Christina Stiles Presents Waysides: Didjer’s Crab House
Publisher: Rogue Genius Games
Page Count: 20
Release Date: 06/19/2013
Get it Here: DriveThruRPG.com
I’ll be honest; I generally leave Pathfinder to the other guys on staff here. It’s just never been my thing. However, I have a soft spot for series on inns, taverns and local watering holes and something about the name just grabbed me. Maybe it is because I live here in the Washington D.C. metro area, the best place in the US for crabs. Regardless I wanted to peruse the first of these Wayside offerings from Super Genius Games and see how it fared. I’m happy to report I absolutely loved this piece – from the cast of motley characters presented within its pages to the adventure you can run for your friends. As I said, I’m not a big Pathfinder gamer, but I’m looking forward to running this for some friends as a one-shot. I just need to download the appropriate South Park sound cues for it…
The first thing you’ll really notice about Didjer’s Crab House is that the piece is presented in landscape format rather than portrait. As I was reading this on a Kindle Fire, I didn’t mind it at all, but I know some people prefer portrait layouts, so I’m just warning you ahead of time. There are seven different sections to this supplement, a format that promises to be used for all Waysides releases in the future. You’re given a Stat Block, which tells you the general alignment, location and brief description of the establishment, Usage, which gives you some ideas on how to use the location and how to place it in an already existing city or homebrew world, Background, which is all the meat and depth a DM needs to really make use of the establishment instead of just making it another generic backdrop and then Description, which gives you a bit of flavor text to read to players along with a list of rooms ala a dungeon and what each contains. The map for the location in this piece is at the very end of the supplement.
After that Waysides gives you Goods and Services, which in this case, is a menu of what the Crab House has to offer. I absolutely loved the inclusion of a menu (along with DM notes on each item). There’s also a rate for people too soused to make it home and a fee for other…special services, shall we say? From there we go into Personalities, and that’s what really made this whole piece come alive for me. Didjer’s Crab House is basically run by reformed/retired pirates and it shows from the people that work there. I’ll admit that generally, I use rogues for pirates if I’m using them as one-off or generic enemies for an encounter, which is probably influence by my owning of the AD&D The Complete Thief’s Handbook. The pirates that work and/or play at Didjer’s Crab House however are warriors, rogues, barbarians and there’s even a wizard! They’re all roughly between levels 5-7. I really enjoyed the diversity and the level of detail that was put into these NPCs. My personal favorite was the Half-Orc chef although I’m sure many will enjoy Dame DeLaney, especially Dragonlance fans, as she reminded me of Kitiara somewhat.
After all that comes the adventure. It takes up four pages, followed by two pages of new creatures and two maps (one of the “dungeon” and one of the Crab House.” The adventure is a short one that can easily be played in a single gaming session, although there are adventure seeds to prolong the PCs time in the area. The adventure is also pretty open-ended as there are several possible endings, meaning that DMs and players alike don’t have to worry about a highly linear dungeon crawl that ends up being more hack and slash than roleplaying. It’s designed for characters between Levels 4 and 6, although there is no list of the recommended party size. The adventure is pretty easy to adapt scale-wise, so if the party is having a cakewalk of it, just crank up the number of enemies they encounter!
The plot of the adventure revolves around the fisherman that supply Didjer’s Crab House with his delicious namesake being attack with increasing frequency and ferocity by a community of Sahuagin. The PCs are hired to protect the fishing boats and keep the sea devils at bay. Sure it sounds like a pretty basic plot hook, but trust me, things get far weirder than you expect. I don’t want to spoil the story for you, but eventually the PCs have to pick a side between three different groups, each of which feels justified in their current stance on life and the other groups. It’ll all come down to the alignment of the players and how they tend to do things. Also, the whole aforementioned South Park quotations will be in full force by the climax of the adventure. It’s exceptionally well written and, although short, it’s highly memorable.
As the first in the Waysides releases, I couldn’t have asked more a more entertaining location that Didjer’s Crab House. It’s highly original, can fit in most locations (deserts would be a bit hard though, don’t you think? ) and even now I’m trying to think of further adventures to cement this seafood shack as a central location in a town for low level adventurers. With a price point of under four dollars, you’re getting an excellent tandem of adventurer and a location your players will love visiting instead of taking part in the usual “you’re sitting in a tavern when…” With Didjer’s Crab House, players will probably know why a fight broke out, who started it, and who is going to finish it, along with being easily approached by other regulars who might have a job or two for them. Who knows one of your characters might hear “NORM!” every time he walks through the door.