Pixar has a creative process whereby they iterate on idea referred to as "ugly babies" - ideas that seem troublesome at first, but with time and refinement can glow.
The City Outside of Time seems like an ugly baby that was never refined, a first or second draft of an idea that in order to work, would have taken FAR more time to polish. To begin with, whenever one delves into time travel, one is wading into murky and dubious territory. Indeed, in this module, if you begin to actually ponder the ramifications of the time travel issues, the internal logic of the adventure rapidly breaks down.
What's more, much of the adventure seems like a distraction from the main course - the party has to perform a ritual for some reason in the frozen realm of a kyton demagogue. Both here in this icy setting, and throughout the rest of the module in the titular City, one of the main issues comes to the fore - this particular writer should not be writing adventures. Her style is more well-suited to technical or scientific writing. She uses terms such as "food-based refuse", sounding very sterile and robotic.
So as you'd expect, the module comes to feel that way too. Prose lacks energy and verve that would elevate it and inspire readers. Every location feels the same. Characters are one-dimensional. Location names are cheesily alliterative - "Emerald Enlightenment", "Covetous Chorus". Dialogue is stilted, cheesy, and child-like. Plot points are communicated in non-creative ways. And most concernedly, Bellimarius - the ancient Runelord of Envy - she of Intelligence 38 and Wisdom 22 - comes off as a completely incompetent villain.
All of this has become a recurring issue for Paizo - bland writing, incompetent villains, and plots with holes a mile-wide.
Unsurprisingly, Paizo's gender-discriminating, feminist writing and artwork is also present in spades, with all personal pronouns defaulting to the feminine for some reason. Are all of Paizo's players now female? (-1 star, though it doesn't matter in this case).
If you're interested in kytons, this is a 2-star module. Otherwise, it's a boring, illogical adventure that I wish truly existed outside of time, so I could get back the hours I spent reading it.
- Paperback: 96 pages
- Publisher: Paizo Inc. (Dec 25 2018)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 164078098X
- ISBN-13: 978-1640780989
- Product Dimensions: 20.8 x 0.8 x 27.2 cm
- Shipping Weight: 181 g
- Customer Reviews: 6 customer ratings
Amazon Bestsellers Rank:
#525,820 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
- #1805 in Role Playing & Fantasy Games (Books)