Venture 4th - Pact of Ghosts is the latest product in Adamant Entertainment's Venture 4th series, a series of products devoted to developing game material for the 4e GSL system. This product is also one of several taking a look at alternative warlock pacts that can be used to flesh out your warlock character. Pact of Ghosts is a short 12 page pdf product, featuring all the pact details, powers from level 1 to level 30, new feats, a new paragon path and a few new magical items. Other warlock pacts in the Venture 4th series include Blood, Angelic Choirs, Vermin Lords and Dragon Lords.
This product comes as a single pdf file, very well presented with some stunning cover art and good frills on the inside to make the product professional and presentable. The writing, editing and layout is done well, and I particularly liked the flavor text, although at the same time the flavor text could've been supported a little better by some better mechanics. More on that later. Writer Stefen Styrsky packs in quite a lot of material in this product, giving good value for money in flavor and mechanics for those interested in looking at alternative warlock pacts. The product doesn't contain bookmarks, and perhaps a list of powers and brief descriptions would've been useful as an overview glance of the product material. Overall, though, well presented, professional, with good art and writing.
The pact of ghosts is just as the name implies - the warlock makes a pact with those departed spirits that for one reason or the other were unable to complete their journey in the afterlife. This grants the warlock access to a spell that can shake the mental faculties of his foes, and an interesting ability to manifest some of the ghost world whenever a foe is defeated. Naturally, the largest portion of the product contains warlock powers suitable to this ghost pact. As mentioned earlier, I thought the flavor text was done rather well, and fitted in excellently with the theme and feel of the product. On the other hand, the mechanics weren't that interesting.
For all the good flavor text, the powers' mechanics were just psychic or necrotic damage with the occasional addition tacked on. To a certain extent, this does fit the theme, but it speaks volumes as well with regard to lack of versatility in there somewhere. It just seemed rather disappointing that every cool description given to a power is followed by some psychic damage description which leads to a little disappointment. Having said that, some powers were actually quite good and made more use of the 'freeform' available to powers. Don't get me wrong, I think strategically and tactically these powers can be of a lot of use to a warlock character, but it's just more of the same with different flavor text, and I guess therein lies my problem with it.
The product concludes with a new paragon path, the Master of Shrouds, and several useful new feats that improve the ghost pact's abilities and fit the flavor nicely. Three magic items are included, and I particularly like the Book of the Damned, a tome that grants you the power of knowledge on various shadowy and otherworldly creatures. There's a lot of 'bang-for-your-buck' in this product, with loads of material that can be used - most of the material is usable even if you don't want the ghost pact specifically, or at least can be easily modified to avoid the pact and just use them as general warlock or other class powers.
I think this product has gone a good job of presenting an interesting and useful new warlock pact that is brimming with new flavor and mechanical options. It's very well presented with great art, and the writing is vivid and descriptive. My only negative is the implementation of the powers which just didn't seem to take full advantage of the flavor offered by the power itself. Overall, a very good product, and well worth looking at if you're after a ghostly pact for your warlock character.