9/25/2015

Frugal GM Review: Return of the Mad Hermit by Small Niche Games

Frugal GM Review: Return of the Mad Hermit by Small Niche Games
This week's review is on the Small Niche Games release of Return of the Mad Hermit.

I have to admit that I picked this adventure up based on the cover artwork by JV West, and on my initial quick glance I was a bit disappointed in the adventure. This really isn't an uncommon feeling for me, so I don't put a lot of emphasis on the initial impression, which is usually due to some specific expectations.

The PDF adventure is 26 pages long and after you cut out the cover, credits, and license you have 21 pages of content. The only illustration is the cover, but there are seven pages of maps. I personally didn't look forward to reading fourteen pages of text and figured I'd probably wasted my $2 on this purchase.

Luckily I know that I tend to be a bit negative on these 1st passes, and I haven't even read the thing yet, so I figured I'd at least give the adventure a read.....

....and I'm glad I did. I'm planning on using this at my table in a couple of months, so there won't be any spoiler details in this review.

To be fair to Small Niche Games, they did a bang-up job on the DriveThruRPG listing for this adventure, which I didn't read because I bought it based on the cover art (like a dummy). The full-sized preview should have given me enough information to make a more informed purchase. If this adventure was a turd I should have been able to tell long before plopping down my $2....

...but I like this adventure....a lot. I'm getting ready to pick back up my HackMaster campaign and I've been thinking a couple of ways to "throw a bone" to one of my players and give them some deserved rewards for great role-play given some unique constraints of the campaign. I am fortunate to have come across Return of the Mad Hermit because it fits what I've been looking for so much better than the few ideas I had. I'll have to tweak the adventure some, but I assume that every adventure needs tweaking anyway....

On closer inspection of the PDF adventure itself I noticed a few things. 1st off was that the PDF is secured to disallow document changes and extraction/assembly, but it isn't watermarked. For this type of product I don't think that is appropriate, but I do wish it was unsecured only so I could make some tweaks to the PDF itself, mostly just renaming things.

The pages are 6" x 9", which I have found print up decent enough for a small booklet. I do wish there was another piece of full-page art on page 24 instead of the beginning of the license so I could print up a booklet without the license for personal use. Since I can't extract/insert pages I could just print off pages 1-24 into a booklet....I guess I could do 1-23 instead and have a blank back page for notes?

The PDF is well bookmarked, which I consider a requirement that often goes unfulfilled. Personally I think every PDF should be bookmarked unless you are in the single-digit page count. I also think that the Description fields of the Document Properties should be filled out (on every PDF), but that is seldom ever done.

Frugal GM 4 Star Review: Return of the Mad Hermit by Small Niche Games
I do like how the adventure is layed out and the inclusion of one new magic item (the focus of the adventure) and five new monsters for the Swords & Wizardry White Box. While this is exactly the adventure concept I was looking for, if it wasn't I could still see this being good for one longish game session or maybe a couple of shorter ones. $2 for this much content feels like a pretty good deal to me.