hooks provided or one of your designs, the characters attend the funerals of a local hero in the Town of Brighton: Gendrin Windrider. During the funerals, fast zombie ogres attack the attendants and abscond with the corpse of the deceased hero. Either on their own, or after accepting a job from Brighton’s mayor, the group tracks the zombies through a dense forest and catch up with them after they delivered the corpse to their master. After dispatching the zombies and a hungry decapus, the characters are free to explore the caves. These caves used to be the lair of an ogre tribe, followers of Shub-Niggurath. Many relics of the ogres occupation can be found and their disturbing drawings still adorn many walls. The party must finally confront Aalric, a zombie lord necromancer and his new servant, Gendrin Windrider, now a skeletal champion. If they overcome the opposition, the characters can return to the town and be hailed as heroes, even becoming the owners of the estate of the late sir Gendrin.

My first comment is about formatting. I usually do not say much about this, but this adventure has a several typos and several places where text is missing. Although the main idea can be understood, it makes reading the adventure a bit awkward. However, this was the first product published by Wayward Rogues and having read a more recent pdf for one of their other product, I know that these issues are less frequent now.

The encounters are tough. The first one, with the two zombie ogres is even tougher because the characters are not allowed to bring their weapons in the cemetery, and if they do, they will be put under a new protective spell that makes it hard to draw a weapon. So, the players must understand that this first encounter is not one in which they are expected to fight. Even if your players still want to fight, one of the ogres flees and the second one will fight for only two rounds.

Once ready (not that the town stats are not provided, so the adventure can used with any other town or with the town of Brighton supplement), the group can start following the Ogres and may stumble upon several interesting locations adding color to the area and helping to develop this new world. Although a random encounter table is mentioned, none is provided. This is most likely an oversight, but again something that needs to be fixed.

Another point of improvement in my opinion would be the fact that when the characters reach Aalric’s lair, they face a hungry Decapus lying in ambush and the same ogre zombies they faced at the beginning of the adventure. Although they may not face the two threats at the same time, even if they face them one after the other, considering they are level 1 and the CRs are 4 for each encounter, this could be where their career will end.

One last note is in the fact the caves contain a lot of drawings in blood, legacies of the ogres. These enhance the powers of the necromancer. It would have been nice to have a list of possible skill checks and skill use to have the group realize that destroying the altar of Shub-Niggurath would weaken their opponents.

On the bright side, this adventure is founded on an extremely well crafted back story. The main antagonist, Aalric, has a very good reason to seek revenge on his brother and the characters can find hints in his journal of this and witness the slowly increasing frustration of Aalric with his careless and lustful brother. In a master stroke, Aalric’s frustration and the fact that sir Gendrin became a hero despite an evil scoundrel puts a certain strain on the characters conscience should they succeed. If they reveal the truth, the consequences have an impact on their reputation in town and on the town itself. Something I have never seen before, and despite the fact that the no stat block is provided, the town stats will be modified following the loss of their hero and its now tarnished reputation. This is simply awesome! In my opinion, the story behind the events of this adventure, the ensuing consequences based on the choices made by the characters and the richly detailed locations with the underlying menace of the cult Shub-Niggurath are the strengths of this module. This is good enough for me to forget about the missing encounter table and the several typos and formatting issues in this PDF.

The adventure also makes use of the reputation system which is nice and complements the tone of the module very well when combined with the moral outcome of revealing the truth about the town’s hero. Three new spells and one new magic item are also provided.

If you are looking to start a new campaign or if you are looking for an adventure with a well-crafted background and a lot of possible implications for the future of your party, this module is for you. If you are a stickler to formatting and encounter balance, I say you will be missing out.



