Ring Side Report-RPG Review of Ghoul Island Act 1: Voyage to Farzeen

Product– Ghoul Island Act 1: Voyage to Farzeen

System-DnD 5e

Producer– Petersen Games

Price– $15.00  here  https://www.drivethrurpg.com/product/308667/Ghoul-Island-Act-1-Voyage-to-Farzeen?affiliate_id=658618

TL; DR-Solid book that tells you what it is.  95%

Basics– What horrors lurk under Farzeen?  This is the first part of an epic heroic fantasy campaign from Sandy Petersen.  This adventure starts off with mutiny aboard a ship, involves the crew being battered by horrible dreams, losing the crew, finding the city of Farzeen, and eventually finding the crew after they flee to a temple below the island.  Along the way the players meet monstrous deep ones, less monstrous ghouls, and an ancient evil long forgotten below this island.

Mechanics or Crunch-This is a solid adventure.  The math checks out as  it’s just applying the basic 5e rules for the crunch.  It uses Sandy Petersen’s dread rules, so you will need the Cthulhu Mythos book for that.  Overall, a solidly put together adventure full of fun fights and exploration for low level characters.  5/5

Theme or Fluff-This part is where expectations have to be set early.  I honestly think the best way to play Call of Cthulhu is a one shot.  People in a normal world, thrown into a crazy situation, damaged beyond repair, then left to deal with the horror for the rest of their lives.  That’s good cosmic horror.  This isn’t that, and the book is VERY up front with that.  This is heroic fantasy with horror thrown in.  This adventure isn’t written to be 20 levels of just sheer cosmic horror.  You get to be awesome stomping a deep one.  Also, some of the main characters are ghouls.  Some players are going to miss this, but Lovecraft ghouls are not DnD ghouls.  They are more dog men really.  It’s things like that that will require your players and you to adjust expectations.  Nothing is bad, but you have to read this and see exactly what the author intends.  4.5/5

Execution–  PDF?  YEP!  Hyperlinked?  no…That’s honestly my only gripe here.  The layout is good.  Text size is good.  Art is well done.   There is even a separate book that is the Farzeen Gazetteer that gives you background on the town and island.  That’s an amazing value for 15 bucks considering this is a full length adventure and a whole small book on the island itself!  Just hyperlink and this would be one of the best products this year.   4.75/5

Summary-Sandy Petersen’s team put out another top notch product here.  It has solid crunch for the adventure.  The story is good, but you HAVE to read what it is and what it is not.  I also love the pieces of this thing.  My gripes are small-I always want PDFs with hyperlinks now, and I went in expecting only cosmic horror all day long.  If you can get past those small issues, then you have an incredible start to what is shaping up to be an amazing campaign with the resources you need to make a fun, in depth game for your players.  95%

Ring Side Report- RPG Review of Tales of the Demon Lord

Product-Tales of the Demon Lord

System– Shadow of the Demon Lord

Producer– Schwalb Entertainment

Price– $ 10  here http://www.drivethrurpg.com/product/163527/Tales-of-the-Demon-Lord?term=tales+of+the+demon&affiliate_id=658618

TL; DR-Lean, mean adventure! 90%

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Basics-Starting with a small series of death in the far flung town of Crossings, this adventures takes players from starting, zero-level character to master character who have to ultimately face down and prevent the arrival of the Demon Lord.  This adventure is a whole campaign in itself introducing a section of the world called Crossings to the players and the GM.  Will you be able to face the horrors of things touched by the Demon Lord’s shadow?

 

Mechanics or Crunch-Shadow of the Demon Lord is it’s own system through and through, and this self contained campaign has the math for the system clearly down.  What’s here works well.  However, the campaign doesn’t give too much away to the novice GM.  I like what’s here in terms of encounters, rewards, combats, and exploration, but I’d like a bit more behind the game’s curtain.  This is the first full campaign, so this adventure will serve as the game’s best guide.  However, I’d like a bit more to help me get all the expertise I and other GM’s need to better run this system.4.5/5

 

Theme or Fluff-  Schwalb writes an awesome story from the ground up.  The book starts by building its own town called Crossing and then builds out.  In terms of story, it’s a swift story that’s a great way to get players into the world.  Also, this book has a ton of variety from simple go here/kill people, small hex crawls, and even hardcore roleplaying.  Every player will get a bit of fun out of this adventure, and every GM will have a blast running this one.  5/5

 

