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Adventures in Awesfur - The Dark Totem pt.1: The Chantry Keep (PFRPG)
by DeAndrea M. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 07/08/2014 13:23:06

The world of Awesfur comes alive with all the rich descriptions! For the low price, you get a good classic adventure, a nicely detailed map and the want for more.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Adventures in Awesfur - The Dark Totem pt.1: The Chantry Keep (PFRPG)
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Adventures in Awesfur - The Dark Totem pt.1: The Chantry Keep (PFRPG)
by Brian F. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 04/20/2014 19:53:44

If it’s one thing that can get me going as a gamer, it’s a good story. Couple that with a good setting and the opportunity to change the course of events (or even the perception of being able to change the course of events) and you have my attention as a GM and as a player. Add in some good writing, creativity, and a decent design aesthetic and I’ll probably talk your ear off.

When I started taking a look at The Dark Totem, Part 1: The Chantry Keep from Rocks Fall Games for their Adventures in Awesfur line, I wasn’t sure what to think. The cover sets an interesting tone with an almost “comic book” feel and the next few pages introduce you to the world of Awesfur to set the stage for the adventure itself. And that might be my first issue with the book itself. Out of a 37 page PDF, it wasn’t until page 9 where we get into the details of the adventure. There are 5 pages of setup where I was scratching my head a bit.

We’re introduced to more of Awesfur than we really need to know about in the first five pages. Perhaps it could be boiled down a bit more or a separate gazetteer could be created to detail the world in a “You Are Here” kind of way with a world map or graphically through an illustration rather than detailing it in 6 pages that are basically walls of text. There are a few stat-block-style chunks here and there, but it’s largely just a ton of text in two-column format.

That said, as soon as I got into the adventure itself I was hooked. In a few paragraphs on page 6, I knew The Blind Basilisk in the city of Varatolo is my kind of place. It has flavor, well-designed NPCs, and even a menu with prices for common services and items. And the PCs are immediately presented with an intriguing opportunity. When trouble comes a-knockin’, do they step up to the challenge or let someone else do it? If they do the latter, there are some consequences that may make further adventuring a challenge I think.

It’s that kind of diverging path that makes this sort of plot fun and let me wondering where things will be going in future supplements. That sort of anticipation built that early is a very good thing in my book.

Though parts of the adventure hold to a traditional old school feel with a variety of combat and trap encounters, there were also interactions with NPCs and the opportunity to explore to set the tone early. If you might end up playing in this adventure, I’d encourage you to skip the next few paragraphs…

SPOILERS AHEAD

One of the things that I really liked was that though the traditional “good vs. evil” approach was hinted at, the influence of chaos and the corruption of evil has a lot of sway. The idea of having big old baddies behind the world trying to influence their way back to rampaging through the mortal realm really made me smile. A group of knights trying to do the right thing stored items in the hopes that they could be safely contained or destroyed and we all know how that works out. True evil is patient. And Soulshackle, a demon or devil trapped long ago, was definitely patient.

And as we saw in Star Wars, “The Force can have a strong influence on the weak-minded” as Obi-wan says. Soulshackle exerts influence telepathically over others to do his dirty work from beyond the veil in his prison he so desperately wants to escape from. That’s the key to everything. If you hear the voices, there’s a chance you too might be convinced to fall under his evil sway… And if you don’t hear the voices, you may be caught unawares by those who do.

I did wonder if the PCs should be making saves vs. some sort of mental domination as soon as they could potentially hear the demon’s telepathic messages… Maybe just those of chaotic or evil tendencies. But that’s just a thought.

Ultimately the area descriptions won me over time and time again. Little things like the description of the Abbot’s office hinting at his simple tastes and pure intentions towards helping the poor really made those areas come to life. And the description of the haunted forge was amazing. The use of such a simple mechanic for a location should inspire many other GMs to come up some cool one-off encounters that can keep the PCs (and players) guessing for a time.

END SPOIILERS

The 37 page PDF is arranged in a simple two-column layout with clear headings and read-aloud text. I’m not a big fan of the color red for the read-aloud text because my eyes kept trying to skip it as I was reading through, but it works visually to set it apart from the rest of the description. I also found the font a bit difficult to read with all the serifs, but again that’s largely a matter of personal preference.

