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Village Backdrop: Wellswood System Neutral Edition
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 04/26/2016 03:31:34

An Endzeitgeist.com review


This installment of RSP's Village Backdrop-series is 11 pages long, 1 page front cover, 2 pages advertisement, 1 page editorial/ToC, 1 page SRD and 1 page back cover, leaving us with 5 pages of content, so let's take a look at the settlement


In this installment of Raging Swan Press' by now legendary series, we travel to the village of Wellswood - which is aptly-named: Situated in the midst of a gorgeous forest, the settlement sports numerous wells - both natural ones and those crafted by dwarven hands, for the settlement sports a significant dwarven population, who faithfully serves the local dour and somewhat greedy, but none too unpleasant lord Ilmari Issakainen.


The uncommon occurrence of a forest-bound dwarven clan also results in a surprising amount of fortified stone buildings jutting forth from the massive forest. While secure, the rather significant taxes imposed are not to be trifled with, though merchants and travelers won't have too much of a problem paying them. No less than three inns (all coming with information on accommodation-prices and food) are detailed within these pages, as befitting of a village under the auspice of a church of travelers - which btw. includes a brief deity-write-up. Industry-wise, the local lake with its fishing (requiring permission of the lord...which is, again, taxed) is based mostly on the massive influx of travelers passing through.


Oh, but I've failed to mention the interesting component here: You see, aforementioned lake, much like the hold of the dwarven clan, is subterranean and heavily regulated - though that does not mean that there are no means of getting down there sans the lord knowing...if you know whom to ask. Yes, the subterranean lake actually writes adventures of itself, considering the plethora of potential dangers there and the mere presence of it makes a potentially cataclysmic earthquake all the more dangerous - so yes, plenty of development options are provided here, from the local color (the village sports notes on nomenclature, clothing, magic items for sale etc.) to more massive storylines - after all, there is a reason the dwarves are here - but to know that, you'll have to travel to Wellswood yourself!


Conclusion:


Editing and formatting are top-notch, I didn't notice any glitches. Layout adheres to RSP's smooth, printer-friendly two-column standard and the pdf comes with full bookmarks as well as a gorgeous map, of which you can, as always, download high-res jpegs if you join RSP's patreon. The pdf comes in two versions, with one being optimized for screen-use and one to be printed out and sports a great artwork of a fishing trip on the subterranean lake.


Creighton Broadhurst's Wellswood is a compelling settlement that manages to strike a precarious balance: On the one hand, it is a pretty pleasant place that, in itself, is not yet an adventure and the lack of a central conflict means that you don't have a streamlined narrative cut out for you. However, unlike many a supplement with such a broad focus, Wellswood still manages to retain a sense of holistic integrity, a feeling of concise options, ready to be explored at any time. From politics to potential threats, whether as just a waystation or as a new home for the PCs, the village manages to support and accommodate threats both significant and trivial. While the supplement does not achieve the highest echelons of the series, it remains an excellent book that does offer a significant, tight array of interesting options for GMs and players to explore and, more important, a tight and unique place to visit. The system-neutral version loses nothing of the brilliance that made me love the original iteration - hence, my final verdict will clock in at 5 stars.


Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Village Backdrop: Wellswood System Neutral Edition
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GM's Miscellany: Village Backdrops III (Free Version)
by Peter C. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 04/22/2016 14:35:09

This is a handy free sample of several villages in Pathfinder settlement format. I've glanced at each village and I can definitely see lifting bits from each one to flesh out my own settlements in my Pathfinder campaign.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
GM's Miscellany: Village Backdrops III (Free Version)
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Village Backdrop: Coldwater System Neutral Edition
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 04/20/2016 05:09:22

An Endzeitgeist.com review


This installment of RSP's Village Backdrop-series is 11 pages long, 1 page front cover, 2 pages advertisement, 1 page editorial/ToC, 1 page SRD and 1 page back cover, leaving us with 5 pages of content, so let's take a look at the settlement


Coldwater is perched upon an inhospitable, mud-drenched coast, with one access by land, its harbor is in the delta of a miserably stream that empties its contents into the sea - and if that does not reflect a place you'd like to visit, then that's pretty much a representation of how most folks see this place. Nearby caverns sport strange stair-like features that only rarely become visible and the inhabitants of the village are just as sullen and unfriendly as the weather suggests. The village lore reflects the relative hostility and rugged nature of the village rather well, while a Finnish-inspired nomenclature emphasizes an association with the colder climes.


Indeed, the rustic and eccentric locals e.g. sport a man named Holg, who has a well-stacked ware-house, but lets no one in - you have to tell the old man what you're looking for and mysteriously, more often than not, he procures the object from within the depths of his dubious "locker." Indeed, one cannot really fault the locals for their sullen outlook on life: As the events and the subtle wrongness in the tides underline, there is something wrong here - there are the deformed, both in mind and body- how and why the poor folks of this village are struck by this curse ultimately is up to the GM, but the presence of the template and its varied effects alongside the stigmatization such folk may experience should drive home pretty well that something is wrong here...


Conclusion:


Editing and formatting are top-notch, I didn't notice any glitches. Layout adheres to RSP's smooth, printer-friendly two-column standard and the pdf comes with full bookmarks as well as a gorgeous map, of which you can, as always, download high-res jpegs if you join RSP's patreon. The pdf comes in two versions, with one being optimized for screen-use and one to be printed out.


Creighton Broadhurst has skill - and this one shows it pretty well. The mastermind of Raging Swan Press delivers what I'd like to call a wide open sandbox: We are faced with problems and the respective NPCs mentioned can be used to exacerbate it, change it...all depending on your whims. Basically, this is one of the village backdrops that is so compelling, it can make PCs pretty much write their own tale: Throw them in and watch what happens. In this aspect, though, this one is slightly inferior to Kennutcat. However, at the same time, it sports local color that made me think of the slight surreal elements that made Twin Peaks so compelling, at least for me -from the dwindling fortunes of one family to female, hard-working and drinking half-orc, there is a lot of quirkiness, a lot of unique bits and pieces here; enough, to make this thoroughly compelling. The system-neutral version loses nothing of the luster of the original and is well worth 5 stars + seal of approval.


Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Village Backdrop: Coldwater System Neutral Edition
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Places of Power: Valley of the Rocks
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 04/15/2016 06:26:57

An Endzeitgeist.com review


This installment of the Places of Power-series clocks in at 11 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page advertisement, 1 page editorial/ToC, 1 page SRD, 1 page back cover, leaving us with 6 pages of content, so let's take a look!


This review was moved forward in my review-queue as a prioritized review at the behest of my patreons.


Sheltered away within the wooden ranges of hills untouched by current civilization, a steep-sided, deep valley's ancient, sculpted rocks bear witness to the ages, remnants of a civilization long gone, flanked by majestic cliffs and clad in perpetual shadows. A living, breathing temple to nature itself, the wondrous valley contains huge falls where the Malinrae river tumbles down the steep cliffs.


Within the shadows of this gorgeous place, moss-covered lupine statues, untainted pools and mystic rocks carved in the likeness of deer and bear await the intrepid explorer, while willow-fringed Lake Vontyr awaits explorers. PCs versed in ancient lore may unearth some intriguing facts about this place - like that it actually is the site of an ancient elven realm or that it in fact is built on a place of power. The few explorers who dared venture into this place can provide one of 6 rumors - but is it true that this place was created when two gods met in fierce battle? Or that the strange sculptures come alive at night? You'll have to travel there to find out!


And while you're there, you may encounter 6 sample events that exemplify the beauty and marvel of this place...speaking of which: This pdf actually contains a mini-dressing table of 12 entries that helps you bring alive this wondrous place...and not all is mist-clad branches and crystal waters: You see, the custodians of this place roam its breadth still: Using both age-categories and even multiclassing, two of the 4 characters are fully statted herein (the others get RSP's neat fluffy treatment covering mannerisms etc.), as the powerful guardians stand in their eternal, ghostly vigil. While, for the most part relatively benevolent (unless you despoil the place...then run for the hills!), one of them has more of a hardliner stance regarding trespassers. As in: "Stalk and kill them all"-hardliner-stance.


As always - beauty and danger are close compatriots...


Conclusion:


Editing and formatting are top-notch, I noticed not a single glitch. Layout adheres to Raging Swan Press' crisp and printer-friendly two-column b/w-standard and the pdf comes fully bookmarked for your convenience. The pdf has no artworks, but needs none and comes in two versions - one optimized for screen-use and one optimized for the printer. The cartography of the valley by Tommi Salama is absolutely GORGOEUS and may be worth the asking price all on its own.


With Creighton Broadhurst, chief of Raging Swan Press, most embroiled in the nit and grit of publishing, it can be easy to forget how exceedingly talented he is in the fields of writing. Back in the day, when there was only ONE Raging Swan Press product out, Retribution, I bought it on a hunch and was blown away. If anything, Creighton has honed his craft. This pdf is quite frankly better than it has any right to be at this page-count: In a superb example of concise writing, with each word carefully chosen, Creighton takes us on a tour into a truly wondrous, lavish place of natural beauty. The "valley of rocks" sounds none to impressive on paper and is a prime example of British understatement - what we receive here is a truly gorgeous, fantastic place that could be used in pretty much any campaign - heck, replace elves with humans and this would work in our world.


This is not what sets this apart, though: While reading these pages, I could perfectly envision the majestic cliffs, I could almost hear the proud Kanae Falls. This is an exercise in stellar prose and a truly superb location that deserves being added to your campaign. Get this now! Oh, and yes, final verdict of 5 stars + seal of approval, obviously. Now excuse me, I need to dream of visiting a gorgeous place, where lichens cover sculptures that tell tales of ages long past...


Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Places of Power: Valley of the Rocks
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Shunned Valley of the Three Tombs
by Megan R. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 04/14/2016 07:50:12

This adventure is aimed at beginning PLAYERS as well as at first-level characters starting out on a adventuring career. Thus, as the author explains in his foreword, some of the encounters may seem a bit simplistic to more experienced role-players. It's also quite low on role-playing, presumably on the grounds that it's all that die-rolling stuff that's novel and needs practising - anyone can talk after all, even when imagining that they are someone else! There is a cut-down version of the usual Raging Swan 'masterclass' on the anatomy of an encounter along with notes on reading stat blocks, so I guess that it's expected that the GM will know what he is doing, even if his players are learning the game.


There's a map which shows the area in which the adventure takes place. Interestingly it is depicted as over the sea to the southwest of the Lonely Coast, Raging Swan's default setting. The overall concept of the adventure is that there is a valley that the locals won't go near, many believing it is haunted, and for some reason - perhaps sheer bravado, perhaps one of the hooks provided - the party decides to go there and take a look around. As the adventure begins in the town of Dulwich, there are opportunities to gather information before setting out for the five-mile journey to the south, partly through thick forest, to reach the valley. There is no direct path, they'll have to go cross-country. Some minor events are provided to enliven the trip, but a major brawl is unlikely...


Once there, the above-ground part of the adventure is sand-box in style with a list of locations which the party may investigate as they please, and a few encounters to throw in as the need arises to maintain interest. There's also an optional encounter to use if your players seem to like the role-playing aspects of the game - but be warned, if they go in looking for a fight things are likely to end badly for them.


The below-ground part of the adventure is provided by the three tombs situated in the valley. Two are sealed and appear undisturbed, the third is a creature's lair and actually seems to be a natural cave formation rather than a tomb. Each 'mini-delve' is well-constructed and coherent, with traps and monsters to deal with and items to loot... all the thrills of being an adventurer encapsulated!


