Frugal GM Review: Tukram's Tomb

Frugal GM Review: Tukram's Tomb
I grabbed this OSR Adventure, Tukram's Tomb, specifically because the product page noted it was a beta version and the author needed some feedback. Seemed like a win-win to me, so here goes.

First off I should explain to Mr. Davide Pignedoli that I usually look at the physical characteristics of a product, do a very quick read-through for 1st impressions, and then another pass through the material more as a follow-up to things I noted before. Even in what I consider a "perfect" (as if that is possible) product I try to find something to give constructive feedback on. It might be a stretch, but I try.

Since I'm not actually running this adventure for my group I won't be looking at the content for appropriateness, but instead focus on other areas.

Tukram's Tomb is a two-file download containing the adventure and a separate adventure map. The adventure is 5.5" x 8.5"and comes in at 1.83 MB for 22 pages. The map...well the map is a bit of an odd duck as it is a 96 dpi JPG that is 9.292" x 13.333".

Starting with this map, if you bump that up to 300 dpi it is a tiny map. Tiny...the map should be at least as large as the format of the adventure itself. The map is quite simple, which really isn't an issue, but if it is replaced with a more detailed map, you'll want a larger map that will print out nicely for the GM to mark up. If this simple map is sufficient, I'd suggest making it as printer-friendly as possible. Remove the heavy areas of solid black, upping the resolution, and making it at least letter sized. A quick scale would be helpful as well. You don't necessarily need to grid the map, but something showing how big 5' or even 10' is could be quite useful.

Lastly, and as a bit of a transition, please don't put a copy of the adventure map on the cover. As a GM I don't want the players to accidentally get a glimpse of the map if I can help it.

Missed Opportunity
On my initial pass through the adventure I noticed that the PDF wasn't bookmarked, not were any of the document properties filled in. Personally I think these are missed opportunities. Bookmarking, with internal hyperlinks, make (almost) any adventure much easier to navigate. Once you get past a few pages, these links, bookmarks, and a table of contents are pretty much needed. Since this PDF is only 22 pages, there is plenty of room to add a table of contents. Generally speaking, with larger documents you want the page count to be divisible by 4. Most people printing this out would end up making a 5.5" x 8.5" booklet and with eight pages of US Letter sized paper, you'd end up with two blank pages (8 x 3 = 24). Page numbers would be nice, especially for a printed version.

On the initial pass I also noted that there were no attributions for the author, cartographer, and artists. Now I'm sure that the art used is public domain and there might not be an artist to attribute, but I recommend attributing as much as is possible. The piece on page 3 has way too much black around it, which is a waste of ink/toner if the GM wan't to print it out. In the same note I think the shading of tables could be much lighter or even removed. Thin lines or even just text formatting can be used to differentiate entries on a table.

I personally found the introduction a bit confusing because I don't know what the author is referring to with the Crying Blades. I would have to assume this is referencing some other works, but I'm not sure. The rest of the introduction is pretty much fluff that doesn't tell me anything useful about the adventure. What levels is this written for? Is there a preferred "OSR" system, or is it rather generic, not that I have a problem wither way. Much of the adventure is written with single sentences written as paragraphs, which is visually confusing.

Actually most of the adventure is a bit rough as far as reading it goes. Some of the adventure's text seems like it could be tweaked a bit and be designated as read-aloud text. As it is, the GM would really need to read this adventure a few times and mark-out descriptions to give the players and highlight the bits of information that shouldn't be divulged. Overall the adventure seems to be a padded-out outline of an adventure that really needs to be sifted through by the GM before it could be used. I think I'd have to read this adventure a few times, taking notes, before I could run it for my group.

Frugal GM 2 Star Review: Tukram's Tomb
Overall I'd say that Tukram's Tomb is an interesting adventure seed that needs to be edited and formatted a bit better to be a full-fledged adventure. Something like A Brief Guide to Small Publisher RPG Production by Kevin Crawford would be a useful resource. Tukram's Tomb has some potential, but as-is I could not justify the $3.99 asking price. The rating given is as a finished adventure, not a work-in-progress. I do look forward to seeing how the adventure shapes up over time and when that time comes I'll edit this review to add some follow-up and an updated rating.