A place wherein this Dwarven Cleric can share his love of maps, dice, miniatures, and all things involving gaming and general geekery--not to mention the occasional witty non-gaming observations--whilst escaping from the humdrum existence of his routine Terran existence.

Hail and Well Met, fellow traveler! May my Stronghold provide a place for enlightenment and amusement, and somewhere to keep your dice dry. Enter and rest awhile.

16 January 2014

[From the Mailbag] One More Snatched from Kickstarter Hell

Yes, I'm one of those stupid, unlucky souls who pledged towards the ever-in-Kickstarter-update-hell Dwimmermount. Add to that my stupidity and lack of luck that caused me to also pledge toward the fallen-off-the-Kickstarter-update-cliff Nystul's Infinite Dungeon. I've had a fairly good track record with Kickstarters, but these two are the infected boils on my Kickstarter butt. I'm not going to grouse any more, or get on a soapbox. I'll send you over to Tenkar's Tavern and elsewhere. Tenkar, especially, does an excellent job of outing and excoriating RPG products that are caught in Kickstarter Hell.

Tuesday night, when I got home, I found a nice little package. One I've been anxiously awaiting for quite a while. In all honesty, it funded back in July 2012 and was slated for delivery in September 2012. The explanation: "We learned a lot about the process. You guys helped us transform our business and I'm eternally grateful. Each time we learned to do something better, we redid it all for the Bleeding Hollow. Needless to say, we now have our ducks in a row and can put out adventures like the Reaping Stone.... This project single-handedly transformed our company from amateurs to a real publishing company." Now, normally this is something that Tenkar would be all over like white on rice. However, I've bought a lot of material from TPK Games, and I've had plenty of interaction with Brian Berg to know that he and TPK are stand-up, reputable entities. Their reputation was the biggest reason that I was patient. Second reason was their traditional high quality. I knew that Brian and TPK would come through. I've already sent in a pledge on a new TPK Kickstarter project. THAT'S how highly I hold TPK.

Of course, that self-professed patience ran out as soon as I heard that the books had shipped. Then I became what Brian likely feels was "a pest." I couldn't help it and hopefully he'll forgive me. I was just really, really eager to see what they had been able to do. A year and a half worth of teasing and I had to wait Just. One. More. Day? Really? ARGH! Kudos to Brian for not ignoring me, or simply blowing his stack and screaming at me to "just sit tight and wait for the mail to come in it's own good time. @#$%!!!"

They're purty, ain't they?

Both are designed for use with the Pathfinder system. Reaping Stone is a nice sturdy paperback while Bleeding Hollow is a really heavy-duty hardcover. I haven't cracked Bleeding Hollow open yet, because I want to take the time and savor them in order of occurrence. I'm already about halfway through a first reading of Reaping Stone, and I. AM. IMPRESSED. I've already started sorting out miniatures in my mind for some of the encounters. This is one Evil (yes, capital 'E' Evil) ... one Evil little creation. Sections of it are truly diabolical. In fact, it's so Evil that on the title page credit is given to Tom Phillips as Designer and Writer, followed by "(Tom is a sick, sick man...)" THAT'S how Evil it is.

Even the "standard" monsters are tweaked to be just a bit different from the norm; the new critters are scary good. In at least one instance, TPK did something I really liked: a minimal stat block for a warren of kobolds, with the following note to the DM: "The kobold warrens are not mapped and their lack of development is intentional. GMs should feel free to expand on the kobold warrens at their own discretion." A nice touch, I thought. And if Bleeding Hollow is anywhere near this quality, it's going to be a ripping good adventure as well.

Also included in the Kickstarter package were two miniatures, characters from the Bleeding Hollow. One's a spellcaster and the other is a werewolf. Really good quality and great sculpts (despite the poor quality of the picture). I particularly like how the werewolf's extended claw seems ready to grab a PC's head and crush it. Now I just have to find the time to sit down and actually paint them.

All in all, I'm getting excited to get back behind the DM screen and throw these adventures at my group. There's enough there to keep us going for months. My final verdict would be 5 out of 5 hammers. My only complaint? My only complaint has nothing to do with the product or with TPK Games. Despite great packaging and plenty of bubble wrap (the minis took me 5+ minutes to unwrap from the bubbles), the great and vaunted United States Postal Service still managed to mangle the corner of the last 26 pages and the back cover of Reaping Stone; they also managed to break--yes, BREAK the corners of both front and back covers of the hardcover Bleeding Hollow. The Reaping Stone I can put inside some clamps, straightening and flattening out the corners of the pages. Not sure I can do much about the Bleeding Hollow. Fortunately, none of the damage will keep me from using the books to kill some PCs for some great gaming.

So, grab these titles as soon as you can. In fact, grab everything you can find from TPK Games; I have yet to find one of their products with which I'm less than pleased. (In fact, I've recently picked up Rawr! - Volume 2: Flame & Wrath, a volume of options, variations, and modifications for dragons, dragon-kin, etc. I'd highly recommend that one too.)

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