The following review was originally posted at Roleplayers Chronicle and can be read in its entirety at http://roleplayerschronicle.com/?p=29390.
Classic Encounters Revisited: The Inn specializes on the one common place of all games, the local Inn and/or Tavern. Or both, depending on what kind of world you build! Every world has its watering holes; those places where everyone knows your name (or at least one of your names). These are the places where characters plot their rebellions, conquests and adventures. The inn/tavern is the ultimate location where all adventures come to begin or come to end. Although the title states “Inn” this is a sourcebook that can easily be utilized in a tavern or pub, depending on your needs as a world builder.
If you have difficulty in creating custom inn and tavern experiences, this will definitely help in getting out of the defaults of D&D and Pirates of the Caribbean style inns/taverns. This book helps GMs think outside the box and have loads of fun while doing so! If you have players who like to create taverns, it’s also for them to learn whether or not they have what it takes to run one of their own. For the first official publication of K² Games, this is a great first product launch. But it is not without a few minor glitches that I share in my review. These small glitches however, do not seriously affect the awesomeness of this product, and for the small price of $3.00 for the PDF, it’s worth the minor glitches. I am happy to say, that this is definitely a company and a product that is going in the right direction. I recommend this product to all and I would love to see this item as a printed product. I look forward to seeing what this company will produce in the near future.
Publication Quality: 7 out of 10
I base my publication quality rating on two things: Ease of Portability and Layout Presentation of Information. The layout presentation is amazing, it’s all neatly and simply put together perfectly. It would have been nice if the section about creating the name of your tavern was up front. There are many players who pick the name before they even begin to develop the rest of the tavern, but that is a minor nitpick. The sourcebook keeps the art down to a minimum and there is very little white space being wasted. It is presented in a simple layout where GM’s can easily read it and if the GM needed to print pages out, they can do so in a way that does not burn excessive ink.
The reason this item is getting a low publication rating however is due to the ease of portability issues that it has. The file comes in at a whopping 81MB! Most apps on an E-reader or iPad are not even this size and I’ve seen other 3rd party publishers who have far more art and layout design, but still keep their file sizes down. This unfortunately means that downloading or transferring the file is not fast even on the fastest of download speeds. Moving from section to section in the PDF is even slower than molasses as a bigger result. The product is properly bookmarked does save time when moving from section to section, but only slightly.
When you are a GM, and you have to go from section to section when building an inn/tavern or on game day, it is an incredibly frustrating process. When I attempted to download this on my computer, it took quite a long time, and on my Kindle it was worse. I can understand a file of this size if you planned on printing this book or if this was a Core System Rulebook. But if you plan on purchasing this, and intend on using it regularly at your game table, go to your local printer and print it out. Otherwise expect a serious lag on your technology. (I personally call mine Ye Olde World Kinkos since they still have Fax machines and scanners.)
Mechanics: 10 out of 10
Mechanically, there are very few major errors. The adventure doesn’t get into the nitty-gritty of inn/tavern life, but if you are looking for a foundation in which you can create a custom ruleset based on whatever your players try to throw at you, this product does that. The stat blocks for the Innkeeper and his family are nice touches. Concerning the tables, they are incredibly nice, but you could do well without it if you have a GameMastery Guide or the brand new NPC Codex. But overall, the mechanics are sound for the system, and allow GMs to be as flexible as they need to be when in-game.
Value Add: 10 out of 10
One of the things I love about 3rd party publications is that they are able to do things that many major game systems cannot cover due to time or development restrictions. This is one of those products that fits the mold. Where you can take something that is already established in a system, and think a little more out of the box. The tables are a little more diverse than what you would see in the GameMastery Guide section of building taverns, but if you don’t have it, and don’t want to buy it, then spending three dollars to focus completely on inns/taverns is a worthy investment. You add the high resolution maps that come with the product and you definitely have a great return on your small investment.
Overall: 8 out of 10
Overall, this product is a great item for those who spend a lot of time building adventures around inns/taverns. The price is definitely affordable, and you get quite a lot for your money. What keeps this product from getting a higher score is the fact that it is rather huge and cumbersome to load and/or navigate through. In an arena where publishers are doing more on less, it is something that this new company will have to master, formatting wise, and figure out as they continue to publish more material.