Monday, June 20, 2016

The Pristine City

The Pristine City is a fun 57 page 13th Age-compatible adventure for 4th or 5th level characters from Stacey Janssen and David Noonan of Dastow Games.

While reading the adventure and framing my response, I realized that my gaming experience is probably different from most GMs. So far as I remember, and I'm thinking all the way back to Top Secret and Chivalry & Sorcery and Monsters! Monsters! and AD&D  and then Champions and RuneQuest and the days when I bought a LOT of rpg adventures . . . going all the way back and working forward, I have never run a published adventure that was written by someone else. Unless you count:
a) the pieces of published adventures I played as solitaire system-tests when I was a kid; or
b) the co-op/solo micro-dungeons published for The Fantasy Trip, when I was playing as well as flipping the pages; or
c) the adventures in 13th Age in Glorantha that were written by Jonathan.

I think Item C counts. That's a recent development!

So while I've read big chunks of The Pristine City, and skimmed the rest, I haven't run it. The fact that the book got me thinking about how I would run it turns out to be extremely unusual.

Without giving too many spoilers, here are some things I like about this adventure.
  • A clever overarching structure that will shape the game alongside the player characters' actions (I must not say more, but this deserves an exclamation point)!
  • Amusing reinterpretations of the icons that both dodge the copyright issues, add their own twisty values, and are still clear enough to anyone running a core Dragon Empire game. 
  • Interesting reasons why this singular place blends oddities you might find in a living dungeon within themes created by the dwarves. 
  • Well-themed magic items that enhance the storyline. 
  • Amusing touches in the price lists and great material for dwarf-oriented player characters in the list of Real Books in the Pristine City
  • Vignettes that could be dropped into other dwarven areas if you're not going to run the whole thing. 
  • Far more playable material than you'd expect to find in a 57 page book, because they didn't reprint monster stats from the core 13th Age rulebook or the 13th Age Bestiary. Page references suffice and the focus of the text stays on exploring the city instead of reprinted monster stat blocks. 
  • A couple new monsters I'll be using the next time I need [REDACTED].

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