This review is of the recently-updated (January 2012) version of Total Party Kill Games’ Infamous Adversaries: Slogar the Uncaring. The file comes with a .pdf book, a .pdf map, and Hero Lab files. Because I don’t use Hero Lab, I can’t speak to the quality or usefulness of the included files. My review is simply of the actual “printed” matter.
The .pdf is 20 pages long, including: 1 page front cover, 1 page title page, 1 page portrait, 1 page editorial, 1 page “How to use” explanation, 1 page Hero Labs advertisement, 1 page d20 PFSRD advertisement, 1 page TPK advertisement, and 1 page OGL. This leaves 11 pages devoted to Slogar.
This was TPK Games’ first product and has been updated and revised based on feedback from readers and fans, as well as earned experience in the industry. TPK Games indicates that they want to give this treatment to all of their Infamous Adversaries characters, although it is unclear whether this means new Adversaries only, or whether they will revisit the already-published Adversaries and give them the same updating treatment.
Content: The first page-and-a-bit consists of a short fiction piece related to Slogar. It provides some interesting flavor and could easily be used by a DM as a scene and/or conversation with a character or party to help increase tension and suspense around Slogar. The statblock is hefty, as are all 3.x Edition statblocks. Unfortunately, it comes with the territory, but anyone familiar with 3.x or Pathfinder will be able to follow the stats quite easily.
Plenty of background, history, description, and motive is presented, which I think saves Slogar from being a presentation of another murderous villain. Instead it gives the DM a way to present Slogar in almost a sympathetic way; indeed, after reading this material, one gets a better understanding of the opening short fiction and it becomes more clear how a community could actually rally around and protect this fiend. His tactics and practices are also detailed, which aids the DM in presenting crime scenes and evidence left behind, all of which can heighten anxiety and anticipation in the players’ minds.
I especially like the inclusion of both a small and large version of Slogar’s lair. Not only does it provide you with a nice setting in which the players can confront, ambush, or be ambushed, it also provides a nice neutral map that could be used in any of a number of different encounters. My one complaint is that TPK does not provide a legend or a breakdown of the buildings, rooms, or surroundings, or even much in the way of a description. It seems kind of odd, given the amount of description and detail found in other places in the book. TPK Games’ seeming goal is to make the DM’s life easier by providing as much as possible and doing as much advance work for the DM as possible. When it comes to Slogar’s lair, however, they stumble in that regard.
Presentation: The .pdf is nicely hyperlinked with the PFSRD. Most of the feats and traits for both Slogar and Daisy Pusher are hyperlinked, which enables a DM to quickly reference the rule-books as a refresher or, in the case of a new DM, to help learn the rules. Many of the details for the new Equipment and new Spells are also hyperlinked. Unfortunately, the skills and most of the Special Abilities for the half-orc and his steed are not hyperlinked. While this may not be an issue for an established or experienced DM, if a new DM wanted to use this, he would still face some page-flipping and research. This being said, I think that TPK Games settles at a happy medium between the two extremes. A beginning DM should be warned, however, that everything will NOT be handed to him gratis in this book.
One other improvement? Statblocks for Slogar’s advanced levels. It would have been nice to have additional statblocks – even if they were somehow truncated – to allow a DM to quickly drop a higher level Slogar on the party. This product almost assumes that the party will be around 8th-level or lower when they first encounter Slogar. Again, I realize it may only take a little bit of work on the DM’s part; however if the intended goal is ease of use for the DM, this would be a nice feature.
Editing / Formatting: Formatting is very nice: two-column presentation and nice artwork throughout. I will complain about the grey background; on the .pdf it adds a nice artistic touch. However, when printed out, it simply darkens the page and uses up a little more ink than is probably necessary.
I also have to say, as far as editing, the work is fairly clean; much cleaner than some third-party products out there. However, there were a few typographical errors – mostly related to punctuation – and one glaring mistake with a repeated sentence. In my first read-through, I only caught one or two spelling errors; again, much better than other products out there.
One other point, as far as the .pdf structure itself? Bookmarks. Use bookmarks to hit the main points of the Table of Contents to aid in pinpoint information retrieval. Don’t bookmark the cover, the title page, the Hero Lab advertisement, the d20PFSRD advertisement, the TPK Games advertisement, and the OGL page.
Conclusion: After all is said and done, I really like this product. I would highly recommend it; in fact, I have already done so several times. I have made several other TPK Games purchases on the strength of this product alone. It didn’t hurt to experience TPK Games’ quick and efficient customer service when they resolved some technical concerns on my first download. They have great customer service and product support. They won a customer-for-life with their service.
[4 of 5 Stars!]