Cruel Instructor

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Save of Suck

2/5

Played this at high tier with a party full of fighters. Spent a lot of time just trying to get around the other fighters to hit something, so this may go better for other groups. Could be another star for more balanced groups.

The first part is sort of a save or suck on skill checks. Some of the fights seemed that I could only do something if I rolled a 20.

Besides that, from a GM point of view, I liked that they did something so the BBG at the end couldn't just be gang rushed. But it got a bit drawn out, especially with a talkative group of players, so we skipped the end dialog to know what we achieved.


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Good series

4/5

Just played through all three parts of this series at OASIS.
Each one has a good balance of requiring skills and diplomacy to succeed along with fighting.

You do get on the railroad a bit, but it is a fun and amusing trip to be on. The three scenarios come together well.


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Amusing and entertaining

4/5

The plot of this is a bit of a one off, that is a fun offshoot to play.
There's an amusing story line with interesting characters.
Great for GM's who like to act out characters, which is why I give it good rating.

Combat was a bit easy for the group I was with, but could vary for other groups. Not likely to actually kill you though, so it's a good design for a level 1-5 game.


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Lives up to the hype

4/5

I GM'd this after my regular players had been steamrolling through all the previous scenarios. It definitely lived up to the hype about being difficult and challenging. No one died, but one or two came close.

The first encounter is still the big thing, and took about 3 hours in itself. I think we took 7 hours total to play it all the way through.
The mechanics of the first fight weren't bad. It just had enough going on to keep all the characters busy. And if they can't all gang up on one bad guy, the fight last longer. Good tactics were used on both the players and GM's side.

Granted, if I was one of the first people to play this at GenCon and brought my diplomatic character, thinking it would be like all the others, then I would probably be on this list ranting and raving too.
But since we're past that, and word that this one is challenging has gotten out, then by all means use it to challenge your more powerful parties. Just don't surprise anyone with it, and be ready to sit in for a while if you want to finish it all.


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Something new but weak

2/5

I was GM for this for a party in the low tier.

I liked the story. It went for an unusual location and brought in the oread and efriti races quite well. I would definitely play this with my oread living monolith.

In the end, I thought the fights fell a bit flat for the party.
It was fire, fire, and more fire. Which, once they figured out how to beat the first time, they didn't have any more trouble with the rest.
Also, they were hitting me for 16-30 dmg per round, while the most I could do to them was 1d6+2. Not that I like clobbering characters, but it seemed pretty lopsided.

Hope others had a better experience, because I thought it was an interesting new story.


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Diplomacy or Die

5/5

I really love how this scenario is laid out. First, it gets one star for being a great continuation from the Destiny of Sands series.
The plot seemed to pick up right where that left off, and there were many interesting things that a good Osirionologist would be interested in.

But what I love about this one is, it allows for some diplomacy on encounters, but it doesn't force the diplomatic discussion on you. So when I ran this, we had two different tables. One table had a bunch of heavy handed fighters that tried trampling over everything and had an enjoyably challenging combat experience without even realizing you could talk to any of the creatures, or that there was stuff to explore.
The other table took their time to investigate everything had discussions with some of the creatures, and enjoyed more of the story. So you had a completely different experience based on the disposition of the players.

So as a GM, I would gladly run this again, because I know I can make it totally different each time, based on what the players are showing more interest in. If they want more fights, there's plenty of challenging fights. If they want to explore, there is plenty of artifacts, role play, and story to give them. It's not forcing them to play it one way or the other, I can base it on what their reactions to the encounters are. It's this ability to cater the story to the group that I'm giving this one 5 stars for.


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Planar Companion

2/5

This book gives great descriptions of the outer planes and how they are linked together. It's very vivid and detailed. The problem is the descriptions of what your seeing can tend to drag on and leave the characters and plot behind. Especially in the early chapters.
The later chapters do get back to the characters, and has an interesting plot twist.

If this was a Pathfinder chronicle for the planes, like City of Strangers, my favorite Pathfinder chronicle that is also written by James L. Sutton, it would be an awesome companion to reference for what exists on each plane, and interesting characters you meet there.
For a novel, the character plot seemed to be secondary.

Though I did love his religious differentiation of native Rahadoum, and people that move there. Explaining, it's not that they are angry or vengeful against the gods, like people who move there. They just don't want to give the gods any power or authority over their lives. After playing multiple clerics, that gave me a new perspecitive of Rahadoum. Of course, the author worded this much better than I just did, so read the book for this and a couple other good thought provoking ideas.


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From creepy shadows to western plains

4/5

First, I found this a quick read, and I'm normally a slow reader so that's good. I was never bored with it, the chapters flowed through the story well.

The first part of the book gives a look in to the dark shadowy area of Nidal, which I haven't heard much about yet, so nice to have a some more details on the customs of the shadow people.
They main character, Isiem, gets taken off to shadow wizard school with some friends, so it's like a dark, evil version of Hogwart's which makes it an interesting contrast to the popular version of wizard schools. It definitely gave me an overall creepy feeling of fear and doom, and the sense of knowing that if you didn't do well in school, very bad nightmarish things happened to you. Suffice to say, I did not rest easy after reading these chapters at night.

I really liked how the girl Hellis developed. I'd love to have more continuing stories on her. I just liked her morbid attitude.

Sadly, the book then skips from graduation to several years later, so we don't learn anything more about Nidal. I would have loved continuing to learn more dark secrets of the shadow world of Nidal.
Instead, it goes on to the valley of the Strix, which is another rarely used race that is brought to life by the author, Liane Merciel. So it suddenly turns into a western style cowboys and indians setting, but the story brings you so strongly into the plight of the Strix, you quickly forget the previous Nidal setting, as you're wondering what's going to happen next.

It's a very thought provoking, what would you do in this situation, very similiar to what the native american indians had to face. So what makes this book strong for me, is how it tries to find alternatives to
a problem that doesn't seem to have many solutions.

Though you're only seeing things through the main character's opinion, it would have benefited a bit from being presented the different perspectives of the Strix people.


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Sightseeing with a City Druid

4/5

I really loved the writing on this one. The scenes of the city that the cobblestone druid Luma envisions to cast her spells are really vivid, and give a great vibe and feeling to Magnimar. Makes me want to create a cobblestone druid character and go on a tour of the city.
This is the reason I would highly recommend this one for reading.

The plot has surprising turns, so it isn't a straight forward scenario.

The supporting characters she gathers form an interesting and unusual group. But what makes it interesting is she has to go outside her normal circle of friends, so finding and convincing each of them is part of the challenge. It's also great to have a strong leading female character.

After a strong start, some of the middle chapters started to lag a little, but it did come back in the end.

The only part I didn't like was

Priza:

The ending for Priza left me dissapointed. He gets killed off without getting to even attack in the end fight.
While I don't care for long drawn out side-kick battles either, it made it seem link he was an innocent bystander
that got killed quickly. So why would the town honor him so greatly, if he didn't appear to do anything at all?
I loved having a Shoanti character. It added to the Varisian background greatly. There were chapters Robin
really tried to bring this out, but they just didn't link together well enough to make it as great as it was trying to be.


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A repetitive beating

2/5

I played this twice with a group of just 4 players, and even the first encounter killed one of the PCs each time. Especially if you have only melee chars with no range attacks.

One of the encounters was completely repetitive, as it was the exact same creature again, just with annoying side kicks. This seemed totally pointless.

The real reason to play this one is for the boon, reddiwhipple.
The dialog for the gnome and the fairy dragon are very well done.
When I played, we were at the end of a con, and trying to rush through, so we didn't role play it as much as it could have been. So, our fault on missing the best part of this.


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Are they Dead Yet?

1/5

Let me save you the agony of reading this book by revealing the entire plot now:

We were running away from: <roll for group>
When we ran into a rival group: <roll for group> and ran away some more.
Suddenly, we were captured by: <roll for group>
They asked us who we were. We cried: “We’re the secret police!”
Before they could sense our obvious bluff, the whole group was attacked by: <roll for group>
Which allowed us to escape briefly, and: <roll for action>

Roll for Group (1d8):
1=Local Guards, 2=Local Gang North, 3=Local Gang South, 4=Eastern Army, 5=Western Army, 6=Horde of smurf kittens, 7=Guy who’s been following us, 8=Someone with a name

Roll for Action (1d4):
1=Sleep, 2=Get injured, 3=Cure wounds, 4=Drink some LSD, 5=do something that would involve a plot

Repeat sequence above until nauseous.
Then realize you’re only 1/3 of the way through the book, so continue repeating right through the delirious stage and keep going even though you have past the point where you just hope everyone dies so the book will end.

Rant: And the heroes are?
“Remind me to tell you more about why I’m wearing this mask when we stop running!” he said.
Well, they NEVER stop running. Thus they never stop to explain anything or give any interesting background or motives for the main characters.

Rant: And the bad guys are?
It’s a third of the way through the book before we find out who the guy mysteriously chasing them is. And then they just give a name. Did they reveal anything more on who he was? I stopped caring. Maybe there’s more to find out, but then they have to start running…. again….

Rant: We’re the Secret Police!
A dark version of Jim Carrey in The Mask and Shirley Temple run up to you and say “We’re the Secret Police!” Would anyone believe them? The Lone Ranger wore a mask and no one believed him.

Rant: Check for traps?
The heroes don’t have any skills, ability, or talent of their own that would make them useful. They just run. I assume they were rogues, but do they bother to check the dungeon for traps? Nope. Just keep running right through, setting them all off and getting injured as they go. Just like the rest of the plot. Apparently the only skills they have are evasion and endurance.

Rant:

Smurf Kittens?:

They are being chased by a horde of magical blue kittens. At first, they are nipping at their heels and arms, and are barely able to escape the horde surrounding them. But somehow they are able to ‘pull ahead a little’ allowing a short lead. A short lead? They were chased by the horde for 3 days! I’d given up on them sleeping any several chapters earlier, but wouldn’t they at least need to stop and pee? Even with the LSD trips, this was too implausible, or even the writer forgot to care about who’s chasing them now.

How the book should have ended:

After being sworn in as actual members of the Secret Police as our reward, we headed back to town. The guard asked us who we were.
“We’re the Secret Police!” we cried again.
THWUNK. THWUNK.
“Bull Sxxx” he replied, after shooting us dead on the spot with crossbow bolts like a competent guard would. “You've used that one before. Over… and over… and over…”

What the boon should be:

Plot Endurance: When you are sent on a repetitive mission, you endure it by burning this book as you go. Skip the mission and/or encounter and gain all treasure and XP.