Thanks for the review, End! I am sorry that you are that easily depressed, especially since there were a lot in this book that actually worked for you.
To better understand your review and to actually use your review to make our products better, I've tried to break it down and make a sort of review of your review! :) It will also answer a couple of your questions.
Lets start with the good and then end with the bad.
- Short rumors of the city works.
- There is an appropriate amount of information about the locations.
- Several cool ideas in the history chapter
- The idea of using ancestors (and introducing ancestors) is great.
- The third chapter of Wizard's Path is good and has some creepy imagery.
- The Centaur race is balanced (although you would probably never allow one in your game)
- Excellent printer-friendly two-column layout (in its aesthetic simplicity)
- B/W art is nice
The Bad (with my comments)
- Strife between the mayor's two councillors shouldn't have been revealed: I disagree. This is no secret, and it would be cool if the PCs chose side as well.
- Identity of Yargus Tem, the guildmaster of the thieves' guild: Again, I disagree. sure, some players will have no use of this information, but some might, like rogues. Also, the thieves' guild in Mor Aldenn is not an evil guild, it is actually a big part of the city and doesn't prey on it. The guild might even be useful in the defense of the city.
- The identity of Jordrick Runsen, the Poisoner, shouldn't have been revealed: I disgree here as well. The text doesn't read "Jordrick Runsen uses his poisons to kill innocent aldennians and mages of the city!" To me a poison is just another weapon, which means that it can be used for good or bad. Also, that he makes poisons isn't a secret. What I should have written as well was probably that he makes antidotes as well.
- Secret of Nolly Ravenheart, which is only hinted and not revealed: I partly agree. You are right, as written, it is a rather useless information and only meant to make her more interesting than she should be. In the original manuscript I believe I wrote that children and animals felt something strange about her, after she had returned from the Spindlewood Marsh. I am sorry that I didn't add this bit, because it would have made more sense.
- Editing felt rushed: Well, if only enough people bought this that I could afford hiring an editor... alas, they don't. However, I am glad that you were only annoyed by "several punctuation errors" and nothing else. I can live with that. If you point out the few errors I'll make sure to update the pdf immediately.
- The size of the map: I agree! In fact, I have already made a new map of Mor Aldenn which makes much more sense with regards to the size. You can find it here; Revised Map Pack of Mor Aldenn. This map will also be used with the upcoming Mor Aldenn Setting Guide. I think you will find that this size fits better with a small city of around 5000 inhabitants.
- No bookmarks: Well, I tend not to use bookmarks myself and so I often forget about them. However, this is an easily fixable flaw.
- Big file size: Yeah, I am normally not too concerned about this, but as the books gets bigger, I am forced to think about this. I don't see why this makes it a significantly lesser product, as it says nothing about the contents, or layout.
- 6 pages of campaign notes: Yep, you are right, you probably have a notebook of your own. However, this was added with regards to the POD solution from RPGNow. Yeah, it was also an experiment for my own sake. I promise that I've not forced you to pay more for these extra pages and you don't even need to print them out if you don't want to. As far as experiment goes, I probably won't add these to any future HHG products.
- Lack of info on the number of mages and their power levels: Well, I could probably have added more information on the mages, since it is the City of Mages, but honestly, I don't think a player's guide needs to reveal everything. Let the players and GM come up with a few things themselves.
- Afraid of Forgotten Realms syndrome: Heh. I've been afraid of this myself, but I honestly dont think the power level is too high. You'll find out more about this once the Setting Guide hits the shelves. But yes, you will find an Elminster-type in Mor Aldenn, but he is quite neutral and wont really mess up things for hte PCs.
- Wizard's Path: I disagree that these three shortstories leaves every problem to be handled by the mages instead of the main characters. Also, I think they do a good job at introducing the city to the reader.
- Lack of other contents: Well, sure, we all want more content that fits with our needs. However, I've heard what you would like to see in the future and I can assure you that some of that contents will finds its way into the upcoming setting guide!
I don't think your review makes it a 1 star product, but THAT is just my oppinion. You are, of course, allowed to have yours. I hope I haven't misquoted you, I tried really hard not too.
Thanks again for the review!
thank you for taking my review not too hard. Let me elaborate a bit!
Thieves' guild - Nice for you to elaborate upon it, though while the guild MAY BE useful in the defense of the city, that still means that the official channels should not support the guild and the identity of the chef should be secret - a contact person, all right. But apart from the problem of authorities/arrest, the head of such a guild makes for good plot twists...if unknown.
Using poison is traditionally an evil act and poison is NOT just another weapon, but rather a devious tool that is explicitly used to kill foes. Poisoners are usually evil people and frankly, in any city but a CN or evil ones, they should not ply their trade in public.
My main problem with the city of mages, as presented herein, is that I can't fathom how this city is supposed to work. The mages, law, authority - even as a DM who owns all of the other Mor Aldenn-files apart from Gaiants, I still can't see how the city operates. I sincerely hope the campaign setting remedies the shortcomings.
Essentially, you mentioned that how magic/wizards work within the context of the city and interacts with the PCs is up to the DM - I don't agreee. It's your central selling point for the setting. Not detailing it (although it's vital for PC interaction with the authorities) undermines a central reason to like the setting.
My group just arrived and I'll reply in more detail, if desired, once our session is done.
Well, I wouldn't say that there is nothing about the mages in this player's guide, there certainly is. The rest you will just have to buy the setting guide to get (along with NPC stats, new arcane archetypes, spells, feats, magic items and whatnot). Also, the very first chapter called "A Guide to Mor Aldenn" is written, much like this guide, as a player's guide to Mor Aldenn, and don't worry, this is all new material and not just a reprint of the extended player's guide :)
I guess the setting makes more sense to someone who has created it over a 2 year period than someone who has never even heard of it.
I really don't want to bash you and your efforts, as I've been enjoying some of your companies' products very much and try to promote you. However, unfortunately I can't judge your vision of a setting, but only the pdf and quite frankly, at least to me it lacked the information I as a player would have expected from a player's guide, especially for 5 bucks (for which we usually get more content). I do look forward to the setting guide and hopefully will be able to give it a higher rating - the city does have true potential.
Thank you for your extensive feedback, for even though while I don't agree with the points you make and stand by my verdict, it's nice to discuss the points with you in a civilized manner. Thanks again!
All the best,
No problem! You might have a point that $5 may be a bit much for the content, but unfortunately, a publisher have to count in the price of the artwork (and especially the price of the cover!) for their final product price. We can't just use content as a pointer when pricing a product.
You SHOULD stand by your verdict, just like I stand by my product, but I can't imagine what verdict you would give the product if there was nothing positive to say! :) Or how depressed you would be...
You have certainly given me a couple of good points that will make the next Mor Aldenn product better! Which, by the way, is another Ron Lundeen adventure... called the Wreck of the Keening Crone!
Thanks again for reviewing our product!