1.28.2011

EZG reviews Ruins Perilous & some other new Rite Stuff

I know I've been posting a lot of Rite Publishing reviews - possibly becuase they crank out so much good stuff. Next week, you'll get something different once again, possibly even some of the long reviews.


30 Haunts for Houses

This pdf is 14 pages long, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 1 page SRD and 2 pages advertisements, leaving 9 pages for the 30 haunts.

The pdf kicks off with one page introduction to haunts, including some insightful designer's note.

The haunts presented herein range from CR 1 to CR 15.

Common Haunts:

-Common Door Haunt: Slams doors shut

-Common House Haunt: Minor poltergeist effects

-Common Phantom World: Strange, obscuring hallucinations

-Graverot: A spark of unlife in a corpse

-Hindering Haunts: Delay PCs in crucial moments

-Lonely House Haunt: Charm PCs into staying for the night...

-Phantom Blade: Haunted remains of a trap

-Reluctant Portal: Hard to open/close portal

-Solid Phantoms: Phantoms that block PCs

-Weedy Well: Lure PCs

Associated haunts (haunts that belong together):

-Charred Man: Potentially lethal killer

-Fire Starter: Creepy little haunt

-Unrepentant Smoker: Lets smoke billow forth

Haunts:

-Biting the Hand that feeds: Make animals rebel

-Black Bile: Cool manifestation

-Chain Haunt: Poltergeist chains

-Envious Armor: Your fighter with LOATHE this haunt. I love it.

-Faithful Phantom Hound: A faithful phantom creature; great adventure seed/ idea for deceased PC-companions

-Feel my Pain: Brutal, pain-inducing haunt

-Gurglers: Creepy, almost Pow/Lovecraftian haunt

-Heartstopper: Great nod towards one of my favorite Poe stories

-Hot Handle Haunt: Fire walk with me

-Lich's Lover: Anguish of a woman can kill you

-Mumbling Malediction: Lethal, nice focus point for a haunted house

-Open Grave: This haunt has a cool effect and works different from what you'd expect

-Rats in the Wall: Iconic take on a classic motive

-Restless Sleep Haunt: Insomnia-inducer

-Scrawl: Scribbles appear with a twist

-Shadowmaker Haunt: Undead-creating haunt

-Spinning Spiders: This haunt is really cool and includes a spinning chandelier. Go figure. :)

The pdf closes with a NPC (CR 4) for ghost-and haunt-related adventures, who was built via the excellent rules for Divine Channeling from RiP's "Secrets of Divine Channeling". All necessary information is given for you to run this character without access to the supplement, though.

Conclusion:

When first reading this, I was a bit baffled by the common haunts being...well...common. However, that is exactly the premise - the 10 haunts presented in the beginning are supposed to be very generic for ease of inserting it into your campaign. The other haunts were more creative and, in spite of the limitations in word-count, some of them managed to evoke a creepy atmosphere or were mechanically interesting. The thin line between "generic and boring" and "generic and easy to implement" - 30 Haunts for Houses walks it with ease and for the better. Editing and formatting were top-notch, I didn't notice any errors. Presentation and layout adhere to the high Rite Publishing standards. Art is ok and mostly from public domain. The NPC was a nice bonus.

So what's my final verdict? Due to the low price and extreme usability, I'll settle for a solid 4 Rudii. This is, as of yet, the best haunt-supplement out there. For a sequel, I'd like to see more complex haunts or a file containing only common/generic haunts and files containing haunts linked by a theme as well as more associated haunts - the 3 associated ones make for a whole encounter in and of themselves.




Faces of the tarnished Souk: Ahnkar-Kosh, the Unstoppable


This pdf is 13 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 1 page SRD and 2 pages of advertisements, leaving 8 pages of content.

This pdf presents Ahnkar-Kosh and acts as both a nice stand-alone product or as an add-on to Coliseum Morpheuon.

The pdf kicks off with a page containing the background of Ankhar-Kosh, including information for CM's Dreamburning mechanics and a note on how to and how not to use this bodyguard.

Ahnkar-Kosh comes in 3 vastly different incarnations for different levels:

The first one is the whopping CR 21 dreadnaught protector quickling manimal ankylosaurus armiger and his stat-block takes up 2 pages and is a beauty to behold - AC 64. 'Nuff said. He IS the ultimate bodyguard. All his skills and special abilities are aimed at keeping his charges alive and he packs a mean, mean punch. He also comes with 3 unique magic items and 2 feats reprinted from Super Genius Games products (1 page), a cooperation I'm just loving.

The second one is a CR 14 protector quickling manimal ankylosaurus fighter 5, taking up 1 page.

