What about The Gift: Curse of the Golden Spear Part 1? A review…

The Gift is part one of a three part series (they call it a campaign arc at the Rite Publishing website) of adventures for the Pathfinder RPG system, this installment is for four 5th level characters. The adventure is set in Kaidan, a land of oriental horror, inspired by Japanese folklore. Rite Publishing provided a review PDF and as soon as I downloaded it and looked it over I became excited…

See, I love the mysteries of Asian folklore, its history, but as someone brought up in the “west” (I do hate those arbitrary terms but let’s use them for ease of reference) I still feel there is much I still have to learn about the culture and more about the history of Asia. As far as RPGs go I have purchased some Asian themed games like the Original Oriental Adventures, the Kara-Tur boxed set for the Forgotten Realms and even the D&D3rd edition version of Oriental Adventures which was set in the world of Rokugan, also the setting for Legend of the Five Rings. That last game despite its popularity and having MANY friends who play it, I have never tried. In fact I have never played or run an entire Asian themed campaign.

That does not mean I don’t have Asian inspired lands and themes in my games, as a matter of fact my homebrewed campaign has region analogous to the Asian nations of the Pacific Rim. I have just never set adventures there. Elements from these faraway lands appear every now and then and remain mysterious and exotic. I even have a small islands settled by the people of these lands in the middle on an archipelago dear the more European like areas of the world, so imagine my excitement when I discovered this adventure was set in strange Asian like islands.

Let’s get the “physical” aspects of the book out of the way first (remember I am reviewing a PDF copy, a print copy will soon be available and I’m pretty sure it’s will be every bit as pretty as the digital one). The layout is a simple two column style with an easy to read font. The bamboo frames on the page seem evocative and the art of the book is top notch. There is no single piece of art I did not like and some that are simply gorgeous (like the full page illustration of the same art in the cover reprinted in page 6).

It also has nice maps for the encounters and the locations in the story. I often complain about art or layout, but I have no complain whatsoever from this book, Rite Publishing has hit all the right notes. This is 57 pages of content, part adventure, part introduction to the land of Kaidan, it includes magic items, new monsters, and little side bars of important details, special rules for Kaidan even a glossary.

What about the curse in the title of the adventure? Well I don’t want to spoil much, it has to do with the souls of the dead trapped in Kaidan and reincarnation, but done in a fresh, interesting and what I find to be appropriately creepy and imaginative way. Kudos!

I love the assumption that the players will be outsiders coming to Kaidan for the first time, the adventure seems simple enough, but it hits all the right notes, provides ideas and motivations for the players to be there and flows very naturally. The notes for the encounters are very well written; the development and tactic notes are very useful. The adventure is full of details and flavor that reminded me of the very first time I watched the Shogun TV miniseries (think what you may of it, as a kid I was entranced by it), despite what I know about Japanese culture and history, for the players this will be like visiting a familiar, yet exotic and unknown land for the very first time.

A minor quibble, there are a couple of grammatical mistakes (like I’m one to speak, have you read my posts?), but it’s  missing letters or something minor like that, nothing that will keep you from enjoying the adventure.

Jonathan McAnulty, co author of Coliseum Morpheuon (which I reviewed here), has put together an excellent adventure. Even if you do not play the adventure itself, the setting, rules and inspiration, are well worth the entrance price. Congratulations to the Rite Publishing staff for putting together such an excellent product.  The PDF is available for $9.99, but you can pre-order a print copy bundled with the PDF copy for $17.99 which would be my choice. I hope you enjoy it as much as I did…