The writing was excellent and the cover was great, but the rest of the book lacked any art beyond the crude maps done for the adventure. Though I wished there was a bit more art, I found the combat encounters to be well constructed, with stats, strategy, and potential reactions to whatever the PCs choose to do. Having that extra level of difficulty as far as NPC or monster behavior really helps a GM get what the designers were after.

Unfortunately I found the full color map on page 10 to be difficult to read. Everything kind of blends together with all that stone tile. And without a legend, I was a bit confused as to the size of each square and what some of the items were beyond the occasional table or bed. But a bit more work on the map would have helped clarify those issues.

Even if those few nitpicks, I think this is a great adventure for Pathfinder that should keep a group of 3rd-level characters busy for a while. Perhaps the PCs will be able to do what needs to be done and keep the town happy at the same time! I look forward to reading more from Rocks Fall Games in the near future.

This review first appeared at Game Knight Reviews: http://www.gameknightreviews.com/2013/09/supplement-review-adventures-in-awesfur-the-dark-totem-part-1-the-chantry-keep-pfrpg-by-charles-t-marleau-and-kristofer-konkel-of-rocks-fall-games-l-l-c/



Rating:
[3 of 5 Stars!]
Adventures in Awesfur - The Dark Totem pt.2: The Dead Dragon's Den (PFRPG)
by nick e. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 02/25/2014 11:27:08

I am reviewing part one and two together, so this review will be pasted to both. Yes, I consider both to be 5 star products.

What makes a good adventure. Immersion and nuance, that's what. Anyone can cobble together

Tavern. Boy in trouble. Dungeon!

That said, the writer here filled the book with tidbits that will make you believe the setting. The tavern is realistic, the personalities quirky but not unbelievable, and the adversaries 3 dimensional. With minimal work every creature inside these modules is a fleshed out NPC.

Did I mention 3 dimensional? Everything you need, all the rules, spells, stats, everything is here. You could run both modules without any other product at hand, as long as you have a basic understanding of D20 rules.

My group is too high level to plug this path in, but I may just one shot the first book for kicks. If not, I'll keep it in my back pocket for next campaign. Hopefully, part 3 or even part 0 will be out by then.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Adventures in Awesfur - The Dark Totem pt.2: The Dead Dragon's Den (PFRPG)
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Adventures in Awesfur - The Dark Totem pt.1: The Chantry Keep (PFRPG)
by nick e. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 02/25/2014 11:26:17

I am reviewing part one and two together, so this review will be pasted to both. Yes, I consider both to be 5 star products.

What makes a good adventure. Immersion and nuance, that's what. Anyone can cobble together

Tavern. Boy in trouble. Dungeon!

That said, the writer here filled the book with tidbits that will make you believe the setting. The tavern is realistic, the personalities quirky but not unbelievable, and the adversaries 3 dimensional. With minimal work every creature inside these modules is a fleshed out NPC.

Did I mention 3 dimensional? Everything you need, all the rules, spells, stats, everything is here. You could run both modules without any other product at hand, as long as you have a basic understanding of D20 rules.

My group is too high level to plug this path in, but I may just one shot the first book for kicks. If not, I'll keep it in my back pocket for next campaign. Hopefully, part 3 or even part 0 will be out by then.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Adventures in Awesfur - The Dark Totem pt.1: The Chantry Keep (PFRPG)
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Studies of Decay: Zombies (PFRPG)
by nick e. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 02/25/2014 10:44:38

This PDF is a great resource if you want to have a bunch of zombies, without doing the math/template adding yourself. Some I would have never thought of (treant, for example) make perfect sense once you read them. There are a few mistakes in attacks (as noted in Ends review), and missed opportunities (I'm looking at you, insane chattering in the zombie goblin fluff but not in the stats) that prevent a 5 star rating for the stats therein.



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Studies of Decay: Zombies (PFRPG)
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Studies of Decay: Zombies (PFRPG)
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 12/09/2013 09:35:36

An Endzeitgeist.com review of the revised edition

This supplement of Rocks Fall Games is 28 pages long, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 1 page ToC, 1 page of SRD, leaving us with 24 pages of content, so let's take a look, shall we?

So what exactly is this? Well, as the frame narrative explains, the information herein was extracted from the notes of necromancers - both the note on why this notes are preserved as well as said necromancer's introductory text of megalomania set a nice stage for the crunchy content, for herein, we are introduced to a wide variety of zombies, from CR 1/4 to CR 11 - all of which come with their own pencil-drawn b/w-artworks and accompanying, aptly-written fluff-text that guides us like a red thread through the creation of the undead menaces.