Everything is quite open-ended, the party will be able to come and go as they please, but the whole gives the impression that life is going on as normal whatever they decide to do. For follow-up adventures, one suggestion is that the Shadowed Keep on the Borderlands adventure from the same publisher (and author!) could be located nearby. This is an excellent introduction to classic adventuring and should give new players a fair impression of a hobby that hopefully will give them years of fun.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Shunned Valley of the Three Tombs
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Village Backdrop: Cahill Abbey
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 04/13/2016 06:51:03

An Endzeitgeist.com review


This installment of RSP's Village Backdrop-series is 10 pages long, 1 page front cover, 1 page advertisement, 1 page editorial/ToC, 1 page SRD and 1 page back cover, leaving us with 5 pages of content, so let's take a look at the settlement


The eponymous abbey of this village may have been long-since abandoned, but the village that sprung up to support it sure as heck still exists and it sports a lavishly rendered map that depicts a sleepy, nice little place...though one that sports something that does not feel idyllic at all: The numerous tents you can see on the map are there for a reason: You see, the village sports a significant array of soldier's of the realm - for the king's soothsayer has prophesied that the savior of the kingdom (perhaps your PC?) will come through this place - thus, the tranquil, peaceful town obviously needs guarding...which, paradoxically, makes it significantly less tranquil and peaceful...and indeed, the influx of people may actually result in terrible evil being unleashed...


Ain't it a b.... how those damn prophecies tend to have means to ensure that they come true, how they perpetuate themselves? Of course, as always, this pdf does sport the trademark attention to detail you expect by now from Raging Swan press' acclaimed series: This means you'll see nomenclature, sample events, rumors, a full village-statblock and more detailed information on key locations here. Beyond that, we get two sample statblocks (one for a 4th level fighter and one for a multiclass rogue/shadowdancer) as well as information on the evil rising and the prophecy - taking a cue from the best of supplements in the series, both remain their vagueness and modularity to allows for precise, DM-specific customization.


Conclusion:


Editing and formatting are top-notch, I didn't notice any glitches. Layout adheres to RSP's smooth, printer-friendly two-column standard and the pdf comes with full bookmarks as well as a gorgeous map, of which you can, as always, download high-res jpegs if you join RSP's patreon. The pdf comes in two versions, with one being optimized for screen-use and one to be printed out.


Jacob W. Michaels' Cahill Abbey is a concept so obvious, I quite frankly am astonished it has not been covered before in the series: The "friendly" state of occupation, where "good" people have come to ensure the safety of the local populace - you can read some scathing commentary into this pdf, should you elect to choose so, or just take it as is. The addition of a smart example for the trope of the self-fulfilling prophecy adds yet another facet to a versatile, well-written settlement well worth 5 stars + seal of approval.


Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Village Backdrop: Cahill Abbey
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Gibbous Moon Collector's Edition
by Megan R. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 04/11/2016 08:26:06

As an interesting and quite thought-provoking adventure, Gibbous Moon makes an attractive side-adventure to slot into an existing campaign, or indeed to run as a one-shot game (perhaps using the pre-generated characters suppied).


As usual, we begin with information on how to read a stat block and the anatomy of an encounter, classing Raging Swan masterclasses that feature in every adventure (after all, they don't know which one you'll pick up first!). Then we get on to the adventure background: a tragic tale of someone afflicted with lycanthropy who's quite horrified at what he has become and is trying to find ways to live with his affliction.


OK, so how do you bring the party into the mix? As the lycanthrope has been raiding the nearby village, it may just be that the villagers will take advantage of passing adventurers to ask them to investigate just why their cattle are being stolen a few days before the full moon each month. To get them to the village, called Barlow, it may just be on their way to someplace else or they may be on a trip to pick up the bones of a hermit who used to live in a hermitage not far from the settlement.


