Game: The Minotaur
Publisher: 0one Roleplaying Games
Review Dated: 27th, October 2002
Reviewer’s Rating: 6/10 [ On the ball ]
Total Score: 6
Average Score: 6.00
This is my first look at a full 0one Roleplaying Game but I had previously encountered their work in the likes of Gaming Frontiers and had been left with the opinion that their cartography is simply stunning. I was right. When you unpack your zipped copy of “the Minotaur” you’ll discover three pdf files; two are clearly smaller than the third. Look at these two first. They’re fantastic colour maps and they’ll make you wish you had an industry quality printer and if like me you have a namby-pamby black and white printer you’ll wail. These are the sorts of maps that your players will remember the game by for years to come. One of the maps is presented in four different pages that you place in a two-by-two square to present the whole layout. The default setting on Acrobat Reader has been changed to side-by-side view so this effect is clearly visible as the document opens up. Great stuff.
The product isn’t a set of maps though, it’s an adventure and this review will contain spoilers for it.
“The Minotaur” is a story of two different mad alchemists trying to breed a she-minotaur and then a whole army of she-minotaurs. The she-minotaur is introduced as a new monster in the supplement and the mad alchemist is a new prestige class that also makes an appearance. It’s a story without winners, especially the nearby villagers. It is a story of a few twists and turns but it isn’t too complex. On a first read it might seem more awkward than it really is, 0one are an Italian company and although their English is good you can’t but help notice the interesting and unusual choices of words or phrases. I would advise any GM to read through “The Minotaur” before trying to run it but that advice goes for any game.
As a matter of fact, this supplement is actually two games in one insofar as that it can be run as a basic dungeon crawl with a GM and a player controlling a 6th level Paladin or a group of 3rd level heroes. If you go for the former option then you’ll be able to make use of the rather pretty character sheet at the end of the supplement. Whichever option you pick you’ll end up with a fairly basic dungeon crawl with a little investigating work to begin with. It is a basic dungeon crawl but the supplement makes no bones about that, using the same term to describe itself.
That said; it’s a dungeon crawl with a twist. In my opinion it’s pretty hard to conclude happily. The she-minotaur is a victim of circumstance and was only doing what she needed to do to keep her children alive. The mad alchemist who created the first she-minotaur and built the maze is dead before the game begins. In fact, I think the most likely outcome is that the players fall foul of the manipulation of the Aghav, the second mad alchemist. Yes, there is a maze, a minotaur and both were created by Daedalus. GMs who are not keen on using such a widely known Greek myth may want to rename Daedalus at least. What this dungeon crawl lacks in originality, though, I think it makes up for with careful game balance and experience. A look at the document turns up plenty of play-test credits and I do believe that it suits the 6th level Paladin or a group of 3rd level characters. There are some nice touches to the dungeon, the sort of twists I meant by describing the adventure as ‘experienced’. For example, if the players stay too long in the maze or even deliberately try and camp in it over night then this is when all the various predators who have made it their home being roaming about and when random encounter tables come into play. A possible encounter on one of the tables is that of Daedalus’ spectre. I’m not quite sure why that’s there or what to do with it. He died of a heart attack – so why is he a spectre? There’s no clue as to what the spectre wants. It might have reason for helping the players, you as the GM will have to decide what the undead form of the original alchemist thinks of Aghav and you don’t really have any clues. It might be easier to remove him from the table, ignore the result or otherwise avoid any direct confrontations. There’s a witch too, she lives outside the maze and isn’t in the village either. I’m not sure why or how the player(s) will want to speak to her and I think she could be snipped from the entire adventure without anyone noticing – but at least she’s there in case the players get very lost or nose around the countryside in the wrong direction deliberately.
There’s a map of the dungeon too. It’s just as good as the separately bundled maps and it’s in colour too. The use of colour really is a mixed blessing. It looks super but I don’t think it’ll be easy to print this PDF off. There are no sidebars to churn through your ink but each page does have a colour heading design that’s about an inch thick. If you’re planning to run the game off your laptop or even if you’re just flicking back and forth through the pages on your PC then you’ll make good use of the bookmarks. Every PDF should have bookmarks, even if only in their most basic form as they are here in “The Minotaur” and are presented in a straight, none hierarchical, list.
This adventure is full of quirks; it clearly leans heavily on the original minotaur myth, it’ll be a nightmare to print out, you’ll want to print it out, there are some bits which can be left out entirely and the English is a little flaky at times. Those are the quirks. If you look at the adventure as a whole though then you’re left with an inexpensive and carefully balanced dungeon crawl that can be played in two possible ways. “The Minotaur” does represent value for money.