The following review was originally posted at Roleplayers Chronicle and can be read in its entirety at http://roleplayerschronicle.com/?p=45972.
Tales from the Green Gryphon Inn is an adventure book, right? Meh, not exactly; it’s more than that. Often times, tabletop role-playing books draw a well-defined line between setting supplements, adventure books, and campaigns. Then there’s this gray area; a gray area that happens to be where I like to be. Tales from the Green Gryphon Inn resides within that gray area, but in a very good way. It’s part setting book, part adventure book, part campaign launching point. It’s not a sandbox, although it has many sandbox qualities; it’s what I like to call a playground adventure setting.
Tales from the Green Gryphon Inn details the city of Gryphonburgh set within the Shadow World. The first half of the book details this city and the large moor that resides nearby. It goes on to describe the area much like a sourcebook would, providing a fully fleshed-out setting for GMs to play in. Once you understand the setting, it moves on to providing a series of loosely-linked adventures, written in the spirit of “just enough to get the GM going, but not too much to tie her down.” There aren’t that many adventures here, but there’s definitely enough for many nights of excellent gameplay or the start of an interesting campaign.
The result, is the playground. It’s a sandbox setting with structured parts for the GM to play with. It’s not a plot point campaign like Savage Worlds as there’s no overarching plot to save the world or fix some grand disaster. It’s merely a set of adventures set within the very detailed setting that can be played in order using a storyline determined by the GM (not the book). This is definitely not a book for the lazy GM, but it’s definitely a book for the GM who desires a framework and wishes to fill in the remaining details.
My biases end at the structure of the adventure book. I enjoy reading Shadow World content and lately, Rolemaster source material feels overwhelmingly complete; borderline too complete at times. The good thing is, the setting is also a very interesting setting and the little hidden secrets at the hands of the GM are just screaming for an intrepid band of warriors to discover. Obviously I don’t play spoilers in my reviews, so that’s about all I’ll say. I will add, however, that I really like how the adventures incorporate all aspects of the setting without narrowing the GM’s and players’ focus on a single section. In other words, the PCs will get to explore the entire area without the GM having to force it into the story; it’s already there and already tied together.