Three Faces of the Muse clocks in at 51 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial/ToC, 1 page SRD, 1 page advertisement, 1 page back cover, leaving us with 46 pages of content, so let’s take a look, shall we?
Before we begin, I should mention that this is an adventure review and as such contains SPOILERS. Potential players should jump to the conclusion.
All right, still here? Okay, first of all, all you history and art-buffs out there, especially those with some knowledge in Renaissance art and the greats will have a field day here: Imagine a vast cathedral, where an artist called Michello, known for his superb magical crafting prowess died while making his epic fresco. Remind you of something? Yeah.
Now in a fantasy world, that wouldn’t be too big of an issue – alas, the cathedral has since been haunted by strange phenomena and the artist’s soul remains lost. Enter the PCs, as they explore the massive cathedral – fully mapped and coming with player-friendly maps, btw. And these renaissance-style drawings reminiscent in style and execution of DaVinci’s famous drawings are simply AWESOME, even for the high standards of AAW Games.
Now while the goal is clearly defined in the resuscitation of Michello, in order to succeed, the PCs will have to brave the cathedral, which proves to be surprisingly deadly – choirs of madness-inducing allips (complete with sample insanities) and various, cool foes make for a challenging if not exceedingly lethal first part. Where the module becomes thoroughly awesome is with the second act – turns out, an asura called Aprame-Vara-Dharme, muse of Michello, has (kind of) claimed the artist’s soul. Via some detective work and clues, the PCs will find that taking the pigments and completed brush of Michello to finish the fresco.
Upon completion, the PCs have to venture into the thus opened demiplane in one of the most iconic scenes I’ve read in a while and brave the dangers of the Elysian fields and vanquish diverse, weird threats and finally the asura to free the soul of Michello. The module also provides an xp-per-encounter run-down and a new item as well as statblocks for both D&D 3.5 and PFRPG for the challenges herein.
Editing and formatting are top-notch, I didn’t notice any significant glitches. Layout adheres to a drop-dead, gorgeous 2-column full-color standard, testament to Joshua Gullion’s prowess and talents – they will be sorely missed. The pdf comes fully bookmarked with nested bookmarks and the cartography by author Michael Allen is superb and fits the module’s theme.
Wow. Even by AAW Games’ standards, this module is one glorious blast – the encounters are inspired, the theme is uncommon, the hints and nudges towards real life are there, but unobtrusive and not distracting at all and the added twist of the fate of Michello and the cool villain make for an overall cool experience. Now if you’ve read “Gallery of Evil” – this is essentially superior in just about every way. It’s smarter, the encounters are more diverse and the second act is just weird in all the right ways. Author Michael Allen delivers in spades here – this is a great module and worth every cent. We need more unique modules of this quality – 5 stars + seal of approval: A module not only for art and history buffs, but also for everyone who looks for a thematic change of pace and truly iconic imagery.
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