When I was made aware that the first printing provided to Paizo was sold out, I paid attention for the next round and when I saw that a print+PDF bundle was just under $9, the pricing for this was a clincher!
Of course it helps that the subtitle to this release is a wink and nod to a recently completed Paizo adventure path, but it does provide additional beasties to mix things up if you're the type of GM that wants to go off the beaten path and catch your PCs off guard - toss a little more sand into their faces in an AP that was advertised to be a sandbox in the first place!
Twenty new monsters (twenty four, if you're counting four more that are essentially templates) to choose from. Creatures that caught my attention were the Autumn Death (don't ever jump into that pile of raked leaves again!) & the Garmunchi, which gives you a monsterous tribal race that will confuse your PCs into thinking it may first be a troll or an ogre by appearances alone.
In addition to the new creatures, it's the appendix that really sells the product with the humanoid encounters (to assist in your sandboxing) and a new gambling game to introduce to your PCs!
A no frills, but excellent written release I must say. I've always enjoyed using Action Points in a game (originally introduced to them via WotC's Eberron Campaign). This product offers an alternate solution by using action points to reward players for roleplaying instead of XP.
It recommends certain social contracts between the GM and the PC on a per session and also at the campaign level and if met, APs are awarded. It offers a twist on the the way it is expended and regained that is a variant of what some of you may be accustomed to from other settings that use them.
When I say there's no frills, it isn't meant to be disparaging. Simple b/w artwork, single wide-column, but aesthetically readable font-type. Mark has a writing and presentation style that is polished and concise. After a good introduction, you get the feeling that you're really learning something (I picked up a few new words in latin based on their etymology) as well as examples and a couple of footnotes. If you make a Perception check, you can notice that there's a (sl/dr)y sense of humor subtly peeking through the contents.
You can tell that the author has an editorial and teaching background easily upon the first read of this release. Once you've finished it (11 pages, but 8 being the main context), the concept he proposes is easy enough to comprehend and worth giving it a shot.
This is primarily a release directed toward GMs, but if you're one of those individuals that have been frustrated by how a campaign (whether from the position of the GM or the PC) has been going based on XP awards being slanted toward certain types of players, then this is the release for you to acquire and perhaps even build on from it.
It's definitely worth your six quarters. It's a five star from me.
Even before I clicked to open the PDF, I had a good hunch (and rightfully so) that this release was going to be a tribute to Leland Gaunt, the proprietor of Needful Things from Stephen King’s 1992 novel of the same name. A seemingly kind older gentleman who claimed to have arrived in Castle Rock from Akron, Ohio (Acheron?) to set up shop; he has a knack to have in stock a number of uncanny items that people would covet to have in their possession. For a low price, it could be yours … if you are able to do something “generous” in return.
Kavit M. Tor fills this niche in Rite Publishing’s Evocative City Sites line for the mythical city of Questhaven. If you need something ‘neutral setting’ to plug in a jiffy in your campaign, you should consider checking out Mr. Tor’s Emporium of Collectible Curiosities. Brought to you by Paizo regulars Wicht (Jonathan McAnulty) and Tarren Dei (Trevor Gulliver), they were able to successfully bring this atmosphere to the forefront.
Included within this twenty-three page PDF are adventure seeds, ten collectible curiosities, and ten curses to aid you in the creation of your own item if the examples provided don’t fit the niche for your active setting or one-shot adventure plot. In addition, you will find further information about the mysterious proprietor, his servant and his ‘pet’ monkey and how they can be utilized in this setting.
What stops this short from being a five star product? I have but only two quibbles: 1) if you are going to pay homage to the character that inspired your setting, you should at least spell his name correctly (i.e. Gaunt; not Grant). 2) I was not familiar with the prestige class that was introduced. Since it comes from a third party publisher book that is out of print, it would be wise to provide additional information about that PrC if the GM may desire to understand the NPC’s abilities or expand upon it as those mechanics were designated OGC . With Rite Publishing having updated other content in their Questhaven product line from OOP sources (actually making a reputation of it, which a good thing for those who can no longer acquire these classics), its availability would have given the prestige class its due justice by updating it to Pathfinder rules. That said; these are simply editorial content that can easily be fixed by the Bean Counter and Lowly Janitor. ;-)
Blind Master PrC can be found in Mongoose's Quintessential Monk
Overall, I endorse this product and out of all the existing Evocative City Sites, I find this one to have the greatest potential of continuous usage in anyone’s campaign setting. Thanks for Jonathan and Trevor in bringing this to realization and Steve for having faith in their capabilities to provide us such awesome goodness!
While I possess all the Evocative City Sites line, I did not purchase this one as it was made available to me as a review copy. As always, caveat emptor.