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
A Spiteful Legacy
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Creator Reply:
Thank you for your review! Feedback helps us make better products. This was indeed one of our very first products, and it does suffer from some formatting issues as you mention. Definitely one we will be updating soon.
Cultures of Celmae: Udaeus
Publisher: Wayward Rogues Publishing
by Martin S. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 01/08/2016 13:03:48

This book is part of a series of book detailing the cultures of Celmae, a campaign setting called Shattered Skies. I did not read all the products created for this campaign setting although I pretty much bought all of them and intend to read and review them when I have time, so this is my first review of for a product line that already has an impressive collection of books and probably an already established format, so I am sorry if I am unable to compare the progress made since the first published books.

This PDF starts with an extensive history of the Udaeus, going as far back as their mythic creation by their patron god Saint Thero. Basically, Saint Thero defeated Leviathan, creator of dragons and used the fangs of his defeated foe to create the first humans. Divided five tribes with a few of them more warlike than the others, the Udaeus prevailed after close to a millennium of wars. The Cythean empire was built over the remaining 200 years and while achieving civic and cultural advancement, the Udaoi maintained a strong militaristic society.

Forewarned by their god patron of the upcoming Shattering, they priests and wizards worked together to create protective seals and therefore managed to save Udaeus elitist nobility and enable to continue the evolving as a society. After this event, the cult of Saint Thero took on pre-eminence over the other cults and his teachings became those of an angry God, a god angry that the non-human races caused the cataclysmic events and let a great evil out of imprisonment. From then on, the Udaoi became more violent and war-like and fought all non-humans, including dwarves, elves and gnomes. Throughout their history, this race of powerful warriors was always convinced of their superiority and fought many enemies, often achieving victory. They also fought several internal enemies, never accepting those who would stand against their rules.

I will avoid going into more details, but as you can see, the history of the race is complex, rich and well described. It covers half the pdf. What I like the most about this part is that it only explains the attitude of the members of this race, but also how they came to have some of their racial powers. To give you an idea, their culture and origins remind of the Greek and Roman myths, as well as historical reference (amongst other events, there is a rebellion led by a gladiator). In my opinion, these are very good inspiration for a race with mythic origins. I like it!

After this extensive background on the race, we get a physical description. Here, a distinction is made between Cytheans (non-Udaoi) which are normal humans in game terms and Udaoi nobles, the elite so to speak. We also have a brief description of modern day society, relations with other races and, alignments and religions. We then get to their racial modifiers and traits which all represent well the warlike people that they are. In this section, we are informed that Udaeus by their racial hit dice and that most of them get to 4 hit dice before taking class levels. I am assuming that we use official rules to reflect this for Udaeus character, but I would liked to see a bit more explanation and maybe a sample of an Udaeus without levels. I admit I do not play as often as I used to, it seems to me that a bit of clarification might help as it is intended to be available as a player race (unless I am mistaken). We also have cool favored class options. Two of the racial traits appear particularly powerful: Energy Resistance 5 against one type of energy (player’s choice, with a suggestion of Fire; and Infuse Arms and Armor which is basically an ability that allows a Udaeus to make better any weapon it wields, For example, normal weapons become masterwork when wielded by Udaeus. They are good appropriate to the race if you consider their history, but to me, it makes not having a description of the progression from 1 HD to 4 HD even more important as these abilities are good for a 4 HD humanoid, but do they have the same at 1 HD? Is there Boneskin (another racial traits) as hard when they have 1 HD. A GM would have to think about this before allowing a player to play an Udaeus. After the guidelines on playing an Udaeus, we gain a new class, the Udaeus Paragon. This powerful warrior is the elite of the race and gains HD D8. Although this may seem inappropriate considering this is a warrior class, the powerful abilities available to the class outweighs largely this apparent disadvantage. All the racial traits are enhanced as the Paragon gains level. The Infuse Arms and Armor trait is re-explained and this is again a bit confusing, at least to me. Racial hit dice are mentioned again and a 1st level Paragon makes masterwork weapons and +1 and if they are +1, they make them +2. To me, it means the Paragon must have 4HD, otherwise the ability does not work. So, I think it would have been to indicate that the racial 4HD is a pre-requisite for the character to take the class. The remaining abilities for the class make it a very efficient fighting machine with many special abilities, even mythic ones. I am not familiar with the Mythic rules, but overall the class does not seem overpowered, but it is very powerful. So, a GM allowing the class to be played in his campaign must carefully consider the abilities herein. We also get new feats focusing on the preferred fighting styles of the Udaeus, shield and spear as well as new spells enhancing their battle prowess.

