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Kurt Hills Atlas
by Customer Name Withheld [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 07/01/2018 08:41:34

POSITIVES

This is an amazing fantasy atlas, period. Forget Tékumel. As the description of an imagined land, it's one the best fantasy guides I've read in years. Although crammed with information, it didn't overwhelm me into some paralysing stupor. Instead, it made me want to play ... in this case, on Tékumel!

The Kurt Hills, as a geographical zone, offer a great balance of well settled, cultivated regions and wild areas filled with sometimes unfriendly locals and weird flora and fauna; the Hills pretty much look like the world-famous karst hills of tropical South China. A referee could plop his or her group of adventurers anywhere in the Kurt Hills and have them immediately caught in a web of local stories, traffics, and long established politcal deals and relationships that would take many campaigns to unravel and weave through.

The Kurt Hills are divided into large hexagons, which are themselves subdivided into smaller hexes. Each chapter of the book starts with an overview of a particular Large Hex before going into more or less short entries on the unique features that dot the land, one Small Hex after another.

So what do we get? Everything! New plant and animal species, weird ruins, and beautiflly detailed bits on unique local customs (related to weddings, cultivation, hunting, charcoal making techniques, etc.). We get important NPCs (clan leaders, politicians, priests, "a valuable slave", etc.), bizarre cults, local folk tales, stange hills, creepy swamps, hints of large underground ruins, new sorts of Underpeople (who are numerous in the area, thanks to its remoteness), exotic local delicacies, plenty of local, colorful politics and rumours, unique biomes, etc. It's rich ... and it feels alive.

The Index is fantastic It's very detailed and thorough, which makes up for the lack of hyperlinks. Thank the gods for great Tékumel-related indexes. If there's one fantasy world that requires it, it's M.A.R. Barker's fantastic creation. And this book has it.

NEGATIVES

My one complaint would be that the PDF lacks hyperlinks set up within it to help readers go from one reference to another with ease. Also, there are typos. These could easily be fixed in version 2.0 of the book though (if it ever happens); more importantly, none of them make reading the text difficult or confusing.

--

The Kurt Hills Atlas is a book you're going to want to use and not simply add to your collection of fantasy atlases as it's basically a giant, richly detailed sandbox that could easily keep your PCs adventuring for years. It is a slow read. So, don't think you'll get through it in a week. You could, but then you'd miss all the unique flavours and, yes, the jokes, the pop-culture references, and the puns (I want to try that Mársara wine badly!). Take your time. Enjoy the friendly and not so friendly encounters, the sights and the smells, pleasant and otherwise. It's worth it.

A remarkable achievement.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Kurt Hills Atlas
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Kurt Hills Atlas
by Zygmunt L. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 05/09/2018 17:40:59

The Kurt Hills Atlas is probably the first standalone campaign setting for Tékumel. A lot of background material has been published since the original Empire of the Petal Throne (EPT) game in 1975, but it always required the GM to weave it into a campaign.

The Atlas is nominally designed for the Bethorm Tékumel RPG, but you can use it with any game system from Empire of the Petal Throne on.

Original EPT provided a map of Tékumel, divided into hexes, which are 133 km across. The Kurt Hills are located to the north-west of Jakalla. The Atlas describes 46 of the Kurt Hills hexes in detail. For each hex it describes 10-20 'interesting' locations. It covers terrain, the Sákbe roads, cities, towns, villages as well as other notable places: markets, festivals, temples, ruins, the odd nexus point and tubeway car stop. The Atlas also describes the clans active in the region and the local Sé'lyau or religious societies - a nice complication for priests of the usual 20 Tekumelani deities.

There are various plots included in the Atlas.

  1. The Kurtani Foundationists are Kurtani Stability fanatics trying to get rid of Dhich'uné supporters. This is an interesting idea, but there is only a page plus some scattered hints. The Foundationists would make an interesting antagonist for a long-term campaign, but need to be fleshed out in much more detail.

  2. The Stations of Brave Peripatation are a linked set of 25 locations. This is a good excuse for a quest-type campaign, involving adventurers, merchants, priests, sorcerers or nobles. There is an in-game reason for visiting these, to encourage merchants to learn the produce of the region, but they could be used as a way to get the usual 'off the boat' starting characters elevated to minor levels of respectability.

  3. There are 250 plot hooks "Featured Text" scattered through the text. These range from a single paragraph to half a page. There are legends the PCs can learn, traditions, mercantile opportunities, descriptions of local creatures, some local personages of note and the odd demon. These are a really nice concept, and should provide inspiration for the

The Atlas is a great backdrop to a classic adventuring campaign on Tékumel, involving travel, encounters and the occasional underworld expedition. The main weakness, if you want to run a higher-level, more political campaign, there is lots of good background, but the GM will need to define the high level individuals and factions, along with their byzantine political plots.