Execution– Of all the good stuff in the book, the execution is the most lacking.  The execution is by no means bad, but I may be a bit to spoon fed by other publishers when it comes to published material.  There is almost no box text.  Have gamed with the master himself, I know he writes awesome descriptions, but this book will ask you to write most of your own.  Furthermore, Shadow of the Demon Lord adventures are short.  From the get go, SotDL adventures are designed for about a four hour experience after which players level.  That is not bad by any stretch, but the transition and the brevity of the writing is strong change for some GMs.  There are breaks in the text.  But, I’d like a bit more art, and I’d like the art that’s here to be a bit larger.  It’s hard to get those maps to the table and make them a size that looks nice.  The adventures do read quickly and easily, and the simple descriptions are enough to get you gaming quick.  But, keep in mind that the simplicity of the write ups are there to make the games run fast and with no down time and limited prep time. 4/5

 

Summary– Tales of the Demon Lord is a phenomenal adventure for SotDL.  It’s a full campaign unto itself that covers several different adventure types and play styles.  It’s well written, and simply executed.  However, this is not a hand-holding product.  Tales of the Demon Lord aims to be a campaign, not your paint by numbers GMing guide.  It’s several adventures that tell a story, but it doesn’t teach you how to write or design adventures if you’re only passively playing or running this adventure.  It’s fun, but don’t expect verbose, cookie-cutter explanations for you to read your players.  Expect a lean, mean adventure that you can run quickly and efficiently with minimal prep, memorization, or GM brain loading time.  If you get past a bit of shock of how spartan SotDL adventures are presented, then you will really enjoy what’s here. 90%

Ring Side Report- RPG Review of Barrow of the Cursespawn

Product-Darkwood Arc Excursions: Barrow of the Cursespawn

Producer– Saga RPG

System-Pathfinder

Price– ~$6 here http://rpg.drivethrustuff.com/product/132931/01AE01-Barrow-of-the-Cursespawn-PFRPG-PDF

TL; DR-Zelda puzzles in Pathfinder!? 93%

 

Basics– Welcome back to the world of Darkwood.  Miners are missing, and OTHER adventures are on the way!  But, after a chance meeting in a bar, you and your friends are dragged into the events at the mine.  Can you save the day and find out what’s happening in the wilderness?  This is a Pathfinder adventure that is designed to fit well into the Darkwood Adventure path for characters level 7.

 

Story or Fluff-This is an interesting one.  To really get all you can out of this mission, a GM worth his/her salt must deeply read the background.  This company excels at building story in their adventures, and it shows in this one.  At its heart, this adventure is a simple dungeon crawl with adventure set in Saga’s world of Darkwood, but these people write an awesome intro to get your involved and build story into the dungeon to make it interesting.  However, like some fantasy or Sci-Fi adventures and stories, this adventure has the Dune problem for names-way too many terms are introduced to describe thing that have a general name like a burial mound or a shaman.  It’s not bad, but as a reader, it can sometimes be confusing.  4.5/5

 

Mechanics or Crunch-When you look at this one, it’s a pretty short adventure.  If your table doesn’t mess around, you can easily get through this adventure in about three to four hours.  The monsters are pretty par for the Pathfinder course at seventh level, but what will make this stand out are puzzles!  I love adventures that have more than just fights.  The puzzles are pretty nice.  Now as a person who’s played every Legend of Zelda game, these puzzles are not world endingly difficult, but anytime you have a TIMED puzzle in a tabletop RPG, it’s going to be a good evening!  The traps and monsters are all normal stuff, but its standard stuff you’d expect to fight at this level.  There is new stuff here, but I don’t think any seventh level party will be overly challenged by this adventure.  However, those issues maybe more of a Pathfinder system problem than anything that is written by Saga.  It’s a good stand along adventure, but you’ll need all the standard Pathfinder/Paizo books to run the adventure, but to get the most from this adventure you will also need Saga original AP book (reviewed here https://throatpunchgames.com/2014/06/06/ring-side-report-rpg-review-of-the-deft-and-the-deadly/ ) 4.75/5

 

Execution-This is a pretty short product, but the price is right.  Like I said before, these writers are great at story, but there are a few pages of nothing but text with lots of new terms.  I’d like a bit more art, but what is there is art, its put to good use.  Also, the puzzles and some of the traps get great layouts and art to really help the players and GM understand what’s going on and how to run the adventure properly. 4.75/5

 

Summary-This isn’t a perfect adventure, but it’s a damn fine one.  It’s got a good plot that factors into Saga’s other metaplot for their adventure path.  It’s a nice evening adventure sized adventure with fighting, traps, and puzzles.  If you like Saga’s current AP, then you’re getting this one regardless of what I have to say.  But, if you want some good third party Pathfinder adventure, for six bucks, you can’t go wrong here. 93%

 

Disclosure: I was provided a review copy of this adventure.