Tabletop Review: The 11th Hour (Pathfinder)

The 11th Hour (Pathfinder)
Publisher: Tricky Owlbear Publishing/Fat Goblin Games
Cost: $4.95
Page Count: 19
Release Date: 04/23/2014
Get it Here: DriveThruRPG.com

Contrary to what you might think, The 11th Hour is not based off of the old Trilobyte sequel to The Seventh Guest. It’s actually got more in common with the old Bill Murray film Groundhog Day. I have to admit, from the name and cover, I WAS expecting a horror adventure, but what I ended up getting was a pleasant surprise.

The 11th Hour is an adventure for 1st Level characters. There is no mention of what size party the adventure is made for, but in truth, it doesn’t need one. The adventure can work just as well as a solo piece as it would for a party the size of a Dungeon Crawl Classics 0 Level game. How is that possible? Well, the adventure is pretty much combat free, and the players will be using their wits instead of flexing their muscles for the entirety of the affair. I say “pretty much,” because gamers being gamers, their characters could just go on a mad killing spree, murdering every NPC involved in the adventure as an attempt to “solve” things. Every so often you get a player or a full group with that thought process, so just a heads up that even though the adventure does its best to present a fun and challenging mystery for neophyte characters, someone may decide to go stab-happy.

Like many an adventure, The 11th Hour starts in a local inn/tavern. However, that’s as close to the usual tropes as the adventure gets. Once inside, the players will soon discover that they are stuck in a time loop, repeating the same hour over and over again. What’s more, the PCs are the only ones that seem to notice the loop is happening, while everyone else in the tavern are blissfully unaware, continuing to take the same actions they did before unless interrupted. It is up to the PCs to figure out why the loop is happening and how to stop it.

What’s more, The 11th Hour is designed to be played in real time, so that pace of the adventure flows with real world time. Adventures that are able to pull this off well are rare, but The 11th Hour does a great job. Perhaps not as well as Bride of the Black Manse, but that adventure is four hours long, while The 11th Hour has you repeating the same hour over and over until players figure it out. While the adventure is well written, the fact it is “only” an hour long means the DM needs to be very prepared to pull this off. The 11th Hour may be a great adventure to run for beginning and veteran players alike, but it really does need a highly experienced DM to keep track of everything, or the adventure will fall apart. All you need to do is miss one or two time cues and things can go bad.

The adventure is as hard or as easy as your players make it. They do have to pay attention to details, and this is a rare Pathfinder adventure, as role-playing takes precedence over roll-playing, but overthinking can make The 11th Hour harder than it should be. So far I’ve seen players go through it several times with the real world pacing throwing them off, and I’ve also seen a team get the adventure right on the first try thanks to having a Druid in the party. It all just depends on how used to non-combat adventures your gaming pals are and how quickly they adjust to playing an adventure in real time instead of a ten second battle taking an hour to play out.

All in all, The 11th Hour is a great adventure. It’s a nice change of pace from the hack and slash fare that most Pathfinder adventures (especially third party released) end up being. The PDF purchase price of five dollars might seem a bit much for only nineteen pages, but it is in full color, has some great art and also includes three maps for players and the DM to use. I really liked how outside the box The 11th Hour was. I wish more companies that produced content for Pathfinder would do adventures like this instead of the same old dungeon crawl hack and slash experience. If you’re looking for a breath of fresh air to give new life to Pathfinder, you should seriously consider The 11th Hour. It’s not for everyone, but the uniqueness of the adventure makes it a great way to introduce people to the mechanics of Pathfinder before overwhelming them with how intense combat can be.

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