1/09/2015

Frugal GM Review: The Smoking Pillar of Lan Yu

Frugal GM Review: The Smoking Pillar of Lan Yu
Now I tend to pick and choose what I review here to the extent that I don't generally pick up things that don't pique my interest immediately. The Smoking Pillar of Lan Yu, from Sine Nomine Publishing, didn't seem all that interesting to me at a glance and I'm not quite sure why I picked it up.

Boy I'm sure glad I did though!

Holy crap, this is a great adventure....I was pretty blown away by everything after the cover. Seriously I have to hunt a bit to find stuff to make a constructive criticisms about and the cover itself is one of those rare things. When I saw the cover I immediately thought this was an Oriental Adventures module and whole-heartily dismissed it. Is this fair....probably not, but when you have a plethora of downloads to go through and something doesn't grab your interest....meh, it goes to the bottom of the pile. I actually used the title page to make the lead-in graphic because I thought it worked better.

This isn't an Oriental Adventures, but you could easily use it there. The adventure is set on a jungle island, but could be tweaked easily enough for other environments/settings.

The only other item of note, and again this is really stretching, is that I found two typos. One should have been caught by a spell checker and one was the addition of one letter that turned the desired word into another word that wouldn't have been caught by a spell-checker. There might be more typos, but I wasn't reading with typos in mind (when I edit something....obviously not my own writings....I have to read in a total PITA fashion).

There is a lot to gush about with The Smoking Pillar of Lan Yu, enough I'm not sure where to start. Right off the bat, the layout was spot-on for evoking the old-school feel. It was obvious this was layed out using professional tools....which was made evident when I checked out the additional downloads. Along with the unsecured PDF was a download of all the art AND WAIT!!! THERE'S MORE!!! .....a couple of InDesign files so you could play with the source document if you want.

Now I know that a lot of you don't have InDesign, but the ability to see how the layout was out together or even tweak the adventure is awesome. I'm trying to learn InDesign so I might be a little extra biased, but allowing folks to use the art and base files in their own projects is beyond cool.

Bravo Sine Nomine Publishing, Bravo

Now I'd be completely remiss if I didn't state the adventure's art was pretty awesome. Allowing other to reuse crappy art isn't worth noting. In this case we have some great maps. Heck, in the files is a better island map than what is used in the PDF. The artwork, aside from the cover, is spot-on.

There are also three new monsters (well really two and a variant of the 1st), some unique magic items and even a new PC class. I really like the PC class as it is rather short & simple and I don't think it would be upsetting to anyone's campaign. I think it is hard to do a good job of creating a new character class so when someone pulls off a good job on it, the work really stands out.

Frugal GM 5 Star Review: The Smoking Pillar of Lan Yu
The adventure is so straight-forward and open enough it could be part of a larger island campaign or even just a small piece of a larger sandbox campaign. I really hope this is the begining of a series of adventures.....not necessarily free, mind you.....because Sine Nomine Publishing obviously has this figured out and pretty dialed-in.

You really should pick up The Smoking Pillar of Lan Yu for your table today!