Double Review: Midgard Bestiary (Pathfinder RPG Edition) & Party of One: Alosar Emanl


Neuroglyph

First Post
I can feel it the air… I can feel it in earth… I can watch it blowing up my email inbox!

The summer rush of RPG products is starting way earlier this year than last year – after all, it’s still only spring - and I’m quickly getting buried with a whole range of awesome game systems, modules, and sourcebooks. Not that I am complaining, I love getting all this new material to review, but I don’t want to let all these new releases sit around too long, else they would become old releases, if you take my meaning. So every once in a while over the next few months, I’m going to try and put together a Double Review, and check out two related products in the same weekly EN World article.

In this Double Review, I want to take a look at a couple of products from Open Design – the publishers of Kobold Quarterly and many other notable products for Pathfinder RPG, D&D 4E, and DragonAGE RPG. First I’ll review the Midgard Bestiary (Pathfinder RPG Edition), followed by a review of Party of One module entitled Alosar Emanli & the Creatures from the Fallen Star.

Midgard Bestiary (Pathfinder RPG Edition)

  • Design: Adam Daigle
  • Illustrators: Aaron Miller (cover), Darren Calvert, Cory Trego-Erdner, Rick Hershey, Michael Jaecks, James Keegan, Pat Loboyko, Chris McFann, Jeff McFarland, Aaron Miller, Hugo Solis, Allison Theus (interior)
  • Publisher: Open Design
  • Year: 2012
  • Media: PDF (109 pages)
  • Retail Price: $9.99 from RPGNow.com
Midgard Bestiary (Pathfinder RPG Edition) is a new monster manual for Open Design’s Midgard Campaign Setting, and utilizes the Pathfinder RPG rules set. The book contains more than 80 monsters drawn from a variety of fantasy sources, and are usable in almost any setting for the Pathfinder game system. Each monster has a introductory flavor text, a Pathfinder/OGL style stat block, and a full description of the creature’s origin and tactics. Midgard Bestiary (Pathfinder RPG Edition) also has several appendices listing monsters by type, by terrain, and by CR, and also has random encounter tables for GM’s to pick up and use in their adventure planning.

Production Quality

The production quality of Midgard Bestiary (Pathfinder RPG Edition) is excellent, with an easy-to-access layout where each creature has its own page, and clean, sharp writing to describe each monster. The PDF pages have only light edge flourishes, making printing no real issue, and the text is rendered in a sepia tone that gives a nifty parchment-like feel to each page. Each monster entry is complete with a Pathfinder-style stat block, and an illustration to show what the creature looks like in battle. The flavor text offers is a quick read-aloud style descriptive narrative of what the entity looks like when encountered, and the monster summary gives a more detailed description about its origins, habitat, and battle tactics after each stat block. For monsters that can be player characters or NPCs, the designers also include a section with stat bonuses and other important characteristics as you would find with any playable Pathfinder race.

Midgard Bestiary (Pathfinder RPG Edition) has a table of contents, as well as PDF bookmarks to make navigation through the book very simple and fastFor the most part, monsters are listed in alphabetical order as throughout the book, with the exception of broad categories like “Vermin” which have several different creatures under one heading.

The illustrations in the Midgard Bestiary (Pathfinder RPG Edition) are very nicely rendered, and range from black-and-white sketches, sepia tone renderings, and a few full-color illustrations. It should be noted that some of the creature art was borrowed from the earlier release of the Midgard Bestiary (Volume 1) for DragonAGE RPG, but there are quite a few new monsters included in this new release for Pathfinder which have their own original illustrations. Personally, I think that including a monster image in each entry really assists the game master, both in describing the creatures actions in combat, and in role-playing out the player-characters reaction, and makes the book a true monster manual in that regard.

The Bestiary

Midgard Bestiary (Pathfinder RPG Edition)contains a wide range of monsters, including aberrations, animals, constructs, humanoids, outsiders, plants, undead, vermin, and many other categories. In fact, the PDF has a complete listing of monsters by type in Appendix I, making it easy to select the right monster for a particular adventure being planned.

Those in the gaming community who know the Midgard Campaign Setting are familiar with a certain Chief Kobold at Open Design who enjoys a wide range of magical clockwork monsters. There are nearly a dozen Midgard style clockwork monsters in the Midgard Bestiary (Pathfinder RPG Edition) ranging from clockwork beetles and beetle swarms, to clockwork hounds, huntsmen, and myrmidons.

However, unlike the earlier released Midgard Bestiary (Volume 1) for DragonAGE, there are fewer entries of monsters which are unique to the Midgard setting. Midgard Bestiary (Volume 1) had a number of entries of creatures and NPCs from the certain lands and cultures in the setting, such as the Arbonesse Exile, Bemmean Wizard, Free Canton Seigebreaker. A few such entries remain like the Imperial Ghoul and the Shadow Fey, but the NPC types seem to have made way for a generous portion of new fantasy monsters.

In fact, there are more than fifty new monsters in the Midgard Bestiary (Pathfinder RPG Edition) which the last year’s DragonAGE version did not have, so the loss of the highly setting-specific NPCs probably isn’t such a terrible thing.

There are also some variations on classic D&D and Pathfinder monsters in Midgard Bestiary (Pathfinder RPG Edition), including new devils, dragon types, golems, and the like. I also noted there were a number of entries in this supplement taken from the winners and runners-up of the Kobold Quarterly King of the Monsters Contests, which offers an interesting selection of creatures from mythology and the imaginations of gamers from the Pathfinder and D&D community.

