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01AA02 - Saga RPG Adventure Arc: Darkwood #2 - The Tormented and the Twisted (PFRPG) PDF
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 09/17/2016 07:36:35

An Endzeitgeist.com review

The massive second installment of the Darkwood Adventure Arc clocks in at 128 pages, 1 page front cover, 2 pages of editorial, 1 page ToC, 1 page SRD, 1 page back cover, leaving us with 122 (!!!) pages of content, so let's take a look!

All right, so in case you haven't read my reviews of the first full module and excursion, please wait a second and even if you don't want to play a full sequence of modules, please continue reading, all right?

So, what makes these modules unique? Number one would be aesthetics: A central draw of these modules lies in the aesthetic and the truly fresh feeling that is based on taking aesthetics and tropes of classic Wild West, blending them with a healthy dose of weird fantasy and applying them to a fantasy scenario. Basically, this feels like a medieval Wild West that never was, suffused with a healthy dose of new school game design of the best kind. The mutating, complex disease first introduced in the first Darkwood installment can be found among the supplemental materials; the new magic items sports several full color artworks to represent them. The pdf features new alchemical creations, a stone-forming cleric archetype, a new witch patron with hexes, new spells, two new religions (one of which is all about technology as the thing to worship, basically representing transhumanism blended with magic and the ideology of enlightenment) as well as an update of the town Darkwood, including a bulletin board for the local tavern of sorts, where, rendered in full color, you can read about the prices and local policies. The pdf also has mechanics for intoxication, no less than 3 insanities and a fully rendered gazetteer on the ahsen'i, the local Native American-like ethnicity. We even get a char-sheet!

So yes, regarding bonus material, this leaves nothing to be desired...but you're not here for that, right? You want to know about the module? Well, I shall oblige, but in order to properly discuss this, we need to go into SPOILERS. Potential players should jump ahead to the conclusion. Trust me, you do NOT want to SPOIL this one.

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..

.

Still here? All right! In the aftermath of the unpleasant attack on the locals in the last installment and extensive establishing shots regarding the unique nature and feeling of the setting, we begin with one of several fully rendered introductions. And I mean "fully" - with read-aloud text. Why is this relevant? The saga emulates coalition allegiances with an optional, rather rewarding allegiances system and each of the factions so far introduced gets its own introduction, establishing firmly the respective tropes and methodology of the groups...and boyo, does it do a good job here. While I could talk about magic keelhauling, strange séances and less weird practices for this section, ultimately I couldn't be able to properly capture the sense of immersion this book's prose manages to capture. Have I btw. mentioned that, in said séance, the smoke forming a message has actually been reproduced as artwork, doubling as a handout? Oh yes, this is the level of care we're dealing with here!

There seems, in any ways, to be some sort of connection between the tainted, aggressive trolls that attacked the town and a mysterious elven explorer called Geneal -and each faction has a very good reason to want to talk to him. Here's the issue, though: The elf's incarcerated in Fetterstone prison, a veritable fortress under the command of duergar bondswarden Hafnir Kreigsbyte.

Yes. This is a prison break/infiltration. The module does take this complex set-up in a manner that I have frankly seen too rarely, so here is the list.

We have extensive notes on the information that can be gathered before.

We have intentionally incomplete, player-friendly maps of the complex.

We actually get different entry vectors, from full Stealth to various means of infiltration. We have stuff that Stealth-less characters can do.

We have a matrix of the key characters among the prison-fortresses guards noting their loyalty and whether they can be bribed and how much it takes to do so!

The prison has prepared alert levels with responses !!

We have a security detail map for the GM, with guards and the routes of the patrols !!!

We actually also have social dynamics among the populace !!!!

In all my years of Shadowrun, Night's Black Agents and similar, more stealth-focused games, I have never seen ANY module do this better. I did not need to do ANYTHING regarding security details, including magics. The level of detail here is absolutely immaculate and blasts everything about of the water.

This is truly glorious...and guess what? It also actually takes the "getting caught"-angle seriously; there is a second chance for the PCs if they screw up (or elect to use that entry vector!) - the PCs may actually be pressganged into a tactical assault upon a caravan with foreign agents in a fully realized encounter, including tactical map. This is simply going above and beyond.

Oh, and the dungeon below the complex is nothing to sneeze at either - with subtle humor (Mr. Pouncy the cat familiar), glimpses of the horrific, challenging traps, magical problems, unique critters...oh, and a truly lethal dungeon self-destruct mechanism that may see the dungeon flood as the PCs are frantically trying to disable the complex mechanism or run from the collapse, adding even more action and excitement to this frankly legendary module!

That's not where the pdf stops, though - the module does have two fully mapped sidetreks - mini-modules that in no way fall behind in detail or atmosphere behind the main meat of the module: We have "The Witching of Stump Hall", where strange occurrences have begun, as fey seemingly invade darkwood and a mastermind weaves the threads of a plan most grim indeed. In the second sidetrek, the PCs will have the opportunity to explore a Ahsen'i bonefield and deal with the deadly challenges lurking there. Yes, mapped as well. And yes, these "sidetreks" can be used as glorious, convention-style scenarios, if you're looking for that.

One final note here - know how the first module introduced written-in background challenges and character-specific sidequests a GM can utilize - basically, when used with pregens or modified by the GM, the pdf has character-specific arcs and quests written as optional components into its very nature, helping the players get more invested in the narrative.

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are top-notch, I noticed no grievous glitches. Layout adheres to a gorgeous, two-column full-color standard with a ton of original full-color artwork of excellent quality. The pdf also features a ton of full-color cartography - with glorious full-color tactical maps, player-handout maps and nothing to be desired. Glorious. The pdf comes fully bookmarked with detailed, nested bookmarks and the pdf is layered, allowing full customization of GM labels. The pdf actually comes with a second pdf optimized for the use with mobile devices. I loved this book so much, I actually got the print version - and seriously, that's the one I'd go for.

Lars Lundberg & Nick Johnson's second installment of the Darkwood Adventure Arc is PHENOMENAL. This breathes a unique cultural flair that is inspired and unique in the truest sense of the word and must be called out as nothing less than the masterclass of adventure design. I have NEVER seen any prison-break/infiltration-scenario done even half as well as this one: It has EVERYTHING - from the absolutely glorious entry-vectors to the copious, well-written read-aloud texts to the trouble-solving options, supplemental material, builds, modules and production values, this module blows 99.9% of Pathfinder modules out of the water and leaves them in shreds. How this works for the more than fair price-point is frankly beyond me; this module has a spot of honor on my shelf, surpasses its already excellent predecessors and can be considered to e an example of the very finest of virtues that contemporary adventure design has to offer.

It's been a while since we had a module by SagaRPG and I don't know whether the arc will be completed, but even as a stand-alone, this has all the virtues and unique power it requires. Even as a stand-alone module, this is frankly one of the very most awesome pieces of content you can find and I'd frankly eat ramen for a month to support a kickstarter to keep this series going - that's how much I love it. I have frankly failed this series and should have highlighted this module so much sooner - not only on behalf of the team that crafted this masterpiece, but on behalf of you, my readers, for not pointing out the level of awesomeness this offers sooner. So yes, even though this was released sooner, I only covered, ran and enjoyed it recently - so this does get a final verdict of 5 stars, seal of approval and is a candidate for my Top Ten of this year. I love it that much. So please, do check out this absolutely legendary module. I am positive you will not regret it and if you do hate it, drop me a line and I'll see that I can make it up to you - that's how much I adore this module! Must Own. Get it!

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
01AA02 - Saga RPG Adventure Arc: Darkwood #2 - The Tormented and the Twisted  (PFRPG) PDF
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01AE01 - SagaRPG Arc Excursions: Barrow of the Cursespawn (PFRPG) PDF
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 05/19/2016 07:02:01

An Endzeitgeist.com review

This module clocks in at 36 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page inside of front cover, 1 page SRD, 1 page back cover, leaving us with 32 pages of content, so let's take a look!

Wait, before we do - I need to apologize. This is one of the cases where a file fell into the digital cracks of my HD and between prioritized reviews and the hustle and bustle of real life, I fell short of my duties. Consider this me rectifying this shortcoming.