Starting off with CR 1/4 undead plague rat zombies, it becomes apparent that more than just standard zombies roam these pages and via giant crab zombies, zombified goblins, manticores, wyverns, shambling mounds, dragon turtles, ogres, dire crocodiles, griffons and ankheg zombies up to rabies-infested dog zombies, to dire bat and treant plague zombies as well as a variety of fast zombies (trolls, ettins and girallons) are here for your perusal. EDIT: Flawed CRs, for example, have been fixed. On the weird side - the fluff mentions that the writer has killed a purple worm zombie with phantasmal killer, which seems unlikely - assuming at least Int 18, the worm at fort +17 would have had to fail quite badly AFTER botching the will-save. Nitpicky, I know, but still - its minor incongruities like this that break my immersion, which the prose managed to otherwise maintain quite well. Also: Where is the purple worm's swallow whole ability? The zombie-template specifies that attack-based qualities are retained and swallow whole fits the bill and while there seems to be some ongoing controversy regarding this one, I would have loved to see it. Still, not featuring negatively into my rating. The final entry of this supplement provides us with the Horror of Weavestorm, a kraken-zombie at CR 9 - damn cool!

Among the zombies herein, we also get the new bile zombie-template (CR +1), which, with its digestive acid and breath attack is applied to a gargoyle zombie -think acid-zombie à la Left 4 Dead's Belchers.

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are very good, improved now with statblock glitches addressed. . Layout adheres to a parchment-style 2-column full-color background and the b/w-artworks are nice to get at this low and fair price-point. The pdf comes in a massive 4 versions - two in full color and 2 more printer-friendly iterations. Both versions come in regular quality and in HQ-versions for those with good printers - nice!

Kristofer Konkel and Charles Marleau of Rocks Fall Games has created a nice supplement that wraps statblocks in a cool frame-narrative that should prove to be rather inspiring for DMs: The tactics of the nameless necromancer are rather sinister indeed and prose-wise, this pdf actually is rather fun to read, so that's definitely a plus. What I don't get is that there are so many different simple templates/modifications for zombies out there - why does this pdf only use two of them? Why no alchemical or gas-burst zombies? What about relentless ones? Adding one or two here and there would have increased the value of the pdf and provided more variety for DMs to choose from - the new template is a step in the right direction, but why hasn't it been applied to the ankheg? Or substitute cold for acid and apply the template to the ankheg-zombie for a nasty surprise if the PCs guard versus acid and get hit by another energy....

With the statblock glitches now purged, I can settle for a final verdict of 4 stars -a promising start for Rocks Fall Games' new series.

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Adventures in Awesfur - The Dark Totem pt.2: The Dead Dragon's Den (PFRPG)
by Thilo G. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 09/02/2013 03:14:39

An Endzeitgeist.com review of the revised edition

The revised edition of the Dark Totem Pt 2 is 51 pages long, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 1 page ToC,1 page SRD, leaving us with a massive 48 pages of content, so let’s take a look, shall we?

If you have avoided Rocks Fall Games so far – rest assured that this has NOTHING in common with their first offerings. Following on the heels of the excellent revision of the First Dark Totem module, we actually get new maps, content etc. in this one as well – and yes, even artwork. That out of the way, this review necessarily contains SPOILERS.

Still here? All right! The PCs have acquired this weird Dark Totem in the last adventure and now probably are doing some massive research on the enigmatic item in their home-base city of Varatolo – which comes with several entries of relevant shops and their owners, adding essentially a nice mini-gazetteer-section to the town, thus bringing it to life (or serving as a template for you to insert into towns of your own!) – but more on that life: Unlike many modules, this one actually feature several so-called “Daring Deeds”, i.e. encounters that you can place in the module to bring to life what’s going on beyond the module’s main plot: Wizards charming bouncers in the tavern and an exiled ogre holding a pet rust monster who thinks his gnomish captive can actually pass gems from his bowels (including a map of the cave) to foolhardy idiots carrying a troll’s head into their tavern (and having the troll regenerate – pissed and hungry!) to a halfling wanting to cheat at gnome toss by infiltrating the favorite tavern game of the Blind Basilisk and finally a jealous suitor of one of the tavern’s maids make for various diversions beyond killing x monsters – kudos for going the extra mile there!

But on towards the meat of the module: The PCs are called towards an alley via a missive (provided as a hand-out) – and find a description of them and the totem on the assailants, the possible fugitive finding a grisly end nailed to their haunt, mutilated and desecrated. In the aftermath of this assualt on them, they are contacted by The Prime Wizard, who tells them that the idol is the prison of an unknown entity – originally found in the now derelict Westgaard Mine, where once the legendary dragon “Verbrennung” (roughly means “incineration”) had its lair. Unbeknown to teh PCs (or anyone else, for that matter), death as not the end for said dragons and since then, a tribe of former slave kobolds have made the mine their lair, worshipping the draconic skeletal champion as a sort of deity.

Suffice to say, the PCs will have to contend with various traps and actually SMART fighting kobolds. That’s not where the module shines, though – the central strength of this crawl is the sheer amount of lovingly crafted detail featured here – each and every room has multiple things going for it. Corpses have names and (short) background stories, there are a lot of skills to use and the PC’s adversaries utilize the terrain via barriers, cook disgusting stew etc. – the whole place feels organic, authentic, with all the details truly making the complex come to life – up until the final battle, which rather comes to unlife instead.

After a decisive battle, the last words of the undead dragon are a warning to the PCs versus the dread, dark idol and woe betide them if they don’t find a way to prevent the escape of the imprisoned demon… but that’s another story – for now, teh PCs may gather the lavishly detailed dragon’s hoard and report the name of the entity trapped in the totem to the Prime Wizard – until further adventures await them.

The pdf also comes with a player-friendly version of the map and reprints of all spells used by the opposition, thus not requiring you to do page-flipping.

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are very good, I didn’t notice any significant glitches. Layout adheres to a parchment-colored background with a 2-column standard and red highlights for read-aloud text and the pdf comes in 4(!!!) versions – the regular version and its printer-friendly backgroundless cousin and high quality versions of both. All pdfs come with fully functional bookmarks, though instead of content, they tend to denote the page-number. A minor glitch, but one that slightly impedes their usefulness. The maps are serviceable and finding original pieces of b/w-art in a pdf at this price-point is not something I would have expected – kudos!

The team of Rocks Fall Games (Charles T. Marleau, Kristofer Konkel and Kurt “Morloka” Henry” did the writing here) have created a module that truly breathes, that feels alive – all its details, all its small tidbits, all its “Dressing”, to loan the term as coined by Raging Swan press is excessive without being overbearing: Not lost in the details, but still remaining detailed, this module manages to convey a sense of being “alive”, of feeling authentic, that few modules manage. It’s hard to describe what the true virtues of this module are since it does not reinvent the wheel, nor does it endeavor to do so. It has potentially dark moments, potentially light-hearted ones and mixes them in a blend that has me admittedly nostalgic for a time where all the bleakness of life haven’t yet crept into the game. Its unpretentiousness makes up a significant part of its charm and hearkens back to the modules I grew up with – and that’s a good thing.

That being said, the writing sometimes wavers a bit – from per se neat writing, the text sometimes stumbles and starts heaping short sentences on another, then returning to form. That being said, there is another factor you should consider: This pdf is ridiculously cheap for the quality and amount of content it provides – at $2.50, this is a steal indeed and well worth the asking price even if you only want to scavenge the supplemental encounters. Missing my seal of approval only due to the flawed bookmarks and slight inconsistencies in writing, this revised edition is still very much worth a final verdict of 5 stars. Congrats to the Rocks Fall-crew!

EDIT: Bookmark-glitch has been taken care of.

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Adventures in Awesfur - The Dark Totem pt.2: The Dead Dragon's Den (PFRPG)
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Adventures in Awesfur - The Dark Totem pt.1: The Chantry Keep (PFRPG)
by Thilo G. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 02/26/2013 02:59:49

The revised edition of „The Dark Totem“ clocks in at 37 pages (more than double the content we got before), with 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 1 page ToC, 1 page SRD, leaving us with 33 pages of content, so let’s check this out!

From the Get-go, if the page-count was not clue enough, we realize that this has not that much to do with its first iteration – designed for the Awesfur setting, the module should nevertheless make for an easy plug and play module into just about any campaign. To help the DM with the respective fluff, we are first introduced to the basics of the setting – essentially, the backdrop of this module, the city of Varatolo, is located in the Wyldelands, a kind of river kingdomesque collection of fiefdoms and small kingdoms, with dangers lurking everywhere. Varatolo as a town stands out due to housing a rather famous Wizard Academy and is also governed by the academy’s prime wizard – a meritocratic magocracy, if you will. (If you’re scavenging as much in the world of 3pps, why not make the town a colony of Headless Hydra Games’ Mor Aldenn?) In contrast to its first iteration, we thus are introduced in broad strokes to the city’s districts (have I mentioned the full city statblock?) and fluff and to the Blind Basilisk – the tavern that will be a home away from home for your player characters. Named for Bessie, the tame, blind pet basilisk that is the tavern’s mascot, the tavern itself now comes to life, with the triangle of the half-orc proprietor/bar-tender, the dwarven morning maid and the beautiful waitress offering three interesting short write-ups. Not content with just providing a fluffy backdrop, we also get a FULL MENU for the tavern (!!!!) as well as a new piece of local color: As a drunken game, there is Gnome Toss and it’s exactly what you’d think it is – local gnomes let themselves be thrown by others as a kind of competitive sport and yes, betting is going on! Very cool, indeed, especially since we get crunchy rules for this nice tavern game.

Speaking of gnome toss – the adventure kicks off in gnome toss-night, when a distraught farmer interrupts the hijinxs – his son, inexplicably fascinated with a ruined chantry, has gone missing and he needs someone to enter the notorious place and rescue his boy. Once a bastion of the good faith of Galayne, this keep houses a totem, in which a dread demonic entity lingers, watching and waiting – it once almost succeeded in going free, when it tempted a twisted man called Caleb Sutter to murder the clergy after posing as a man in need. Ever since then, its vile siren-call sought to enthrall those nearby, but the overnight haunting has left it isolated – until a boy with a spark of evil in his soul answered the call…

10 miles from town, the keep awaits the PC’s exploration and OH BOY. The outside of the keep is now studded with collapsed ankheg-tunnels, lending a sense of desolation to the keep and when in a small shack outside the PCs may find the remains of a bum tortured to death (again, with skill-check DCs to determine more information), it should become apparent that they are in for a dangerous endeavor. The keep now also features a full-color map and exploring the decayed keep with its evidence of violence and all the details and pieces of information (even the privy yields hints!) is interesting and can actually be quite tense. Caleb, now turned undead ghouls rogue with his small pack stalks the halls and while he may show up in his room, he and his mates react dynamically to e.g. PCs trying to operate the keep’s now ruined pumping system, making the encounters stand out as much more dynamic and believable, but they are not the only threats to be found in this place – a hobgoblin priest of the god of tyrants (also, like Galayne, featured as a brief write-up) acts an agent for a force far worse and while neither he, nor the bugbear brothers that also lair in the place have managed to breach the vault that contains the totem until the PCs enter, they do guard a pit in which little Kristof can be found. Inside the safe, the dread totem prison waits and will feature in the modules to come. Have I by the way mentioned the extremely cool haunt that can be found in the keep’s smithy?

Beyond that, we get the cleric’s spell-selection relevant for battle in the appendix, making the skipping of books unnecessary as well as a cool handout, excerpts from Caleb Sutter’s increasingly maddening diary – VERY cool! Even better, we get 5 pages of blown-up maps for use with miniatures, in full color, that cover each of the combats in the module. Again, two thumbs up!

Conclusion: Editing and formatting are very good, I didn’t notice any significant glitches. Layout deserves special mentioning – whereas the first iteration of this module suffered from the worst layout I’ve ever seen, it actually now is rather pretty and functional – a brownish background, red headers etc. make this easy to read, with relevant skill-checks in bold print, an easy-to-read font and both village statblocks, haunts and stats coming in the required format. The pdf is also bookmarked for your convenience and comes in two versions – the second one being background-less and easier to print out. The maps, while not stellar, cover the locale in full color and the blown-up versions are a great bonus indeed – in any way vastly superior to the first iteration of maps. If I had to complain about one thing, it would be that there’s no number-less version of the overview map and as a second, lesser gripe that the pdfs are rather big – clocking in at approximately 50 mb each. But these both are minor concerns.