Overall, a very interesting race with a rich background well inspired history. Having studied classical literatures a long time ago, I cannot help but see a bland of historical events and mythic stories taken from Greek and Latin literature (a warlike race created from fangs, 300 brave heroes holding back a horde of creatures to provide enough time for Udaeus armies to gather and defeat the horde, etc). The racial abilities, the new Udeaeus Paragon class, the 3 spells and 3 new feats all make this race an extremely powerful one, but in my opinion, this is justified by the extensive background provided in the history of the race. If you are a fan of myths and legends, this is a race for you! My only grievance is with the missing clarification over racial HD and that we do not get a table for age, height, weight, etc. The latter would have been a very nice addition to an already good document.



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Cultures of Celmae: Udaeus
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Creator Reply:
Thanks for your review!
The Fright at Tristor (3e)
Publisher: Wizards of the Coast
by Martin S. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 12/23/2015 11:58:21

This adventure was created as part of the Living Greyhawk campaign, but it can be played as is with no modification, or with very small adjustments should you want to play it using different rules than 3rd edition rules.

The premise of the adventure is that 20 years ago, in the hamlet of Tristor, a terrible incident happened. Rhennees (similar to gypsies) came to the village and sold their medications. Because of a terrible mistake while mixing ingredients, two persons died and a small boy was left blind and paralyzed from the waist down. The townsfolk gathered and visited mob justice on the Rhennees, killing all of them but one young boy they forced to watch. At the time the adventure begins, the young boy is back and using a disguise and a trained bear, mutilates and kills livestock as well as farmers around Tristor, seeing his actions as justice for what happened.

The region is also infested with orcs and a few encounters as well as what I would consider a sidetrek as it is unrelated to the main plot is provided to reflect this. The first part of the adventure relies a lot on investigation and several of the encounters occurs on farms that have been attacked. Although not specified, this part is a lot easier with character who can track. Even the remainder of the adventure is easier if such a character is present. In any case, the characters may feel a bit helpless as they chase after clues and are confronted by some unsavory residents of Tristor. The way the residents intervene and act is actually, in my opinion, on of the strength of the module because they are depicted as having motives of their own and are not simply there to help the pc's. There are also consequences to their actions, some of them plunging right to their deaths.

The last part of the adventure provides a description of a few locations outside Tristor and cover the final showdown with the main opponent. The showdown is not particularly impressive. It is not bad, but it is unremarkable: the characters find the cave where the Rhennee survivor lives under the identity of a local woodsman and they may just let him go if they cannot succeed a sense motive check to realize he is not who he says he is. I am not a big fan of that.

The adventure also does not have a lot of maps. Most important areas are depicted, but the encounter with the main antagonist does not have a map. I am also not a big fan of the reliance on tracking to find clues. It is a perfectly good way to find a clue of course, but there could have been other ways and the fact players often need to wait for thing to happen or may miss clues should they decide to search the area around Tristor is not the best adventure design I've seen. Many of the encounters featured in the last part could have been hinted in rumors heard in town. And since these encounters provide very meaningful clues, players could have been able to prevent some of the murders. The fact that they can't do it if the adventure is played as written makes the adventure a bit railroaded, in a manner of speaking.

In any case, not a bad adventure, but there is not much new in the adventure. It is not flawed however, so if you want to play a campaign in Greyhawk, it would make for a good choice because it is makes great use of the existing campaign elements.