The Atlas is available as a PDF. It took me a while to work out it is also available as a print-on-demand hardback/softback via Lulu. It is 225 pages plus a comprehensive 26 page index. The Atlas is illustrated with line drawings of life on Tékumel, characters and wildlife, all by Talzhemir. The illustrations feel like Tékumel. You probably want both versions to run a campaign, as you will want to print individual map hexes from the PDF.

Highly recommended.



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Bethorm: the Plane of Tekumel RPG
by Customer Name Withheld [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 08/23/2016 06:38:08

The light, easily digestible rules are reminiscent of classic games such as GURPS: they are attribute and skill-based, with a system of advantage/disadvantage points distributed during the slightly convoluted PC creation process (there's indeed a bit a back and forth on skills and attributes). Still, once everything is in place, the system is very fast and very flexible, which gives plenty of room for the GM to concentrate on the storytelling. The system contains some clever little variations too, like three levels of damage per weapon, which has the positive effect of getting rid of wildly differing weapon damages on successful hits (I don't know why this approach isn't used in other OSR-like games).

The Tékumel setting, although not described in detail, is present throughout: besides the many good, clean B&W creature and character illustrations, one also gets a gorgeous B&W map of the city of Katalál (wish it'd been in color), a very extensive spell list, random-encounter rules per environment (city, jungle, Sákbe-road, etc.), as well as rules to create characters that start their adventuring lives with the premises of good Tékumelani backstories: one could be a spy for instance, or a magic-power dampener, or the owner of some attribute-boosting "sorcerous" device. Such details fire up the imagination and help players (and GMs) flesh out their characters and adventures.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Bethorm: the Plane of Tekumel RPG
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Quicksilver Lite
by Kenneth S. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 04/30/2016 17:45:35

I bought this on a whime... because I liked the cover art and thought the 'psychic metal' idea sounded cool... lo and behold there's a pretty decent game and setting in there as well! The other review here covers the details, 2d10 roll under, point buy character creation, magic system that's flavored more along the lines of psychic powers than the usual fantasy sorcery. Even though the book isn't long (80+ pages) there's a LOT packed into it. No space is wasted on game fiction or wordy meanderings... this game is meant to be played! There's a good bit of setting information and a bestiary. I also really like they way they've approached the races... right away I made a sneaky goblin character who happens to have a noblewoman as a trusted friend. The text is very easy to read, no distracting background graphics or weird fonts. The artwork is sparse but very well done line art that got me wanting to play the game. It's even got an index! This is a tight product that aims straight at being useful and getting onto the table. The rules are quick and simple... just a bit more crunchy than I'd call 'rules lite' but most of that is because of the combat, which seems to favor the use of miniatures of some sort (like the cardstock figures the company also sells). I hope there will be more coming for this setting, adventures and maybe more Quicksilver uses/creatures.



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Quicksilver Lite
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JD2 Darkland Moors
by Timothy B. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 03/28/2016 17:15:00

Another mini-adventure, this time for a little bit higher lever adventurers. The basic idea here is to investigate the moor and defeat a cyclops causing trouble. There are three black and white maps. Given this is about a cyclops I could work it into the Giants series pretty easily.

Both Jeff Dee's JD Adventures are under $2.50. At just under 10 pages it is perfect for a quick afternoon game. It would work great while traveling to another adventure or in-between towns. Good for slotting in between other adventures or even to break up the campaign a little.



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
JD2 Darkland Moors
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Pocket Universe
by Larry F. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 04/19/2015 11:12:07

Amazing game only complaint is the layout. I have found that it is very easy to convert other games to this for a quicker paced game. Also Jeff Dee is easily reached by enail if you have questions.



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Pocket Universe
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Sakbe Road Foamcore Kit
by Tom R. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 03/13/2015 12:55:45

this kit is easy to do and looks great when finished. I always thought about making one but never got around to it. Only about 40 yrs but who's counting. Well done. Hope to see more kits like this in the future.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Sakbe Road Foamcore Kit
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Pocket Universe
by Jason C. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 10/17/2014 23:00:50

This system would be more appealing were it 1985, but it's not. It's layout is confusing and it really needs to be edited for clarity. Not bad if you need something quick, but it's nothing I'd use long term. I'm not all into making my own every thing for games anymore.



