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.
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.
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!