By Thilo Graf
This pdf from Rite Publishing is 15 pages long, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 2 pages of advertisements and 1 page SRD, leaving 10 pages of content for the latest instalment of the ECS-series, so let’s check out how the crossroads fare!
In the tradition of the ECS-series, the crossroads kick off with an aptly-written and surprisingly creepy narrative, doing a great job of setting the mood for the ley-line-enhanced crossing of Annis and Daemon road. These special magical properties, of course, are also reflected rules-wise, providing crunchy pieces of information for both ley-knots and reality ripples. The crossroads come with a full colour regular map with grids as well as a second version depicting the crossroads on the astral plane, where it looks significantly different.
Players please jump to the conclusion!
Following RiP’s tradition of cool, complex statblocks, we get Grandmother Lytokus (Night Hag exemplar divine guardian), a civilized, yet thoroughly wicked crone who wants favors for her services – harmless ones that lead to dire consequences. Where Kavit M.Tor offered the cursed item component of needful things, this pdf offers us the NPC to deliver the intricately interwoven consequences of rather mundane missions and favours that made needful things so disturbing. 10 sample missions are provided. Support goes on, though, by providing 13 (semi-)magical candles. I would have loved to see construction notes for them, but that’s about it – nice ideas!
The insidious grandmother is not the sole danger lurking at the crossroads, though. Far from it! Don’t forget Clifort Ray, a deadly earthbound dwarf corbie – really cool to see some love for the corbie-class!
Template-wise, we get the divine guardian template to close this part of the pdf.
The map-pack comes with full-colour and b/w-versions of the two maps that are blown-up for use with miniatures. The maps, b/w and full colour, are all organized in separate pdfs, ensuring that you can just print out the whole individual pdfs without worrying about wasting paper for e.g. SRD etc. or skipping through the pdfs for the beginning of the new map. We get all the maps also in the A4-format for Europeans like yours truly.
Editing and formatting are good, I did notice some minor glitches like a “?” in the bookmarks where there should be none, but not enough to detract a full star or impede usability. Layout adheres to the 2-column full colour standard used in most recent RiP-publications. The pdf offers extensive bookmarks and the pieces of original b/w-artworks of the NPCs by cartographer Richard Biggs Jr. are a nice complementary element to the public domain pieces. The maps serve their purpose, though I’m not too keen on the colouring scheme used – I’ll use b/w, but that’s a personal preference. I really enjoyed the evocative location and the huge plethora of ideas crammed in here is staggering and rewarding. The prose is nice and author Rob Manning has offered us a cool, evocative location that is guaranteed to spark the imagination of the reader. While minor points like the lack of construction notes of the candles, the minor glitches and minor problems in the prose don’t make for any true deterrents to the product’s quality, they still prevent me from rating this instalment with my highest possible score. My final verdict will be 4.5 stars, rounded up too 5 for the purpose of this platform because I REALLY love the ideas and NPCs herein.
Advanced Options – Witch’s Hexes is available from: