Lost Kingdom of the Dwarves
Lost Kingdom of the Dwarves is the next supplement for Echoes of Heaven. It details the country of Uzarag that was once the homeland for the dwarves but has since been taken over by the Warlord.
It starts with a history of the realm, more detailed story of Saint Kulan and the fall to the Warlord. I found the stories quite good and gave me a good feel for the history.
Next you have some backround on dwarves in general. The ironic part of this is that Uzarag is the home of the dwarves yet none live. This information has a lot to do with how dwarves live in other cultures while maintaining their own, and their dreams of retaking the realm. Although there are obvious parallels to Moria, which the author also points out, it is in this section where the differences are most notable making Uzarag Defendi?s as opposed to an imitation of Tolkein. The psychology of Belkanath dwarves is a little dark. For example the more you suffer in the attainment of a goal, the more important it is. Smith?s having their hands broken on their anvil (and healed) when they become masters. You also have the Unwed who gave up on marriage and family and instead devote their lives to another pursuit ? be it a craft or warfare.
Next up ? the orcs, the real denizens of Uzarag. Their culture is quite simple and brutal. You also get some brief descriptions of several cities, some NPC?s and adventure seeds sprinkled throughout.
After this some new rules ? dwarven rune casting and the Unwed training package. The latter is fairly straightforward. Runecasting and the rune priest I found quite interesting as a new class in that the character could have a ring of runes (like keys) to cast from. You also get some stats for rune silver and rune gold, magical elements that are found in Uzarag previously mined by the dwarves.
Overall I found the material quite interesting and well put together. One thing to remember is that it is a region book and not a city like Feldric?s Redoubt in The Last Free City was. As such there are no city maps but there are a few tiles of that could be used as generic locations like part of a dungeon or a gatehouse. While these are a nice touch, I feel they were almost unnecessary. They are well done but seem out of place ? the book deals with a region and the map is of a room for example.
It did seem to be a bit light on specifics but I felt a lot of that was covered in On Corrupted Ground as use for an active orc installation.
On Corrupted Ground
This is the companion adventure that goes along with the Kingdom of the Dwarves. It continues the saga of the Splinter from the first adventure The Throne of God. The party learns that the Splinter is in Uzarag and bad things will happen if it stays. So the party hitches up with some dwarves on holiday (as in off to Uzarag to kill some orcs and perhaps find return some dwarven artifacts) to go to one of the cities in the eastern part of Uzarag and get it.
Overall the fort is put together well. The battle plan of the orcs is fairly simple and if the party screws up they will most likely be killed or captured ? as it should be if you are entering a hostile fortification. Perhaps I am too much of a purist but it was actually nice to see bathrooms (or garderobes as they are called in the book which I had to look up) in an occupied fortification.
The climax could make some very tense players and reminds me a bit of Vecna Lives. Let us just say that it should be very intense and end quite badly and quickly for the party.
A new monster is included (water wraith, more powerful windwraith from an earlier supplement) And stats for the Warlord.
<b>LIKED</b>: Kingdom - Excellent map of the region. Loved the history. I also thought the nuances on dwarven psychology fit the setting quite well.
Corrupted Ground - Liked the stat sheet for tracking inhabitants. Will be very helpful. <br><br><b>DISLIKED</b>: Kingdom - Some editing errors - typos referencing stats from other systems for example.
Corrupted Ground - The teaser to me seemed really out of place - like a half-teaser - and I didn't think added much. Perhaps it will make more sense in the next one.
The maps are really good but awfully dark. Although well done (I am envious of his proficiency in CC3) the room numbers are hard to read if printed in color on 8 1/2 x 11.
Failure again could cause the world to end, like the last one. Although I enjoyed the adventure, if played in succession (rather than with some filler as there aren't enough exp in the last one to get the party to the suggested 9th level) 'saving the world' again could lessen the drama later on saving the world for the final time.
<br><br><b>QUALITY</b>: Excellent<br><br><b>VALUE</b>: Very Satisfied<br>