Rating:
[3 of 5 Stars!]
The Fright at Tristor (3e)
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The Firemaker
Publisher: Four Dollar Dungeons
by Martin S. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 11/13/2015 15:22:36

This tough adventure is intended for characters of level 1. About half the pages are the actual module, the remaining pages are reprint of the creatures with Knowledge DC check (very cool) and coverage of some of the rules that will come into play when running the adventure. As if this was not enough to help the GM, the beginning of the adventure sports a table illustrating how much experience characters will get in each room and what type of treasures they get. As you finish reading a room or a part of the adventure, a very convenient recap table of DCs for skills and why you make them is provided. Add to this the abundant notes on how to run and modify the adventure and you have a near perfect module for beginner GM or a GM with little time to prepare. It is very nice to see attention to such details.

The village and nearby dungeon are well described. The dungeon itself is a dwarven ruin with a very interesting architecture. It feels a lot like a sandbox because the exploration is not linear. There is also a description of how each inhabitant interacts with the others. It makes the place comes alive and it makes a very enjoyable adventure. While reading this adventure, you will notice a bit of humor interspersed in the text like how the Ogrekin reacts if the characters act like a parent figure or the fact that the goblins call the Krenshar “Phalos”. Even with the apparently disparate nature of all the dungeon inhabitants, a reason is provided for them to be there and they all have a reason to stick around.

I have only have two points of complaints about this adventure. The first one is that the challenges are tough. Not too tough, but careless players or players thinking that first level adventure mean they will not get anything too tough will get killed. The second point is that the adventure abruptly ends after the description of the last room. Although the adventure starts as a request to help villagers get rid of goblin raiders, the end of the adventure does not mention how the villagers react. If they become more friendly, or what happens with these ruins once they are cleared out (considering that there are tunnels leading deeper in the Underdark, should the ruins be closed off). This does not take anything off the adventure, it just feels like something missing in the end, the adventure feels incomplete...



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
The Firemaker
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Creator Reply:
Thank you very much for your review, it was much appreciated. This was my first adventure and I think it\'s a little rougher around the edges than my subsequent work. The two points you make have been made before, in fact, and I agree the encounters are a little tough and, as well as what you say, there\'s not a lot of opportunity for exposition to the players about what is actually going on in here. However, all in all, I\'m glad you liked it, and I hope you take the time to review some others. All the best Richard
Thank you very much for your review, it was much appreciated. This was my first adventure and I think it\'s a little rougher around the edges than my subsequent work. The two points you make have been made before, in fact, and I agree the encounters are a little tough and, as well as what you say, there\'s not a lot of opportunity for exposition to the players about what is actually going on in here. However, all in all, I\'m glad you liked it, and I hope you find the time to review some others. All the best Richard
(I meant to say \"find the time\" first time round, but can\'t figure out how to edit my reply)
WK1 Caves of the Kobold Queen (PF)
Publisher: Cut to the Chase Games
by Martin S. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 11/13/2015 10:40:35

***Spoilers Alert**

This adventure is divided in 4 parts. The adventure begins with the characters arriving in Ormkirk and being offered a job by townmaster Thaddeus Travail: rescue townsfolk from the kobolds lairing in the nearby hills. The characters can ask around to gather more information and doing so may arouse suspicion about the townmaster’s true motives. This part is relatively short and sadly, no map of the town is provided, and we do not get settlement stats. A few other locations are mentioned, but everything is left to be expanded as needed. While not necessary to the completion of the adventure, it would have added some depth to the town to have such information. It does however, leave the GM with a lot of room to place Ormkirk anywhere in any campaign world. That first part focuses on the meeting with the townmaster and the information the characters can get. There is a list of what he knows, but some of the information in the list should not be provided to the players. I think this could have been better ordered with a section on what he keeps to himself and a section of what he is willing to divulge. Something also missing from this part is a DC for Sense Motive checks, or other type of skills. The adventure refers to Social Interaction checks, but there is no difficulty level offered.

