2/15/2015

Frugal GM Review: Temple of Qultar

Frugal GM Review: Temple of Qultar
Today I was gifted a free download of The Temple of Qultar from Chubby Monster's Matt Jackson.  Right off I have a couple of admissions. 1st, I consider Matt a "friend" (even though we've never met) and 2nd, generally speaking, if you send me something RPG related for free I'm going to review it.

The friend bit might make you think I'll give a not-so-critical eye towards a review, but I like to think I tend to be a bit harsher with friend's stuff because I'm emotionally invested in seeing them do the best that they can do. My first-glance review for The Temple of Qultar was 4 stars, but I thought that was more from me being a bit of a nit-picky dick.

This download consists of 3 files, a PDF and two PNG graphics. To me the "real" download is the PDF since you can get the maps from Matt's website, so including them here is a real nice touch. Normally I prefer my maps to be 300 DPI, and these are 150 DPI, but again...nit-picky. Having two versions of the map is a great touch and my preferred map prints up nice. Because I have the PNG it is super easy for me to go ahead and print this out to scale should I want to. Not that I probably will, but I could and being able to do so is often my gold-standard for a map.

Now as far as the PDF, I usually harp upon PDFs being unsecured, which is often a sore spot for me. The thing is I really don't care if the PDF is secured, what I care about is if the file is needlessly locked down, especially if locked down to the point I can't use it. Too many times the PDF is put together so I can't get the graphics I need or even print it off. The Temple of Qultar is secured, but that doesn't really affect the usability any. The included map is a full-page map and there is the PNGs so this isn't a problem. Even though the PDF is only 4 pages, Matt went ahead and bookmarked the thing.

As to the content and layout of the PDF, I like it. The font choice and layout is a bit of a departure from other Chubby Monster games, almost as if Matt has been reading the same resources I have. I've found a typo or two here or there, probably as many as I have in the average post here. Odds are he'll have those fixed before you read this. There were a couple of thematic elements I was like, "I don't get why that was like that", but it made sense later. Spoon-feeding me the information on the spot would have been a waste of ink. There was one encounter where the number of monsters listed....well there is no number of monsters listed. I think this wasn't an omission, but a conscious choice, which I'll get into next.

Personally I haven't seen a whole lot of D&D 5th Edition short encounter sets, which is what I lump this into. I haven't played 5th edition and am not intimate with the rule-set, so overall I thought the monetary rewards for this encounter set were a bit on the high side. That's more of a gut feeling and I am cognizant that I could be way off base here (nit-picky), so I have to exclude that from any rating consideration. There is no "appropriate" level limit listed for this encounter set, so it is up to the GM to figure out the appropriateness. Coupled with the random monster tweaks in the "Getting There" section, this is why I think the one encounter doesn't have a "number appearing" entry. The GM is expected to fill in that blank to make it an appropriate challenge.

This simple aspect of The Temple of Qultar is probably the biggest reason I like this short encounter set and recommend it to anyone. Matt has given the GM a good set of maps and some great recommendations that have to be tweaked by the GM. Maybe I'm a bit biased, but most of the things I have seen for these newer editions is a hard & fast formula for appropriateness that the GM can't/shouldn't deviate from. Maybe this is a bit of the "old school" creeping into this work meant for a newer edition, but I like it. Again, probably biased, but I think GMs really need to be able to make the necessary adjustments to make encounters appropriate for their group and this short encounter set does that without deliberately drawing attention to the fact.

Frugal GM 5 Star Review: Temple of Qultar
Now I don't mean that GMs should be able to take this short encounter set and make it suitable for their groups beginning 1st level adventure. I'll go ahead and get off my soapbox a bit and back to the review....

TL;DR: Good maps, 3 new monsters, & tweakable short encounter set for $1. The Temple of Qultar is worth it. Made for D&D 5E, but easily adapted to other rules.