Before we dive into the nit and grit of this module, let me elaborate what the Darkwood Saga is - basically, it's a series of interconnected modules, with the big ones being the main meat of the storyline, while these excursions represent the "sidetreks". Why the quotation marks? Because that moniker does this module injustice. The unique and absolutely awesome component of the first of the main modules could be summed up in the following way: We get basically a fantasy setting that combines the virtues of fantasy gaming with organically and concisely implemented tropes of gritty Westerns and Americana for a jamais-vu type of unique, awesome cultural identity, with a leaning towards dark fantasy and weird fiction. If you're like me, that ought to have sparked your interest - and if that did not suffice, please read on...

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

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..

.

All right, still here? Great! The pdf begins with an interesting background story that develops the Ahsen'i people - basically the native inhabitants of the lands around Darkwood. This story develops the intriguing components of their history and how their relationships to the spirit world...became strained. Things got worse, though - inter-tribal conflict and jealousy did abound and ultimately resulted in a totahatem becoming the haunting ground of a once pure and gorgeous woman, Cha'Risa, now a deadly cursespawn. This threat, secluded in realms South of Darkwood, remained for the years...but that is about to change.

We join our adventuring heroes in the Crosswind Saloon of Darkwood, where an unpleasant group of rival adventurers tries to pick a fight with them - and in the tradition of these modules, actions have consequences...The PCs will then be recruited by Captain Billious Vinsalt, who wants to recruit the PCs: One of his mining operations has seen significant issues and he wants the PCs to deal with that - and yep, there is danger involved. The first people to try it were wiped out with the exception of Khaindala Knight Tallen Warnshelm, who, while weakened and rattled, can provide at least some information.

But that's not all - the PCs soon find a mysterious note, wherein the EMTC under the command of Garret Trask seeks to hire them to instead destroy Bill's sluice mine - and again...actions have consequences, including the faction system used in the main saga. The travel to the totahatem near the sluice mine is pretty uneventful, but has a nice array of random encounters, should you feel the need to spice things up. if you're like me and one of the readers who enjoys learning something, information on how the sluice mine works is provided as well - including a schematic drawing. Nice! Arriving at the totahatem's entrance, the PCs will have to face the first of the dreaded worm wights - and yes, full cartography provided for the respective encounters.

In case you're wondering how the exploration of the once-sacred burial site goes - it is GLORIOUS. Not only are the PCs and players rewarded for trying to understand the foreign culture depicted herein, the chalenges are diverse: There is, for example a puzzle that resolves around closing chests (and yes, the explanation is concise) and just about every room has multiple intriguing hotspots. More intriguing still - the combat challenges are difficult, but reward smarts: The PCs can, for example run afoul of a bone golem. Here's the cool thing, though: In order to win, the PCs will not only gain an understanding of the culture of the Ahsen'i, they will also need to conduct a cleansing ritual (for a potent magical item) and navigate a cool, deadly puzzle room in which a sequence of crushing stone blocks sequentially make the reliquary tighter and more dangerous. Oh and fyi: If the PCs are mindless looters, they'll take a pretty pissed spirit with them who'll continue to haunt them until his grudge has abated.

But in order to truly end the curse of this place, the PCs will have to brave the heart of the Totahatem, where spirit and mortal world overlap and the half-woman-half-slug-thing that once was Cha'Risa awaits with her protoplasmic slug swarms. And yes, she's as deadly as she sounds - and depicted in a truly gorgeous artwork. The pdf provides full stats for the well-crafted, awesome adversaries herein, sports information on a new language and a new affliction as well as the mazaeli subtype.

Oh yeah, and this does provide 4 pregens.

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are excellent - I noticed no glitches. Layout adheres to a gorgeous 2-column full-color standard and the pdf provides a LOT of awesome artwork in full-color and similarly great cartography. While the pdf has no player-friendly versions of the maps, this is in this case not big of an issue. The pdf comes fully bookmarked for your convenience.