WOW. You rarely see me non-plussed anymore these days. In a way similar to the first offerings of Adventureaweek.com and TPK Games, Rocks Fall Games has improved, but honestly, I wouldn’t have deemed it possible to see them improve THIS MUCH, for, to be honest, in contrast to AaW and TPK Games, they at first had NOTHING going for them. There literally was NOTHING I would have considered good about their first offerings.

Whereas the original version of this adventure was inept and amateurish, abysmally bad even, this revision of the module can be accused as neither of these. Learning from their mistakes at a staggering pace, the crew from Rocks Fall Games has: 1. Revised layout so it doesn’t suck anymore. 2. Added bookmarks, serviceable maps and a printer-friendly version. 3. Expanded the content. And it is here the pdf shines. Whereas in the first version, the module was generic and static, it now feels organic, alive, sports a level of detail almost on par with Raging Swan Press-offerings, a hand-out even. Where in the original, the adversaries were generic, name-less blocks of numbers, they now come alive, the chantry keep breathing its own brand of decaying splendor and tragedies long past. While here and there, especially in the setting-introduction, the writing still falters a bit, overall it has improved to a point where I almost felt it hard to believe that the same persons are responsible for the module. Comparing both versions back to back, I almost got whiplash, so pronounced is the jump in quality.

Now don’t get me wrong, the structure of the module, its narrative may not be reinventing the wheel – but it doesn’t have to. With the Blind Basilisk as a cool backdrop, cool pieces of local color and a pronounced attention to detail, all for a VERY fair price of $2.50, this module is a great buy, if perhaps a tad bit on the easy side for level 3 PCs – my group could manage to clear this place at 1st level – but then again my players are insane veterans.

One sentence perhaps describes it best – “From Zero to Hero” – if this is the quality we can from now on expect from Rocks Fall Games, then I’m looking forward to reading their future offerings and I encourage you to give them a chance, for their revised quality standard indeed deserves it. My final verdict for the revised edition of Dark Totem part I will clock in at 4.5 stars, rounded up to 5 due to the low price.

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Adventures in Awesfur - The Dark Totem pt.1: The Chantry Keep (PFRPG)
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Adventures in Awesfur - The Graverobbers' Larder (PFRPG)
by Thilo G. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 02/20/2013 03:54:44

This module is 14 pages long, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 1 page SRD, 1 page advertisement, leaving us with 10 pages of content, so let's take a look!

This being an adventure-review, the following contains SPOILERS. Potential players should jump to the conclusion.

All right, still here? When a distraught, whimpering man bursts into the "Blind Basilisk", the barkeep and PCs can console the poor man, whose stuttering speech-impediment made the guards not take him serious: He is a gravedigger and saw somebody/something dig up graves. The trail leads the PCs to "THE SPOOKY HOUSE BY THE HUGE OAK TREE"[sic! - layout is in all-caps] and yes, it remains as ill-defined as its generic name suggests. Taking a ladder down, the PCs can trigger an arrow trap before they meet their first adversary - a minotaur-woman with a bloody meat-claver! Now kudos where kudos are due - I didn't see that one coming! The dungeon, packed earth lined with planks, also evokes a rustic and quite claustrophobic atmosphere and the books and other traps, while nothing to write home about (a burning hands-variation of "I prepared explosive runes today", for example), are ok as well, though a tad bit mediocre. Finally, once they have braved a skeletal champion, ghouls etc., the PCs may find a dark priest and his co-conspirators and end the threat.

Conclusion: Editing is quite good, I didn't notice any glaring mistakes. Formatting is sometimes non-standard, which e.g. bloats the priest's statblock to over one page in spite of the precious few options he has. Layout...well, I'm not going to repeat myself. This layout has to DIE. It's horrible and I hope Rocks Fall Games will soon get a substitute that doesn't suck that much. If you want a longer ramble on what is wrong with it, read one of my first Rocks Fall Games-reviews. The module is also not bookmarked, which is a further no-go. The cartography serves its purpose, though anything but beautiful and the fact that each combat encounter gets a miniature map is nice. Though, much like other Rocks Fall-modules, the NPCs are painfully passive, the dungeon serving only as a backdrop without any real rules-repercussions.

