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The Good Brother's page

209 posts. 7 reviews. No lists. No wishlists. 1 alias.



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Neat Ideas To Improve Games

*****

It's really nice to get a book that delivers what it promises. Pathfinder Unchained delivers all manner of variant rules for nearly every part of the game. Some are to simplify things, some are significant changes to core rules, and some are welcome changes to rules that have become sacred cows.

Buy this book if you are interested in having a number of variants available, to pick, choose, and modify as you see fit. As noted in other reviews, this is a toolbox. It's something to take pieces out of, and use as you progress. It's great for trying out in one-shots, or in smaller groups, and then expanding as needed to full campaigns.

Not everything herein will be your cup of tea. I highly doubt I will use all of the rule changes presented in this book in various games. I still think they're valuable. It's interesting to see various rules cut apart and reworked; at the very least it gives you an idea how those rules fit into the overall scheme of the game.

I will add that I would like to see more classes and rules examined under this lens. I don't know that I'd use many of them, but it's a good way to think about the game and how rules interact with each other.


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A Solid Start - But A Bit Disjointed

****( )

The adventure is a combination of a well-written mystery and a dramatic battle sequence that kicks off the overall campaign. Both are strong sections and worth playing; however they do not link together as tightly as one would hope.

The first half of the adventure is a well-written mystery. There are ample leads and clues that the PCs can independently follow, and there's no linear progression required. The NPCs encountered are well-fleshed out, interesting, and engaging. Characters are rewarded for following clues, and not just combat or brute force.

The second half is a tense battlefield. This is a bit more linear than the mystery, but players can move through it, fight their skirmishes, and affect the outcome of the fight on their own terms. It is written as an ongoing battle, and presents more choices than the PCs simply getting orders from NPCs and rushing from fight to fight. There are even non-combat interactions available, if the PCs pursue them.

The real problem is that regardless of the outcome of the player's investigation, the battle will play out in much the same fashion. The switch between the two will likely feel a bit jarring. This section of the adventure may need to be reworked to be a bit more natural, which can be frustrating. This would be the main downside of the adventure.

One modest complaint is that information about the town is found in several other sources. Nothing critical is lacking from this book, and other information is available in the free player's guide, but it still is referenced in the adventure itself as useful information.

Overall, this is a strong start to a campaign that has a "classic" feel and will likely engage PCs in the area and the story.


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Solid but Unsurprising

***( )( )

This adventure is a solid piece of work, with plenty to keep the party busy but nothing that will really wow the players. I recommend it if you are looking for a modest "creepy village" motif, but not for a major part of a campaign or a unique chapter in a saga.

The Good: This adventure has a fully-developed back-water village in which your PCs may muck about. It is a place with several dark secrets, unique locations, and a thriving culture. Reading this adventure you get a palpable feel for this village and its people. The story stems from this: There is no "must follow" storyline; rather you are given a setting and a time-line. How the PCs interact with it is up to them, and there are multiple paths that depend on their course of action. There is also clues to the deeper mystery, which the PCs may uncover as they see the weirdness about them. Overall, it is a solid sandbox adventure, with creepy locations and developed NPCs.

So Why Only Three Stars (or the Bad)? Much of this adventure simply fails to "wow" either the GM or the players. Most of the encounters are simple fights or straight out of the Bestiaries. There are no surprises. The "Grand Reveal" is rather cliche and the fight that follows is exceedingly difficult. My players did not find it to be that exciting. The village, while fully developed, is not terribly unique. There are a few minor details (such as the food they eat, or the manner of their worship) that are memorable. But this flavor does not really establish this setting from any other "creepy village." Many of the horror tropes end up being unfortunately cliche, and the mystery ends in the way that most people would expect it to.

If I may be permitted a bad analogy, this adventure attempts to be the original "Wicker Man" but ends up being a regular epsiode of the "X-Files." There is a lot that can be used here, but nothing that makes it a must-have or must-play.


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Exactly What Is Promised

****( )

This adventure is dripping with flavor. From the start "On The Blood" all the way through to the heart of the jungle, it feels like a storied journey. Not only must the party contend with fantastic enemies, but piranah, mosquitos, and illness are omnipresent too.

The Good: As mentioned above, it's got great flavor. This is coupled with a neat fantasy approach to river travel (and all the complications that go with it), a neat and subtle underlying story, and a strong compliment of NPCs and encounters. My party was never bored playing it, and always eager to see what camce next. The writing is solid and the layout is generally good, though at times it became difficult to juggle the many small maps. The end is a great sandbox where each party can react differently to a confusing situation. I am sure players will surprise GMs with their solutions.

The Bad: While the end is diverse, most of the adventure is dedicated to a boat ride. This is the classic rail-road scenario: The encounters happen generally at preset times, and the PCs are under the command of an NPC captain. Now, this isn't too heavy handed and those encounters are interesting (it is what they signed up for!). But it did feel like the players were simply waiting for the next encounter as the boat moved along. Further, the ending is a touch anti-climactic, and likely ends with the PCs moving down the same river just came up.

Overall, I recommend the adventure and think it will please most parties.


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Unique Module With Unique Feel

****( )

This module is one of the most interesting concepts for an adventure I've seen. It moved away from common fantasy tropes, which does require some preparation. But with a little front-end work, it can fit into most campaigns.

The good: It's got an engaging back-story, one of betrayal, death, and revenge. Similarly, it's got a compelling villain, with whom the party has a chance to interact. The party also has the chance to interact with the populace, and actions in the beginning of the adventure can affect the end. The encounters are exciting, and challenging for a party. The new monsters presented were well-received by my party. Overall, there is plenty to keep a party busy. The quality of the writing, printing, and maps are all quite good.

The bad: All the items to compel a party to keep playing also mean the module is crowded. The details are sparse, and much of it needs to be fleshed out further. Many of the NPCs are given a few meager words of description. Several elements seem a bit rushed. This means that the GM will have to sit down beforehand to master the material and either 1) be prepared to improvise many minor but salient details or 2) work out such information ahead of time.

Similarly, the presentation makes the timing seem rushed. If you are not careful, your party would bounce back and forth without a real opportunity to understand their situation or even appreciate the unique living dungeon.

Finally, the hook is very sparse. The adventure seems to assume that the party will show up, notice bad things happening, and intervene because that is what adventurer's do. While high-level adventurers should be big players in a world, it will require some invention to give them a reason to care about the situation.


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