For most, the starting point will be Barlow itself, however they came to be there. The village and its inhabitants are described comprehensively, with details of demographics, notable people and locations and of course a map. There's plenty to find out here, for those characters who enjoy investigating and asking around. Most inhabitants are either humans or dwarves, and there are some tensions between them - the dwarves are relative newcomers and some of the 'old' residents do not care for their modern ways disturbing a pastoral idyll. With this wealth of information it will be easy to bring the place to life.


The second part deals with the hermitage at Clear Pool... with the hermit dead (else why might anyone be after her bones?) it has provided a refuge for the lycanthrope. Of course, the party has to get there first, and there just might be something lurking in the undergrowth... Once there, the hermitage itself is actually a series of natural caverns in a cliff-face that have been adapted into quite a nice residence. Again it is described in immense detail, making it all sound very 'real', something to bring to vivid life.


And here it becomes interesting. Of course, many parties will just want to fight... but if they are willing to try talking. It may be possible to persuade or intimidate the lycanthrope into changing his ways - and he, of course, would dearly love to be cured of his affliction.


With the neat twist of several ways of resolving the adventure and a few ideas for further exploits - even including taking over the hermitage as a base - this is a fascinating little side-adventure that should prove memorable.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Gibbous Moon Collector's Edition
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Dwellers Amid Bones Collector's Edition
by Megan R. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 04/10/2016 10:53:39

This adventure is intended as a bit of a sidetrek, or something to happen whilst travelling from one place to another, yet has plenty to keep the party interested and occupied. Starting with the customary Raging Swan masterclass in reading stat blocks and the anatomy of an encounter, we soon get to the meat of the adventure, with a background that - without giving too much away - tells of a tribe of orcs advanced enough to actually bury their dead and what happened to the tombs once the tribe was driven off.


If you want a reason for the party to get involved (rather than stumbling into the situation apparently by chance) a local lordling is provided to hire them to deal with a couple of dragons that have been seen flying around some hills a few days' travel away. There's some information to ferret out and a neat additional twist in the shape of a dream/vision for any half-orcs in the party.


Next, we get to find out about the local village, which has been raided by those flying varmints. It's sent on the edge of the Tuskwood and has a shrine to an historic hero that they are trying to build up into a pilgrimage destination. Most inhabitants are either farmers or loggers, and are a mix of halflings and humans for the most part. There's a map of the village and quite a lot of background information to make the place come to life.


The next section deals with the Tuskwood. If nothing else, the party will have to traverse it in order to reach their destination. It's pretty wild and dangerous with boars, wolves and worse to be found there. The party will have to travel through it for 3-4 days to reach their destination, and so plenty of material is provided to make that trip a little bit interesting...


When they reach their destination, they find a small network of caves in a small cliff within the forest. From then on in it is more or less a dungeon-delve, although even here there are opportunities to speak with at least some of the denizens rather than fight with them. Just to make things a little more exciting, part of it has been flooded by an overflowing pool. Rules for moving and fighting underwater are provided at the end of the book for those risking these passageways.


This makes for an excellent interlude, exciting and potentially lucrative, for any party travelling in the area. The whole thing hangs together well, with enough twists in the plot to lift it out of the ordinary.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Dwellers Amid Bones Collector's Edition
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Against the Cult of the Bat God
by Megan R. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 04/09/2016 09:58:06

The usual preamble opens the book, a brief bio of the author, notes on how to use the adventure from a mechanical standpoint (reading stat blocks, the anatomy of an encounter and so on), and then there's a rundown on the Lonely Coast, the wild frontier in which Raging Swan's adventures are set. The default location for this adventure is a remote and insular village by the name of Oakhurst, but it's relatively simple to either use a village in your own campaign world instead, or relocate Oakhurst lock, stock and barrel to a suitable location there. If you do decide to use Oakhurst, it's presented in considerable detail including locations, principal inhabitants and a map.


We then move on to the adventure itself, beginning with the background and a synopsis. Several ideas are provided to intice the party into visiting Oakhurst - they'll be needed as it is a dismal place with hostile and insular inhabitants, not somewhere you'd visit for pleasure. Like many of Raging Swan's adventures, there's a timeline of events that are going on irrespective of what the party does, not only providing a good feel of life going on regardless but also presenting a real threat: if the plot is not thwarted in time, disaster will befall the region!


