after the crawling last time, why not heck in for a bit of investigation? Author Ron Lundeen's recently founded company Run Amok Games might have just what you've been looking for! Without further ado:
Six Griffons Haunt
This adventure is 32 pages long, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 1 page SRD, leaving 29 pages for this first adventure by Run Amok Games, the new company of Ron Lundeen, so let's check it out!
This being an adventure review, the following text contains massive SPOILERS, so potential players might want to jump to the conclusion.
Still here? Righty right, so essentially we have an investigation of a haunting - the aristocratic, exclusive Six Griffons lodge has seen some hauntings and the PCs stumble across a rather violent manifestation of said haunting. The situation is made more precarious by the fact that the lodge houses a collection of magic/unusual weapons. Before you start sighing and devise ways to deprive the PCs of the stolen weapons, rest assured that they won't waltz out of this adventure with an arsenal of magic weapons.
Hired by the butler/resident scholar of the lodge to find the cause of the unrest before a scheduled dinner of lodge members, the events start to escalate pretty fast. People start dying in rather macabre (and potentially lethal ways for the players), but without accumulating an overdue bodycount. The adventure features some rather interesting twists on the classical haunting that are massive SPOILERS: First of all, the culprit is not the classic undead, but instead a new creature called haunting elemental. Even better, they are only the symptom of the true problem and a corrupt member of the lodge tries to steal what is supposed to be a weapon to grant innumerable riches. The weapon that is confused with the silver-creating instrument of destruction is in fact the true culprit - a weapon cursed by its djinn-creators to forever thirst for the blood of evil creatures: If the weapon's thirst is not sated, the deadly elementals start manifesting. Have I mentioned that one character is a djinn in disguise that can act as a savior if the PCs are stuck?
While format-wise the investigation is rather open, it also contains a timeline and puts some pressure on the PCs to find out the truth without unnecessary dawdling. It should also be noted that the adventure comes with 4 extensive handouts the PCs should analyze (which are consolidated on two pages for ease of printing out in the end) and a gorgeous 4-page full-color map of the lodge. I do have one very minor gripe: The Haunting Elementals. They reminded of of an old Planescape-joke with Berkamentals and quite frankly, could have been other creatures, as they don't feel like elementals to me.
Editing and formatting are top-notch, I didn't notice any glitches. Layout adheres to a printer-friendly 2-column standard and the pdf comes with excessive bookmarks. The beautiful map and b/w-mugshots of the characters herein help to endear both characters and location to the PCs. This adventure is a rather fast-paced investigation with several fail-safes if the PCs get stuck, moderately difficult encounters and an unique flair - following the tradition of Ron Lundeen's Soldragonn Academy (by Headless Hydra Games), the adventure does feature a rather dark sense of humor that does not devolve into a massacre or truly mature material - indeed, the best way to describe it would be a investigative comedy of manners with a very dark sense of subtle humor. If played right, suspense and smiles at the characters herein go hand in hand, at least they did in my game. My group finished the adventure in one session, meaning that DMs with clever/investigating characters might want to throw in some additional red herrings. This and aforementioned personal preference are the only true gripes I can find, though, resulting in a 5-Rudii verdict - well done!
Raxath'Viz, the creeping Rot
This installment of the Infamous Adversary-line is 30 pages long, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 4 pages of advertisement and 1 page SRD, leaving 23 pages of content - that's quite a bunch for the low price, so let's check it out!
The pdf kicks off with a bang - a stellar, original, full-page artwork of Raxath'Viz - gorgeous and not something I would have expected for the price point. You'll hear these words more often in this review. The description of Raxath'Viz kicks off with a disturbing, well-written introduction before providing us the statblock of the villain: Raxath'Viz is a Cleric (Hidden Priest)10/Divine Scion 3/Rogue (Trapsmith) 3 and thus has a COMPLEX statblock with a LOT of special abilities. The statblock contains a minor layout error - a part of the statblock is not shaded like the rest of the block. That does not deter from his wide array of abilities or their usability, though, just an optical hick-up. Raxath'Viz has an ambition quite profound - be the instrument of reincarnation for the goddess of disease and become a demi-god himself in the process.
