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Astonishing Swordsmen & Sorcerers of Hyperborea $50.00 $10.00
Average Rating:4.7 / 5
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Astonishing Swordsmen & Sorcerers of Hyperborea
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Astonishing Swordsmen & Sorcerers of Hyperborea
Publisher: North Wind Adventures
by Customer Name Withheld [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 01/06/2017 13:03:34

Fun to Say, Fun to Play!

Astonishing Swordsmen & Sorcerers of Hyperborea (AS&SH) must have one of the best names given to a game product, ever. The rules to AS&SH appear as a very clean and tidyed-up version (such as using a d12 for thief skills) of the 1st Edition Advanced Game using the OGL. The default setting of Hyperborea is one of the best published. It has a very "pulp fantasy" feel to it as suggested by the box cover illustration by Charles Lang, is self contained, is depicted on a nice hex map, is described in just the right amount of detail to leave room for individualization and it lends itself well to being used with just about any other setting as a pocket universe, lost continent or alternate dimension.

I ran this game as referee some time back for a short campaign for some Pathfinder/5th Ed. players who were curious about Old School play. The players began by making late 19th century Earth PCs who were passengers or crew on a steamship off the coast of Alaska. After some role-play on ship, things turned mysterious and weird. A cold mist, a spectacular northern lights display and a faulty fresh water condensor and they awake bound-up as dog sled passengers in Hyperborea. They are taken down off the frozen plateau and traded to some ancient looking Greek speaking folk who worship Athena and Zeus, etc. They quickly learn the language and are taught some local survival skills (class abilities) and start adventuring. They help a village recover some lost kids and become local heroes. While investigating an ancient temple complex, several of the original party perish and are replaced by "locals". The mini-campaign ran a half-dozen or so sessions and we then moved on to something else.

Some of the players remarked they enjoy the "Old School" type rules and classes - they started with just fighters, clerics and magic users, but for replacement characters could choose from several sub-classes as well. The "setting" of Hyperborea generated the most interest and I'll probably re-visit it. The mixture of cultures - vikings, kelts, and ancient Greeks imported from Earth's past with native Hyperboreans, Amazons, and Esquimaux (sound it out!) give quite a lot of variety while keeping the PCs human (mostly). The author, Jeffrey Talanian, states an intent to create a game consistent with the fantastic and weird worlds of R.E. Howard, Clark Ashton Smith and H.P. Lovecraft. The two spiral bound books in the box are illustrated through-out by Ian Baggley in a manner that definitely adds to the weird, dark and dangerous feel of the game setting. Hyperborea has some ancient high technology roots that also add to its uniqueness. There is the possibility of exploring ancient ruins and discovering lost technologies, if the referee wants to go down that path.

The one area I personally feel could use a little more work is in the area of customizing the rules to the setting, especially regarding magic. AS&SH uses the bog standard Advanced Game magic system and spells, although wisely drops the mundane material components and casting segment complications. The Vancian system is retained however, which carries with it a promise of more predictable magic than a skill-roll outcome, magic point system and suggests a theory of magic as a mental exercise of mostly memorization. It is a bit "tame" for my taste. That aside, Mr. Talanian does include some new "atmospheric" spells such as "black cloud", "cataleptic state", and "mirror, mirror" and does his honest best to describe spell books and the acquisition of spell knowledge as something weird and dangerous. I am sure he gets it, but I think he wanted to stay true to the original game mechanics.

The AS&SH bestiary is a combination of traditional fantasy monsters and the Lovecraftian horrors. Dwarves are monsters, not PCs in AS&SH. Described as greedy and perverse, stunted and misshaped forgers of magic items which they are cursed to be unable to use themselves they remind me of Nibelungen Ring Cycle dwarves. Orcs are the off-spring of a swine daemon and Picts (a race of primitive humans). Tree-men are similar to Ents, otherwise, the usual Tolkien races are missing from AS&SH, but there are still plenty of bi-pedal baddies such as snake-men, ape-men, cave-men and ghouls.

So what is the appeal of AS&SH, besides a fantastic name. The rules are a nice, cleaned up version of the 1st Ed. Advanced Game giving us a game that can be played pretty much as written. The setting of Hyperborea is one of the best published settings I have come across in almost 40 years of gaming and were it not somewhat derivative of certain pulp settings, I'd call it genius. But the derived part is intentional in that it evokes a feel for the source material. There are really two good products here, the game rules and the setting.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Astonishing Swordsmen & Sorcerers of Hyperborea
Publisher: North Wind Adventures
by Ahimsa K. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 10/05/2015 12:47:00

I spent years browsing the RPG sections of Powells, not knowing exactly what I was looking for but searching nonetheless.

