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Mystic Marketplaces: The Brass Drake
Publisher: Flying Pincushion Games
by N. J. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 01/26/2016 17:47:28

We're looking at a pretty slim tome here clocking in at 13 pages with 1 for cover, 1 for information, 1 for art (the hound are was pretty nice), and one for OGL information, giving us 9 pages here.

What I liked: The idea here is on an alternative market place, and that's something I can get behind. Originally I was curious as to how you could make any marketplace reoccurring in some games (as not all games have a singular location), but the method done in this book works for me without feeling shoehorned in. The description is quite nice for the place, and you get a solid feel for the location.

The patronage system was also another nice touch (although slightly too vague for me in places) that encourages the party to continue using the location. Solidly defined benefits as well as a way to continue utilizing the location should help anyone who wants to keep visiting easily make their way back, even if the requirements to do so are rather high. For my sake, if your players are far more mobile in which locations they visit, I'd suggest lowering the patronage points needed to get the Amulet of the Brass Drake to whatever seems appropriate seeing as raising one's patronage score can be a slow (but rewarding) experience.

The book also comes with a few minor story hooks and an encounter which fit with the theme of the establishment, and most story hooks are vague enough where you can pitch them into any game, making them more universally useful to GMs looking to include more into their games.

As for the the owner, Maurice, there both is and isn't enough information on them. There's enough where your players should know everything they need to know, but not too much as to lay out their life story instantly, making them an NPC that can be built on however needed.

The item now for 1 later was a pretty interesting and thematic addition too, although it's something I hope wasn't supposed to be a 1 time boon, as it feels like the most interesting part of the patronage system.

The shop task are overall flavorful, but feel a bit unbalanced next to each other, their scope somewhat inconsistent. But they do make for a more immersive experience, and help the overall tone of the shop.

What I was indifferent towards: The barter system, while somewhat interesting, feels like it's more of an add in rather than a fully integrated part of the location. I don't dislike it by any means, but it feels limited in use, and it'll probably be one of the lesser used functions of the book.

The layout of the book is pretty standard, it looks nice enough, but there's nothing here that will wow you. It's readable and presents the information easily though, and the bookmark system helps you keep your place, so points for that.

What I didn't like: For having an encounter in the establishment, the lack of map is going to hinder the value of this quite a bit. It falls to the GM to create a more exacting map of the location which isn't something I'm hoping to do with a product like this. Also, the produce uses a template that's only found in a soft cover (the counterpoised template found in Champions of Balance), which prompted me to have to look this up myself. Given that the template is only to make the encounter harder, I'm not going to be too hard, but even referencing the book in the template's mention (the hounds of tindalos were referenced as bestiary 2) would have helped out a lot.

Overall, I'd say this encounter is probably the weakest part of the book, and while I wouldn't say it should be removed, the issues above make it more difficult to run than it should be for your average GM.

Also Maurice's art feels very out of place given the other art on the book, and I really feel like it should have been a better picture. The image given feels too much like stock art and doesn't help the character stick in your mind. While their backstory might, the given image does little to help one remember an interesting individual like this. And the fact that they require a consumable magic item to use all of their feats, while interesting, makes their stat block slightly more annoying to use.

Final opinion: Nothing here is revolutionary, but I don't think it needs to be. What I see here is more the groundwork for other books to take what this one has done and expand upon it. A lot of the mechanics are solid and you probably will have a more engaging shopping experience with this book, which is the point of it.

Overall, I'd probably give it a 3.75 myself, but that rounds up to a 4. It's a good first book in something that I'd like to see more of with a bit more polish to really help the ideas presented shine.



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Mystic Marketplaces: The Brass Drake
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Difficult Circumstances: A Prologue adventure for What Lies Beyond Reason - Pathfinder
Publisher: Pyromaniac Press
by N. J. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 12/21/2015 03:32:00

Having picked this up, I can say that it has a lot of features that I really like for an introductory adventure. It starts off with a very solemn tone, and begins more with a focus on survival than traditional heroics which is a nice change from some others that thrust you into the thick of battle. Instead, you end up needing to battle the environment as much as any monster, leading you into a solid travel segment.

The art and detail on the trip to your destination is quite nice for setting the scene, and the adventure does a good job of playing up the shift in tone between sections, allowing the players to immerse themselves in the setting as they travel along, giving a very tense atmosphere until the end of the book.

A few things that I didn't like were a very small amount of female NPCs included, as well as what feels like an excessive amount of flavor text, although to be fair it's quite easy to cut it down to what you need for your specific game. There's also a bit of rules looseness that can aggravate the more strict of players, and the adventure does have a clear set of rails after a point, even if there are moments where those rails are expertly hidden. There's also a bit of a mechanical drag in the later part of the book, hammering weakness into the party which can get frustrating, but the book itself has steps for how to mitigate this.

The amount of effort that goes into detailing the NPCs and setting up the world offsets this though to the point where it's still a very nice journey to take a part on, and the companion book to this does such a great job of setting up the city that it's hard not to get a sense of grand adventure coming in later installments.

There's also a lot of personality from the writer that you can sense in this (sometimes a touch too much), but overall it helps make the NPCs and setting pop in a way that will help your party members remember important facts, making this a solid starting point for what I hope to be a full adventure path!



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Difficult Circumstances: A Prologue adventure for What Lies Beyond Reason - Pathfinder
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What Lies Beyond Reason Player's Guide
Publisher: Pyromaniac Press
by N. J. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 11/20/2015 09:53:11

Reading over this player's guide, I was able to get a real sense of the city and everything it had to offer. The descriptions of the city itself were evocative enough to allow me to visualize them clearly, and the detail on the settlement itself was enough to let me know everything I needed if I wanted to run a game in a city like this.

It has a strong metropolitan feel to it, and while I might be somewhat singular in this, I actually really enjoyed the elaborations on the legal system and proceedings that helped flesh out the area, making it feel more like a living city than a lot of other ones, really beyond what I would have expected for a player's guide.

While I did find the player options a bit sparse, everything else was top notch, giving me a sense that a lot of things could happen in this city. Really, any complaints I have could simply be addressed in this getting a more detailed release later to expand upon the current material, as this is a solid base if you even wanted to consider using this city in regular games.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
What Lies Beyond Reason Player's Guide
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