||The following review was originally posted at Roleplayers Chronicle and can be read in its entirety at http://roleplayerschronicle.com/?p=19102.
Faces of The Tarnished Souk (FotTS): Bonetongue, Steward of Dead Dreams is a supplement for the Coliseum Morpheuon adventure for the Pathfinder Fantasy system in which the reader meets an old white necromancer goblin who appears to be the only person in the Coliseum Morpheuon who has respect for those that lose, should it matter that they are all dead?
Bonetongue, Steward of Dreams is the prototypical hard to kill, but why would you want to kill this kind of NPC? His templates, abilities and back story make him resilient; his aversion to direct conflict combined with his love and respect for life make Bonetongue the kind of powerfully balanced NPC that most GMs try to make, but end up putting in god mode causing resentment and feelings murderous in nature from most players. Bonetongue is interesting because if played as written, he breaks many stereotypes while still retaining a certain amount of gobliness.
Publication Quality: 10 out of 10
Rick Hershey brings Bonetongue to life in well-done black and white hues that bring the steward of the dead to life (pun intended). The attention to detail is outstanding; Bonetongue’s shovel matches the magic item description perfectly. I’m not sure if Mr. Hershey’s art inspired the creation of Bonetongue or if this is a case of original art done really well. Whatever the case this is killer art/information fusion, they were dead on! The interior art was well-placed and nicely labeled. Page 12 was dominated by the description of the Eternal Creature template and in the top right corner there is a picture of Ladon, the eternal hundred-headed dragon. While some might feel insulted by the picture caption, I felt like it tied an otherwise unassociated (albeit well-rendered) picture of a multi-headed dragon with the Eternal Creature template. The simple act of giving the dragon a name brought it alive and planted some naughty little seeds in my sick monkey mind for future encounters.
Mechanics: 10 out of 10
Balance achieved! Well-balance achieved, but not in the way I normally view balance in a game. Bonetongue is a powerful creature, but he is designed to use his power sparingly, if at all. He is a treasure trove of knowledge and the gateway to hundreds of adventures if used correctly. As I previously mentioned, he is a durable NPC who is really, really difficult to kill. Normally this really, really hard to kill aspect would worry me, but with Bonetongue, it just feels right. He isn’t power hungry, but mechanically has the tools to wreak some serious havoc. The magic items he has are interesting and balanced. Some of his templates would be downright scary if placed on an angry beholder.
Value Add: 10 out of 10
Rite publishing is notorious for giving players their monies worth and Faces of The Tarnished Souk: Bonetongue, Steward of Dead Dreams is no exception to their dedication to customer service and satisfaction. Every Coliseum needs “that guy” who collects and disposes of the bodies. Bonetongue could be the undertaker in any cemetery and still seem like a great fit. I am actually looking for excuses to interject Bonetongue into my game.
Overall: 10 out of 10
Bonetongue, Steward of Dead Dreams is a well-executed product from cover to cover! Some of the templates associated with Bonetongue are found in another Rite Publishing supplement, properly referenced and fully described. This practice might seem redundant, but it has the added benefit of making me want to see what other goodies Rite Publishing might offer. Well-done magic items, art and mechanics aside, what really makes this supplement is the loving care that was put into making Bonetongue a resilient, deep character that bucks the normal trend of the callous, uncaring undertaker. Necromancers as a group are creepy folks and while some of that creepiness seeps into Bonetongue, his role as a white necromancer is well-played. Bonetongue is an excellent example of how non-evil necromancy can be used in a game. To not buy this product would be a grave mistake!
[5 of 5 Stars!]