Every once in a while I would buy something but it was always a disappointment. If only I knew that what I wanted was ASSoH. I like the light setting, the combat rules, and especially the art, but for the me the subclasses are the true treasure of the game.

Text and cart together really create a CAS or REH feel that few games have ever matched. This game is really fantastic; I'd say as good as any RPG ever made.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Astonishing Swordsmen & Sorcerers of Hyperborea
Publisher: North Wind Adventures
by Mark C. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 10/24/2014 10:14:04

An absolutely great product, I'm not sure how more value could be crammed within these pages. I love the human-centric system and the base/expanded class options. I originally bought the pdfs for AS&SH and then just had to have a hard copy, so I ordered one for my nightstand. Although I plan to run a game of this sometime in the future, some of the material is already working its way into my current campaign, it is an incredibly rich resource to mine. Cthulhu, Burrows-esc high adventure, Amazons, Conan...this game hits all the right epic genres from the 1880's to the present.

The generic things that make pdfs/game books easy to use have not been ignored either. Mundane things like font size and layout are superb and the books are well edited.

Definitely a 5 out of 5 product!



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Astonishing Swordsmen & Sorcerers of Hyperborea
Publisher: North Wind Adventures
by Martin K. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 05/07/2014 10:45:21

AS&SH is the game I've been searching for, for about the last 10 years. It's basically a revised version of the 1st Edition of AD&D, but edited in a way that I was actually able to understand. And not just "able to", learning how to play and run this game was childs play, no problem at all. I've always wanted to run AD&D, but was never able to grasp what the books where trying to tell me.

I really like how the rules deal with attribute checks and thief skills, and initative is both easy to understand, yet adds quite some complexity to the game. Instead of multiclassing, the game has several subclasses in addition to the basic four, many of which combine features of other classes. The only things I would have done differently would have been giving a page to nonhuman characters (which don't exist in the prepackaged setting, but might in other worlds) and converting armor class to positive values (which you can easily do yourself. I agree with some others who said it might have been a good idea to use a different magic system for Sword & Sorcery, but that might have been a bit too different for some players. Otherwise a remarkable game and my personal system of choice.

And the price for the pdf is more than a bargain.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Astonishing Swordsmen & Sorcerers of Hyperborea
Publisher: North Wind Adventures
by Jonas M. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 02/27/2014 05:50:55

This game is pretty much D&D as it should have been, LOTR-influences have been thrown away and no prancing hobbits or frolicking elves have been left. This game is what I would imagine D&D would have been if it would have been true to it's literary roots. Roleplaying game that understands sword and sorcery genre.

It reminds me lot of AD&D but designed as playable game, you dont have to be old wargamer to decipher the rules. Astonishing Swordsmen & Sorcerers of Hyperborea is old chool roleplaying game of Clark Ashton Smiths Zothique, Robert E. Howards Hyborian Age and Karl Edward Wagners Kane stories not that of Dragonlance, Forgotten Realms or Eberron.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Astonishing Swordsmen & Sorcerers of Hyperborea
Publisher: North Wind Adventures
by Travis M. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 02/04/2014 20:14:08

Read my full review here:

http://theroleplayingrambler.wordpress.com/2014/02/04/astonishing-swordsmen-and-sorcerers-of-hyperborea-first-impressions/



Rating:
[3 of 5 Stars!]
Astonishing Swordsmen & Sorcerers of Hyperborea
Publisher: North Wind Adventures
by Ronald W. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 05/14/2013 16:58:10

North Wind Adventures has a real winner here.I can heartily agree with the writer of the game's foreward, Stuart Marshall, when he describes this game as Dungeons and Elder Things. AS&SH definitely captures the feel of the Weird Fantasy genre from beginning to end. The game system is based on D&D/AD&D and it also introduces some very cool additions to that design. The writing is clean and precise. Anyone that likes the 'Gygaxian' flavor of the AD&D books of old will really appreciate what the author has accomplished with this great game. I highly recommend the boxed edition of AS&SH as well as it will bring back memories of the days when you got a set of dice with your games. Seriously, you will not be disappointed. Old School fans unite! Buy this game today..........