The monsters range in threat from CR 1/2 to CR 19, although the largest percentage of creatures fall into the range of CR 1/2 to CR 9. The monsters show a wide range of nifty powers, and come complete with all the features you would expect to see in a Pathfinder stat block including ability scores, feats, and skills.

Overall Score: 4.0 out of 5.0

Conclusions

Overall, Midgard Bestiary (Pathfinder RPG Edition) is a very solid monster manual for the Pathfinder RPG, whether you choose to play in the Migard Campaign Setting or in some other fantasy world. The book feels very complete, with excellent writing for the monster descriptions, as well as flavor text, illustrations and stat blocks in every entry. Given the sheer number of monsters offered in this PDF, the Midgard Bestiary (Pathfinder RPG Edition) is a solid deal for adding a lot of new and exciting challenges for any Pathfinder RPG campaign.

Grade Card (Ratings 1 to 5)

  • Presentation: 3.75
  • - Design: 4.0 (Great page layout; easy to read and navigate)
  • - Illustrations: 3.5 (Cool illustrations of monsters, but there was some reuse of pics from earlier sources)
  • Content: 4.25
  • - Crunch: 4.0 (Tons of crunch; awesome monster power designs and a range of monster types)
  • - Fluff: 4.5 (Excellent background info on monster origins and fighting styles)
  • Value: 4.0 (Very good price for a monster manual of this size!)
Author’s Note: This Reviewer received a complimentary copy of the PDF from which the review was written.

And now on to the Review #2…

Alosar Emanli & the Creatures from the Fallen Star

  • Design: Matthew J. Hanson
  • Illustrators: Rick Hershey
  • Publisher: Open Design
  • Year: 2012
  • Media: PDF (15 pages)
  • Retail Price: $2.99 from RPGNOW.com
Alosar Emanli & the Creatures from the Fallen Star is a Party of One solo adventure, labeled BB3 of the game series. It uses the Pathfinder rules set, and requires no GM to run the adventure, containing everything single players needs to run it for themselves. The adventure includes an appendix with two characters sheets for use if the player wishes to continue to use Alosar in further Pathfinder adventures.

Production Quality

The production quality of Alosar Emanli & the Creatures from the Fallen Star is fair to average, with good writing and adventure design, but having some serious final production issues. For starters, the adventure comes as a PDF but has no bookmarks for navigation. Further, there are no hyperlinks in the PDF so that you can click quickly from one outcome to another as you choose the actions for the character. While you could print the PDF out and run the solo adventure that way, the publisher uses a very dark gray stone or aged parchment appearance which makes it impossible to print legibly. There are also a few layout issues, misspellings, and tab placement problems which mars the polish on the final product.

The illustrations in Alosar Emanli & the Creatures from the Fallen Star are sparse – only the front cover and the last page have them - but are excellent renders of the solo character and his trainer. I suspect the art was done as a “paint-over” of combined photographs, but it was done very well and enhance the adventure experience. I just wish we could have seen a couple more pics in the pages!

The Solo Adventure

Overall, the story in the adventure is quite complete, and tells the story of a young Elf Druid, Alosar, coming into his own power and learning the ways of his profession. Along the way, he encounters a number of threats, some interesting challenges which must be overcome with skills and guile, and through the use of his meager orisons and spells.

The adventure is really a good primer to the Pathfinder RPG rules, and each paragraph is laid out with text needed to complete the challenge or combat. The range of combats and the challenges are a good mix, and this would be a good product to give to a neophyte gamer to help them get an idea of the rule.

For veteran gamers looking for a bit of solo game play, the adventure is fun to run once, but I’m not sure if it has much re-playability. There is a non-combat challenge bit in the middle which would become kind of boring on subsequent replays, but otherwise, it tells a good story.

The character sheets at the end depict Alosar as a Level 1 or Level 2 Druid, but like the rest of the PDF, have that dark background to the pages which would make printing them nearly impossible due to lack of contrast. And I noted that there seems to be a problem with the spells during the adventure. At one point, Alosar is allotted Burning Hands, Charm Animal, and Cure Light Wounds for a battle. However, I’m fairly sure Druids don’t have access to Burning Hands at all, as it’s a Wizard/Sorcerer Level 1 spell.

Overall Score: 3.3 out of 5.0

Conclusions

As a Pick-a-Path or Create-Your-Own-Adventure type solo game goes, Party of One: Alosar Emanli & the Creatures from the Fallen Star needs a bit of polish but isn’t too bad overall. The story was fun, and the author did a good job creating interesting combats and challenges for a Druid class character, but the construction of the PDF left a lot to be desired. The lack of hyperlinks, or the practicality of printing out a copy of the PDF on paper, make playing the adventure a lot more work than it needs to be. But given the price, it’s not a bad buy for some Pathfinder solo fun when you can’t get your regular game going.

Grade Card (Ratings 1 to 5)

  • Presentation: 3.25
  • - Design: 2.5 (Average layout; bad navigation & poor choice of background “paper” in PDF)
  • - Illustrations: 4.0 (Awesome illustrations of the main character; wished there was more!)
  • Content: 3.25
  • - Crunch: 3.0 (Decent primer for Pathfinder rules - but Druids don’t get Burning Hands!)
  • - Fluff: 3.5 (Excellent storytelling, but might lack much re-playability)
  • Value: 3.5 (Decent price for a bit of Pathfinder adventure fun)
Author’s Note: This Reviewer received a complimentary copy of the PDF from which the review was written.

So until next review… or in this case, REVIEWS… I wish you Happy Gaming!
 
Last edited by a moderator:

log in or register to remove this ad

Visit Our Sponsor

Dungeon Delver's Guide

An Advertisement

Advertisement4

Top