To start with, the adventure will involve investigation and general poking about, but the more physical members of the party need not fear, they will soon have opportunity to engage in combat as offence is taken at their nosiness. To support the investigation, there are several locations which the party can visit, with notes on what they can discover at each one. Events - as detailed in the timeline - are presented with ample support to enable you to run them effectively.There are many little touches - such as a chart of 'Sights and Sounds' - to add flavour to proceedings.


After the investigative phase, the characters ought to feel moved to visit a decaying and decrepit manor house to pick up clues, and again there is a wealth of detail to make this a delightfully creepy exploration... even before they get down into a veritable dungeon underneath the house, and then the final part of the adventure leads them to a hidden cave deep within a cliff where they will (hopefully) thwart the cultists once and for all.


With plenty of traps and an abundance of mad inbred cultists to contend with, this is a classic and creepy adventure with plenty of brooding atmosphere.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Against the Cult of the Bat God
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Retribution Collector's Edition
by Megan R. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 04/08/2016 08:38:31

This is a massive adventure which should allow successful first-level characters to make their mark... or find an early and chilly grave! The default setting is The Lonely Coast, a sparsely-populated frontier region just crying out for adventurers to explore it, which is available for free from Raging Swan Press, but it could just as easily be put in a suitable remote corner of your own campaign world.


To start off there's the customary masterclass in the anatomy of an encounter - if this is your first Raging Swan adventure, make sure to read it - followed by a brief introduction, complete with map, to the Lonely Coast. This introductory section also contains the background to the adventure, a synopsis of what ought to happen and notes on religion, for religious belief and betrayal lie at the very heart of this adventure. Two new faiths are presented here, but it is relatively trivial to substitute similar ones from your campaign or to just claim them as local to this particular area. Of particular note is how one cult, the Unalterable Way, takes the nice, fluffy, warm lawful good worship of Darlen and turns it into something grim and strict.


The adventure itself follows, falling into three sections. The first part, Sanctuary, involves actually getting to the Priory of Cymer, where the rest of the action is centred. It's no easy task as the weather has turned bad and is getting worse. Usefully, there are notes on how to deal with those parties who decide that the prudent thing is not to continue with the journey: the objective is to end with them trapped in the Priory as storms rage outside!


Once there, part two of the adventure is one of increasing isolation and fear as a dreadful plot is revealed, and part three leads the characters on a challenging delve deep below the Priory to put a stop to it. Throughout, detailed encounters replete with those little features that make the whole thing come alive are presented, complete with all the rules information you need to run them and plenty of hints and tips - everything from role-playing suggestions to troubleshooting unexpected party responses. Parts one and two of the adventure present mainly physical challenges, whilst part three is one of investigation, interaction and role-play. Thus there is plenty of opportunity for everyone to shine, whatever their preferences and talents.


The whole thing hangs together beautifully, a compelling dark tale to play out against rising winds and gusting snow. It's atmospheric with a real sense of danger, yet should the party prove successful they can bask in a real glow of satisfaction at having removed some evil from the world. You don't often get THAT at first level!



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Retribution Collector's Edition
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Road of the Dead Collector's Edition
by Megan R. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 04/05/2016 06:28:06

The original Road of the Dead was an impressive adventure, both in content and in presentation, so it's hard to see how it can be improved upon...


The adventure is located in Raging Swan's Lonely Coast campaign setting but, as it deals with remnants of a far-distant past just about everybody has forgotten about, it can be placed in a suitable location in your own campaign world with minimal effort. Before getting into the adventure, however, there is a very clear explanation of how encounters are set out showing you exactly where to find each item of information you might need whilst running it. A lot of people lay encounters out clearly, but actually explaining your methods in advance is a nice touch. Traps and monster stat blocks are similarly laid out in detail, and this is followed by an overview of the Lonely Coast, to enable you to establish the adventure's location easily, complete with a good map.


