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Amethyst: Hearts of Chaos $4.99
Average Rating:4.5 / 5
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Amethyst: Hearts of Chaos
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Amethyst: Hearts of Chaos
Publisher: Goodman Games
by Christopher S. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 09/23/2009 11:52:23

This module is something of a mixed bag. As an adventure set within the inventive world of Amethyst, it's decent (if hardly an original idea, though the parallels to Heart of Darkness/Apocalypse Now are called out pretty clearly in the title). As an introduction to said world, however, it's a bit lacking. Someone already familiar with the setting (through the OGL release) will have no trouble getting into the swing of events, but someone who isn't aware of the basic conceits of the world may have issues.

The adventure itself is very straightforward, following a highly linear path towards a defined goal and with only two real possible outcomes. Due to the establishment of the party as a mercenary group on a mission, it's OK to railroad, although some of the 'scripted' encounters may have problems depending on the personalities assigned to the pregenerated characters.

The pregens are actually one of the weakest parts of the module. First, their equipment loadouts are not always the best choices (if nothing else, everyone should have a backup melee weapon for those fights where the GM rolls critical equipment failure three rounds in a row, and the players of supposedly 'heavy weapons' characters chafed at not having more impressive guns). Additionally, since the group dynamic of the characters is left vague, the interactions at the table become somewhat messy as players try to figure out their place in the group and the surrounding world (the adventure's outcome is strongly predicated on the entire group being inclined to either obey or disobey their orders, and in a mixed group could easily turn into PvP without strong GM control). Since this issue will be entirely resolved once the Amethyst corebook is released, I don't count it against the module too much.

The other weak point, which I have to fault it for, are the maps. The default battlemaps for the module are appallingly dull, lacking anything in the way of interesting terrain. For characters who are, by default, inclined to find some cover and hunker down, this is a crippling weakness. When I ran the module, I completely disregarded the included maps in favor of my own, to the adventure's greater benefit (especially during the final battle).

While the encounters in this module provide for some good variety (particularly if the optional encounters from the web enhancement are used), there are some niggling issues with each of them that prevent them from being excellent. First and most problematic, the players automatically assume that because their vehicle breaks down right before an enormous monster appears on the horizon, that they are supposed to fight the monster. This is a problem when the encounter is scripted as a skill challenge and the monster is 25th level. Second, in the final battle, the dragon is too small - a Large just doesn't cut it for really emphasizing the 'oh crap' moment. Third, the talky scenes are both too vaguely defined (my group asked none of the questions that had scripted responses) and too long, with the result that tic-tac-toe and dice jenga might take over those scenes if they fail to keep everyone's interest. In general, the module is too wordy and occasionally suffers from dodgy grammar (though having read the OGL version of the setting, I am aware that this is a stylistic concern of the writer). Lastly, because the adventure is so spread out over time, there is plenty of time to take extended rests between encounters, so there is very little resource attrition (beyond the expenditure of ammunition).

With all that out of the way, the overall pacing is quite good, and the adventure itself was entertaining for the group. In spite of having minimal knowledge of the setting, they did their best to get into it, and will hopefully be amenable to a full campaign in the future (and given how hard to please my group is, this is a heady accomplishment). I would have personally preferred a longer module which makes full use of the psychological impact of the source material, but understandably this offering had to be short to be able to be run at an event. In conclusion - while I would not recommend this module as a person's first introduction to the Amethyst setting, as a one-shot for already familiar players or as the prelude to a larger campaign I would definitely do so.

I would also endorse the lively and exciting sport of pugg-punting, invented by my group during the first encounter when their vehicle was swarmed by a small legion of goblinoids.



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Amethyst: Hearts of Chaos
Publisher: Goodman Games
by Edward M. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 08/04/2009 01:08:00

Amethyst has intrigued me for some time as I've followed its development via various gaming forums, and this 'preview' module of the setting is fantastic. The writing is very high quality, the encounter design is excellent, and the opportunities for roleplaying within the party are fantastic. I haven't had a module go over so well with my group as this one in years. While there were a few bumps in the preparation (there were one or two powers I didnt understand, and you have to go to DiasExMachina's website to download the characters), I highly recommend picking this up to anyone who is interested in testing out the waters of Amethyst. Its a fantastic buy at just $5.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
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