This adventure is the first part of a three part series which introduces a new land, the land of Kaidan, a strange land in which access to other planes of existence is denied. Be wary travelers, you may enter and never leave again, ever, not even in death. This first part includes an overview of the land, its people and creatures, politics and spiritualism, and the major portion which is the adventure.
The premise of the adventure portion is that the players’ PCs are newcomers to this land and have to learn about this place and the strangeness they encounter along the way. There are a large variety of encounters to get the PCs introduced to the land and its people. Dealing with social aspects is just as important as killing monsters and taking their stuff. And there are plenty of role playing opportunities as well as some of the good old fashioned hack and slash.
The PCs are hired as the muscle for a merchant who wishes to impress a noble of the main island. He is bringing this noble a gift (hence the name of the adventure). It is assumed that the PCs are also foreigners as well as the merchant. For those who want to start characters in the land of Kaidan, it wouldn’t be too difficult to make them into locals who are hired in the initial port town. However if this is done, I would recommend purchasing the entire set, parts 1-3, before trying to start PCs from Kaidan. There is some information about the land but not a lot, and not everything the player or GM may need to know to have a Kaidan based game. Plus this adventure is designed for 5th level characters so they would have to gain some experience first as well has have a reason to be staying in the port town of the foreigners, Gaijinoshima. The information presented in this first part is definitely sufficient for a GM to run the adventure as is, premise intact, however.
At first the PCs and their employer will not be allowed off the small island where Gaijinoshima is located. The non-standard bureaucratic encounters are particularly meaningful for getting the players used to the social climate of Kaidan. It should become clear that the locals think more highly of their domesticated animals than they do of foreigners such as the PCs. This of course leads to all sorts of fun roleplay. IF successful in these first scenes at the port town, the PCs will be allowed with their employer to sail across the short bit of bay to the main island and proceed to the city where the noble resides. There are many more encounters on the way through the mountains that lie between. There are encounters with the natural denizens of the mountains as well as encounters with the local villagers and other, worse things before the final destination of this adventure.
There is not a lot of art, but the art that is present ranges from full color to clear black and white images which do an excellent job of giving an oriental, Japanese-style flavor. Every single page has a border that closely resembles bamboo, which is an interesting touch. What stands out for me, however, are the numerous maps, which could be used on a play mat by copying and placing on the game table for miniatures. I am not certain how easy this would be to convert to the files needed for Maptool and the like. The small scale full color map of the islands where this adventure takes place is gorgeous.
There are lots of little helpful tools for the GM in this adventure as well as the mini campaign guide herein. There are notes on how to engage the other players if there is a dramatic one-on-one combat going on, something the Kaidanese clearly seem to favor. There is a City stat block for the foreigner’s port town of Gaijinoshima as well as the farming village encountered along the way. There are also several appendixes. The first is on PC reincarnation, karma and on how the Wheel of Life in Kaidan works. The second contains new monsters, new templates, and a new subtype of monster that may be encountered in this adventure or in later ones. Appendix three contains pregenerated characters that are extremely helpful if the GM and players wish to start out at 5th level with characters ready to run. And lastly there is a glossary of words and names used in this adventure as well as a pronunciation guide. There are many terms and oriental-sounding names that may confuse Western eyes, so this is a useful tool for the GM.
As is becoming increasingly clear, Jonathan McAnulty and the gang at Rite Publishing go above and beyond the call of duty to provide awesome game materials. The Gift is an interesting, well-written adventure with a new campaign region, a compelling background, new monsters, story hooks and all with a twist to this land as intriguing any I have read before. If this is the trend, adventures accompanied by all the tools a GM needs to run a comprehensive campaign (short of thePathfinder Core Rulebook and the Bestiary), I like it. I rate this gem at five full stars and I can’t wait to see the rest, excellent work, guys and gals.
[5 of 5 Stars!]