The third incarnation is a CR 7 manimal ankylosaurus. It takes up half a page.

The pdf closes with 3 templates, Dreadnought (CR+1 to +4, depending on the HD), Quickling (CR+1) and Manimal (great nod towards the cult-series in the name, btw.!) CR+1, including some ideas on how to implement them.

The pdf also features the new spell Create Manimal [Drd 6, Sor/Wiz 7], which makes a manimal out of an animal.

Conclusion:Editing and formatting are top-notch, I didn't notice any mistakes. The b/w-artwork is great.

If you say Rite Publishing, the first thing that comes to my mind is far-out, imaginative design. And stat-blocks. Big, beautiful, bad-ass stat-blocks. Coliseum Morpheuon features a huge array of great, powerful characters and this pdf is an awesome addition to this setting/adventure and I hope we'll see more in this series.

My final verdict will be 5 Rudii - I'm just in love with this beautiful, deadly CR 21 incarnation.






Ruins Perilous Level 1, Room 1


This pdf is 24 pages long, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 1 page SRD and 1 page advertisement, leaving 20 pages of content.

To adequately review a file from the "Ruins Perilous"-line, I first have to explain the interesting and ambitious business model the series utilizes: You donate a certain amount of money to the project. If you donate at least $3.00, you get the following in addition to the pdf:

- The exterior image or side view of the room

-A monster token

-The high resolution JPEG of the map (with and without grids)

- The PDF of the Map Pack so you can print out your maps at home to scale (in full color or grey scale)

Once a level is completed (about 18 rooms), a version of the level for maptool will be provided for free to the supporters. If the goal for a room is not met within 60 days, the money will be refunded.

That being said, in the Questhaven Campaign Setting, the Ruins Perilous also work as a testing ground for the Questor's Society as well as the big, bad dungeon.

Now that this is out of the way, let's get to it!

The pdf is full-color and kicks off with a one-page map of the first room, followed by the encounter of this installment, containing a new little creature as well as two pieces of artwork.

After that, we get the map-section cover and a how-to for using the maps contained herein. (2 pages)

The map-pack contains a one-page map of the room, complete with grid, 6 pages of full-color blown-up maps of the room for use with miniatures as well as 6 pages of the same map in a printer-friendly, blown-up b/w version.

The pdf closes with 2 in-character written pages of introduction and advice to survive in the ruins.

Conclusion:

Formatting and layout are top-notch and as far as maps go, this is the full-color equivalent of the excellent maps we've come to appreciate from e.g. the ECS-series. I found one glaring editorial glitch - in the editorial, the file says "Level 1, Room 4", which should be "Level 1, Room 1" - in the beginning I thought I accidentally opened the wrong file. Prose is nice, as in most RiP-products. The encounter per se is ok, although it didn't make me gasp in excitement. For what it is trying to be, though, this file does a good job - it's a nice first encounter for the dungeon. Due to the low price if bought separately and the beautiful maps, I'll round my verdict of 3.5 Rudii up to 4. If you don't plan on using the maps, detract a Rudi.





Ruins Perilous Level 1, Room 2


This pdf is 27 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 1 page SRD, leaving 24 pages of content.

The encounter of this installment, complete with a little map, takes up 3 pages and once again features a new creature, a magical beast cat-creature that is quite simply one of the coolest CR 1 critters I've read in quite some time. The encounter also comes with an artwork of one specific feature of the dungeon that will have PCs wonder or at least pause for a second.

After the encounter, we get a 2 page-replica of the introduction to the Ruins Perilous some may already know from the first installment.

The map-part starts with the cover and a quick how-to. (2 pages) It features a one-page map of the encounter as well as a over-blown version of the map for use with miniatures that takes up 8 pages. There is also a printer-friendly b/w version of the miniature-friendly map that takes up the last 8 pages of the pdf.

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are top-notch, I didn't notice any mistakes. Layout of this full-color pdf is once again beautiful and the maps are up to the high RiP-standard we know from the ECS-line. Only that around here, they are in color. The encounter presented here is more complex and intelligent than the one in this files predecessor and thus also more rewarding. While the encounter didn't absolutely blast me away, I have to consider the low price and the intention of this product - It succeeds at its intention and is very cheap and thus my verdict will be 4.5 Rudii. If you don't plan on using the maps, detract a Rudi.






All right, that's it for this week, I'll see you next week, as always, thank you for reading my ramblings,

Endzeitgeist out.

1 comment:

Steven D. Russell said...

thanks for taking the time to review our proudcts

Steve Russell
Rite Publishing