Review: Coliseum Morpheuon: Anthology of Dreams

Editor: David Paul (Anthology)
Publisher: Rite Publishing
Price: Print $9.99/ Kindle $4.99
Tankard Rating: 4/5

Coliseum Morpheuon: Anthology of Dreams is the recently released anthology from Rite Publishing taking place in a mysterious dream world. The book contains eleven short stories based in the world of the Coliseum Morpheuon ruled by Khan of Nightmares. Edited by David Paul and stories from a myriad of writers including Tim Hitchcock, Jonathan McAnulty, Steve Schend, Neil Spicer, and more. The book is 222 pages in length and available in both paperback and a variety of electronic formats.

The stories all take place in the Realm of Dreams upon an island within this plane of dreams. On this island is a city with a great coliseum where the Khan of Nightmares lets bloodsport contests unfold. Several of the stories help explore the island in greater detail, describing this plane of dreams and the tenuous border between dream, sleep, and wakefulness.

The list of authors with stories in this book was enough to get me excited upon scanning the table of contents of this book. While many of the names were recognizable, I was anxious to read fiction from Tim Hitchcock and Neil Spicer, both of which have Pathfinder modules I have run. Also of interest to me was Steven Schend a name easily recognized from my Forgotten Realms days.

The first story, Living Legend by Jonathan McAnulty, helps let the reader know the Plane of Dreams is not like the normal world and that it is ever changing. The pacing of this tale is excellent and really starts to paint the picture of this dream world that the other stories continue to add depth to. The story is also one of my favorites from the anthology as well. It offered a strong start to the book.

The book rolls on into Focus by Tim Hitchcock with a tale that helps one get a feel for the inner workings of the Coliseum as we catch a glimpse of a gladiator’s life. This was another entertaining story and again, helped provide the reader with more detail of this facet of the Realm of Dreams.

Another story that stood out to me was Oneirobound by Matt Banach. It was another story that helped give the reader a better idea of this dream world and the environment within. I enjoyed the tale of the journey depicted and would not have minded reading it earlier in the book to help paint a more detailed picture of this realm.

With eleven stories in the book I cannot cover them all in this review and do not want to spoil what the reader has in store when they read this book. So lets take a look at overall impressions of this Anthology.

I enjoyed the vast majority of stories in this book. Exploring the plane of dreams was quite interesting with the boundaries you could push. The stories were entertaining and the book as a whole provided a good sampling of authors.

Given The Iron Tavern is predominantly an RPG blog, one of the great strengths of this book is the wealth of ideas it can give a GM. There are many ideas to “borrow” from this book to use within your campaigns or twist into your tales at the table. Whether it be simply more vivid dream depictions for your characters or your characters crossing this line into the dream world, this anthology is ripe with ideas to pluck.

For GMs looking to further explore this plane of dreams as depicted in the stories in this book, Rite Publishing also has a mini-setting called Coliseum Morpheuon that one can drop into their game as they see fit.

Overall I found this book a very enjoyable read, both the stories within and the ideas it sparks in any GM. The book is available in a variety of formats including print and kindle format.

Tankard Rating

4 tankards out of 5 tankards

Note: The Iron Tavern was provided a review copy of this book.


Mini Review: Pathfinder Lite PDFs

Paizo announced yesterday that they have released “Lite” versions of their hardcover rulebooks and Inner Sea World Guide in PDF format. The products released in this manner are:

These versions of the PDFs are created with the idea of being tablet or netbook friendly. Paizo has achieved this by simplifying and compressing the background in the PDFs and other minor export options to help speed them up on mobile devices.

As tablets have seen increasing use at the game table this has been a frequent cry heard on the Paizo forums to release the PDFs in a lighter format. The originally release PDFs have more intensive backgrounds and layers which often caused for slower rendering on tablet type devices (and even lower end laptops). Finally, Paizo has found a way that they are happy with to keep the quality of their product and answer the pleas for lighter weight PDFs.

Before I delve into how these new Lite PDFs perform, let me go over my current PDF reading setup and past performance.

I use a first generation iPad for a good portion of my gaming materials these days. I use it for notes, the occasional dice roller, web access and of course PDFs. I use GoodReader for my PDF reader on the iPad. It has some excellent features including Dropbox integration, annotation abilities, custom bookmarks, tabbed PDFs and with its read-ahead caching can provide a performance boost when reading PDFs synchronously.

Reading Paizo PDFs on the iPad generally has worked well. GoodReader caches the next page so at a normal reading pace things flow smoothly. The problem historically has been when you want to jump from section to section within a PDF, say as one might do at a game table. Here the delays were much more noticeable with the page redraw taking a second or two. For the most part this led me to hope I wouldn’t need to reference the PDF too much during game play because of these delays.

Granted, some of these cons were taken in stride when with the iPad I could carry my entire Pathfinder book collection in one slim device. It made attending conventions much easier on the back than it used to be and freed up room for snacks in the backpack! Still, I was certainly one of the people hoping for a less heavy PDF of the various Paizo products for the iPad.

This morning I loaded up several of the new Lite PDFs on my same iPad with the same PDF reader software. I worked with the Advanced Players Guide, Bestiary 2 and 3, Ultimate Magic and Ultimate Combat. They all worked quite well on my iPad. The page turns were smooth, I could jump around using the Table of Contents with speed and then page forward and backward from that spot with minimal delay.

The Lite versions of the PDF are definitely much improved over their heavier weight PDFs I had been using of the same books. I still need to see how they do at a full game session, but I suspect this week I will be leaving my hardcover books at home on the shelf and just relying on the iPad this week.

This is one of the many reasons so many gamers really feel Paizo really gets us gamers. Paizo already had my money for all of the PDFs in question. They aren’t really making anything more from me by releasing these lighter weight versions of the PDF as I already owned them. But they listened to their customer, found a way to release these PDFs in a manner which met their production standards and ran more smoothly on the ever growing number of tablets at the gaming table.  Thanks Paizo for listening!

Tankard Rating

5 tankards out of 5 tankards