Ramping up my reviewing.
Happily playing games for many, many years.
The Midnight Mirror is a combination of investigation and dungeon-crawl adventure, written by Sam Zeitlin, the winner of Paizo's 2011 RPG Superstar competition. The adventure revolves around the town of Karpad in northern Nidal. The PCs are contracted to find out what's happened to the wife of the local lord, as her family have stopped receiving letters from her. From there, the plot develops - and you should stop reading now if you want to avoid spoilers. Though why you would be when you saw "spoilers!" in the review's title I've no idea.
Unusually, the lady in question is still fine - but her husband has become paranoid and morose, the result of reneging on a contract with a Shae trapped in a magic mirror. A shadow-disease is now infecting the town, and the first part of the adventure involves the party trying to find the source (which will eventually lead them back to the local lord).
The presentation of the investigation material is problematic, with the order of material being messy and the actual links between the investigative material requiring a lot of "forcing" by the GM - and an unwary GM might miss one of the links. Very strangely, a "random rumour" table is given separately from the table of things they can learn from talking from people. This rumour table is pretty much the only source of plot hooks if the group misses the links in the first encounter after they come to the village. Ultimately, I'm disappointed with how the investigation is handled.
The second half of the adventure, which sees the group travel to a mirror-version of the manor inhabited by people trapped there (often for crimes), is better, though not without problems. I really object to leaving out the statblocks for modified creatures. Having a "Scribbling Allip", with only hp and a special attack given and referencing both the Pathfinder Bestiary 3 and Undead Revisited - the latter hardly being a core work - is extremely frustrating. The PRD has given me a clue to how it works, but has this allip lost its babbling ability? Wouldn't have a clue based on the PRD entry. (Thankfully, the chief monster of the adventure, which also uses two sources, has a full statblock).
The NPCs in the final part are effectively described and look quite interesting to run. The interactions with these NPCs, and how they interact with the NPCs back in the real world, provide the best part of this adventure. There are shades of grey here, which allows the players to make interesting decisions.
Mind you, all of this might come unstuck if they can't destroy the Heart of the mirror realm - and to do that, they need an item gained *before* they cross into the mirror realm and only with a DC 25 Knowledge check would they know they needed it! This is dreadful structure, and you should make sure the PCs know exactly what they need to do before they pass into the mirror realm.
Ultimately, whilst there are some very good ideas in the adventure, structural and implementation flaws make it something I can't recommend highly.
“The oldest and strongest emotion of mankind is fear, and the oldest and strongest kind of fear is fear of the unknown.” ― H.P. Lovecraft
Be who you are and say what you feel, because those who mind don't matter, and those who matter don't mind.
I've read the module, and while I found the premise very interesting and intriguing, I can't really disagree with your review. There's a lot of backstory woven throughout the entire thing, and I feel a GM would have to steer the players in the right direction more than once.
The fact that it doesn't give you a complete statblock for the scribbling allip, which uses a creature from Bestiary 3 and a template introduced in Undead Revisited seems to me as somewhat of an oversight too, usually Paizo is pretty religious in reprinting unusual statblocks, especially since Bestiary 3 is a pretty recent book, and it's not unlikely that a lot of GM's will not have it yet.
I still would like to run it someday but I can already tell that, if I were to run it with my current group (who are not very experiences roleplayers), they would have great difficulty to complete the investigation part succesfully.
- Last edited Wed May 9, 2012 5:55 pm (Total Number of Edits: 1)
- Posted Wed May 9, 2012 5:55 pm