In order to accomplish this lofty goal, he has to succeed in 6 profane boons, which are detailed not only with prophecy-like lines, but also how Raxath'Viz plans to accomplish/accomplished them - this prophecy per se could be seen as a seed for a whole campaign, if desired. If you want to use a Raxath'Viz over the course of a campaign, you'll also get an advancement track for him as well as 3 additional plot hooks. Sample lore-DCs are provided to go along the campaign and plot seeds. If you want further ideas n how Raxath'Viz operates, you'll see it in yet another short piece of fiction before we get to his perhaps most valuable ally, Zogulryk the unholy, a male Oytugh Oracle 10 who is the one true ally/friend (if such a word is applicable) the Kobold has.
The installment does not end here, though, and instead goes on to provide sample names and personalities for the Festering Lesion, Raxath'Viz rag-tag band of kobold followers. We also get some sample custom traps the clever kobold employs and especially a consuming jack-in-the-box is worthy of Batman's Joker in its twisted humor. Of course, the Kobold also has pets, namely a variety of otyugh-mutations, one of which, the two-headed guardian otyugh, is also presented with a full statblock.
Unbelievably, we get even MORE: The profane Vessel of his goddess, a giant CR 20-super otugh remains even after his defeat, waiting for the day when a divinity will emerge from its cancerous growths and posing the final obstacle for the PCs to squash the ambitions of Maramaga, a goddess of pestilence spawned from a barbaric ritualistic druidic sacrifice and her own 2-page write-up is surprisingly compelling in imagery and tone, making her more than yet another deity of disease.
The pdf closes with information on a faction of (semi-) unwitting pawns to Raxath'Viz machinations that shall remain unnamed for spoiler's sake as well as a new devastating disease.
Editing and formatting are good, though not excellent: I noticed this one layout-glitch and an incorrect use of the -eth-suffix for a verb in the prophecy. All in all, though, less than 5 hick-ups, all minor, over 23 pages. Layout is new, different and beautiful - while not as printer-friendly as TPK Games' previous layout, the grey borders make for a visually pleasing reading experience. The artwork of Raxath'Viz is STUNNING. It makes a KOBOLD look intimidating as hell. The villain per se features a lengthy statblock, and as has been the tradition with TPK Games alongside all other statblocks in this pdf, been excessively hyperlinked to d20pfsrd.com, making usage of the file on a laptop extremely easy. The pdf is also excessively bookmarked and *drumroll* comes with full hero lab support of all the creatures herein - great for the people who use the tool (though I don't).
Content-wise, I'll just say: Wow. Temerlyth was a very good villain. Raxath'Viz blows him out of the water. The sheer amount of content provided in this pdf is awesome - the short stories are well-written, Raxath'Viz's statblock is complex, we get unique servants and allies, a new (and cool) goddess, a dread prophecy (including his plans to accomplish it - a potential campaign in itself) and a villain that acts SMART. Oh yeah, and new traps. The only thing anyone could ask for from this file that is not there is statblocks for less accomplished versions of him, but seeing that we get the high-level version, they can potentially be reverse-engineered. This pdf provides a LOT of content for 3 bucks - much more than I would have expected and at a higher quality, too. In fact, I'm going so far as to say that TPK Games have just upped the ante on NPC/Villain-supplements in the low price-range by a considerable amount. While the minor glitches would usually result in about half a star being detracted, the excellent bang-for-buck ratio more than does its share to counter this minor blemish. Thus, my final verdict will be 5 stars and the Endzeitgeist seal of approval - a truly deadly, devious, frightening kobold villain indeed and a great testament to the level with which the Infamous Adversary-line has been improving.