Name: Death Dealer: Shadows of Mirahan
Publisher: Goodman Games
Author: Harly Stroh
Line: Dungoens & Dragons 4E
Frank Frazetta is an iconic fantasy artist and I like many of my generation, remember his work from the 70′s on album covers, posters and Heavy Metal Magazine. The Death Dealer painting being one of his most widely recognized. In 2007 Image comics published a comic book based on the Death Dealer character, although he was not really a character in the book, he was more a force of nature. Just recently Goodman Games published a Death Dealer adventure module based on the 2007 comic. The cover of this book is what really pulled me in. I am not a Dungeons & Dragons 4th Edition player, but the draw of Frazetta’s art was too powerful for me to resist. I can always convert it to HackMaster and use it to torment PezWitch and the interns. I figured, what was another Total Party Kill (TPK) one way or another.
I really like the art in this book, how could I not like a book filled with Frazetta inspired pictures. My biggest complaint about the book besides it being D&D4E, is the dark gray background with black fonts. Mongoose Games is doing this with their Elric and Lankhmar books as well. This might be cool to the kids, but for us old guys, this is a bad idea. It is hard to read and the otherwise great art, fades against this gray wash on every page. This greatly annoys me and detracts from an otherwise good product.
The game mechanics are standard D&D4E fare. The monsters and NPC’s are clearly stated in the book, so you don’t need to refer to the Monster Manual. There are five pregenerated characters ready to play, these are actually the characters from the comic books, so fans will appreciate it. The Death Dealer himself is stated in the book. This is a two edged sword for Goodman games. On the one hand, stating him was a brave move and adds a cool factor to the book. On the other, they will now be plagued with stories at GenCon about how some guys 12th level Rogue named Binky was actually able to kill the Death Dealer with a double ninja strike backstab attack on the first turn of combat.
The adventure itself is a race against time, with the characters often finding themselves out numbered and out gunned. I can see where a stubborn group of players who refuse to retreat when necessary, could end up with a TPK. Smartly played characters should be able to win the day. The background material on the lands of Iparsia is just enough to get the game going, I think probably it be a good idea to find a copy of the source comic book and read that, if the GM wants to continue running the game in this setting. This adventure, however, would work just fine in any setting that tended towards dark fantasy. In fact, when I run it, I will be adapting for use with my own Caldoom setting.
There are two things about this product that really push it over the edge for me. First, it is $9.99. In this day and age of $50 hardback games, it is a relief to see at least one game company trying to go the other way. The Dungeon Alphabet, also by Goodman Games, is $9.99 as well and it is a Hardback book. Additionally, there is a coupon code on page two, good for downloading the PDF version of Death Dealer for free, normally $7.99 from goodmangames.rpgnow.com. One of the options for download is the low ink version, which actually fixes my complaint about the gray background.
Summery (Scale of 1-5):
Appearance and Layout: 2
Game Mechanic: 3
I gave Setting a 4 in spite of the lack of substantial background material because I really liked the adventure itself and the very idea of the Death Dealer works for me. At $9.99 plus the free PDF download, make this is a real bargain for any GM looking for something in the dark fantasy category.