|Liz Courts Community Manager|
Part II of my review:
The final level of Jacob’s Tower…begins oddly. Nine is nowhere to be found. The backdoor is open, and the PCs can exit the place, seeing it swirl in the void. The PCs will cross the void, fall…and immediately face Jacob, supported by a paladin and an antipaladin henchmen. The mighty mage is guarded by energy walls through which he can cast, and defeating him sends the PCs to phase two of the combat, as the arena transforms and Jacob goes into Angel mode, in the great tradition of Sephiroth et al. He is supported by adventurer ghosts…and once form number two is bested, he morphs once more into dragon form!
If the PCs vanquish Jacob, Nine will show up, in truth the goddess of death. Turns out the gods wanted to have Jacob slain, but he tricked them. He'd be trapped in this dimension, but only mortals would be able to kill him. Which the PCs now did. After a sufficiently epic reward, the adventure concludes. Roll credits.
Editing and formatting are inconsistent: on the one hand, I am frankly in awe how professional this is for Jeff Gomez’ first stand-alone offering. It’s a huge task to assemble a book of this size, and more so sans editor/developer. As a whole, formatting is pretty tight, though time and again, at times confusing rules-formatting deviations and nonstandard verbiage instances can be found. Similarly, e.g. items in statblocks aren’t italicized, superscript Bs not superscript – there are quite a few such hiccups in the book. Less than what you’d expect from a one-man offering, but still, more than I’d happy with. Layout adheres to a no-frills two-column b/w-standard, with a few okay stock art pieces thrown in. The cartography is the worst part of the module – barely functional, not pleasing and basically just blocks and rectangular walls. The lack of bookmarks is a jarring comfort-detriment that also really hampers this book.
Jeff Gomez “Jacob’s Tower” was not written for me. I like classic mega-adventures and the safe zone is anathema to that experience; and I like dungeons that simulate a sense of plausibility. At the same time, though, I’m a big fan of a lot of videogames, and I found myself curiously less appalled by the module than I thought I’d be. While there are quite a few levels that I’d consider to be bland indeed, there also are several ones that really captured my imagination, that I thoroughly enjoyed. Sure, the metaplot is as flimsy an afterthought as that of e.g. “Devil May Cry”, and you better not start questioning the logistics or consistency of this place. This is literally the “A WIZARD DID IT”-dungeon. Yes, in all caps. When the module tries to provide a “regular” playing experience, it thus becomes annoying and jarring. When it embraces its ridiculous concept, it becomes amazing.
Now, if formal criteria tend to bug you, if rules-language deviations, player-maps, bookmarks and the like are what you want, then this will not deliver. That being said, for the asking price, you get A LOT of gaming out of this one. 10 bucks? That’s, length-wise, 15 pages per Dollar, basically a whole adventure. Now, these levels diverge greatly in quality, in imagination and in coolness, sure…but when they work, they work surprisingly well! To the point where I honestly consider them worth scavenging and refining! The highlights herein burn brightly indeed!
But just as much do the bad ones suck. Similarly, the formatting and editing guffaws show that a picky editor, or better even, developer, could have really enhanced this module to the point where it could have become something outstanding. The end feels anticlimactic to me, and the frame-narrative of the Inn could have yielded so much more interaction and relevance for the respective levels.
As a reviewer, I am ultimately in a difficult position regarding this book: On a formal level, just taking formal features and rules-language into account, I consider this to be in the 2.5 star-vicinity, while content-wise, it oscillates between 1.5 and 5 stars. Ultimately, I consider this to be a mixed bag, though one worth checking out if you’re willing to work a bit, polishing off the rough spots. If you do, you can scavenge some rather exciting ideas from the pages of this mega-adventure…and if that’s your goal, then add half a star or a star. If you want a go-play experience with any degree of comfort, though, then look elsewhere. Ultimately, I feel I can’t go higher than 3 stars for this one, at least not in its current state. With a detailed editing pass, player-maps and bookmarks, this most certainly would have had more universal appeal.
Reviewed first on endzeitgeist.com, then submitted to Nerdtrek and GMS magazine and posted here, on OBS, etc.