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Astonishing Swordsmen & Sorcerers of Hyperborea
Publisher: North Wind Adventures
by Gaetano L. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 03/09/2013 12:58:20

This is a great game with smooth rules, an old school feel, and a freshness in playability. I used the pdfs and had my first game started in an hour. My players grumbled when I stopped the session after 4 hours. THAT to me is a sign of a fun game!

The pdfs are beautiful scans, from the box covers & books to the character sheets & maps. All you'll need are the dice. If your portable e-reader can handle pdfs, this is the best value for a complete game with ultimate portability.

Even if you have the boxed set, this is a great bargain for its convenience. I enjoyed the pdfs so much, I had to get the boxed set as well -- another great bargain when you'll see all that's included.

Play on!



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Astonishing Swordsmen & Sorcerers of Hyperborea
Publisher: North Wind Adventures
by Timothy B. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 03/05/2013 15:28:30

There is just something about a big red box for games.
I have not been able to get Astonishing Swordsmen & Sorcerers of Hyperborea in it's big red box form, but I do have it on PDF, and let me say it is really nice. So what do you get with this? Well there is a 256 page player's book, 240 page Referee's book, a map of Hyperborea and pdfs of the Box Covers. So all in all about 500 pages worth of old school playing goodness.

Now there is a lot here that is old hat for the experienced role-player and some that is similar to many of the OSR games. That all being said it does also make it a great intro game for anyone and there is a still so much here for the old-timers that I don't feel a page is wasted.

The Players Book focuses on making characters, magic and combat. So ability scores are covered, alignment and classes. Most of this is the same as say D&D or S&W, but there are enough little changes to make it worth your notice. for starters the races of Hyperborea are all human-centric. So we have Amazons, Kelts, Kimmerian, Vikings and Hyperboreans among others. All what I call the "Conan" races. Let's move to the classes. There are the four basic classes, the Fighter, Magician, Cleric and Thief. But each also has 4 to 6 subclasses. Fighter has the Barbarian, Berserker, Cataphract, Paladin, Ranger and Warlock. The Magician has Illusionist, Necromancer, Pyromancer and Witch. The Cleric has the Druid, Monk, Priest, and Shaman. Finally the Thief has the Assassin, Bard, Legerdemainist and Scout. Each subclass is very much like it's parent classes with some changes. The classes look pretty well balanced. I liked the bard as a single class option (nice to have and not something that we had in 1979). I would love to try out the Necromancer, Witch and Warlock and I know my son would love to try the Pyromancer. Each class has a "Fighting Ability" and a "Magic Ability" which relates to attacks. So yes, even magicians can get a little better in combat as they go up in level. It's a great little shorthand and works great. So a 4th level Fighter has a fighting ability of 4. A 4th level magician still only has a fighting ability of 1 and a cleric 3 and thief 3. Sub classes can and do vary.

AC is descending (like old school games), BUT with the Fighting Ability stat it could be converted to an ascending AC easy. There are background skills and weapon skills.

The next 90 or so pages deals with magic and all the spells. The max spell level is 6. Not a bad number really and that is still plenty of spells.

The last 60 pages of the Player's book deals with combat in all it's forms. So combat, mass combat, saves and conditions. A great collection really of some of the "Best of" ideas I have seen in many games, but it all works really nice here.

The Referee's Manual is next.
It is nearly as big (240 pages vs 256). The first half is fully devoted to monsters. The format is most similar to Basic or Labyrinth Lord, and it is full of the usual suspects with some notable exceptions. For starters this book includes the Demons (but not the devils). It does NOT include any dragons. But to make up for it there are many of the "Lovecraft" races such as the Great Race, Elder Things and fish men. Great inclusion.

The next 50 or so pages covers treasure. Among the magic items are things like Radium Pistols and other sc-fi artifacts. Very pulpy.

Finally we end with the Hyperborea Gazetteer. A great bit that I can easily drop into my game. The lands are a pastiche of Howard, Vance, Lovecraft and Smith. If these names mean anything to you then you know, or have an idea, of what you are going to get here.

All together this is a package of such great ideas I can't wait to use it somewhere.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Astonishing Swordsmen & Sorcerers of Hyperborea
Publisher: North Wind Adventures
by john h. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 02/03/2013 08:05:10

Another fantastic retroclone rpg. The setting with this mix of lovecraftian and barbarian fantasy is a real blast and open lot of possibilities different from the classical fantasy rpg. The rules are very well done, avoiding to be too much a burden but covering almost all the situation you can encounter.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Astonishing Swordsmen & Sorcerers of Hyperborea
Publisher: North Wind Adventures
by Antonio E. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 01/24/2013 05:47:23

Disclaimer: I was credited in the book, though my role was mostly as a consultant for (some of) the statistical aspects of the game. So I was not involved with the actual writing, playtesting, nor setting development (except very few bits.)