Next comes an Adventure Background and an Adventure Synopsis. The Background gives all the detail you need about the situation, and the Synopsis walks you through the intended sequence of events. There's a note about the best way to relocate the adventure if you don't want to use the Lonely Coast, and then more detail of the complex whose exploration forms the actual adventure, complete with a beautifully-detailed map that has a 'hand-drawn' feel. Several ideas are provided for why the characters come across this adventure, including blind chance (after all, it's over ten centuries old and most folks don't even know it's there!) as well as reasons for why they might be in the area about other concerns. Neat.


The adventure proper then begins, with everything you need to run the characters through finding the entrance... complete with pictures to show your players as well as detailed plans of each location. This is well-resourced indeed! Everything is very clear and detailed, you will not need to spend time rummaging through other books to find additional information.


The adventure itself is deliberately challenging for the intended Level 3 characters, partly because they have ample time to rest, regain spells, etc., as they explore and partly because, well, it's intended to be a dangerous place anyway. But the rewards are pretty good, especially for those who like - or know where they can sell - ancient artefacts and knowledge.


It is a well-devised and beautifully-presented dungeon crawl, with a coherent underlying rationale and plenty of exploration and combat to challenge the most determined adventurers. Moreover, it is not - as so many such adventures are - very linear, the characters have quite a lot of freedom in where they go and what they do whilst exploring the depths. There's an excellent atmosphere of treading ancient halls that have not been disturbed for countless generations... and even some follow-up activities if desired.


Some six pregenerated characters are provided, each with loads of detail, complete equipment, etc., not just some stats, should you wish to dive straight in to the adeventure; and there is a goodly amount of background material about the Lonely Coast setting so that you may place this adventure there even if you are not already familiar with it. All this makes it easy if you are looking for a one-off stand-alone adventure rather than one to slot in to an existing campaign.


It's a fun delve with a coherence often lacking in your average dungeon-crawl. Things, creatures, are where they are for a reason, not just because there was an empty patch on the map. That's the sort of thing that I like, a place to explore that actually works within the context of the shared alternate reality of the game.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Road of the Dead Collector's Edition
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Shadowed Keep on the Borderlands
by Jennifer J. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 04/04/2016 16:53:47

This is a fantastic, engaging low-level adventure from Raging Swan. I usually find low-level adventures to be tedious at best, but Raging Swan has made a challenging, interesting adventure with memorable characters and settings. Well done.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Shadowed Keep on the Borderlands
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Scions of Evil
by Jennifer J. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 04/04/2016 16:47:04

This is the most enjoyable-to-read supplement I have ever encountered. The villians in this book are worth building a campaign around. They are mechanically diverse, have fantastic backstories and motivations, and are all wonderfully different. I seriously wanted to write novels with these characters after reading this book. Worth every penny. I have the hardcover version and it is good and sturdy and a book that I proudly display on my shelf.


Top notch, highly recommended, this is the best NPC book available for pathfinder in my opinion.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Scions of Evil
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The Sunken Pyramid
by Megan R. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 04/04/2016 08:04:17

This may be the 'free' version but you get a lot for... well, nothing. It's a good way to take a look at the quality work Raging Swan Press does before shelling out your hard-earned cash for one of their adventures.


We start off with some humerous remarks from the publisher (who is also co-author) and the standard Raging Swan Press masterclass in the anatomy of an adventure (which is so good I'd say grab this even if you are not in search of an advenure right now, it will help you organise your own better!), then we move on to the adventure background. There's this strange sunken rock offshore, you see, and nobody's quite sure if it's natural or was constructed... and the background explains, for the GM's eyes, what actually is going on there and why it's so much of a threat right now.