Which is doubly painful since the first (VERY DEADLY) encounter of the module and the dungeon's look per se create a feeling of claustrophobia after the generic intro that could have easily been developed into a VERY creepy horror-module, with parts of the dungeon collapsing, foes bursting from the walls etc. Instead, the opposition remains static as always, waiting to be slaughtered. It also is problematic that apart from the first encounter and ghouls (all waiting conveniently in one room so the fighter can tank the door) remain the worst threats, with the "bosses" falling way behind. Also: Motivations for the impetus of the module are hinted at, but not developed.

In the end, this is a sketchy module that had a great idea for a dungeon and one flash of coolness before sinking into the murk of generalness once again. However, what this module shows unlike the other Rocks Fall Games modules I've read so far, is that there is potential buried here. Once this abomination of a layout has been killed and once generic names and locales have been dealt, if they can make their villains believable (Why did the construct this dungeon? Stuff it with a library? Where do the undead come from? Why do they work together? How did they get a minotaur unobserved into the house, which I presume is next to or not that far from the village?), then we could actually get good modules. While not a total trainwreck, this unfortunately remains close to one - my final verdict thus clocking in at 1.5 stars, rounded up to 2 for the purpose of this platform.

Endzetgeist out.



Rating:
[2 of 5 Stars!]
Adventures in Awesfur - The Graverobbers' Larder (PFRPG)
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Adventures in Awesfur - The Wizard Under the Well (PFRPG)
by Thilo G. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 01/04/2013 12:05:27

This pdf is 12 pages long, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 1 page SRD, leaving us with 9 pages of content, so let's check this out!

This being an adventure-review, the following contains SPOILERS.

All right, still here? The PCs awake after a night in the local bar with a high tab indeed - for once a rather creative angle to get them into adventuring for the half-orcish bartender - kudos! In order to work of the damages and expenses they caused - they just have to find this guy called Tabarius - he owes the proprietor a LOT of money. Thing is, the guy's a wizard and in his home - well, the PCs find dead bodies. The trail of blood leads to a well at the outskirts of town and stops abruptly.

It is this well that conceals this module's dungeona nd from the start, we have an issue - there are no DCs provided to climb down the well. Is it slimy? Higher DCs? 10? 20? We don't know. Speaking of "We don't know" - the imprisoned Tabarius can be found with relative ease in a cell in the dungeon.

The opposition in the short dungeon mostly consists of orcs, with a direwolf and a half-orc barbarian as the two "bosses" - each encountered separately, though. The dungeon also sports a pit trap with a spider-swarm and ends when the PCs find a strange carved door in the complex that they can't get to open. A first in a Rocks Fall-module I've read so far, the environment is mentioned in the half-orc-encounter, with the possibility of being thrown/knocked in.

Conclusion: Editing and formatting this time around is very good, I noticed no significant glitches. Layout is HORRIBLY ugly - for a rant of all that's wrong with it, see my review of Dark Totem Pt. I. Cartography is basic and essentially not aesthetically pleasing, but does its job. We get neither player-friendly versions of the map, nor bookmarks, which is a no-go.

That being said, this one is better than the Dark Totem-two-parter. The angle is interesting and cool and honestly, this module could have been funny. I really enjoyed the beginning, the trail to the well...and then came the dungeon. No rules are provided for entering its well. No justification is given why noone has noticed that there's a friggin' dungeon down there, even though wells are central parts of any settlement's infrastructure. While at least some encounters marginally feature environmental effects, e.g. the spider swarm's net has NO effect on the players -none at all.

Neither do the pieces of furniture lying around, a fire pit etc. Which is a pity, since one of the strengths of Rocks Fall's modules are the magnified combat-maps for the respective encounters - they are not beautiful, but they feature furniture etc. - that no one ever uses in combat. Also, I don't get how the direwolf came down the well or what exactly is the "flair" of the dungeon supposed to be: Carved walls? Caves? An artificially-designed complex? Has the wall to the well only recently broken down? How come nobody noticed this perplexingly abstract dungeon before? How did the dire wolf get down the well?

