So I met this hellahexi fellow and asked to get a copy of their ‘zine as the about page and the dozen posts I read all lead me to believe their work would be right up my alley. Gonzo, weird, uncanny gaming with splashes of strangeness and attempting to sound smart? Let’s go through the zine and see if that holds up.
On the outer fold, the right side is the first page and the left is the last. I am enjoying the ideas that this cult inspires, and it makes me want to read more about their home base where they take these penitents. Point of criticism though is that some of the items are out of order and make it difficult to figure out what is happening until you’ve read the whole piece. The front page would be helped by at least a few sentence blurb laying out a possible scenario where the players come upon the cult or laying out this information as cult background information. I would have taken the information on the last page (left) and put that as the front page along with a quick summary that the Cult has shown up in this area.
The last page (left) holds tables and questions to help the DM create the motivation/conflict for the encounter. The tables are useful tools that help set the flavor for this area of brambling growth on what I presume to be a grassland/savanna area. What is the poison wind? Something that gets me curious about this setting, that’s what. What happens if your players rest here and see these moving brambles? I know mine would gain a sudden interest in botany and testing ways to abuse these thorns.
The inner spread of the zine has lots of useful information without a bit of waste. I truly appreciate a description of places that puts the monster stat blocks right along with the area describing them, rather than forcing me to search an appendix to find it. The Brambles box text would make things less confusing on an initial pass if it was earlier in the zine so I had a background to frame the map and encounter in, rather than being confused as to whether the hatching was grass, trees, thorns, or something else.
Spread among the various wagons and areas in the encampment are a number of npc’s with succinct backgrounds that also includes some basic motivations. What is missing from this encounter is something that would induce conflict with the players or engage their interest except for the list of questions on the final page (and needs to be added by the DM). While I can understand wanting to leave things open for DM’s to customize, having things spelled out makes for a complete encounter I can drop in easily and modify later if I want. But that’s personal preference, potato-potato.