Special Note: If you are a publisher and want a Frugal GM review of your RPG product I can, kind of, be bought. If you give me product I'll basically take a look at it and if it is appropriate I'll write a review. I probably won't write a review if I think it is only one or two stars, but I'll give you my opinion regardless.....
The other day +matt jackson released his newest product, a system-less small-area setting, hopefully the first of a series. The first in the series of Side Treks is The Crossroads of Spyley.
Matt "gifted" me a copy of this first effort and I thought that gift should be acknowledged with a special review, one outside of my already planned review this Friday.
My initial read-through of The Crossroads of Spyley was pretty positive, but I was little put-off by the typeface. I think the great cover made me expect something else between the covers. By the time I got a couple pages into this 10 page PDF I realized the typeface wasn't really much to worry about. It was clean enough for reading and had almost a 'zine feel to it.
There is one map of the Crossroads and its three buildings. At first I had wished there were smaller versions of the building maps with the room descriptions, but the room descriptions were really good and it quickly became a non-issue for me.
I was fortunate to be able to chat online with Matt after this initial read-through and he told me he was going for a 'zine feel. I think with a more old-school cover he'd have an updated 'zine look down pat.
Now as for the contents, I really liked this small-area supplement. There really wasn't a lot that a GM would have to tweak to simply drop this in to any fantasy RPG.....it would be easy enough to simply do on the fly. The descriptions for each section is well-written and taken together with the map this is a good drop-in for just about any session. If you weren't quite sure where to drop it in, there are even three possible adventure hooks to get you into the Crossroads.....
While I did think this is a good supplement, what really out it over the top for me were the extra touches that Matt put into its delivery. I was expecting a simple, and single, PDF download. Instead I got two PDFs and two graphic files. There is a hi-res PDF, perfect for printing, and a low-res PDF better suited for viewing on a computer or tablet. The map is available as both a JPG and PNG file.
I think I should also bother to mention that the PDF doesn't have a bunch of security features to get in the way of using it, which realistically just means printing out the pages if you want.
One of my biggest pet-peeves is seeing RPG products hamstrung by too much PDF security. A close second would be seeing a product that cuts-short its usability because the producer didn't bother to see how people might want to use their product (like only including 72 DPI graphics on something that would most likely be printed out). Nice to see that +matt jackson "gets it".
At $2.50 for the full price download, I'd recommend picking up The Crossroads of Spyley. Odds are great you'll find a good use for the crossroads sooner rather than later. The focus on smaller, more easily integrated locales is something that I hope pays off because I'd like to see much more of the Side Treks line.
3/18/14 Edit: This product is currently on sale for $1.99, so basically 20% off! Get it while you can....