7/17/2015

Frugal GM Review: Tavern Workers

Frugal GM Review: Tavern Workers
I've been toying with the idea of making an NPC booklet for some time now....I know...I know...I need to finish a plethora of other works-in-progress 1st before starting another one, but it's been on my mind, so after last week's review of a collection of Savage World characters, I thought I'd see what else is out there.

Tavern Workers is a collection of "10 Shadowy Characters" for your game table that came out this last week. Right off the bat I was a little confused as to what system this product was for. Now I know that DriveThruRPG lists product information on the right side of the product listing, but I've been burned before and I know how easy it is for that information to be just plain wrong (to make things easier to set up a title you are allowed to copy the basic product info from an existing product, so errors in different settings can easily creep in). The text of the product page or the available previews don't reveal this information, which is a real shame. At a minimum I'd like to to see one of the NPCs to see if this product would meet my needs.....

....as it was I was going in pretty blind, even if I knew that this was a D&D 3.5/Pathfinder product.

While on the topic of the free preview, I have to note that I found the preview, which is pages 2-4 of the 18 page PDF isn't a good indicator of the product itself. The art is jarring and the title font use is inconsistent at best. The good thing is that the actual NPCs are quite consistent in layout and style.

I think the NPC stats could use a little layout work as they are hard to read, but on the whole the author has done a good job presenting the 10 NPCs. Each entry has an "at a glance" section under a character portrait to start things out. The rest of the entry is the NPC's history, personality (and scuttlebutt), an exhaustive set of stat blocks, a job description, and an adventure seed.

Rounding out the PDF are two pages of the OGL statement and two pages of ads for the publisher's other products. I have no idea why the OGL is listed as there isn't a single entry in the copyright notice section other than the OGL itself (not even the author's own work!). Nothing is listed as Product Identity and there is nothing indicated as Open Game Content. This just feels like two pages of wasted space. I'm definitely not a fan of adding in a couple of pages of publisher ads, at least not on a paid-for product. A good one-pager on a free product no problem, but I think generally the product itself should be the advertising. As it is, this PDF appears to have two title pages, and these last four unnecessary pages, almost appearing as content to bulk up the page count by nearly 40%.

Frugal GM 3 Star Review: Tavern Workers
If you need a group of 10 inter-connected NPCs for your Pathfinder/D&D 3.5 game then I think you'll find Tavern Workers useful, I don't know if it is $2 useful, but in this narrowly-defined audience I think it would be. Outside of that group, however, I don't think most of a column of text per NPC is worthwhile. I definitely not pick this up for another system and try to tweak things as I think you'd spend less time starting from scratch.