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Elminster

Saint_Meerkat's page

Goblin Squad Member. FullStarFullStarFullStar Pathfinder Society GM. 257 posts (302 including aliases). 9 reviews. No lists. 1 wishlist. 4 Pathfinder Society characters. 4 aliases.



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Great for first time GMs

****( )

If you're looking to get your feet wet as a GM, this is an excellent place to start. It's got a better story and more believable premise than the First Steps series, and can be prepared quickly. All tactics and feats are straightforward, and the writing is easy to follow.

There are several opportunities for role-play (one encounter can be entirely role-play) but the adventure doesn't suffer if you don't feel comfortable doing it.

Solid average to average plus adventure. Nothing remarkable, but there's nothing wrong with it, either.


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Passable Detective Yarn, Good Read

****( )

Prince of Wolves (2010) by Dave Gross was the first of the Pathfinder Tales novels, a series of novels published by Pathfinder RPG publisher Paizo, and set in their Golarion campaign setting. I believe it’s fair to say that the primary target of this product line was the Pathfinder RPG enthusiast, but that none of the parties involved would object if their popularity spread much farther afield.

In the special thanks, Gross mentioned Erik Mona putting “a bug in his ear in Calgary,” suggesting to me that the Paizo staff were confident enough in his abilities not just to tell a good story, but to communicate the spirit of Golarion -- a task in which I believe he succeeded, with a few miscues along the way.

The novel was set in the country of Ustalov, the Golarion analog of TSR’s old Ravenloft. The Vistani are there, but they’re Varisians now. The swirling mists, as well. The Tarokka has been reborn as the Harrow deck. Ustalov felt so familiar that you expected to stumble across Strahd, himself. But there is no Strahd or Van Richten. Not yet. Perhaps the mists will deposit them here soon. This was where Gross’ novel succeeded. Ustalov is a scary place.

Gross’ other triumph here was that he told a passable detective story. I love Sax Rohmer, Arthur Conan Doyle, and Jim Butcher. They told great detective stories. Gross told a really good one. I enjoyed the way Gross fed us the clues. I enjoyed getting the a-ha at the same time as Dave’s protagonists. And there were only a couple of places where a revelation stretched my suspension of disbelief. Heck, Doyle did worse than that.

Finally, Gross created a delightful pair of protagonists in Jegarre and Radovan. In their debut, Hell’s Pawns, I loved how they played off one another. Manipulating and playing friendly mind games with one another. Familiar, yet formal. Moonlighting without the romantic tension.

The first place the novel stepped wrongly, in my opinion, was when he chose to split up the party. Jegarre and Radovan were less interesting to me on their own. The courtly world of Jegarre dragged without Radovan to make fun of its foilables. Radovan wasn’t as fun a figure with his new companions, and their relationships were less believable. The chemistry that made Hell’s Spawn crackle and pop took a break for a large portion of the novel, and I missed it badly. The last chapter indicated that in future stories they would be friends instead of boss and investigator. That’s too bad.

The second place where Gross misstepped was having Radovan repeatedly use pejorative labels to describe the deformed villagers. (The novel was written in first person.) While I had no objection to Gross’ use of deformed characters, and though I believed their presence contributed to the horrific atmosphere, the repeated use of the word “freak” was offensive to me. Once or twice was enough to establish Radovan’s insensitivity with the reader. The additional uses saddened me, and detracted from an otherwise enjoyable read.

When I was trying to decide how to rate this book, I kept asking myself if I should rate it as “game fiction” or “regular fiction.” Game fiction has gotten a bad rap. Perhaps deservedly so. For game fiction, it’s five stars. Gross’ contribution is definitely at the top of the game fiction genre. In the broader context, I would still give this passable yarn a four.


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There is story to be had here...

*****

After the first introductory scenario, which basically was a series of unrelated (yet fun) mini-adventures around the city of Absalom, it was nice to get back into what Pathfinder does best: tell stories. This adventure was able to weave the meeting of three faction heads into a common narrative.

I had one minor problem with the adventure. I felt that it came close to portraying one of the faction heads as a semi-villanous Mr. Slugworth from the first Willy Wonka factory, who wanted a gobstopper from Wonka's factory, and care had to be taken to make sure that the particular faction was presented in a manner that might make it attractive to players whose characters had similar motivations.

As with the first introductory adventure, the combats were over very quickly both times I ran it.


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Something for Everyone

****( )

This would have made a great title for a Star Trek: The Next Generation RPG mission.

Mr. Daigle gives us a fine little adventure with something for every interest. There's puzzle solving, role playing, investigation, colorful characters, and things to kill. The adventure shines when describing the NPCs you'll meet while running around Absalom.

The only complaint that I have with this adventure is that it is short on story. It's like a (good) anthology film with four completely unrelated short encounters (that work) linked together by opening and closing vignettes. For a campaign that is well known for telling great stories, it seems a little inappropriate as an introductory scenario for new players to the campaign.

Easy to prepare; fun to run. My group thoroughly enjoyed it.


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Best Treasure Book I've Purchased

*****

Over the years, I haven't bought many books that just listed items. The few I did purchase were hit and miss; the PDF ones mostly miss.

This is a fabulous offering.

I will always view this as one of my best purchases, not just because of the creative and imaginative items and entries, but because the sidebars about how they came up with the price for each item totally changed the way I think about magic items.

This is laid out in landscape so that an entire page fits in your laptop screen without having to scroll up and down to read the whole page. Thanks!


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