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101 Not So Random Encounters: Urban (PFRPG) $5.99 $2.99
Average Rating:4.3 / 5
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101 Not So Random Encounters: Urban (PFRPG)
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101 Not So Random Encounters: Urban (PFRPG)
Publisher: Rite Publishing
by Aaron H. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 09/24/2012 14:07:35
The following review was originally posted at Roleplayers Chronicle and can be read in its entirety at http://roleplayerschronicle.com/?p=27357.

Steven D. Russell gives GMs 101 “bad guys” from the organization known as the Fold of Mother’s Pride – a member in the criminal cartel made up of mostly monsters – to throw at the adventurers. 101 Not So Random Encounters: Urban is intended for GM use in Rite Publishing’s City of Questhaven for the Pathfinder system. It can be adapted for other use as well with a little bit of work.

The city is always scary and now it has gotten nastier. 101 Not So Random Encounters: Urban gives the GM more creative flexibility and more encounters freak out players with the city’s criminal underworld organization known as Mother’s Pride. Theencounters range from CR 23 to CR 1/2 with the ability to scale all of them upwards two more levels and some of them downwards two levels. There is some artwork within the product – some of it is good, some of it is okay.

OVERALL

101 Not So Random Encounters: Urban brings gamers a vast array of new options to astonish even the most jaded of players with unique encounters. It gives the GM creative vigor, and it’ll give the players something to talk about for a long time. The big issue with this product is its lack of complete statistics for all of the entries and there isn’t artwork to go with each encountered creature. Unfortunately, this product does not give a very detailed description of Mother’s Pride in the introduction.

RATINGS

Publication Quality: 8 out of 10
The order of the content flows beautifully from the head of the Mother’s Pride down to the latest “youngling” that has been taken into the criminal organization’s membership. However, the lack of artwork within every monster entry is a deterrent to this product. Also, some entries are not as detailed as others; consequently, you will have to have the Pathfinder Bestiaries in order to look up statistics for most of the creatures (about 70 – 80%) used in the product.

Mechanics: 8 out of 10
The mechanics listed are typically the standard statistics from the Bestiaries or if they have been adjusted, it is because of the scaling of the creature, up or down.

Value Add: 8 out of 10
The aim of this product is GMs and those players who plan on becoming GMs. If Steven Russell had given players an extra section with more information specific to the criminal cartel system in Questhaven, the product would have the ability to be expanded by the GM if needed.

Overall: 8 out of 10
If there was more artwork and all of the statistics were given for all of the creatures, this product would have been rated much higher. One of the good things is the ability to scale the encounters up, and in some cases down, so that the GM can adapt them to the needs of the game. The other really good thing is that all of the members of the organization are listed and there is flavor text (individual personality and hangouts) for each of them.

Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
101 Not So Random Encounters: Urban (PFRPG)
Publisher: Rite Publishing
by Thilo G. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 06/21/2012 06:50:17
This installment of Rite Publishing's 101-series is different and that becomes readily apparent by taking a look at the page-count - 51 pages, 1 devoted to front cover, 1 page editorial, 1 page SRD and 1 page advertisement, leaving a whopping total of 47 (!!!) pages of content devoted to new encounters, so let's check them out!

If you're a patron of Questhaven (Rite Publishing's upcoming city-setting), you'll be familiar with the basic premise of this pdf, if not, I'd suggest especially players to jump to the conclusion. Just let it be said, that the basic premise is awesome and that this pdf takes a completely different approach to encounters than e.g. one can see in Raging Swan's excellent "Caves & Caverns". Instead, the creatures indeed are distinctly "Not so" random. This pdf is dedicated to me (thank you, Steve!) for reviews good and bad - so in which category does this one fall?

SPOILERS follow.

You have been warned. Still here? All right! In the magical renaissance of Questhaven, there is an organization called "The Fold", essentially an organization of organized monsters - think "The Godfather" with monsters. Worse, all the individual monsters can thus combine their powers, making the Fold a formidable force indeed. Spawned from the rich background currently being developed in the Questhaven-project, this installment of the "101-series" provides us a plethora of NPCs that are tied together by this frame-organization. It should be noted, however, that the individual entries can be taken and used by their own - in no way are you restricted by the narratives to use the beings herein as part of the Fold.

It should also be known that most of the creatures herein have more than one use, one CR respectively and can not only be considered foes to kill, but actually intriguing characters to interact with. Need an example? What about the Rakshasa maharaja who awaits the natural death of his powerful wife to reincarnate her as one of his own people. Oh, and she's an advanced exemplar harridan lamia. (With full stat block!) Said rakshasa also gets his own, modified war juggernaut. Even better, while not every NPC herein gets a full statblock, where applicable, quick modifications provided in the entries can be applied to the basic statblocks.

Not only are there multiple instances for interesting (and often rarely used) beasts that have been made true characters, including a whole network of relationships entwining the different component parts of this cell of the Fold, the characters also can be considered beyond all doubt iconic: Take Jack Straw, for example: A pale stranger that has lost all ties with mankind and usually appears disguised as a scarecrow! Undead, gunslinging scarecrows? Yes, please! Or take lonely Skanda of the thousand whispers: A collective of thousands of mandragora plants, the creature comes with both a single, swarm and collective form and takes up three of the entries - and its roots are, truly, everywhere - keeping a secret from this spymaster should provide to be a rather significant challenge. Hunting-falcon style domesticated stirges? Medusa apothecaries? Or what about an enforcer who is actually a dream-spectre and known as the "Romantic Nightmare" due to its disturbing courtship habits?

In the end, the pdf provides tables by party levels for the creatures to roll, if you're so inclined.

Conclusion:
Editing and formatting are very good - while I noticed some minor glitches, they were few and far in-between and did not impede my enjoyment of the pdf. Layout adheres to RiP's two-column standard and the artworks are ok. The pdf comes with bookmarks for every 10 NPCs - Cr-information for the respective beings would have helped. I'll come right out and say it: This pdf is not perfect in its formal criteria - there could be more bookmarks and there are minor glitches. Usually, that would deter from my enjoyment of the pdf enough to warrant a downgrade in the final rating. However: This pdf is awesome. Steven D. Russell is an expert writer and I'm a huge fan of his fluff. Enjoyable to the extreme, this pdf is one of the rare pdfs that immediately make you come up not with a hook, not with an adventure-idea, but with a whole array of possibilities, enough to spark a whole campaign in fact. It is rare these days that a pdf can truly surprise me with its imaginative potential. Rarer even is the pdf that has me smile at the coolness of the idea and indeed, this pdf had me smile - a lot.
Colorful enough to be the cast of a novel (or a whole series of them) the beings herein a so different from what one usually expects that I can wholeheartedly say that NONE of the beings herein can be considered filler. Add to that the intricate web of connections and social relationships and you not only get a vast variety of interesting creatures, but also a portray of a complex crime family that has a staggering array of options and strategies at their disposal, challenging your PCs when trying to outwit the Fold. The writing and imaginative potential contained in these pages is superior and frankly, the characters in most novels are less colorful.

This is one of the installments of the "101 series" that BELONGS into any well-stocked GM-library - and if you're e.g. planning an urban campaign, this is essentially a must. Even better, if your own campaign has become stale, take this pdf and make the creatures herein perform a hostile takeover of a local underworld or even a kingdom and watch your players struggle. The potential is vast and thus, in spite of my minor gripes, I'll settle for a full verdict of 5 stars endzeitgeist seal of approval.

Endzeitgeist out.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
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