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The Good Brother's page

209 posts. 5 reviews. No lists. No wishlists. 1 alias.



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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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A Rather Generic Undead Module

***( )( )

This adventure starts with a good hook, but sadly loses steam quickly. I am afraid I would not run this again without some substantial reworking.

The Good: The adventure begins with a classic and well-done hook that is remniscent of many horror movies. Further, its back-story is unique for undead stories, and the final villain reflects this. Indeed, the ultimate villain is a refreshing change to the whispy necromancer tropes, and could become a recurring enemy if not dealt with. The production values are excellent. It has good artwork, good maps, and quality printing. You should find nothing technically wrong with it.

The Bad: After the hook, there is little to keep the adventure going. Rather than being a "town under seige" as I had initially thought, it became a rather classic dungeon crawl. And that leads to the major flaw of the adventure. The first two levels of the dungeon are part of an earlier adventure, but there is very little to change, repopulate, or otherwise make it interesting. They easily could be done away with if you do not have the adventure.

The dungeon maps provided are very poorly laid out. There is no flow and rooms feel simply tacked on. A party could easily walk from beginning to end without encountering 75% of the dungeon. This includes the major plot-points that could explain the background; my party missed that and simply assumed the undead were part and parcel of a fantasy world. Coupled with many of the monsters being common undead simply placed in a room, it makes for an underwhelming experience.


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Well-Received By A Veteran Crew

*****

This is an excellent, relatively open-ended adventure with a horror theme. I really enjoyed reading it and I really enjoyed running it.

The writing is tight, the artwork is excellent, and the maps are very helpful. It remains everything we have come to expect from Paizo.

The theme, background, and location for the adventure is very well put-together. It is internally consistent, and gives plenty of atmosphere for a GM to use in crafting a disconcerting adventure. I found it to be a great mix of useful information and open-ended ideas. I used it in a non-Golarian setting with only a few minor alterations to names.

The encounters are also well-put together and I was able to use them as written. The NPCs and monsters all fit the theme of the adventure nicely, and should prove memorable. Much of it is an homage to Lovecraft, but it is a well-rendered homage.

One thing I really enjoyed was the "sandbox" feel of the adventure. The PCs have a lot of choices to make. Some of them are illusory, but it doesn't require railroading or substantial reworking if the party decides to take a unique approach.

The party I ran it for are veterans of several horror-themed games, and all really enjoyed it. From the initial encounters which hint at an ancient evil, to the disconcerting locales that they found their characters unwillingly later drawn, this captured their imaginations wonderfully.



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