The characters can of course investigate the town and ask around to gather more information. Again, no DC is provided but we know how long it takes and how much it costs to get a piece of information. The unfortunate thing here is that the information collected in a list of 10 pieces of information and are arranged in a random table... Considering that some parts reveal a lot about the plot and others are red herring, I feel like a DC for success should have been provided because some information can raise suspicion about the townmaster’s involvement. This can divert the characters to investigate more instead of heading towards the Kobold caves. We get flavor text for each piece of information gathered. This is a refreshing change from what is usually listed in Pathfinder module and helps to illustrate how the group gets the information.

Part 2 is about exploring the hills. We get a random encounter table and there is also a description of how the bandits stalk the characters and how Grabbold deals with them, most likely spilling the beans about his association with Thaddeus Travail. The bandit’s lair is not mapped, although it is described. It would have been nice to have a map of the lair considering that they are a part of the conspiracy. Following the map provided by the townmaster, the characters reach the ambush cave. It is mentioned they can find kobold tracks and wild dogs’ tracks, but we do not get a DC or a suggestion for the check. It is not a big deal, but it feels like a minor omission. Although the cave entrance is guarded by a few kobolds and dogs, we do not know how they react when the characters attack. We know that they are alert, but do they make a stand or retreat to fight with the other ambushers in the main cave?

After realizing that these caves do not corresponds to the kobolds main lair, the characters can move to part 3 in which the main lair is described. The first chambers of the kobolds’ lair are described in more details and are inhabited by the front guard of the kobolds. The second part of the lair is composed of a twisted maze of tunnels. Instead of mapping the whole thing, the adventure suggests a few skills that can be used to navigate the tunnels and a list of random encounters (including traps). What I really like about this part is that a list of modifiers is provided for the check. What is interesting here is that the list contains modifier for the presence of kobold prisoners, based on status in the tribe. Nice! Does this mean that the lower level where the queen is “hiding” can be found with one lucky roll? Well, not really navigating the tunnels to the lower level requires successful four checks! I guess you could be lucky and roll high enough four times in a row, but that would be amazing luck for low-level characters. So, kudos for making the exploration part easy to manage and easy to complete without having to go through a complex dungeon map! The lower levels of the cave complex are where the Queen is conduction her foul sacrifices and where the prisoners are held. I feel like part 3 of the adventure is its strongest element and the best designed. You have interesting challenges and the kobold “flavor” of the lair is well captured.

Part 4 covers the final confrontation with Thaddeus Travail, but nothing more. How the population reacts to the news? What impact does it have to have a town without a leader? Since we do not have settlement stats, we do not know who else may step up to replace the townmaster. While the encounter itself is covered, the impact and repercussions are overlooked.

As with the previous module, the physical attributes (str, dex, etc) and mental attributes (int, wis, etc) are missing from the stat blocks. While it is relatively easy to find the ones for the monster, the major antagonists, like the Townmaster, are harder to deduct. It would have been nice to have that information should the players use spells like Ray of Enfeeblement. In the adventure, we get an NPC profile for each of the three antagonists the characters will be confronting. It is nice to have that background and it helps to play the NPC, but these same profiles are also added with the stat blocks which make it a bit repetitive. One other detail is that the stat blocks do not seem to follow a particular order. It is not that important because there are not that many creatures in the adventure, but does make it a bit longer to find the correct information.

There is a very handy table to create kobold names on the spot. That is very nice since, at least for me, it is not that easy to come up with a name on the spot unless you have a list on hand. Making it random is very useful to avoid repeating the same name. To going over and beyond, there is a table for physical traits for kobold with over 30 traits. Kudos for that!

The module ends with a handy player handout describing a job offering (to start the adventure) and with maps of the kobold caves including the ambush caves. The maps are beautifully drawn but although the scale is indicated, the squares on the maps are barely visible. It makes it hard to draw a map for the players. Depending on your style of play, it may slow the game down unless you take time to determine the scale before play.

