Game: Undiscovered Quests & Adventures, Issue #3
Publisher: Eilfin Publishing
Review Dated: 27th, March 2003
Reviewer’s Rating: 5/10 [ Perfectly acceptable ]
Total Score: 5
Average Score: 5.00
Way-hay! Eilfin‘s PDF editor must have gone up a character level.
There are a bunch of new and worthwhile features in issue #3 of Quests and Adventures. We have bookmarks; that’s not an impressive PDF feat, it’s just a really useful one. Issue #3 is 104 pages deep and so being able to jump straight to what interests you, without having to scroll through picture laden pages, is a real bonus. The bookmarks are done right; using them doesn’t cause Acrobat to jump to “Fit to Window” where the page is too small to read but maintains “Fit Width” where the text is readable. There are internal page bookmarks too. As you read issue #3’s contents page you can actually click on the line that interests you most and you’ll teleport right there. Eilfin score a hit with the use of “Hide Images” and “Hide Maps” buttons. Previously, printing out a copy of Q & A has been an ink-guzzling nightmare. The buttons serve to help counter that. It was a good move letting the readers keep the maps but dump the rest of the images. There is, of course, a “Show all Images and Maps” button to return the colourful illustrations and cartography to the PDF. Eilfin and Second World Simulations are the only two PDF publishers, out of dozens that I’ve seen, who’ve utilised this technology successfully. Many other publishers provide black & white printer friendly copies in addition to the main PDF but this means you have to spend more time downloading your purchase.
The V Shane comic strip is new to issue #3 as well. Well, not quite a strip, a single box – but still another sign that this ezine is going strong. And it’s funny.
Many of the regular features (but not all of them) make an appearance here. The often-useful questions and answers session gets the ball rolling. There’s only ever two questions in this introduction and so I was a bit disappointed to see one of them being used to clarify some spells introduced in the Quest & Adventures #2. I’d much rather see questions and answers from the core rules but this isn’t too much of a grumble.
The Oasis of Shar is one of the two pre-written adventures. Q & A #3 was released just after Eilfin’s Kings of the Desert printed adventure. The whole desert theme has been picked up on and developed further, not only by this pre-written adventure but by much of the ezine. The Oasis of Shar is a scenario that could well feature plenty of travelling around and could conclude in something of a battle.
Slather’s Secrets sees the God of the Unknown mull publicly over exclusive information. It’s all presented in a story format rather than the bullet point list the What’s Happening in the World Today section is. Look here for V Shane’s comic gag.
The Showcase must be one of Q & A’s unexpected successes. It’s a great way to keep Undiscovered associated with quality illustrations. The Showcase is always a squeeze, only ever a page in length, and in this issue they squeeze in some samples of Jeremy McHugh‘s work.
There’s no new character race in Quests and Adventures #3. Instead there’s a new organization: Holy Knights. I’ve mixed feelings about this – the Holy Knights aren’t nearly as useful as the Half-Aflar and Half-Dwarf races are but a game starts to suffer consistency problems if there’s a new character race in every supplement.
There are 12 new spells and 10 new poisons in subsequent chapters. Those 12 spells equate to exactly 2 for each of the covens used in Undiscovered. The poisons are presented in their own chapter and share much of the limelight in the editor’s introduction at the start of the ezine. Healing potions and otherwise benevolent elixirs can become toxic if taken in excess but most of the poisons presented here are extracted from animals and monsters in Arkas.
The two character profiles take up a significant chunk of the ezine. Character sheets for advanced characters, such as these 80+ level NPCs, in Undiscovered really can take up a lot of space. It’s because of the relative complexity of creating such advanced characters that the profiles are great time savers for busy AGs. The character portraits are always a key attraction in this section and it’s true again here. Tucked away at the end of this chapter, as a small chapter of their own, are a couple of new weapons.
The “What’s Happening in the World Today” is a regular feature in the ezine. The page of bullet points let you keep up to date with the official world of Arkas. Having an official world plot is a damned if you do and damned if you don’t situation for many games and so these inexpensive updates provide something of a compromise solution.
In “The Zalif Cultists” we’re given a presentation on a Zale monastery, the cultists and priests inside as well as their practises. The Ritual Sacrifice of disfigured newborn is common. Typically we’d expect at least a map of a sample monastery from Q & A feature but we’re not treated to one here.
Mass Combat rules are always controversial and yet always a welcome option. Eilfin’s gotten around to producing them for Undiscovered in this issue of their ezine and that’s quicker than many publishers manage. This review isn’t a play test of the new mechanics – but they look workable enough to me.
The Demographics of Am Muldad is back in the realm of traditional Q & A material. It’s been sections like this one that did the first two of the electronic magazines proud. The information is quick, easy and useful. The coloured map is a note worthy contribution in its own right. A whole town is described and ready for plug-in-and-play.
Coming a Full Circle is the second pre-written adventure in the ezine, it’s either part three of a three part adventure series or a stand alone scenario. Even as part three of a set of adventures it’s designed for beginning characters of levels between 3 and 6. It’s written for between 4 and 8 players and I think that’s slightly more than the first two games could cope with. It’s a plus point that the adventure can be used as a stand alone, it might just be that people don’t have the first two Q & As … but you have to wonder how they’ll cope with half-dwarves or respond to What’s Happening in the World Today.
Gwydion’s Library is another Q & A stalwart. It does well here again: a map, juicy information about the Ijar desert and surrounding areas. The section is another tie in to the Kings of the Desert adventure. It leads nicely onto to the beasts and monster chapters that conclude the ezine.
There are certainly strong gains in this issue of Q & A; the improved ease-of-use, the appearance of V Shane’s comic and the continued questions and answers sessions. That said something of the shine of first two issues seems to be missing here. There are less illustrations in issue #3 than the first two. That’s a shame because quality illustrations are something I associate strongly with Undiscovered and Eilfin. The ezine seems to suffer from “more-of-the-same” and the loss of some of the regular touches at the same time. I’m not going to end on a low, Q & A represents great value for money, is still extremely useful for Undiscovered players and AGs and a worthwhile buy.