2/06/2015

Frugal GM Review: Mad Monks of Kwantoom

Frugal GM Review: Mad Monks of Kwantoom
This week I managed to pick up the Mad Monks of Kwantoom, a Labyrinth Lord compatible sourcebook. Truth be told, "sourcebook" is a bit of an understatement. This thing is not just a Oriental Adventures sourcebook, but also a solo-campaign generator. There is a ton of cool stuff in here to "lovingly borrow" and the author knows this, going so far as to note "just rip off whatever you need for your game". Now I don't need permission to do that, but this acknowledgement tells me that Kabuki Kaiser (an interesting nom de plume if I've ever heard one) "gets it".

Right off, there is a metric butt-ton of content in this download, 229 pages of it. The PDF was obviously created for A5 printing, but doesn't look too bad when expanded for letter-sized printing. I'm not a fan of the huge side margins and single column layout. That empty space is put to use often for little notes and asides in red text, which is visually striking but leads to probably my greatest frustrations.

Example of margins and break-out text
I am extremely disappointed in this product as a PDF download. I bet it is glorious as a printed book, but as a PDF....not so much. There isn't a single bookmark in this PDF! The PDF is also needlessly locked down. You cannot change the document or extract pages, which means you cannot add your own bookmarks or even make your own PDF section from the book. Imagine as a GM you wanted to go ahead and actually make all these little bits of red break-out text do something. Nope! Do you want your own Monster Manual PDF? Not going to happen. Heck, even if you want to go to the Monster Manual you need to either know it is on page of the PDF or mouse up to page four, which is marked page two...., see it is listed as page 134 and either type that in to your reader's navigation box, or do a shit-ton of scrolling.

There are other little things here & there, like an almost full-page of a cool monster graphic (on page 116/118) when you know they have a color version, because it is on the cover! Going through and listing all of them would just be piddly, but mostly just an effort to vent because of the ungainly PDF. Seriously though, the PDF is enough of a pain I doubt I'll end up using this without printing it off, unless I attempt to crack the password and go through fixing things myself, which is a lot of PITA for a nearly $13 PDF.

Lucky for me I got this on sale for $5 and there is a lot of good content. Even if you aren't running a full-on Oriental Campaign, the information for new classes, races, monsters, and magic items can weasel their way into your home campaign. Heck, I could see some folks just picking this up for the variant Monk classes. With minor tweaking the 1001 Pagodas of Doom can become just a "regular" random dungeon crawl. My favorite though is probably the roughly 20 pages of content that is "The Little Tome of Lucky Charms". I've always loved minor magic items and this collection of 100 is pretty cool. Again with some minor tweaks this would fit in with any style campaign.

Frugal GM 3 Star Review: Mad Monks of Kwantoom
Overall the Mad Monks of Kwantoom is a bit of a mixed bag and it really depends on where you want your campaign to go. There is some great content, but accessing that content is a bit of a pain. If you want to simply borrow some elements and if you can get this at the cheaper price point of $5 I think it'll be worthwhile, but if you want to use this as a PDF and you have to pay the full cover price, I'd rather just get a printed copy and save some of the frustration.

If you are itching to run an oriental adventures campaign.....then all bets are off and you should definitely pick this up.