This said, this product is absolutely stunning. It goes back to the roots of the hobby's inspirational literature and original mechanics, and gives them a thoroughly new spin, without creating too much of an hurdle to learn the game (a thing which cannot be said of, say, DCC RPG by Goodman Games, which completely rewrites the roots of the D&D game.) Also, it implements weird fantasy much better than what other games do or claim to do (like Lamentations of the Flame Princess RPG.)

The art is fantastic and inspired; the Cthulhu mythos critters are some of the most beautiful, enticing and repulsive representations I have ever seen; some of them far better than anything Chaosium itself ever did.

In short: if you want a game which threads very close to AD&D, yet streamlines it in a meaningful way and at the same time adds SUBSTANCE; and if you want an excellent setting for weird and sword & sorcery fantasy gaming, look no further.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Astonishing Swordsmen & Sorcerers of Hyperborea
Publisher: North Wind Adventures
by Jason R. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 09/18/2012 15:30:13

I own this product in both PDF and print. I can't say enough good things about this game. I've been gaming since I was 9 (41 now) and most of that time has been spent playing swords & sorcery via AD&D (mostly 1st edition). I can say, without hesitation, that Astonishing Swordsmen & Sorcerers of Hyperborea is a fine homage to classical swords & sorcery gaming - I might even go so far as to say it's the first RPG I've played that actually gets the feel and style of swords & sorcery right. 5 out of 5 stars.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Astonishing Swordsmen & Sorcerers of Hyperborea
Publisher: North Wind Adventures
by Chip M. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 08/16/2012 23:56:00

I expected this to be just another D&D 1e/2e clone but it is so much better. The classes are great with each of the four (fighter, cleric, magician, thief) also having 4 character kits allowing for a total of 20 classes. It provides some good upgrades to the old D&D games, well worth the buy.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Astonishing Swordsmen & Sorcerers of Hyperborea
Publisher: North Wind Adventures
by Morgan H. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 08/14/2012 09:38:02

For full disclosure I have followed this project for a couple years. I helped work on a couple minor areas of the game. I then pledged the product when it became a Kickstarter project. I don't receive any remuneration from the sale of Astonishing Swordsmen and Sorcerers of Hyperborea. Now I would like to tell you why I think this is a great game...

The setting is Hyperborea or the "Land Beyond the North Wind". Hyperborea is a rather small place but bursting with adventure. The setting combines Sword and Sorcery as a base and adds otherworldly gods, weird science, alien technology, and the familiar such as Earth races and gods. These are all jumbled together into a believable and wonderful world begging to be adventured in! This type of setting may not be for everyone but each of the elements can be toned down or left out without hurting the continuity of the setting. The world of Hyperborea is a grim place with an aging sun and civilization fighting against decline. This is a dangerous place and only the most ambitious of adventurer would dare leave the civilized areas. The author constantly reinforces this idea in his style of writing. The descriptions of the various places, creatures, characters, and magic seem to be written by a traveler of Hyperborea. The verbiage is very immersive. Though immersive the detail level is about right. Not so little that you don't get the gist of whats going on in the world but not so much that you the Referee are stifled. The Referee still has lots of areas to make their own but with Hyperborean handrails. The vision of Hyperborea set forth by the author is made to shine by the supporting artwork. I hope some of the interior artwork can be featured in a preview soon as it sold me as soon as I saw it. The box art is gorgeous but not indicative of the interior art by Ian Baggley. Ian does every piece in the game books. The consistency of having one artistic vision and one style throughout the book cannot be understated. The style is all black and white mostly in charcoal, with some pencil and ink and is very good. The artist catches the vision of Hyperborea very well.

The system is a tribute to an early incarnation of the world’s most popular RPG. There are twists and changes that make the system unique but is otherwise very familiar.

There is a lot of material here and a lot of game for the money. There is also a passion for the genre that shines through.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Astonishing Swordsmen & Sorcerers of Hyperborea
Publisher: North Wind Adventures
by Mark M. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 08/11/2012 18:43:03

I have known the author for over 19 years, and while my review may seem biased, I was getting tired of products on the market taking the fun out of the game by creating rules for everything. This puts all the power back into the DM's hands and gives it to the players...



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
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