This module is designed as a short, simple sidetrek and its cool angle is neat, but the meat of the module falls apart quicker than a plate mail in the antennae of a rust monster, showing us a "dungeon" with "rooms" and "Chambers", but not sufficient descriptions beyond that to evoke any sense of immersion. There is no reason why the orcs have not slaughtered their captive or taken heed to conceal their presence, nor is it explained how they managed to capture their captive without alerting the whole town. This module is missing about 8-10 pages of explanations, description, environmental factors to make the combats more exciting etc. - so much so, that any closer scrutiny makes the yarn of the narrative come completely apart. While still superior to the Dark Totem-modules, "The Wizard in the Well" is still in no way a captivating read or module that any but the most inexperienced of DMs could concoct spontaneously. I have created more complex modules when mastering with an utter hangover sans any preparation at a con and while per se not bad in the classic meaning of the word, the module in the end lacks substance. And soul. The lack of environmental information and pieces of knowledge on the dungeon mean that the module comes off as sterile, with just a few hotspots to interact with beyond the limited combats and when held to the scrutiny of a game's world's internal logic, it break unfortunately apart even further. The basic idea could have been a fun module, but the boring, uninspired dungeon essentially snuffs out the potential the module's premise had. For a hangover-story done right, check out the Witcher 2: Assassin of King's videogame, it also has more hotspots to interact with than this module. My final verdict will be 1.5 stars, rounded down to 1 for the purpose of this platform.

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[1 of 5 Stars!]
Adventures in Awesfur - The Wizard Under the Well (PFRPG)
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Adventures in Awesfur - The Dark Totem pt.2: The Dead Dragon's Den (PFRPG)
by Megan R. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 12/05/2012 05:47:28

Here we have the second adventure from Rocks Fall Games, a solid offering of a dungeon crawl that will work equally well as a stand-alone adventure or as the middle segement of The Dark Totem trilogy. Neatly, separate introductions and endings are provided to cater for both: pick the most appropriate for what you want to do.

It opens, as so many adventures do, with the party being approached whilst they are eating dinner in a tavern and being asked to go clear out a local blight on the community, a disused mine that used to be the lair of a dragon. The dragon's long gone, cleared out by an earlier group of adventurers, but the place still is trouble!

Standard fare, perhaps, but well-presented and easy to run, with a clear overview map of the mine complex and more detailed maps of those locations where combat will take place... and mark my words, combat WILL take place! This mine is well-provided with monsters who are all ready and willing to take a crack at any passing adventurers, a nice array and all well-placed with a rationale as to what they are doing down there when not engaged in combat with passing adventurers.

One good feature is that BOTH introductions are equally interesting and compelling, sweeping the group straight in to the adventure with reasons beyond it just being what is on offer this session. It's quite common for adventures that are part of a series to concentrate on series links and provide a rather sparse alternative for those who'd prefer to use it as a stand-alone adventure or to twist the 'stand-alone' introduction round so that all parties embark on the adventure for the same reasons.

If clear and straightforward 'clean out the monsters' adventures suit your group, this is a good one to lay before them, and it is well-enough done to provide a good exercise for sword-arm and spellbook even to groups who like a wider mix of activities.



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Adventures in Awesfur - The Dark Totem pt.2: The Dead Dragon's Den (PFRPG)
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Adventures in Awesfur - The Dark Totem pt.1: The Chantry Keep (PFRPG)
by Megan R. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 12/05/2012 04:47:44

In a promising start to what is intended to be an entire campaign-full of adventures, this is a simple low-level crawl to get the characters established.

The plot concerns the investigation of a ruined and abandoned temple in search of a missing child. The temple is feared by the locals, who are all too terrified to go there and so hire the characters (in a tavern, naturally) to search there on their behalf. Whilst atmospheric and well-described, it is a fairly straightforward 'crawl' with a nice selection of monsters to brawl with but little scope for much in the way of interaction other than with the sword!

Presentation is clear and crisp, with a good simple overview map and larger ones for set-piece combats. 'Read aloud' text is in red, but the whole text is rather oddly presented completely in upper case. It is clear enough, but some people will find it difficult to read especially when scanning quickly mid-game.

Two outcomes are catered for: either the party recovers the lost child alive or they don't. The rewards, both monetary and more intangible, are far better if the lad is still alive... and they'll get free beer for the rest of the night! A few hints are scattered around pointing to future adventures... but the whole thing is self-contained enough that if you want to use it in your own campaign world, perhaps as a short combat-heavy interlude, it will work fine.

Promising beginning, one to watch!



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Adventures in Awesfur - The Dark Totem pt.1: The Chantry Keep (PFRPG)
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Creator Reply:
It should be noted that this review is for the unrevised Dark Totem pt. 1 and may not apply to our most recent revision, which features a new layout, map and over twice as much content. Thanks, though Megan!
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