Recession Reviews: Raging Swan Round up
Times are hard and while a gaming book beats any trip to the theatre, our loved ones don’t always see it that way. When you can spare the money what products deserve your hard earned gaming dollars? Who balances enough crunch with the fluff to allow the frugal GM to recycle, after all the best games are the ones you can play over and over again without losing interest.
Normally we’ll not being doing half an AP all at once, and any who wish to review something in this format should email me a request at email@example.com
Dark Oak Collector’s Edition :
Written by: Creighton Broadhurst and Steve Hood
Page count: 45 counting the inside covers
Throw Away pages: 12 (covers, forward, sectional title pages)
Golden Pages: 19 (reusable npcs, spells, reusable maps, monsters, new items)
Cover price: $10.99 (print)
Price per page: $0.24
Modified price per page: $0.21 = Cover price/pages + golden pages – throw away pages= modified price per page
Crunch to Fluff Ratio: 3.75 to 1
Our Rating out of 10: 8.5- quite reusable
Description (minor spoilers): I’m giving this a full 1 point bump for layout. Typically you only notice poor layout but this adventure has outstanding layout that make it easier to use. The crunch is conveniently located and a table in the front has a quick reference and page numbers on all the stat blocks. Now that I’m done gushing on the layout let’s address the work itself.
We get 2 main locations, a village home base with allot of character and what essentially amounts to a dungeon. Lots of NOCs in the village and it’d make a fine drop in for just about any setting where you need a small village and a swamp. There’s some negative space in the design as a few hooks are left open (like why an npc fears her own basement.)
The dungeon is a fine drop in and front and rear loaded. The first fight suffers slightly from being the third or fourth corrupted Treant I’ve read about this year (Kingmaker 6, Realm of the Fellknight Queen, pretty much what frost firs are in Reign of Winter), its turning into a trope. The Pcs can talk their way around it leaving them quite able to handle this in one long session.
The middle fights are ok, and the big fight to finish promises to be memorable, though I’d consider adding another lizardman veteran or 2. Terrain will play into this heavily and it is the main thing to consider carefully in the end fight.
The additional items are fantastic and some pregenerated characters appear in the player aid section if one wanted to run this as a one shot. Those characters can just as easily be stat blocks for baddies and it’s a nice addition as is the rules supplement.
Overall this is a good adventure with a classic feel which is its strength and where it falls down for me. There’s nothing here that feels innovative or particularly exciting game design wise. While this is far from innovative it is extremely well executed. The layout, attention to detail on rules and characters raise this from an average tale to a really solid drop in I’m comfortable recommending for a Midguard or Kingmaker campaign.
Henchfolk and Hirelings :
Written by: Creighton Broadhurst, Christian Alipounarian and Andy Glenn
Page count: 48 counting the inside covers
Throw Away pages: 4 (covers, forward, sectional title pages)
Golden Pages: 4
Cover price: $5.99 (pdf only)
Price per page: $0.12
Modified price per page: $0.12 = Cover price/pages + golden pages – throw away pages= modified price per page
Crunch to Fluff Ratio: 12 to 1
Our Rating out of 10: 9- valuable
Description: Like Creighton I’ve never been satisfied with the leadership feat, this presents useable old school rules and provides quick stats and more importantly personalities for a fairly extensive range of classes, races, and alignments.
If this had all the statblocks it’d be an undisputed 10 as it stands I would make the pcs flesh out the rest (which is perhaps the intention.
Villains III :
Written by: Julian Neale and Martin Tideswell
Page count: 23 counting the inside covers
Throw Away pages: 8 (covers, forward, title pages)
Golden Pages: 15
Cover price: $3.99 (pdf only)
Price per page: $0.17
Modified price per page: $0.13 = Cover price/pages + golden pages – throw away pages= modified price per page
Crunch to Fluff Ratio: 2.87 to 1
Our Rating out of 10: 8- useful
Description: 10 villains in the CR5 ish sweet spot. All of them complete with statblocks and personality, I used one as a villain in Kingmaker and it ended up a PC’s cohort. This product is solid usable material for just about any campaign in need of a quick villain or 10.
Overall: Raging Swan is one of the 3PPs I’d extend trust to. Their layouts are helpfully superb, they have a strong focus on GM material, and they in particular make good characters which at the end of the day is the foundation of roleplaying. I haven’t seen innovative but what I do see is safe, solid, and useful products for today’s harried GM.
I also give them kudos for their sample pages and money-back guarentee. Gaming budgets are tight, if you aren't happy with a product having the ability to get your hobby budget back is clutch.