Nick Johnson and Lars Lundberg's Barrow of the Cursespawn is quite frankly one of the best modules you can get for the exceedingly low price-point. The module is a great reading experience; the presentation is gorgeous. And it costs 3 bucks. Seriously? I can't fathom how this can work. I really can't. This is a high-quality module that oozes passion, that feels organic and immersive. The glimpses of a culture both foreign and familiar and the blending of tropes is done in a thoroughly compelling, awesome manner, making this a true steal, even if you're not interesting in the main arc of the Darkwood saga. This module is so good, I actually got it in print as well - and the print-version is just as beautiful. (I hope the second excursion will get a PoD as well at some point...) Being a module that challenges both brains and brawns of the PCs, one with a unique flavor and great ideas, I can btw. recommend this to fans of other rules-systems as well - this lives primarily by its extensive, glorious atmosphere and its cultural savoir-faire. In short: This is an all-around great, ridiculously inexpensive module you definitely should get. My final verdict will clock in at 5 stars + seal of approval, given sans any hesitation.

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
01AE01 - SagaRPG Arc Excursions: Barrow of the Cursespawn (PFRPG) PDF
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01AA01 - Saga RPG Adventure Arc: Darkwood #1 - The Deft and the Deadly (PFRPG) PDF
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 01/10/2015 05:40:35

An Endzeitgeist.com review

This massive module clocks in at 163 pages, 1 page front cover, 2 pages of editorial, 1 page ToC,1 page SRD, 1 page back cover, leaving us with a damn impressive 157 pages of content - so let's take a look, shall we?

Okay, first of all, let me address something - this review took pretty long to get done and this pdf, while relatively easily converted to any campaign setting, has its own implicit world called Vaard - the supplemental material presented in the detailed appendices provides a new deity-write-up as well as information on the general locations in pretty extensive detail. Darkwood Town, provided with statblock, a nice full color map and even a sample card-game (!!!) reaches a quite impressive level of detail, including even prices for menus. Going above and beyond, we receive read-aloud text for the respective points of interest. Yes, plus drinking game with really nasty moonshine. I just wished we also received a player-friendly version of the cartography of Darkwood and of the circus-town Bright town's beautiful maps. The level of detail provided goes even above Raging Swan Press' usual level, my benchmark for settlements, and is further enhanced by random encounter-suggestions. This town would have made for a more than adequate own sourcebook - as an addition to a module, it is thoroughly impressive.

We also receive 4 sample PCs, with artwork, short stats in addition to full-blown char-sheet versions, extensive background history and information to properly play them - including support for the magic school/academia-rules in one case - which is pretty awesome!

Now flavor-wise, Darkwood Town can be best pictured as a kind of boom town with a distinct Wild West meets fantasy vibe - a town held together by the striving for wealth in a progressive, but rough environment - beyond the first "Rough up the new guys"-encounter (which is surprisingly well set up), this feeling is enforced further by coalition rules - these represent the standing of the PCs with the respective factions in Darkwood and provide an easy guideline for DMs to portray the growing reputation of the PCs as well as an easy and rewarding way for players to watch their respective reputations grow. It should finally be noted that beyond all of the aforementioned new material, magic items, a template, a disease and a poisons and 6 stats of key NPCs are provided in the appendices as well, rendering this book essentially a dual module/full-blown regional source-book. While vibe-wise definitely inspired by pulp and the wild west, it should be noted that campaigns without blackpowder can easily use this module - the default assumption may be that gunslinging exists, but it is in no means omnipresent. That being said, it is this reviewer's opinion that the module would lose a bit of its uniqueness by such an omission.

But how is this module constructed, you may ask? Well, it's self-proclaimed goal is to combine event-based, location-based and sandbox-adventuring - and it pretty much works, that much I can say sans what follows now:

From here on, this adventure-review is suffused with SPOILERS. Potential players will want to jump to the conclusion.

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..

.

Still here? All right! So the module has essentially a 3-act structure, with Act 1 being devoted to setting up the town for the PCs to explore...and a job offer (including an alternate, rather mysterious counter-offer) - the goal here is for the PCs and players to familiarize themselves with the town before they venture forth to try to reclaim the Highcliff Mine - for whatever faction they choose. I hear you yawn - well, don't. First of all, this haunted mine manages to evoke an almost perfect sense of foreboding, desolation and dread - furthermore, the challenges provided are varied and range from haunts to smartly templated foes, while also hinting at the rather extensive metaplot and providing an expertly crafted sense of horror that complements, rather than contradicts the mood established in the town.

Now Act II goes full-blown sandbox - from dealing with bandits and ratfolk to bounty-hunting, all of these small sidetreks come with nice battle-mat-style full color maps in surprising detail, while also serving as a means to foreshadow the things to come, among other means with the nasty, mutating disease "The Flux", which proves to be a pretty important component of the meta-plot, one of almost Lovecraftian proportions, I might add. Some straight in your face body horror? Well, yes, please!

When the Night of Stars looms, the PCs are tasked with a delicate task - infiltrate Bright town during the monthly festivities and revels - in order to succeed in their task, the PCs will have to navigate the well-visited tent town, enjoy the festivities, avoid trouble with local bravos and conduct their investigation, hopefully realizing that something is indeed amiss with the Genetie family... but what? While the DM knows, I will not spoil this particular component of the rich tapestry of story-threads woven herein. And yes, the party at bright town is crashed - by massive, mutated trolls, hinted at earlier. At the end of the module stand a tantalizing array of options, a thoroughly compelling metaplot and high expectations for the future installments. And yes, I intentionally remained vague in this review - I want you to read this massive book yourself.

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting is good, but not perfect - I noticed a couple of glitches, but no serious ones. The pdf comes fully bookmarked for your convenience and with extensive internal hyperlinks that make navigating the story-threads/background information etc. easy on the DM. Layout adheres to a nice and easy to read 2-column full color standard that still is pretty printer-friendly. The full color cartography is VERY extensive and covers even a bunch of side-quests and generally on the high-end/quality-side of things, as are the hand-outs. My one gripe here would be the absence of player-friendly, number-less versions of the maps. The original and rather copious pieces of full color artwork may not adhere to a uniform style, but are iconic in their own right and yes, the artwork generally is nicer to look at than the cover, with especially the vista of highcliff mine deserving accolades.

Nick Johnson and Lars Lundberg's first Darkwood module is one thing: Exceedingly, dauntingly ambitious. For a novice publisher to kick off with a 150+ page module, part of a saga AND in full color etc., all without a kickstarter - well, this is one daring move. I did not expect it to pan out. At least in this mega-adventure, it did. This is very much a thinking man's complex module, not a mindless crawl and it lives and breathes atmosphere to an extent scarcely seen in any given publication. Indeed, its unique flavor and level of detail can perhaps best be compared to the Zeitgeist AP, though its focus is radically different: Rather than focusing purely on investigation, we receive an utterly unique blend of fantasy, horror, pulp and wild west-aesthetics for a true, innovative jamais-vu experience. Furthermore, while not a simple adventure, this is by far the most novice-DM-friendly sandbox I've ever seen - the sheer amount of read-aloud text that helps less experienced DMs portray the unique flair and setting provided is absolutely commendable.

I'd like to address something as well - usually, I cut novice publishers and authors at least some slack: If formatting, bonus types and the like are not perfect, I comment on it, but they do enjoy some leeway. This mega-adventure did not need that. From the supplemental rules to the setting-sourcebook chapters up to the module itself, this is impressively professional for a 1st time publisher and exhibits extensive knowledge of sub-systems and how to use them, on what has been done before - and then does something different, something absolutely awesome. This module is worth every cent of its asking price and has me utterly stoked for future installments - "The Deft and the Deadly" is a massive, awesome module full of memorable scenes and NPCs, with even sample PC backgrounds potentially tied into the narrative, should you choose to use them (though their backgrounds can easily be modified to suit your players). Have I mentioned that I really want to know how all of this goes on?

It takes a lot these days to impress me - I see a lot of good modules, excellent ones, even. The average quality of 3pp-modules for Pathfinder is VERY high. That being said, it is relatively rarely that a module captures me to this extent; indeed, its level of detail, interwoven narratives etc. are pretty close to how I conduct my own campaigns and to what I expect flavor-depth-wise from a supplement. And then, it goes beyond even that level of detail to provide a vibrant, iconic backdrop with a thoroughly unique atmosphere that authors out there should take a good luck at - that's how it's done. This is an all-killer, no-filler tome, with its tantalizing metaplot making me salivate for future installments to an extent I rarely do. My final verdict will, unsurprisingly, clock in at 5 stars + seal of approval, omitting a status as a candidate for the top ten of 2014 only due to the lack of player-friendly maps.

After this and Mór Games' excellent Plight of the Tuatha, there is no more excuse for novice publishers to rest on freshman laurels - this level of quality is what we need. Here's to hoping that SagaRPG prospers!

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
01AA01 - Saga RPG Adventure Arc: Darkwood #1 - The Deft and the Deadly (PFRPG) PDF
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01AE01 - SagaRPG Arc Excursions: Barrow of the Cursespawn (PFRPG) PDF
by Customer Name Withheld [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 08/30/2014 08:02:33

Ring Side Report- RPG Review of Barrow of the Cursespawn

Originally posted at www.throatpunchgames.com, a new idea everyday!

Product-Darkwood Arc Excursions: Barrow of the Cursespawn Producer- Saga RPG System-Pathfinder Price- ~$6 here http://www.drivethrurpg.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 http://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.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
01AE01 - SagaRPG Arc Excursions: Barrow of the Cursespawn (PFRPG) PDF
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01AA01 - Saga RPG Adventure Arc: Darkwood #1 - The Deft and the Deadly (PFRPG) PDF
by Customer Name Withheld [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 08/30/2014 07:57:27

Ring Side Report- RPG Review of The Deft and the Deadly

Originally posted at www.throatpunchgames.com, a new idea everyday!

Product-Darkwood Adventure Arc #1- The Deft and the Deadly

Producer-Saga RPG

Price-~$13 available here

System-Pathfinder

TL; DR- A well done 1st product from a new company-90%

Basics- Welcome to Darkwood, Mudder. Seeking either revenge, glory, or money, you and your friends stumble into Darkwood. This is a town on the fringe where several powerful people (and not people) battle for dominance in a new world. Can you make your name out here, or, will you end up face down in the mud you’re covered in? This is the first adventure in a five part series. Besides the adventure, the book provides large appendices on Darkwood, new items and diseases, example start characters, rules for coalition affiliations, NPCs, and a whole new world!

Fluff or Story- The people at Saga RPG put together a heck of a product for story. Every part of the town gets a bit of writing. All the shops have stories and a menu. The main story is more sandbox and with linier sections. This is to be expected as the characters are entering the world and have to be giving some quests to move them along, but eventually, the players are just told to have some fun and make some money in town. It’s a lot of fun. Aside from the main quest, the book covers a whole new world and its kingdoms. That’s pretty ambitious for a new RPG company’s first product. For less than a Paizo adventure product, you’re getting a higher page count of stories. I’m pretty intrigued on what going to happen over the course of this story. 5/5

Crunch or Mechanics-You don’t expect much mechanics from your standard adventure or a third party, but, these guys went above and beyond on this. There are a new mechanics ranging from measuring faction relationships to a new god with two new domains. Of course, there are new items and all the other standard things expected for a Pathfinder adventure, but, this comes from a third party. It’s well done, thought out, and an excellent addition to the systems library. 5/5

Execution- Here is the ONLY place I have negative things to save about this product, and at WORST these guys are above average. One thing I hate is recycled art. These guys reuse the same art a few times across their first book. The second thing I don’t like is there are some layout problems. It opens a little slow on my iPad, but that’s ok. However, there are some layout choices I would not have made for spacing. That leads to the third problem I have-“text book problem”. This book has A LOT to say. The book moves from AMAZING depth in a town to a whole new WORLD. That’s a lot of ground for one book to cover. That said the book covers it in depth, but does so with more than just a few pages of just text. That’s not the worst sin out there, but it makes this read a little like a text book in places. I would have liked a bit more art to interrupt the text, grab your attention, and guide the reader’s eye. But, I’d like to put that in perspective. I am complaining about there being too much in this book. 3.5/5

Summary-This is a well done product. If you’re tired of the Paizo product scene, this product is done well enough that is up there with a standard Paizo project with a compelling story and interesting additions to the system. I would like a player handbook like the other Pathfinder products I’ve read, but, this product is already full enough. My complains are in how this thing looks, not what it contains. This is one of the best Pathfinder products I’ve seen in a while. 90%

Disclosure- I was provided a review copy of this product.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
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