Review: Tales of the Scarecrow (LoTFP Crowdfunding products #2)

I’ve been sitting on this for a while, hoping to run the modules first. Sadly, my ad at the LGS isn’t getting the response I’d hoped for (I.E., “any”), and most of the modules are inappropriate for what I’m about to do to my campaign characters.

Tales of the Scarecrow: (link to goes to the store page)
Cover painting (clean) on Jason Rainville’s blog
Overall: 9/10 if you’re looking for a one-night-stand or a drop-in location. It’s a little short for making into a full-on tentpole location; on the other hand, it could be a hilarious part of, say, a wizard’s demesne. It does start to break down after about level 5-7 but is otherwise level-insensitive.  Since it’s so short, this will also be a short-form review.

This is, basically, a single overworld hex in 8 pages.  It’s cheap, good-looking, and the work of about thirty seconds to add to your campaign. Well, as long as you’re lacking in wizards, and/or yours doesn’t know Fly. Granted, it’s only going to last you a night, but  – like most of Jim’s work – there’s campaign-screwing repurcussions. If you don’t like having your party Mage accidentally starting the Apocalypse with a game of Chinese Whispers, it’s probably not for you. There’s also a humorous contest that makes the players work their asses off to screw each other over – but potentially offers an escape route..

It’s got a few minor utility problems; the page with the rapier image on it crashes my e-reader, and the pretty background does make some of the text a little hard to read. Otherwise, this is completely pick-up-and-go. Maps are clear and exactly where they need to be, and the small size makes it instantly accessible. Important NPCs and text are set off clearly with boldface type. The Modularity is perfect, with everything generic enough to not intrude, while keeping enough flavor to let you run the damned thing. On an aesthetic note, the illustrations are very nice – blocky, claustrophobic, and ’30s-silent-horror unpleasant woodcuts. Plant-decorated capitols and a repeating corn-field background tie each page to the theme of the module, and the front cover is an excellent painting by Jason Rainville. The back is a fairly ugly white-on-red affair, but it also has the publishing details somewhere they’re not intruding on actual text, so I’ll take it.

It engages the characters by entrapping them. The Trap itself isn’t bullshit, but it’s the kind you can’t simply defuse and move on from. It offers a simple and highly immoral way to escape – as well as several less-simple, less-compromising, and probably extremely unwise methods. Trying to get out with blunt force is.. inadvisable. Just the way I like ’em. The trap itself is useless against anyone who flies, so keep that in mind.
As far as Treasure – well, there’s plenty for any level of characters. There’s difficult but rewarding stuff, hidden items, treasures that require unpleasant moral choices to find, and at least two things with the potential to make Incredibly Bad Shit happen to your players/world. Or, y’know, nothing at all. Because Magic.

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