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Disease
Publisher: Gethsemane Games
by Sadik K. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 08/15/2011 08:02:45
For a free product this is rather good, actually I'll go a bit further and say very good.

The 8 pages are bursting with horrible illnesses from the deadly to the inconvenient and it suggests quite a lot of research went into putting it together. More than one might expect for a free product. Then again I noticed the reference to the fact that the product is actually taken form the horror RPG “Haunts and Horrors” which I have yet to acquire (I'm told by those that have that H+H shows a lot of research went into it, so that probably explains this products depth, given it's short page count).

One or two typos have snuck in under the radar (I think – English is not my first language), but I don't find that a big problem.

Although it could be used with just about any game, some legwork will be needed by the GM to make it fit anything other than the Gethsemane Games Engine used in their RPGs. However, if you do play other GG games this is a good little addition. Personally I'll be using it in my “Spelldancer” sagas to good effect. Although Spelldancer has it's own disease section, and the rules governing disease, treatment and recovery (or failure to recover!) are the same, the actual diseases don't double up with the ones in the Spelldancer rules with one exception (Gangrene, although it is given a different name in the Spelldancer rules).

The product lacks much art, but for a free product that isn't much of a surprise – besides I print most my PDFs out and with ink costs here being so steep (oil is cheaper by volume) this is a good thing for me.

If you want to add the element of illness to your games, I recommend this product at least as a starting point.

Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Disease
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Games of Chance
Publisher: Gethsemane Games
by Sadik K. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 08/15/2011 07:47:08
To my mind Games of Chance is not one of the better products by GG, but then again it is free and it isn't all that bad either.

The product includes 3 games of chance, such as one might play in a tavern or gambling den. It includes a description of the games as well as how to use them in the Spelldancer RPG. Although the product mentions they can be converted to other RPGs, I think they are better situated within the Elizim setting, as each one tells you a little something about the culture that devised the game.

Whilst they are well thought out, I can't help thinking that for many RPGs, these “Games within games” are a little more time consuming and complex than is strictly necessary , but then I guess it depends upon your group and what they like.

Personally I would have liked to see them as an appendix to a larger product, perhaps in the Spelldancer RPG itself or in one of the promised Gazateers? Or even just on the GG website with some of the other free Spelldancer material that appears there.

With just 3 gambling games in the product I think there are other products on RPGnow that may be of more use to anyone wanting to fit some games of chance into their none GG games, but as a window into the Elizim background I find this quite interesting.

I'm quite torn as I sort of like it, and it is free, but can't see myself using it much and certainly not for games other than Spelldancer.

Rating:
[3 of 5 Stars!]
Games of Chance
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Secret of Serpent Tor
Publisher: Gethsemane Games
by Sadik K. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 08/15/2011 07:32:40
Secret of serpent tor is a dungeon based adventure for the Fantasy RPG “Spelldancer” by Gethsemane Games, but it could easily be converted to any % based RPG almost “On the fly”.

The adventure is based around a long forgotten cult of demon snake-people accidentally unleashed when the abandoned and ruined fort-shrine built to lock them away is plundered for stone by the local farmers.

There are two obvious hooks to bring players into the adventure – the first is the gold state that has been discovered – previously hidden (for reasons that are made clear in the GM background) under a layer of plaster – greed being a traditional RPG hook for most parties. The second relates to the farm hands who have vanished inside the caves. Intended to be set in the Empire, the motivation to help fellow imperial citizens is a strong one if the players are also playing imperial citizens – the mind set of the Empire being that they look after their own.

Regardless of how you get the PCs into the caves under serpent Tor they are in for a challenge. As is often the case with GG modules, part of the challenge comes from the environment itself, although this is less the case than with say “Sulphur pits", where the very air is toxic in places.

There are plenty of opportunities for characters to test their skills, just getting into the Tor complex itself resulted, when we played, in a complex game of cat and mouse with the patrolling Serpent-folk. Spelldancer combat being what it is (exciting and dangerous) “Getting the drop” on the enemy is hugely advantageous and as the PCs and the serpent-man patrol tried to sneak up and ambush one another it lead for a very tense and memorable opening sequence to the play session.

Once inside the caverns the tension was maintained as the serpent folk were now on their home ground and the PCs got the feeling of being stalked by a terrible foe. Don't get me wrong, this is an adventure that is not as sophisticated as “Trouble at the Troubadours rest” but as a dungeon adventure it is tonnes of fun!

Plenty of scope for expansion as well, with a “bottomless pit” that could easily lead to another level if you wished to add one, and a hook that could easily lead to many more adventures and problems long after the Serpent-men are a distant bad memory.

This leads me on to the next point and another recurring theme in GG modules – a reward that is a double edged sword. Whilst the golden statue that once sealed the cult in their subterranean prison is worth a nobles ransom, actually capitalising on it can lead to all sorts of problems. The weight alone makes it hard to move and it's value will attract every ner-do-well in the region. Set during the plains war when banditry is at it's height on the Imperial border region this is a very real problem. As the end notes point out as well, actually getting the statues value in cash will be a virtual impossibility and problems with the imperial authorities are also a real risk. When we played the adventure the party melted the damaged statue down into ingots in order to make it easier to dispose of. With all mineral rites belonging to the emperor, a party with a wagon full of unstamped gold ingots drew Imperial interest that resulted in a lot of explaining from the party and an entire sub plot sprang up around it.

Ideally the PCs should be of moderate skill level and experience, although as often happens with Spelldancer clever and thoughtful preparation can win the day. A modicum of sense and knowing when discretion is the better part of valour helps as well.

My one criticism, and it is a fairly smallone, is that compared to "Trouble at..." this is a far less sophisticated module it itself (although the aftermath can lead t all sorts of more complex fun). As a dungeon crawl though, it is nice!

All told a very fun dungeon crawl with far reaching consequences that can effect your PCs for quite some time to come. This isn't a “Fire and forget” adventure if yo use a party of characters you wish to use again.

Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Secret of Serpent Tor
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