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Saturday 17 November 2018

RPGPundit Reviews: House of Paper Shadows

This is a review of "House of Paper Shadows", an adventure for Wandering Heroes of Ogre Gate. It was written by Brendan Davis, published by Bedrock Games.

This is, as always, a review of the print edition. It is a softcover edition, coming in at 85 pages long. The cover is full color, featuring a sinister image of a pale-skinned female figure with a long spear, walking through a pink forest to a building. The interior art is black & white, and features a large number of quite decent art pieces and floorplan maps. It's about 88 pages long.

Before proceeding, I should note that I have a business relationship with Brendan Davis in that Bedrock Games is the publisher of the Arrows of Indra RPG, my Epic-India OSR game. I was not involved in this product (or the Ogre Gate game at all), nor do I make any money from this product; I also don't think my business relationship will affect my ability to provide an honest review.

So, in the introduction, Brendan states that House of Paper shadows takes its inspiration from various Chinese movies (A Chinese Ghost Story, Bride From Hell, Human Lanterns, etc), but also from Clive Barker. It's an adventure "filled with fear, horror and disgust".

Here's a youtube preview:

The adventure is intended as an exploration adventure for characters of Qi Rank 4-6.  As I said, this is an adventure for Wandering Heroes of Ogre Gate, which I previously reviewed, and that's a wuxia kung-fu action RPG.  The adventure centers on The House of Paper Shadows, which is both an organisation in the Ogre Gate setting, and the Shadow House which is their headquarters, which is briefly detailed in the Ogre Gate book.  Brendan warns that this is a very dangerous adventure and it's highly likely that one or more PCs will die if you run it.

The House of Paper Shadows is additionally described as a "basic site-based adventure". It's about exploration, in the same way that a D&D dungeon would be.  There's a big bad, named Feng Yin, who is difficult to kill, but various ways of defeating her are presented.
Various reasons are also presented as to why the PCs might want to go to the House of Paper Shadows in the first place; maybe they are motivated for the destruction of the House for reasons ranging from the mercenary to the personal, or maybe they're seeking a missing member of a different sect now presumably held prisoner in the House. They might be lured there by the Society to obtain something the PCs have. They could be searching for the Rejuventing Honey found there. Or they could be tricked there by the Society itself as a test to consider them for eventual membership.

The first chapter of the book (after the introduction) begins with a description of the House of Paper Shadows. This includes an extremely impressive keyed map of the House, which occupies two pages, one being impressively illustrative and the other more practical. It's really a great map. There's random encounter tables, and a description of all the keyed rooms.

The whole dungeon is an exotic and impressive menagerie of dangerous traps, highly unusual monstrosities, and weird objects. It all has a great Horror-Wuxia style to it. There's 56 keyed areas in all. This chapter covers about 40 pages.

Chapter 2 is a separate "small mystery adventure" called "The Paper Mountain Mystery". It is derived from one particular location in chapter 1, which allows them the opportunity to travel back in time. They travel back to a place and time where they can get important clues about the past of Feng Yin, and thus potentially defeat her. This sub-adventure has many interesting locations and characters, and is about 12 pages long.

Chapter 3 is "residents of the house of paper shadows" and it details new monsters for the Ogre Gate setting, including many unique to the House. Also, NPCs.
You get about a dozen new monsters, including Dragon Ghosts, Shadow Agents, a variety of magical wasps (a feature of the House), Shadow Heroes, and Shadow Puppets.
There's also a half dozen NPCs.  All of these, monsters and NPCs, are statted out, and any special abilities are included and explained.

Chapter 4 is only a couple of pages long, and presents some new Kung Fu techniques and rituals for the Ogre Gate game. Again, these are generally connected to the adventure scenario.

Chapter 5, the final chapter, contains new items and substances. It's only a couple of pages long, and contains brief descriptions of items like "alleviating honey", "the blood dagger of bao", "blood honey", "ceramic orb of Ruang Anzhi", "Mi-Feng's aroma", "rejuvenating honey" and "shadow hide glue".

After this, we get to the appendix section. "Appendix A" contains "Branch-head Records". It is a single page listing the heads of the different branches of the House of Paper Shadows, and their relevant locations.

Appendix B contains a set of 4 pre-gen characters for player use.  Finally, the back has a recreation of the maps found in earlier sections.
So what can we conclude about House of the Paper Shadows?  Well, it's very definitely a book for Wandering Heroes of Ogre Gate; it's very particular to that game's styling. You could only really adapt it with quite a lot of work, as there's considerable rules material here, and in terms of setting if you wanted it to make sense it would need to be for play in a Wuxia-fantasy world with strong Chinese elements.

Within that context, and certainly if you're a fan of Ogre Gate, this is a fantastic product to pick up.


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