C04 – The Play’s the Thing (revised edition)
This revised edition of the module is 50 pages long, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial/ToC, 1 page SRD, 1 page advertisement, 1 page back cover, leaving us with 45 pages of content, so let’s check this out!
This being an adventure-review, the following contains SPOILERS. Potential players may wish to jump to the conclusion.
All right, still here? Good! Naytella is a goddess of relaxed, pleasure-driven life and one of her adherents, a man named Teatteri is finally settling down, has managed to ingratiate himself within the town of Bankside. Unbeknownst to most, their secret allegiance to the goddess made them clash with conservative authorities before and in order to secure permission to create the theatre, they have allied themselves with doppelgangers seeking the goddesses capability to provide joy and revelry.
Said shapeshifters have since replaced parts of the council and flyers that are charmed do their part in securing the steady flow of audience members to the theatre – after all, the goal is to convert a whole town to the worship of Naytella! The powerful men and women of the town may act as hooks for the PCs and the doppelgangers as foils, presenting us with a concise depiction of their agendas, ways to use them etc., providing a nice framework to set up a complex, smart investigation before entering the (still) closed theatre, where a gamut of theatre-themed, clever traps await enterprising PCs. The general set-up of the investigation component works rather well indeed, so kudos.
Before they can reach the cellar of the building (which btw. comes with 4 full-color maps, all of which come with player-friendly versions), they will also have to best the first group of NPCs. First group? Yes! A total of 4 different NPC-groups are part of the module, each coming with essentially “party-sheets” that include all the necessary pieces of information to run the parties on one page – supremely comfortable for the DM – I approve!
Now the cellar and dungeon below are interesting and highly chaotic in theme, including skulls chanting a litany that confuses the listeners (without deadly effects – the results are hilarious, after all, the servants of Naytella are chaotic and not evil!). The tactics of the servants of Naytella mostly reflect that as well – if the PCs get beaten, it’s not necessarily their end. Now, when they find the intoxicated council alive and well, the PCs will have a tough decision at their hands – free the council? Join the adherents of Naytella? Help them escape the wrath of the citizenry? The options are there and the result up to your players.
It should be noted that the module also includes clothing-material golems as well as 4 pages of maps of the complex, both in a keyed and a keyless version.
The pdf also features the new companion of Naytella PrC, which grants d6, 6+Int skills per level, comes with a wide variety of potential means of entry, good ref and will-saves, 3/4 BAB-progression. The Companions gain the option to use multiple skills (like sleight of hand) at range, their cha-bonus to saves and even a sonic-based breath weapon and attribute boosts. They may also choose from 3 special abilities at 8th level. All in all, an interesting an more worthwhile alternative to the arcane trickster, with generally solid wording with only minor hiccups that pertain only aesthetic components of teh rules-language and do not obfuscate their intent. All in all, a solid PrC.
Editing and formatting of the revised version have been upgraded indeed – they can now be considered rather good. Layout has been completely revised and now adheres to a beautiful 2-column standard that is suffused with a plethora of full-color artworks, some of which are stock, whereas others are original – impressive to see the crew go the extra mile here. The module’s 4 maps in full color are neat indeed. EDIT: Now with full bookmarks!
Make the primary antagonists Calistraeans or extremists of Cayden and this module will work perfectly in Golarion. The module’s antagonists for once not being evil is a cool change of pace, as it makes the PCs ponder their own moral choices and honestly, the sheets to track the NPC-groups are extremely useful to run what would otherwise be very complex encounters. Kudos for the good idea! The location in which it is set, as well as the (potential, but mostly optional) investigative backdrop in the beginning adds also a nice touch that allows you to decide how to tackle the module with your group. Stephen Yeardley has crafted a neat module indeed and overall, I did enjoy reading these pages. The amount of content provided is also appropriate and overall, the module is a fun romp with a distinct identity that can argueably be played as sinister or as a lighthearted, fun diversion.
Beyond that, the level of care the AAW Games-crew have put into making this more aesthetically-pleasing is quite impressive – the cleaned-up layout is professional and makes running the module easier and the improved editing gets rid of some minor ambiguities. Now I wouldn’t be me if I had nothing to nitpick now, right? The PrC, while generally managing a superb job in making it appeal and work for both 3.X and PFRPG, could have used a bit more unique tricks and choices. Here and there, from a rules-language-aesthetic point of view, one could have smoothed the wording slightly – “deal 2d8 damage of sonic energy” should read “deal 2d8 point of sonic damage”. … Yeah, I know. But this level of nitpickery I all I can muster here. The revised edition surpasses its predecessor and thus receives a final verdict of 5 stars.
You can get this revised edition here on OBS!