Tabletop Review: Goblins of the Opera (D20/OGL)

Goblins of the Opera
Publisher: Jacktard Games
Page Count: 62
Cost: $8.99
Release Date: 06/20/2013
Get it Here: DriveThruRPG.com

Goblins of the Opera is the first ever adventure from a small indie company named Jacktard Games. This adventure is designed for four to six Level 1 characters and uses the OGL/D20 system. It’s easily adaptable to your Pathfinder, Dungeons & Dragons and other similar settings with little muss or fuss. The adventure is meant to have bits of light comedy, but it’s also easily converted into something darker in the hands of a good DM. I know while reading it, I could easily see this fitting in Ravenloft for example by turning the goblins into goblins and making the main antagonist into a very minor Darklord.

I really enjoyed the layout of the adventure. The narrative and mechanics are both structured very well and it makes the adventure easy to follow and, more importantly, to run. I will note that there are a lot of typos that an seasoned editor could have caught with lines like, “The door itself shows signs of ware…” or, “By the looks of you I’d say that you’re adventures errors.” A good grammar and spell check could have done this piece wonders. As well, there are little inconsistencies like the stat block for the NPC Samstaq listing him as a Level 3 Male Elven Wizard, but when he shows up in the narrative…he’s a dwarf. Now these guys are new and small, so it’s understandable they don’t have the editorial kinks worked out just yet. At the same time the fact when you’re charging this much for adventure with errors like this, as well as no are, people are going to expect a higher level of quality for what they are paying – especially when you’re charging for that a lot of big name publishers. Goodman Games, creators of Age of Cthulhu and Dungeon Crawl Classics only charge $6.99 for their adventures as a comparison. Still, as I’ve said, these guys are new and they can always restructure the price tag for this and clean up the errors in a way you CAN’T with physical copies, so it’s not like you’re permanently stuck with these issues.

As for the adventure itself, it’s quite long, clocking in at sixty-two pages, which helps cushion the blow of the cost. It is ALL content and it’s a lot of fun. The entire adventure is a comedic parody of Phantom of the Opera, although it is VERY loosely based on the idea. Players come to the town of Largo and are hired by the Mayor to deal with a very strange goblin problem. It seems they have taken over the local opera house, which had up until recently. Long been abandoned due to strange events and possibly haunting taking place there. Now the goblin appear to live and work out of there, setting up plans for a grand opera – goblin style. This wouldn’t be so bad if the goblins weren’t aggressively hawking townsfolk, attacking those that don’t buy tickets coupled with various women from the town disappearing with a few cited as entering the opera house before they were never seen again. The townspeople have no real place to turn and the local government is inept and spineless, so it is up to the PCs to figure out what is going on and if the disappearing women are connected to the strange behavior of the local goblins. The end result is a fun adventure that really dresses up the dungeon crawl concept in a fun way and gives beginning characters a pretty memorable first experience as heroes. I really enjoy beginning level adventures that try to be more than a simple hack and slash or fetch quest affair and Goblins of the Opera does this hands-down and I think a lot of OGL/d20 fans could have fun with this one big time. It’s well balanced and you can always skew the adventure to be as dark or as comedic as you want/need.

While Goblins of the Opera lacks any artwork (which is a shame as the images in my head for this are HILARIOUS; too bad I can’t draw…) it does come with a .zip file with a whopping TEN maps for the adventure, all of which are good, if not great. Again, first time out of the park. Personally, I know a lot of people love art, but I’ll take quality maps over throwaway drawings any day. The maps are repeated at the end of the adventure, but in too small of a format to use. The maps won’t really work for miniature based play, but they are detailed enough that the DM can make use of them. The adventure also comes with seven handouts, although they are put into the adventure in portrait fashion, even though they are designed for landscape. These would be easier on the eyes and to use if they were restored to landscape, although as the rest of the adventure in portrait style, it would mean having to turn the adventure at a 90 degree angle to read these.

Finally the adventure gives you a few new unique enemies, including the big bad which I was expecting to only be hurt by magic or magical weapons but in fact is not -something very out of the ordinary for the monster type. As well, the game gives several new magic items ranging from the quite interesting (a monocle that gives you an Appraise bonus) to the kind of lame (magically refilling beer stein). All in all I really enjoyed the adventure and I’ll probably take a look at Jacktard Studios’ other adventure, The Pale Assassins down the road. For a low-level/intro adventure into a OGL/D20 fantasy game, you could do a lot worse than Goblins of the Opera. It might be a little rough around the edges and (arguably) a little too pricey for its own good, but I think Jacktard Studios shows some real promise here.

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