Welcome to our little Review section here on the Open Gaming Network.
We take products and review them, intending to give the reader the best chance of evaluating whether this particular release is for them.
There is, of course, a scoring system, similar to that used elsewhere, in a 5-star rating, which we have determined as follows:
1 * – Bad
2 * – Mediocre
3 * – Decent
4 * – Good
5 * – Excellent
Now, let’s get on with the show!
This week we give you Where Heroes Stand!
Publisher: Rising Phoenix Games
Author: Rodney Sloan
Cover Artist: Julia Sloan, Rodney Sloan
Page count: 42 ( 1 page cover, 1 page credits, 38 page content, 1 page OGL and 1 page back cover)
Right, so let’s look at the cover first. The Kabuki mask that you see, with the Japanese flag style overlay, gives off a very “Japan”-vibe, making you expect a game set in that country or at least the “classic samurai era”. I’m happy to report that THAT is exactly what we get here.
But let’s skip to the contents.
I’m happy to report that this particular adventure does NOT succumb to one of my pet peeves of content to cover ratio. In fact, you get a LOT of content for your buck in this one, though I’ll admit that it’s not what I had expected.
Since this is an adventure, I won’t go too far into spoiler territory, in that it’s a murder mystery set in a Japanese village, complete with fireworks, a “Shogun” like village lord, brutal bodyguards, and kitsune.
The basic setup is simple, in that the village lord is murdered (a man named Honda) by a mysterious group aiming to attack and take the village, to use as a spearhead for further hostilities. Good, but simple setup, but I’m not a fan of how the murder itself is accomplished, as it feels just a bit too much like railroading. I suppose that’s hard to avoid when setting up a murder investigation, but it is nonetheless slightly annoying.
The players then take on the roles of people from the village (which I like the execution of. They’re an interesting range of characters, and very believable within the context of the adventure), and they’re tasked with figuring it out. Since I won’t spoil it, let’s just say there are tengu and oni involved. It all ends up with PCs retaking a castle.
The adventure itself is decent enough, if a bit straightforward, but there are a few things that I have a bit of an issue with. One is the kitsune. I like the kitsune, but they feel like they were just thrown in here for no particular reason. I’d have liked to have seen a bit more reason for them being included, or at least a bit more to do with them.
My other issue actually is, well, less of an issue. And that’s because I don’t want to call this an adventure. I want to call it a mini-setting. And I like this mini-setting, but I really want to use it more, than for just an adventure. A bit of a luxury problem.
And so we come to the conclusion:
OK, I’ll preface this by saying that you’re getting a large amount of content with this book for the price (though admittedly there isn’t much art as such, and the maps are a bit simple). As said before, I found a lot to like in the book, though the adventure itself is likely not something I’d be running. The setting and village, however, is what I’ll be taking away from this particular book, as I find that it’s what I’ll be using from this. As such, I don’t think I can give it the full 5-stars since the adventure part isn’t what I’ll be using. But playing around with the NPCs and PCs of the near-Japan fantasy village, and the potential for conflict with the traditional lifestyle of the village and the Spanish priest does make for an interesting clash of cultures, one that the right group of games would enjoy. – So, as said, while I can’t quite give it a 5 star, it is a VERY solid 4. If I had liked the adventure part itself better, it would have been a 5-star. (Though I do find it a bit of a shame that there’s no more art within the pages of this book, I’d have loved some fitting artwork for both GM and players to enjoy).
Well done Rodney. Can we get a followup, for the ACTUAL lord and his area too? – But this time, make it a full setting book. 😉