Frugal GM Review: The Flayed King
While there were plenty of Appreciation Day offerings, I picked up just one: The Flayed King by Tim Shorts. I particularly liked how it was such a short adventure.
Technically it is 14 pages long, but if you cut out the multiple title/cover pages and the license stuff at the end you get down to 8 pages......but these are small pages, literally. The page size is 4.25" x 5.5", so I have to assume this was intended to print up as some sort of booklet out of a single sheet of paper (each page is 1/4 of a US Letter-size sheet of paper). I'm not going to do the mental math to figure our how to get my printer to print this out because I cannot print to PDF, which is my only real criticism of this adventure.
Basically the PDF is locked down for "Document Assembly" which means I can't play with it in PDF form. I know I could print it 4-pages to a sheet, double-sided, but without being able to rotate pages in the PDF or create a new PDF from this one, I wouldn't be able to make it so I can fold the page up into quarters to make a mini booklet out of it. If that was the intention, then I think Tim failed on that account.
I've been told more than once that DriveThruRPG locks down the PDFs automatically, but I know that isn't completely the case. Yes, it will do it automatically unless the publisher changes the type of file when they set the product up.
Aside from this one thing, which isn't enough to ding it a star......since it is a free product and I don't know what the printing intention was.....I loved the adventure. As I stated earlier is is a rather short adventure, basically six rooms/encounter areas, and it could serve as the main focus for the night's adventure (a journey to this spot and then exploration), as a side-quest in a bigger campaign (the party needs some intel before moving on, or just wants some), or even just as a random bit of wonder they come across.
Now I'm so biased about little set-pieces like this since the focus of my writings have been in this vein, but I really like how all this was put together. There are some thematic elements to this adventure that can easily be tweaked to have it make more sense for your own campaign and even though I'm currently running a HackMaster (current edition) game, I can almost drop this right in with maybe 5 minutes prep....and that is just because I'd need to re-stat some stuff.
I think different GMs might have differing opinions on what is the BBG in this little quest. Some would put it at the creature in room 5, but I'm going with the encounter the adventure is named after, the Flayed King. I have a villain that my players aren't too keen on and my 1st though was to replace the Flayed King with that villain and see if the party shows compassion or not.....could prove interesting, and why I would put the Flayed King as the real BBG of the adventure.
Since the price is free, there is no reason to not pick up The Flayed King for a look unless you think you might get to play it. If you like Tim's adventures you might be interested in the others he creates as part of his Patreon campaign.