|Liz Courts Community Manager|
|Mine all mine...don't touch|
Part II of my review:
Editing and formatting are very good - for a book of this size in particular, the editors did a great job. A special shout-out to the layout artists Justin Andrew Mason and Jensen Toperzer - the 2-column layout is STUNNING - with apple blossoms and apples as borders for read-aloud texts and gorgeous initials, this very much aesthetically feels like a beautiful, old fairy tale tome. Similarly, the artists Mates Laurentiu, Jacob Blackmon, Justin Andrew Mason, Jen Page, Bruno Baxila, Eric Quigley, Jack Holiday and Jeff Ward have achieved something remarkable - in spite of the different artists, this book's huge array of artworks, many of which span whole pages, are not only original - they have a distinct, unified visual identity and style, basically think about classic roleplaying artwork in full color quoting fairy tale imagery. THEN add the absolutely superb maps by Tommi Salama, player-friendly versions included. Oh yeah, the electronic version is fully bookmarked - but if you have the option, get the hardcover. It's gorgeous.
SERIOUSLY, if you usually skip my conclusion's first paragraph, please read it this time around - these folks deserve recognition for the fantastic work delivered. This is one of the most beautiful, huge adventures I've ever read and seriously is so concise in its aesthetic direction it is a pure joy to just flip through the pages.
Stephen Yeardley, Jonathan G. Nelson and Will Myers, with contributors Jacob Blackmon, Justin Andrew Mason and Joshua Gullion (R.I.P.) have taken an already legendary two-part-saga and crafted something thoroughly outstanding from it. Where the original modules had some bottlenecks and minor filler places/weaknesses, this new iteration of the material is absolutely legendary in every way: What was before a bland filler mini-dungeon is now a thoroughly unique dungeon; what was before a bit opaque or linear is now thoroughly modular: If your PCs out-or underperform in the module, the narrative is there to catch you - basically, this module is now as nonlinear as it can be and can be considered a thoroughly unique take on a tale as old as time. The adversaries are smart and the book goes one step beyond - the city of Morsain and the haunted forest would be great stand-alone source-books - even as "only" a scavenging ground of backdrop for your own stories, this is a massive success and worth every cent of the asking price a hundredfold -personally, I'm particularly impressed by the immense feat of making a linear tale we all know thoroughly modular and FRESH.
So no, there can be no question, not even an ounce of a doubt regarding the final verdict of 5 stars + seal of approval + BUY THIS!!!-recommendation. As a reviewer, I face only one conundrum - the original modules already made my Top Ten-list of a year (which should tell you something about how good this is now!) and I have a policy of not nominating books twice for my Top Ten lists - otherwise, e.g. Strange Magic's constituents or Ultimate Charisma would grace my lists in the respective follow-up years. As crunch-books, I could at least designate them as EZG-essentials, though.
However, there is a huge amount of new material in this book...so what to do? Well, Frog God Games' Cyclopean Deeps was a two-part-saga and Part II has been retroactively added to my Top Ten of 2014. Here, however, that wouldn't feel right, for this would score higher than the initial books. I thought long and hard...and know what? This deserves a Top Ten of 2015 spot...so I'm cheating my own system, hopefully retaining my fairness regarding the other nominees: This gets an unranked bonus-spot on my Top Ten of 2015 -this would be on the list, high on it, were it not for the previous wins. Consider this as basically a thoroughly impressive, wonderful book that could work just as well with younger audiences. I know who I'm running this for soon... Ähem...oh yeah, once again: Get this!
Reviewed first on endzeitgeist.com, then submitted to Nerdtrek and GMS magazine and posted here, on OBS and AAW Games's shop.