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Review of Etherkai: The First Worldbreaker

Quinn Murphy mentioned on twitter a while ago that he was unleashing his first Worldbreaker onto the world on RPGnow. I had an idea what he was talking about because I'd read a little about them on his blog but I'm cautious about adding in any extra rules to my 4e game. There is quite enough bloat in the 4e system anyway and more coming all the time (not to mention the publisher seems to be running around in circles a little) and adding in 3rd party complications doesn't thrill me.

I was however impressed that Quinn had done all the hard work and something to publication and out of the door. So for the small amount of money required I was eager to support him by buying it. When I got it downloaded I was blown away by my first impressions.

It looks great. Really great.

Now this is the time to mention the art was by Shane Tyree and the layout by Fred Hicks (yes, that one) but we haven't forgotten Quinn, we'll come back to that in a moment, we're just distracted by the fantastic look of the thing at the moment.

Now I like the art and layout of RPG books a lot. I like the simple ones like the latest Traveller, d6 Star Wars and Talislanta, I like the really complex graphic and font intensive ones like D&D, Dresden Files, and World of Darkness. I even like the small really indie ones like Breaking the Ice. It seems to me like were lucky to happen to have a hobby that has so much art in the medium that it's described in. I wouldn't expect many woodworking books to be anywhere near as beautiful as what the woodworker creates but so many RPG books convey the beauty of the hobby so well.

This product is no exception. I love the art of the Dragon at the beginning and how well it fits with the design of the whole thing. The layout is excellent and perfectly done for a pdf. Just looking at it now I realise that even at a highish zoom I'm never far away from something telling me what I'm looking at or at least giving me a visual clue. The colour scheme, grey, is very evocative of the material and I like the stat block being in grey scale as well as conforming to the WoTC scheme for monsters. The fonts and spacing all seem to fit perfectly with the mood of the subject.

And that mood? Despair. I won't give too much away but the title of Etherkai: The Nightmare Dragon does give it away a little.

The idea of a worldbreaker is simple. This is monster of such power and presence that, for a short period of time, it drastically alters the world around it. That's the text from the summary. Basically it is for when your players have bored of solo monsters that do predictable things and, even the fixed ones in later WoTC 4e products, play by the rules. This is a great idea, but as I said earlier I'm hesitant of adding new 3rd party rules into my game.

The way that Quinn has presented this concept however has made me change my mind about this. The way he has combined a flavourful history of the beast with interesting reasons for it's powers along with a simple addition of a self contained 'worldbreaking' power, which uses temporary hit points as a limit to it's effect makes me think that not only could I easily use this in my game but I think it might become compulsory. Not necessarily this monster but the idea of a boss that changes everything, plot, rules, setting, characters is just a little too hard to resist.

Not just in D&D either. With a little thought this could fit into plenty of role playing games. In fact I'm not sure what should happen in Call of Cthulhu if the players should come face to face with Cthulhu itself but it would be better if the rules that the players were familiar with didn't have much to do with it.

The description of the monster doesn't just stop at the background, tactics and stats. It's explained just what will happen to any characters when they even start getting within a few miles of the beast, what the effect on the surrounding area and population is likely to be and how you could spend a few sessions just approaching the lair before you meet face to face.

I particularly like how the tactics section begins, 'Etherkai chooses battlefields that...' This is a Worldbreaker, it doesn't make use of specific bits of the terrain at hand, it chooses the battlefield. It's on it's own ground and the party had better get used to being at a disadvantage.

Also great is that this first Worldbreaker is level 10. This dispels the impression that Worldbreakers might only be for Epic Tier.

Okay. So I like it a lot. What don't I like?

Well the format of 6 pages for one worldbreaker is good but when Quinn mentioned that he was publishing his worldbreakers I did initially expect that they would be all in one book so it was a little disappointing to get just one released. While you can't argue with the price I think that I don't really need to buy any future Worldbreakers. As I've said I'm unlikely to use this exact monster in any game I run and it's more the ideas for my own Worldbreakers that excites me. The actual specifics I can come up with on my own. That's not to say that others are like me but I wonder if Quinn will sell as many of the next ones as the first. He might have been better off selling a few together for more money.

Having said that of course I probably will buy any future Worldbreaker PDF's because creativity like this needs encouraging and for the great art.

I also didn't like the RPGnow watermark on each page. I realise that it gives a visual reminder that the pdf can be traced back to your order so you aren't tempted to distribute it but it's like somebody scratching their own name on a Rembrandt. It's a pity they couldn't put it on layer that you could hide for viewing or something similar.

So if you were to ask me then I would say buy it. It's a really cool beast if you need one for your game but more than that it's a great concept that should be influencing your games for years to come.

Comments (10) Trackbacks (0)
  1. If any freakin’ dragons show up on Saturday, Mr. Murphy might want to get someone else to open his mail.

    Just sayin’…

  2. No dragon is too big or too bad for the boot of Alfinn Tanner.

  3. If I’m not mistaken, there are better software available for Linux Mint, but of course you can try it out yourself.I’m currently using kppp from KDE and it works well on Slackware. I don’t use wvdial anymore since my wife doesn’t know how to use it

  4. no one watched the Super Bowl except for the people in the stadium, the rest of us would still not be able to avoid it, because the media will be shoving highlights down our throats for the next 3 months.I wasn't watching the Half Time show when titty-gate popped off, but I have seen Janet Jackson's flabby titty at least 100 times.

  5. Hei Gratulerer til dem som var heldig og vinne. Så får dem jo noe fint som du har laget.Fin gutt du er mamma til Sikker på at du er stålt når han danse folkedans.Ha en riktig fin dag Bodil

  6. Actually, I think that Dan Brown was not the writer, but one of the show's actual writers named Tom something or other. I haven't read it yet, but I am betting that the information inside the book's covers and dedication stuff will tell us. Great idea by whoever came up with actually writing it!! I can't wait for 24 episodes for season 3!!!!

  7. Luis disse:Mauricio R. disse:29 de agosto de 2010 às 12:53“…mais fácil a FAB pedir mais uns 20 Mirages 2000 e modernizá-los…”Mais fácil e barato seria cancelar os upgrades de AMX/A-1 e Skyhawk, retirar de serviço os M-2000 lá de Anápolis e substituir tudo isso pelo excedente de Gripen C/D sueco.[2]Concordo. São aproximadamente 70 Gripens A/B/C/D estocados. Mais 100 Tornados da Alemanha e 120 da RAF. Poderíamos comprar pelo menos uns 50 (ou uma quantidade a definir pela FAB). Estaríamos bem melhor do que atualmente, sem gastar tanto.

  8. / Isto ocorre com a maioria das mulheres gordas , pois a baixa autoestima toma conta , no gordinhasassumidas.com.br tem várias dicas em apoio a autoestima das mulheres gordinhas . Cuide da saúde, mas NÃO fique depressiva por causa do seu corpo.SE ASSUMAGostei deste comentário ou não: 24

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