Rating:
[2 of 5 Stars!]
Pocket Universe
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Bethorm: the Plane of Tekumel RPG
by Grayson R. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 10/09/2014 09:33:39

I got mine the other night, and it's beautiful! Very nicely laid out, chock full of information. I mean just dripping with details. It clocks in at 262 pages, and they are packed with rich information about the world and the game system. Lots of tables and charts, which I could spend days reading just for fun. It has lots of art too, which is more along the lines of the original AD&D monster manual—that is, old-school line art. But the pictures are great and the style has a definite charm. The maps in the back are GORGEOUS. I spent a long time poring over the city map of Katalal (zoomed up to 600% so I could see every street and hovel). That map is an AMAZING piece of art. It makes the city seem alive. The map of the surrounding countryside, and the hex map of Tsolyanu are beautiful too. All in all, I have to say this product really delivers. They have truly done right by Professor Barker, and by any fan who purchases this book. Whether you get the PDF or the print copy (or both!) you will surely be very pleased!



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Bethorm: the Plane of Tekumel RPG
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Cavemaster RPG
by Robert F. M. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 04/05/2014 00:47:49

There's a section on my old World Of Greyhawk maps called The Land Of Black Ice. Maybe some of you grognards will recognize it. It's such a wonderfully evocative name and concept that I've been fascinated by it since I was about 12; I even hijacked it into my very first attempt at a homebrew world, when I was about 13. I've wanted to build a campaign around it for years, but it's always given me trouble.

See, the name calls forth images of a fantasy Ice Age: cave-halflings, woolly mammoths, shamans, and stone-age hunter-gatherers fending off the forces of darkness with inadequate tools and poorly-understood magic. And the problem with that is that it doesn't fit well with any version of D&D; in order to evoke the proper feel for an Ice Age campaign, I have to deny options (particular classes, tools, spells, skills, etc.) to my players, and no player likes having their toys taken away.

Cavemaster solves this problem. Rather than shoe-horning the Ice Age into a pre-existing rules-set by taking things out, Cavemaster evokes its primitive setting by providing a game with multiple options, powered by rules that help you get INTO character before you even HAVE a character.

The game makes the Stone Age into a compelling, viable fantasy setting, and is nearly flawless in its game design. Well worth the asking price.

I'm gonna go start planning out my "Time Of The Black Ice" campaign, powered by Cavemaster!



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Cavemaster RPG
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JD1 Cess-Pit of the Bog-Mother
by Ethan M. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 01/25/2014 09:24:28

This is a great simple and quick addition to the library. A perfect side adventure or a great intro to the game for new players. Thanks for putting this together, Jeff!



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
JD1 Cess-Pit of the Bog-Mother
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Dinosaurs of the Lost Valley
by john b. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 12/22/2013 03:20:33

This expansion was well worth the wait. I hope they are able to develop more cavemaster adventures, and expansions.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Dinosaurs of the Lost Valley
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JD1 Cess-Pit of the Bog-Mother
by Timothy B. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 09/25/2013 16:38:20

Fun little adventure for characters level 1-3 for your favorite Old-School game. At just under 10 pages it is perfect for a quick afternoon game. It would work great while travelling to another adventure or in-between towns. The map is repeated in b&w (blue and white) and full color versions.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
JD1 Cess-Pit of the Bog-Mother
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Cavemaster RPG
by James P. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 07/07/2013 16:31:19

Cavemaster is probably not like most games you've played - Basic Role Playing, D&D, Savage Worlds, heck, even the new Star Wars Edge of the Empire all try to do something innovative and different with dice. You role-play and roll dice to spice up the story telling.

The Habilis game system is something else entirely. No dice. But this is not a dice-less system, it's just that, well, cavemen didn't have dice so an authentic caveman game shouldn't use dice. What does a paleolithic gamer use? Sticks and stones. No really, you use little things you should be able to find just about anywhere to build up a "dice pool", distribute them on your awesome character sheet (an animal skin) and off you go.

Although you probably could explore a damp and menacing dungeon, you might want to first go hunting for the food your tribe needs to last one more day. Bag yourself a bison without getting gored? Good job, now how are you going to cook it? Fire? Who knows how to make fire? Yeah, forget the cave and gold. You need shelter and those crazy herbs the elder swears will cure the tribe's lack of offspring. They're easy to find. You just need to go to the Lost Valley. Gird your loins and take up your flint spear. It's off for real adventure - survival.

Ok, enough of that. Cavemaster is a truly innovative game that lets you tell and experience stories form a more primitive time. It is relatively easy to learn but contains a dynamic and rich resolution mechanic that allows a more invested style of play.

Finally, there is a bit of "stonepunk" to it that allows a cavemaster (GM) to introduce a bit less realistic elements into their campaign. There are unfamiliar races, rules for introducing magic, dinosaurs (but keep an eye out for the Dinosaurs of the Lost Valley coming out soon), and even visitors from another time or place. So whether you need a jazzy one-off for something different or a whole campaign inspired by the dawn of civilization, Cavemaster is a vital step in gamer evolution.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Cavemaster RPG
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Cavemaster RPG
by john b. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 02/15/2013 19:03:05

a really good game, I look forward to the dino expansion up and running on kickstarter.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
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