Ever since gamers went online and began publishing their own materials, it’s been truly astounding to see the diversity and creativity of some of those ideas. And when the PDF marketplace went crazy, the floodgates opened up in an almost Darwinian fashion and many small publishing efforts have risen and fallen over the years. One of those that has had staying power even before the online movement really got underway has been Louis Porter Jr. Design or LPJ Design for short.
LPJ Design has been pumping out great gaming materials since the late 1990s and that quality hasn’t dropped any in recent years. In fact, content-wise, it may be improving year to year, product to product. One of their recent releases was Enemies of NeoExodus: The Folding Circle. Set in the divided lands of Exodus, this fantasy setting offers a unique spin on traditional fantasy concepts. Sure, there are traditional roles and kingdoms, but there are also powerful magics, deities, and individuals seeking to forge new lands out of the chaos of different rulers.
The Folding Circle details a small, dedicated group focused on rooting out corruption and lies in favor of justice and honor. At the helm is Makesh, a human changed to something more monstrous through ancient magics. He is helped by Nysska, who has more finesse in delicate matters than her stalwart leader. The Destroyer, like Makesh, puts aside subtlety for the warrior’s approach to problem-solving. And then there’s Emok, a demon playing curious games while Makesh entertains, and Haru, a spiritual golem who seemingly has no mind of his own but accompanies Makesh as a trusted companion and protector.
Also included are details about the group’s agenda, some of the artifacts in their base of operations, relations with other nations, hangers-on (think of them as the second string of The Folding Circle) and more good ideas than you can shake a stick at. Plus, if you want the leaders of the group to be at different levels of ability (i.e. easy, medium, hard, impossible…), there are multiple levels of stats for each of the five main folks.
But if you set aside the NPCs themselves, it was the stories behind Makesh’s rise that really made me take notice. This isn’t a villain or hero created without forethought. His past led him along a path that has a logical progression and distinct phases of development. Though he takes the direct approach, there are reasons for that that become clear as you learn his story. And each of his companions has a similar role to play – well constructed, well reasoned, and perfectly suited to numerous plot threads for an enterprising GM.
What puzzles me a bit is the design of the book… Not the content, which is excellent. Not the layout, which utilizes a consistent two-column approach with good use of white space and graphical elements, great art, clear headings and tables, and so on. My only nit with the layout is that on some pages with larger images covering a good portion of the page (such as on pages 11 and 19), there seems to be an issue with the background of the picture covering the text a bit making it seem faded or worn and tough to read in spots. But this is only on some platforms (Windows 7, Acrobat Reader X) and not as visible on my iPad (in GoodReader), so it may simply be my aging eyeballs.
The book design itself is curious because it avoids the usual book structure in favor of diving into the content immediately. No table of contents. No index. No bookmarks. And these decisions would make more sense with a smaller (i.e. < 10 page) PDF, but the larger you get, the more you need some form of navigation aid, whether it’s through bookmarks, a hyperlinked table of contents or index, or some other method.
That said, if you’re looking for some top-notch content for Pathfinder and some great NPCs to inject a bit of a philosophical change into your campaign, Enemies of NeoExodus: The Folding Circle offers some detailed, crunchy characters to sink your teeth into as a GM.
- NeoExodus at Genghis Con from JP on Gaming (jpchapleau.blogspot.com)
- Best NeoExodus Adventure: JP vs. LPJ from JP on Gaming (jpchapleau.blogspot.com)
- NeoExodus: A House Divided Campaign Setting (gmsmagazine.com)
- [JP On Gaming] Free RPG Day: Undying Legacy Playtest report (jpchapleau.blogspot.com)
- NeoExodus: It’s finally here! Real Books! from JP on Gaming (jpchapleau.blogspot.com)
- NeoExodus: on the Paizo Store Blog! from JP on Gaming (jpchapleau.blogspot.com)