[Review] Vathak Times Issue 2 (Shadows over Vathak)
By Thilo Graf
The second issue of Vathak Times is 5 pages long, 1 page being devoted to SRD, leaving 4 pages of content, so what are these?
Like in the first issue, we get new content, hooks etc. in the guise of a pseudo-newspaper of the Vathak-setting – complete with weather forecast! Like the last issue, we open with a letter from the front, this time telling us about some weird flowers found in the subterranean reaches. A second article on the front page provides us a new trick for Rifleer-class introduced in the campaign setting. Now I’m not a big fan of the class and would have much preferred it to come as a gunslinger-variant instead of its full-blown class. But even in the context of the class, the new trick shot introduced feels broken to me – it takes out an eye of the adversary -but allows for a reflex save, which feels disjointed from the fort-save one would usually expect. Furthermore, the repercussions for e.g. gaze attacks are not covered, making this trick shot imho bad design.
On the second page we get 7 different pieces of local news that double as local adventure hooks as well as notes on an auction on a book that contains some spells – complete with stats for sanity loss for studying the book.
On page 3, unfortunately, the presentation of a newspaper comes apart for a strangely disjointed feeling sample dhampir-feat/advertisement for another Fat Goblin Games-product – that’s just bad form and massively detracts from the appeal and immersion of this issue for me. We also get a short article on mundane Romni-tattoos – pure fluff and cosmetic, but with sample DCs to make them. The topic is not covered in nearly enough detail to make it compelling in this format – my advice is to instead go for 4 Wind Fantasy Gaming’s Inkantations.
Sir Timothy’s emporium also makes a return and sells Bhriota razor whips this time around – unfortunately an utterly overpowered weapon. This weapon deals 2d4 lethal damage with reach, trip and disarm options AS A MARTIAL WEAPON. This needs to be exotic.
The final page is devoted to a new creature, the CR 3 Masked Ghoul, which comes again with a great b/w-artwork of the highest calibre. Infiltrators and rather sinister, this is a well-crafted monster and should be considered one of the high points of the issue.
Editing and formatting are good, though not as concise as in #1. Layout adheres to the b/w-2-column standard and the pdf has no bookmarks, but needs none at this length. The artwork, as mentioned, rocks.
This issue of Vathak Times is vastly inferior to its predecessor – its breaking of its newspaper form is just jarring and the overall writing feels less concise. Add to that the badly designed trick shot and overpowered whip and we are left with not that much. While the rest of the content is ok, it is the creature that in the end saves this issue from being bad – it still is not half as good as #1, though. Seeing the amount of issues I had with this pdf and its relative brevity, I feel justified in rating this 2.5 stars, rounded down to 2 for the purpose of this platform.
Vathak Times Issue 2 (Shadows over Vathak) is available from:
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