When I first started trick-or-treating, I enjoyed reaching into my bag to draw out random pieces of candy. It was fun not knowing what I’d get, so much so that I think I enjoyed the surprise almost as much as the candy itself. As I got older, however, I came to enjoy this game less and less – I knew what specific candy I wanted, and so picking out whatever I happened to close my hand around wasn’t as appealing; ultimately, I dumped out my candy bag at home to sort out what was what. Reading through Horrors of the GOW, by Purple Duck Games, I’m reminded of why I stopped caring for randomly fishing for candy.
A full twenty-eight page PDF, I found myself wondering how many people were scratching their heads at the “GOW” in the title. While I suspect that it’s meant to have an in-game meaning also, it really stands for Grand OGL Wiki, the project from which Purple Duck Games sprung from. The artwork here is entirely credited to Sade, and consists of several full-color pieces, a number of which are photographed images that have a sort of dark, gothic bent to them.
Unfortunately, the book’s construction falls down when it comes to the bookmarks. Clearly, the publisher was trying to make them work, since there’s a number that go to various places in the book. However, their success is limited, in that a number of sections are skipped, and several of the nested bookmarks oddly have full paragraphs of text from the section they lead to.
As the title suggests, the book is dedicated to material of a dark, spooky nature for your Pathfinder game. What the title doesn’t tell you is just how much of a grab-bag this book is. While everything in here falls under the same theme of being Halloween-y, it bounces back and forth from one topic to another. For example, it opens with several monsters inspired from the Phantasm series of movies, and then later on comes back to several monsters from older 3.X companies that are updated to Pathfinder. Still later it deals with several specific creatures and NPCs.
The kicker here is that the book’s contents are quite good. From an intriguing new patron and new hexes for the (Advanced Player’s Guide) witch class, to fair selection of new monsters, to several magic items, and more, the book presents a rather nice grouping of new materials to use when you want to darken the atmosphere. The problem is how they’re presented; this book really feels like the author just took a random collection of material he’d written – checking only to make sure they felt appropriately “spooky” – and then dumped them all here in the order he thought of them.
Ultimately, Horrors of the GOW is an object lesson in that, while it may seem like quality writing is the most important thing for a book, layout is king. I’d have rated this book a full star higher had it organized itself better and fixed its bookmarks. Thank heavens it at least had a table of contents. Otherwise, you’d be rooting around in this file, trying to stumble onto that one specific item you want…just like a piece of candy at the bottom of your Halloween bag.
[3 of 5 Stars!]