Overall, the plot of the module is interesting and it is nice to see how the different partners act according to their own agendas. The exploration of the kobold lairs is the strongest part of the module, with the other parts feeling a bit neglected like the beginning and the end of the adventure. The exploration of the hills is well balanced part. Depending on what you look for in a module, the missing stats and the missing DCs may be details that you wish you had, but the module still does what it sets to do: provide an interesting plot and enough information to make this a good adventure for low level characters. If, however, you do not mind that some part are less polished and that not all information is provided at the level we usually find in most Pathfinder module, then you will have no problem running this adventure. It is important to keep in mind that the ultimate goal is to provide an old school feel to these adventures. I have not read an old module for some time, but I do remember that the story was more important than having stats for everything. That is what we get here, being an older gamer I remember fondly these old modules like B2: Keep on the Borderlands and what we have here is something that has the feel of these modules. So, it may seem contradictory to the rest of my review, but this is a solid adventure even if some parts could have been a bit more polished. I look forward to the next module!



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
WK1 Caves of the Kobold Queen (PF)
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Deadly Delves: Doom of the Sky Sword (PFRPG)
Publisher: Jon Brazer Enterprises
by Martin S. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 11/05/2015 14:25:55

***This review contains spoilers****

This short adventure is intended challenge characters of 1st. A logging company is looking for a group of adventurers to investigate a series of mysterious happenstance at one of their logging camps and determine if the site can be reclaimed. The city in which the adventure begins does not have stats and the trip to the woods where the survivors of the incident are encamped is not covered, but a random encounter table is provided. I do not see this as a flaw because the adventure does not take place in the city and the trip can be as long as you want it to be. Deadly Delves are intended to be short and to the point, so there is no sense in adding that much details. You can create them as you see fit. It also allows a GM to place the adventure anywhere in his campaign as long as there some logging going on.

After meeting with the foreman of the camp to gather more information about what happened, a half-day journey takes the characters to the abandoned site of the former camp and with a little investigation, they can find tracks leading deeper in the woods. Since it is a logging camp, many tracks will lead to the forest and back to the camp. The odd thing here would be that these tracks originate from the camp's smithy. That could be seen as a minor flaw in the plot since this clue may be overlooked by players, but I do not think it would impact the adventure that much as any capable GM can get the players to follow these tracks with a few additional clues.

Following the tracks will lead the party straight into an ambush. If the characters do not kill outright the men assailing them, they will learn a lot of invaluable information about the who is behind these strange occurrences and where to find their lair. Even if the trappers get killed, the party can follow their tracks back to the caves where they lair and where lives the main antagonist. The cave system is the former lair of coven of troll witches, and as such, they left some traces of their occupation as well as a few unpleasant surprises. While exploring the caves, the characters can confront the huldra behind all the occurrences and figure out the fate of the missing loggers. Several scenarios are provided based on how the group meets the huldra and how they resolve the situation; some of these include peaceful solutions which I find very refreshing from most nodules I read.

Overall, I really liked this module as it is challenging, but all challenges require brute force and spells. The fact that it can be resolved peacefully and that the dangerous areas do not need to be explored makes it a great module for 1st level parties. I did njot get a chance to playtest it, but it seems well balanced. No suggestion were provided to expand the module or create other adventures based on this story, but I do not feel like it diminishes the quality of the module. I really, really liked that it can be resolved without much bloodshed if your players are so inclined.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Deadly Delves: Doom of the Sky Sword (PFRPG)
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Creator Reply:
Thank you for taking the time to review. I really appreciate it.
Four Horsemen Present: Gruesome Fey
Publisher: Rogue Genius Games
by Martin S. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 11/03/2015 14:47:52

This book presents a list of templates that can be applied to any creature of the Fey type. However, there are suggestions and explanations on how to use these templates with other creature types. This is extremely useful and broadens the scope of the book. I liked that this was given some thoughts.

