Tyranny of Greed: Cloak and Ballot Trilogy, Part One (Pathfinder/OGL 3.5)
Publisher: Adventureaweek.com, LLP
Page Count: 40
Release Date: 06/11/2013
Get it Here: DriveThruRPG.com
Tyranny of Greed is the first in the Cloak and Ballot trilogy from Adventureaweek.com. I generally eschew Pathfinder products as I’m more a Call of Cthulhu, Shadowrun, World of Darkness and Dungeon Crawl Classics gamer, but I really liked the idea of a set of adventures revolving around political machination and intrigue in a fantasy setting. Unfortunately, there isn’t a lot of this in Tyranny of Greed as it’s more your standard “get the big bad humanoid corrupting the town” story, but it DOES set up for a very political oriented adventure(s) for the rest of the trilogy, so in spite of Tyranny of Greed not really being something I’d normally run or play myself, as a set up for an election oriented adventure, it did its job in making me want to pick up the rest of the trilogy.
Tyranny of Greed is designed for four Level 3 characters who have been called to town by one Lariel Terien to help deal with an extortion racket that has led to the death of a prominent merchant. The players are then set to do equal parks detective work and hack and slash, as they discover who in the local government is behind the attacks. Players will also to deal with widespread corruption, racial bigotry and a unique political system involving an order of monks that have tried, but failed to fix the underlying problems with the community.
The adventure is a pretty straightforward linear affair although the ending leaves a lot to be desired. I’m not a fan of adventures that end with a “To Be Continued” style ending or without and true resolution and Tyranny of Greed does just that. I GET that it’s because of the set up for the rest of the trilogy, but you can still have a self contained ending with each individual story that tells a larger tale. People playing Tyranny of Greed will have to wait for the full series to come out to really get anything out of it, as the second adventure is set to occur immediately after this one. There’s nothing worse than an adventure without a true ending than having to wait weeks/months/sometimes years for the next part of the adventure to come out, as that particular party of characters is left in limbo until it does.
I did enjoy the combat encounters as they were well written and diverse, giving players some unexpected enemies. Usually in a story of this sort it’s all humans and/or humanoid races. You’ll actually see a few monsters, which is always a plus. My favorite encounter involves an assassination attempt on the players which is exceptionally well done and the most memorable piece of the adventure.
There are a few typos and inconsistencies in Tyranny of Greed. For example. On page nine, players are told they will receive 3,000 gold pieces for successfully completing the adventure. However, when the adventure wraps up, each PC is only given 500GP each. Now, last I checked four PCs times 500GP is only 2,000GP. It’s little things like that that drag down Tyranny of Greed and could have been caught by a better editor, but errors like this are minor and things I could easily see a lot of people missing if they’re not looking at the adventure with a critical eye, so I’ll give it a pass here. Plus this adventure is a PDF, so the team can always edit the thing and send the fixed PDF back out to purchasers.
I really liked that eleven pages of the adventure are given over to the encounter index as the adventure is chock full of unique characters. As well, each of these characters and/or antagonists is given two sets of stats – one for OGL 3.5 and one for Pathfinder. Sure, there aren’t a lot of differences between the two, but it was fascinating to me to look at the subtle ways the same character varied from system to system.
Overall, Tyranny of Greed gets a thumbs in the middle. As I said earlier, it’s not the type of adventure I’d enjoy playing through or running, but it is very well written and so while it’s not for me, I can respect that it’s a quality piece that others would enjoy. As well, I liked the set up for the next adventure in the trilogy, but hated the dangling ending. A tighter finish and a few cleaned up errors would have helped this adventure in the short AND long run. A good political adventure is hard to find for Dungeons & Dragons OR Pathfinder and I’m really hoping the second in this chapter lives up to the setup providing in Tyranny of Greed.