Once upon a time, I wrote uninformative, lame, one-sentence reviews for some products I considered worth getting. Today, we're going to remedy the rather humiliating shortcoming to inform you about one of my personal favorite adventures to kick off a campaign, 0onegames
This pdf is 43 pages long, 1 page front cover, 1 page blank inside front cover, 1 page editorial, 1 page ToC, 2 pages of advertisements, 1 page SRD and 1 page back cover, leaving 35 pages of adventure, so let's check it out!
Layout adheres to the clear and concise 0one-games-two-column-standard, the pdf is extensively bookmarked and comes with free color-versions of the handouts (and broadsides that are put up throughout the city) in a separate pdf and also has its own conversion notes to make the adventure compatible with PFRPG. Editing is good - I only noticed one glitch.
This being an adventure review, SPOILERS will continue to abound, so potential players please jump to the conclusion and stop reading NOW.
All right! The PCs stumble across the body of Malkan Abberbaugh, who was supposedly murdered by wild animals in a park - not everything is as it seems, though, and the PCs will hit a brick wall of bureaucratic red tape by the army, who wants to keep the death under wraps. After having the corpse taken away, the PCs can track it to Grang's Crematorium, where they'll be met with a rather uncooperative fellow. Why? Well, turns out ol' Grang has turned to cannibalism and enjoys his meals with a gourmet ghoul. Yep, you heard it. Cool, isn't it? We get a map for the crematorium and once the PCs have infiltrated the place and analyze the corpse, they'll notice that both druids and their animals definitely are innocent of the murder and will continue to army ward, where Marcus Galwatty, a sergeant tries to block them and intimidate them to keep away from the investigation.
A full blown bar brawl can also see the PCs accused of murder and arrested and after asking around town in this free play-style sandboxy setting, the PCs will have encountered the legendary alchemist Mafurin and his coat-with-tails-wearing Troll Werewolf-bodyguard Hulg. Via the street urchin Eddie Gin or some other means, the PCs will meet a guy called Grosh One-Ear, who claims that a member of the Dragon Claws-gang has murdered Abberbaugh. A member of said gang will contact the PCs and claim that rogue members are responsible. After a short mini-crawl in the sewers (with its own map), the PCs will again be contacted by the Dragon Claw, who points them towards to true culprits, a subsection of the army called Skullcrackers that dominate illegal fight clubs in the residential ward. In this climate of racial tensions, they will venture into smuggler's tunnels to find a lost piece of jewelry for a member of a crossroads club serving a shrine spirit. Should they survive their trek into the subterranean tunnels, tehy'll have their final clue, the identity of the killer. In a cinematic and highly unusual finale, the PCs go to the fight club and take out the deadly dwarven wererat rogue and his henchmen while bets are flung on the outcome and the crowd is cheering - in any way, a cool and rather uncommon finale.
This investigation is very interesting in the fact that it's not strictly linear and has several tools for the GM to keep it going in both the NPCs and the encounters. The adventure is fast-paced and has some cool, iconic backdrops and immediately sets a tone of mistrust and paranoia that will continue to spiral out of control during the course of the campaign arc. The NPCs and critters are sufficiently unique and cool and the adventure is uncommon enough to provide something different and thankfully humanoid-centric for the PCs to enjoy. The only weak point of the story is that the PCs should have a serious stake in the murder to not be disheartened by the red tape that is flung at them. My players would love that, but Some players might be annoyed. Diligence triumphs in the end, though, and the DM can always throw the PCs a bone with the plethora of NPCs integrated into the plot.
My final verdict will be 5 Rudii, a great adventure to kick off the road to revolution. Personally, I prefer "A Pound of Flesh", but you could always play that one after the Skullcrackers. :)
It should also be noted that there is a conversion file for PFRPG available for your convenience.
I've also got a little bonus for you:
This pdf is 22 pages long, 1 page front cover, 1 page back cover, 1 page editorial, 1 page SRD, leaving 18 pages of content - for the low price a nice deal!
After one page of aptly-written IC-introduction to the realms of fairy we are introduced to a general 5-page overview of Faerie and what its lords and dominions are about: Basically, the realm of the fey is a demi-plane-like conglomeration of parallel mini-planes that exist and partially overlap the prime material plane, resulting in paths that might teleport you to Faerie.
The next section of the book contains the fey and they are presented in an interesting format: We get one page IC-text, 1 page stat-block and rules and 1 page artwork.
The first fey you'll get is the faerie seer, a rather uncommon choice for a fey creature: At least I personally associate seers more with divine/oracleish/Norn-like figures. Befitting of its role, a faerie seer has a plethora of divination spell-like abilities and a cool aura: Being able to see the strands of time, any attack against the seers has to be rolled twice, the worse result counting. Thus, the creature has the unique ability I expect from a given monster book. Nice.
Next up is the Harvest Haunt, a tiny fey that can blight via an negative-energy instilled touch (sans being evil, mind you!) and surround themselves via a complacency aura that might prove disastrous for farmers. This tiny critter really intrigued me, as its potential for creating/threatening some truly disturbing famine winters and potential adventure twists.
The third offering we get is the spindler, a fey clothing merchants that is obsessed with his enchanted fabrics (coming with several sample clothings), who might well try to force his clothes upon his unwitting customers. While a cool comic relief creature or ok low-level adversary, this one felt rather goofy and does not offer much resistance or combat capabilities. If it had more, it might have made for a cool final low-level foe of an adventure circling around strange behaviors.
The final creature we get is the thin man, a fey that has lost one of his dimensions to the "nowhere" (detailed in the first section of the pdf) and subsequently can make for a very deadly assassin: After all, turning to the side, it practically becomes unperceivable and its blades can hit you and easily cut you to ribbons. Deadly, cool and vicious, the thin men mechanically do what one of my recurring villains in my homebrew does and offer for compelling killers, reaching the quality of the now legendary "Van RIchten's Guide to the Shadow Fey".
Formatting is top-notch and layout adheres to the two-column standard. However, you should know that, while the book and the artwork is b/w, the layout contains blue elements and one of the artworks is full color, to be precise, the one that visualizes the relationship between material and fey realm. Editing is also top-notch, I didn't notice any glitches. The critters per se are high quality and can be defined as weird with a capital "w" - which is fine and just what I like and expect from fey. However, I didn't care too much for the first section detailing the fey realms, as ZSP's "Along the twisted Path: Prelude" is simply the superior file with regards to being an introduction to the fey realms. I have one bone to pick with this book, though: The artworks. While the regular artworks are nice, the fey artworks all take up a whole page. This would be great if the artworks rocked. To be blunt, they don't. I know that art is expensive, but some of the pictures (especially the thin man and the harvest haunt) made me CRINGE. I honestly think the pdf would have been better off without them and the other two critter-artworks felt uninspired and not particularly fey. Less would have, at least in my opinion, been more here and would have made it easier to print out the book. The pdf is bookmarked, which is nice. What's my final verdict, then? The production values are high and the creatures original, but 4 fey are not too much and there is some fierce and excellent competition out there regarding fey. However, all of the fey get some individual abilities and the thin men are supremely creepy. My final verdict will be 3.5 Rudii due to the cringeworthy artwork.
All right, that's it for now! Next time, I'm either going horror or back to some city, albeit a rather ruined one. As always, thank you for reading my ramblings,