The following review was originally posted at Roleplayers Chronicle and can be read in its entirety at http://roleplayerschronicle.com/?p=21908.
The islands of Kaidan are as haunted as they are old. The name Kaidan means “ghost story” in Japanese. The undying court is just that, undead! Using new and innovative undead variants and interesting storylines, Rite Publishing brings us 30 haunts that will scare your katana right out of its scabbard.
The #30 series has a reputation as a solid line of products that is just the right length. The product support for Kaidan follows the standard of excellence established by the #30 series. The combination of the two products is like combining chocolate and peanut butter or peas and carrots.
Publication Quality: 9 out of 10
30 Haunts for Kaidan’s cover is a great example of the value of original art. The cover art evokes a haunted feeling. Not all of the “haunts” depicted on the cover are in the book, but that doesn’t matter. The art looks like it was taken from an old oriental painting and the style is dead on. The subtle black and grey map that forms the background of the cover not only provides a nice contrast to the wonderful art work, it looks great. While some might feel that the cover is a bit cluttered I would disagree. The inclusion of the Pathfinder and Kaidan logos lets me know the purpose of the product and what game it is intended to be used with. The bamboo boarder on the pages is still a great idea and with a little Photoshop love would be perfect.
The map on page 3 looks great and takes a unique approach to depicting the water. Instead of using one of the multitude hues of blue, the cartographer chose to go with a bamboo mat pattern, it takes a second to focus on the map as a whole, but it is well worth the miniscule effort. Apparently all ghosts of Monks look the same in Kaiden look alike. Both of the illustrations (page 9 & 18) are the same drawing. The illustration on page 18 is merely a close-up from the page nine drawing with some minor color changes, that drawing on page 18 felt phoned in. The full page drawing of the Kuchisake-onna or Slit-Mouthed Woman was a huge disappointment for me. I feel that if you are going to dedicate a full page to some art it should be worthy of full page treatment. This drawing is far from that. Due to the drawings size looks like most of it was done on a computer and not done extremely well. This drawing and a few others detracted from the flow of the book. If Rite Publishing had stuck to the cover art style this book would have been a 10; as is, it’s a 9 minus.
Mechanics: 9 out of 10
I am accustomed to Rite Publishing products earning 10 out of 10s and was surprised by a few minor omissions that really jumped out at me. Every haunt entry includes a Destruction entry that tells the GM how the players can stop the haunt. T.H. Gulliver is even kind enough to break down how much experience the players should get during the encounter depending on what aspects they defeat, what Gulliver forgot was to include the type of knowledge check and what DC that knowledge check should be. I am grateful for the EXP breakdown, but the knowledge check type and DC would have been much more useful. Other than this I felt the encounters and the creatures were balanced.
Value Add: 10 out of 10
This is where this supplement really shined! The storylines (based on ancient Japanese ghost stories) are what I found the most impressive. I was actually acquainted with the basis of the storylines introduced, having seen several Japanese horror movies and having played in many oriental settings. It wasn’t the originality of the storylines that got me, it was the association of the storylines with the haunts. It is easy to just throw undead at an adventuring party, developing a story behind why the undead are there and providing a solution to excising those undead, makes playing a Cleric so much more than a healer/turner. I recommend that every GM pick up this product and figure out how to place interesting haunts into their game as plot hooks.
Overall: 9 out of 10
With minor tweaking, any of the storylines and haunts in this product can be used in almost any fantasy setting. Using these haunts in a game will quickly move your Cleric to the spotlight in the best possible way. I hope that Rite Publishing is willing to do another #30 Haunts for various locations in the Pathfinder setting. This product is scary good!
[5 of 5 Stars!]