Today I’ll be reviewing the Abbey of the Golden Sparrow by Tricky Owlbear Publishing. This is the first of their locale supplements, a product that focuses on a location designed to fit into any setting, rather than a simple list of feats. I really like this idea, because it gives the GM in a hurry a fleshed out area, allowing them to allocate more prep time to the world as a whole, or simply to setting up their own plot. The fact that it isn’t tied to any particular setting means you could put it anywhere there are dwarves in a mountain.
The Golden Sparrow Abbey is written mostly for Monks, to either give them a bit more backstory, or to give them a place to go on their quest for enlightenment. The abbey itself is built on the top of a mountain around a vault holding an artifact of terrible power. GM Plot hook alert, The Headband of Resplendent Passion is a nasty powerful intelligent item with it’s own agenda. The vault was built by the dwarf clans who live at the base of the mountain and regularly trade with the monks above. The monks seem to have focused their martial art greatly on throwing weapons, wielding obsidian shuriken with deadly accuracy. Also the cold of the mountain has taught the monks how to use their ki pool to enhance their attacks with cold damage. I applaud the alternate use of the ki pool, because in my experience people tend to never actually use their daily feats/spells/powers/wands/weasels for fear of the next fight being bigger than the last. The ki pool gives the monk the ability to use it as he needs it. Generally it’s a lesser ability than the one-a-day, but it will actually get used because he can still hold one or two ki in reserve.
The golden abbey monks are practically their own variant class, and one I wouldn’t mind playing. There’s a couple of neat feats for those of you who want to make throwers work. Aim lets you take a move action to give you a +2 to attack with throwing weapons. That’s not that bad. Finesse Strike acts like Weapon Finesse but for damage, and for one-handed throwing weapons. This scares me a bit, but it fits with the shuriken theme in that shuriken deal very little damage on their own. I’m mostly just worried about the guys throwing javelins. Most of these are pretty decent to increase the power level of throwers, and seem fairly difficult to break, but I’m not the best power gamer around. I like the idea of throwers, and may try to make one in the future.
From the fluff, I like the idea of having different monastic orders, sorta like how there’s the different orders of Cavaliers in the Advanced Player’s Guide (which I will review eventually). It helps add some mechanical backing to the fluff, and more variety is always a good thing. Oh, and before I forget, there are rules for a new special material: obsidian. Obsidian is lighter than steel, sharper, but easier to break. I just like the image of a poorer orc tribe using obsidian weapons, even if it is the signature material of this monastery.
On the whole I love this supplement. It’s a good first entry to a new company, and gives the much maligned monk a bit more to play with, while giving the GM a new area to work with. It does so many things for only 17 pages, and contains a nice bit of short fiction outlining a day in the life at the monastery. Not a bad deal here. You can acquire this pdf from RPGNow for a mere $4.95.