Kill or Be Killed #1 is the first product in a new series of 4e GSL encounter products from Neuroglyph Games. This product is Neuroglyph Games' first pay product, their first product being the freely available 4e GSL adventure A Curse at the Old Inn. Each product in the series features an encounter module for the 4e GSL, with the aim to provide epic battles or encounters where the outcome is defined by the series title - Kill or Be Killed. This first product in the series pits the PCs against a powerful demon-like creature with powerful abilities that will shock and surprise them. This product is suitable to the Paragon Tier, and specifically for 12th level characters, and can be used in any campaign setting.
The product comes as a single well-presented pdf file, featuring both front and back covers, a credits page, and 13 out of 16 pages of content. While not critical for a product of this length, it's worth mentioning that bookmarks are not present. The general presentation is good, with some fresh art from artist Robert Kusiak, good and clever layout and design, and good writing from author Michael Evans. I like the way the product is presented, allowing you to easily know from the outset where the encounter is going, and having enough information at your fingertips should you be unsure about how to run the encounter. An encounter map is provided, along with some black and white monster counters should you need them, and the details and legend are clear enough to make sense of the encounter terrain. One objection I have is that the map is a little too dark, making it difficult to discern everything clearly. Perhaps a lighter shade for the background and border would've been better. Overall, solid presentation for a first product.
Kill or Be Killed #1 presents a paragon tier encounter for 12th level characters, pitting them against a solo creature of considerable might and ability. The aim of this product is to present an dynamic encounter suitable for the end of an adventure or campaign, and hence also being suitably dangerous and deadly. This encounter sees them facing a powerful elemental creature, born from the might of demons and the power of the elemental chaos. The product provides plenty of useful and intriguing advice on using this encounter, integrating it into one's campaign, and suitable plot hooks to catch the interest of the player characters.
This encounter is built around two new monsters, Kor-oggo-rok the Sporelord and the fungal fiends. The encounter setup is very well done, providing adequate lore and information on the two new creatures, and plenty of advice on battle tactics, running the encounter and the various phases of the encounter. I was hoping to see certain events in the encounter integrated more fully into the creature statistics, where the Sporelord uses an ability to spawn fungal fiends that is not described in its statistics block. Not generally a big deal, but for those wanting to use this creature beyond this product, more details would've been useful.
The encounter is cleverly crafted, and will certainly entertain the player characters and keep them on their feet. Tactics of the creature are continuously changing, creating a dynamic and fast-paced encounter that will both terrify and entertain the players. While the encounter is cleverly crafted, the Sporelord does have a burrowing ability that is quite powerful and one has to wonder why the creature doesn't just use this all the time to eliminate any threats. In essence, it has a near game-breaking ability that it doesn't use fully, simply for the sake of the encounter. I wish something a little more plausible had been used here, even though this particular phase of the battle is quite riveting. At least a proper description of this ability as mentioned earlier would've been more useful.
The product doesn't only provide an exciting encounter, but for more of a challenge several new terrain hazards are included to add spice and danger to the encounter. In addition several new relic magical items are presented as treasure for the encounter or just for general use. These additions, along with the main content of the product, make for a very complete encounter, with good options and versatility for expanding beyond the raw meat of the scenario.
Overall I was quite pleased with this encounter and this product. It's provides something dynamic and exciting, coupled with something novel and unique to provide a good play experience. Too often products that provide encounters don't actually bring anything new or unique to the table and I'm pleased to say that this does. The only negative is the slight mismatch between the playing of the encounter and the actual statistics of the creatures, and things are a little unclear/unbelievable in places. This shouldn't detract from an otherwise good and definitely challenging encounter, and I'm sure GMs can easily avoid these issues with some clever thought. Good encounter and good presentation. Looking forward to seeing more from Neuroglyph Games.