The book begins with an explanation of the idea behind the Gruesome line of books (this is the first one I read in this series). It then goes on to explain how this applies to fey, usually typed as frivolous opponents for the most part. I also liked that this section was included at the beginning for someone new to the series like myself. Follows a summary of the different sections of the templates and what it means to use a gruesome template. I do not know if it is the case for all books in this line, but I really like the ''shock value'' that the template adds to each creature. Basically, the weirdness of a gruesome fey inspires fear to anyone coming within 30 feet of the creature (the mechanics work like frightful presence) and has a limit even if the fey has multiple templates added to its original built. It is nice touch to add a limit like this.The author goes even further by providing explanation on how knowledge checks should work in regards to Gruesome feys, which is again a very nice touch as it reflects the fact that these creatures are very distinct from other normal feys. Another nice additions to the templates is the inclusion of weaknesses that are specific to each template and provide awesome background for these creatures. Each template comes with a sample fey creature to which the template was applied.

The first example is a Believer, a fey that prefers to live with illusions it creates rather than face reality. The creature is caught into its own lies that the illusions it creates are harder to disbelieve. This is a nice template and a very useful narrative tool, but one of its weakness is that if anyone is able disbelieve an illusion created by a believer, the illusion is shattered for everyone. While it makes sense, it allows for a lucky roll to put an end to the encounter. I like the template, but I would need to see how efficient it is in play.

The next template is the Exiled Lord, with Mythic Abilities. This template is reminiscent of the Darklords of Ravenloft. The template is powerful, but the weaknesses are very interesting and can make for a very interesting adventure of the Prison Break type. The background of the sample Lord is awesome and inspired to create several game sessions.

The third template is the Faded. These feys lost their ability to dream and, well, be normal feys. They are always searching for magic in items and people and feed off magical energies. These guys are awesome and I love the imagery that template evokes.

The last template, the Macabre, gives the affected fey the ability to cause fear and pain just by her disturbing movements and her songs. This is a solid template showing what happens when a fey becomes twisted. It has great potential when used in an horror adventure. The imagery is nice.

Overall, a great book that can change how players see feys.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Four Horsemen Present: Gruesome Fey
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Alternate Dungeons: Abandoned Village
Publisher: Raging Swan Press
by Martin S. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 10/14/2015 09:48:14

This short supplement starts with some design tips to use an abandoned village as an adventure locale. These tips include how to run the exploration and how to make the players experience memorable. There are also tips on how to use the environment in combat situation and hazards while the players are exploring the abandoned buildings (cover rules, undergrowth, rotting floors, etc). Of these, I specially liked the simple rules for the decrepit buildings. In the case of long abandoned settlements, structural damage as described in these rules may make a player think twice before casting area of effect spells. There is also a list of alternate treasures to be found in such places to replace coins and gems. The list makes a lot of sense and contains good suggestions.

The next section contains a list of functions for deserted villages that can be used to create an interesting atmosphere in these places. It also includes a table of random dressings and tips on how to use the table. That is a nice touch and again, makes a lot of sense. Many of the suggestions in the list cans et the stage for an interesting encounter. The following section deals with the denizens that can be found in these places, many of these, like daemons, can be the reason why the village is abandoned and can be the source of several adventures. Included in that list are more mundane denizens like rats. Although these encounters could considered boring, they come with suggestions on how to use them make things more interesting which is a nice thought in my opinion and make the encounter more interesting. The next part provides a few traps and haunts that can be found in abandoned settlements. While the haunts are more a nuisance than anything else, they do add to the atmosphere. The traps however are nice and offer a good way to make the environment dangerous. I liked them a lot!

We also get a sample of an abandoned village which seems to be an concise version of an existing village backdrop (Ashford) and suggestions to help create other abandoned villages.

Overall I liked the content and thought it all made sense, but besides the traps and rule about using the environment during an encounter (structural damage), the content is pretty conservative. It does remain a good tool for a GM who does not have time to create a detailed abandoned village and can be the source of memorable encounters/adventures.



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Alternate Dungeons: Abandoned Village
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Creator Reply:
Thanks very much for the review, Martin. I hope you find Alternate Dungeons: Abandoned Village useful in your campaign!
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