Then it is explained that as the adventure involves exploring this sunken pyramid, as it's known, you can drop it pretty much into any suitable coastal area in your own campaign world - you can use a town there instead of White Moon Cove. However, with it being an underwater adventure, you'd better ensure that the characters have access to some means of breathing underwater, indeed, that they can swim! There's also an appendix on Underwater Combat that ought to come in handy. There are several plot hooks to get the party involved, or you can run an introductory encounter that takes place in White Moon Cove (or whatever settlement you are using in its place)... and there are even a couple of suggestions aimed at the more mercenary types who want to know what's in it for them if they undertake this dangerous exploration.


Next there is a timeline for the adventure, a neat device that gives the feel of events moving on irrespective of what the party is doing, and some quite extensive notes on sahuagin, some of whom will be encountered along the way. We then move on to White Moon Cove and there's sufficient detail for you to run that settlement... indeed all those little touches like completely unrelated rumours that serve to bring it to life. And a sketch map, so nobody need get lost.


Then the adventure begins, with the introductory encounter Night Raid. It's a bit of stirring action in its own right, as well as leading in to the adventure proper. To start with, of course, the party has to get to the sunken pyramid, which requires a sea-going boat. If they don't have one, arrangements are in place to have one turn up at a convenient moment (complete with a reason for the captain to cooperate). Once there, they need to swim down to it, some 30ft - a respectable SCUBA dive in the modern world, so you see the need for fantasy equivalents in the shape of spells or magic items. There's a neat cross-section of the pyramid to give you a feel for it, and the notes required to explore the uppermost level... if you want more than that, go buy the full version of this adventure!


As ever, a well-presented and resourced adventure. The one error I've spotted is that 'grizzly' is normally a term reserved for bears, when speaking of fates they are usually 'grisly'... but overall this is a good taste of what Raging Swan Press can do, so get it and have a look. Likely you'll be back for more...



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
The Sunken Pyramid
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Dark Waters Rising
by Megan R. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 04/03/2016 10:28:14

In essence, this single-session adventure is a dungeon-crawl but one which incorporates time pressure caused by a flooding dungeon, tricky puzzles to circumvent, interesting terrain and lots of undead. If that's your thing, you are in for a treat!


An entertaining foreword from publisher Creighton Broadhurst and his customary masterclass on the anatomy of an encounter later, we reach the Introduction, which explains a little about the frontier village of Swallowfield, the jumping-off point for the adventure. Naturally, you can substitute a similar starting point from your own campaign world or - if you like the sound of the place, Raging Swan Press has a whole product devoted to it! Next is the Adventure Background which gives the rationale and backstory for the adventure, for the GM to read and understand. Basically, a concatination of unfortunate events lead to the collapse of a mill and the release of some undead which have been trapped for a long time... just when the party happens to be in town, of course!


There's an ancient crypt down there, you see, that nobody knew about... and the river that powered the mill is now threatening to flood the place and drown several villagers who fell into the hole or were captured by the undead. And presumeably the undead themselves, if they can drown, that is. That's the nature of this adventure, a race against the river to explore the crypt and rescue people.


There are notes on the Lonely Coast setting, which is where Swallowfield is to be found: this is a good introduction to the area, or provides indications as to a suitable equivalent in your campaign world, and a lot more information about Swallowfield itself, complete with a couple of maps showing both the village and the surrounding area. The adventure proper begins with the collapse of the mill into a sinkhole... which releases a load of ghouls which all appear to be spoiling for a fight. The intention is that the characters will be swept up in the action even before they are asked to investigate what lies beneath.


Several people are trapped in the wreckage and need rescuing, and the various options available to the party are laid out clearly - as are rules for fighting in water, which will come in useful later on. A map of the crypt - quite a small place, no wonder the ghouls want out - and detailed description follow, and the exploration may proceed without delay, necessary as the entire place will be completely flooded within 24 hours.


The wealth of detail about what's down there lifts a basic delve into something far more interesting and the time pressure of the water pouring in adds an edge to proceedings. It's a delightful way to ruin a nice quite afternoon in the local village for your party!



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Dark Waters Rising
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