Undrella

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better than some critiques, but weak

3/5

Overall, I am not a overt fan of "pre-brewed" stand-alone-adventures, but picked this one up because of its "near Vudran" setting.
Used it as a side-trek after a teleportation accident in the running campaign, with a five player group.

Pros :
- Setting : spicy and nicely different from your usual run-of-the-mill pseudo-european fantasy setting. A taste of something "different". Actually the strongest point of the adventure.

- Challenging : the adventure has some pretty decent and surprising fights, utilising legends and traditions of the proto-indian background. Unfortunately these are not really those serving as keypoints of the plot, but "random" interactions. The key fights suffer from a massive common flaw
Motivation and reasons for many NPC decision is foggy and at times rather silly. This problem will me missed out on by the players, though

- "Sandbox" style murder/crime-investigation, which could have used some more fleshing out, but is fun to see at all. Interestingly capable villain and agents for this part.

Average :
Overall, the product seems underdeveloped and sparse, mostly due to the constraint of 32 pages, much of which then gets eaten up by statblocks. Very linear design after the initial investigation.

Cons:
-

Spoiler:
The NPCs, especially the BBEGs are throughout overly reliant on single-use items and/or buffing up prior to their fights. Once a group grows wise to this design foible of the author, judicious "Dispel Magic" absolutely rules the day, especially in all final encounters. Terrible design by Mr. Goodall : One NPCs has - I kid you not 16 buffs on him, which cost us/me about 15 minutes of game time to recalculate his stats without those after he had been struck by twin Dispel Magics. I don't see how a crude strategy monoculture like this slipped by quality control.
Nevermind the weak "boosted mooks" with a single use of a potion on him, drunk at the first sign, which is just cheapskating design.
An absolutely underwhelming execution by the author.

- The internal artwork is... the less said about it, the better ? My group mostly hated it, and thought it less-than helpful, if not distracting and counter-productive for immersion in the dark-cult athmosphere. "Teenage-y circus freaks style" was among the more positive verdicts uttered. The cover (shown after adventure ) was felt to be more appealing and conductive.

- Plot does not make all that much sense, or rather seems forced and "pulpish". This make player involvement hard, and may require redesign or rewrite to be more engrossing. But why then buy an "pre-brewed" adventure at all ?

- Power level of the encounters varies from "extremely hard" (without Dispel Magic) to "utterly underwhelming" (with Dispel Magic).

Spoiler:
Taking down three passively waiting martial arts masters in their secret academy is hardly original IMHO. To quote a player "...and Bruce Lee is the next master, right ?"

Overall :
Basically decent adventure off the beaten track, but shoddy design/execution. Not the strongest contender in Paizo's offering, and a massive step down from "Kingslayers" and "Felnight Queen"

To be frank, this probably looked far stronger in concept than the actual product turned out