By Thilo Graf
This pdf from Super Genius Games is 20 pages long, 2/3 of a page front cover, 1 page editorial/SRD, leaving 16 1/3 pages content, so let’s journey to Qether, shall we?
What is this Adventurer’s Atlas series? Essentially it is a combination of a location and a sketch of an adventure. In the case of Qether, the location is a military outpost between two nations that has seen a steady decline in importance and might now face shutdown. Apart from this basic geographic and political information (including a map of the area around Qether) and some history, the heart and soul of this pdf are the NPCs: 8 movers and shakers of the camp, from the both commanders to a bouncer and 2 different clerics, we get some interesting personalities, emphasis on personalities, as the stats are rather boring and their formatting does not use bold script to highlight section, which makes reading their stats a bit harder than I would have liked. The full-colour top-down map of Qether is neat, although I would have loved to have a version without map-key letters and numbers all across it in order to give it to my players. It should be noted that the different NPcs feature interesting fluff and make for compelling characters that deliver plot hooks galore for you to develop.
The second half of the pdf deals with a short sketch of an introductory adventure, thus minor SPOILERS ahead. Players might want to jump to the conclusion.
Ok. The basic premise is simple, the PCs are commanded to follow a map to a camp of hobgoblin raiders that have taken a lot of slaves in the shelter of a sandy bay studded with huge coal-formation. The contrast beach/coal and the overview map make for a neat tactical sandbox and the adventure thinks about rock fissures, rope tethers and similar ways of climbing down to the beach. The force of the hobgoblins include three named NPCs ( a cleric 2, a fighter 5 and a sorceror 3), making clear that the PCs should fight smart. Once the rather uncooperative slaves have been freed, sent on their way or taken prisoner, the PCs are left with questions about the veracity of a prophecy that guided the invaders here. The huge coal deposits might change the fate of Qether and interesting possibilities to develop the location abound.
Editing and formatting are top-notch, I didn’t notice any significant glitches. layout adheres to the 3-column standard by SGG and the pdf is full color. Each NPc comes with his/her own b/w-representation and the maps provided are nice to have. However, especially the maps are rather grainy and feel like rather low-res jpegs have been used: After printing the pdf, I could practically count the pixels. The general geographic are map is particularly bad. The NPCs are neat, but all use the base-classes and don’t have anything terribly exciting going for them crunch-wise, which is diametrically opposite to their cool fluff.
The adventure is nothing too exciting either, being one of the standard ways to kick off a new campaign. Whether you’ll enjoy your trip to Qether depends on several factors: If you’re searching for non-standard characters like Witch-hunters, time-thieves etc., this pdf will disappoint you. The same goes for anyone looking for a innovative beginner’s adventure. However, if you’re a DM and looking for an outpost with a political landscape brimming with possibilities, intriguing fluff for characters (you can always add templates and build more interesting stats), this pdf delivers in spades. In fact, Qether is so well-written that I sincerely would have hoped for more exiting crunch to support the interesting fluff. In this regard, the very first Adventurer’s Atlas-pdf is the exact opposite of other SGG-publications, in which I’m often longing for fluff to accompany the excellent crunch. Oh well, how to rate this? After careful deliberation, I think I’m going to settle for a final verdict of 2 stars – the low-res pixelated maps, hard-to-read statblocks and bland crunch detract from the cool character backgrounds and political possibilities. If you’re just looking for fluff, add 1 or even 2 stars to my verdict.
Adventurer’s Atlas: Outpost Qether is available from: