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Hellfrost: Player's Guide $19.99
Publisher: Triple Ace Games
by Berin K. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 06/11/2010 11:18:36
Movie Pitch
It's Song of Ice and Fire meets Norse Mythology in Middle Earth! Winter is coming, orcs and other monsters are coming with it, and names are nigh-unpronouncable!

Elevator Speech
500 years ago the Ice God Thrym initiated the Blizzard War. Although the races of the southern lands won, winters continue to get longer and colder and many places are still permanently covered in ice and snow. To make things worse, about 30 years ago magic started failing in dangerous and unpredictable ways

Core Mechanic
Hellfrost uses the Savage Worlds system. Roll a polyhedral die equating to the character ability, beat a target number.

Player Character Roles
While Savage Worlds is a point-build system, there are a number of Races, character options and Professional Edges presented in the book. These don't restrict characters, but present suggestions for players looking for a way to immediately know where a character fits into the game world.There are humans, of course, dwarves and two types of elves, along with the engro (the setting's halfling/gnome analog) and the frostborn, a new race that has evolved to live comfortably within the colder climate.

Most standard fantasy classes can be created. There's an interesting pantheon, make this a great game for players who like cleric-type characters, and a number of organizations a player character can be a part of (see below).

Adversaries & Bad Guys
A lot of standard fantasy monsters, tweaked to be geared toward themes of cold and ice. A lot of orcs. Frost giants, ice devils, hellfrost dragons, and of course the followers of Thrym.

Allies & Bystanders
Although the various peoples and nations banded together to fight the Blizzard War, there are now political squabbles and brushfire skirmishes over land. Crops are failing because of the cold, people from the north have been forced to migrate south, and not everyone gets along. Alliances are going to be pretty uneasy.

Mooks & Shemps
Orcs. Orcs, orcs, orcs, and more orcs.

Locations
The name of the world is Rassilon, and I don't think it's any sort of intentional Doctor Who reference. This book gives a very small overview of the various nations of the world, enough to let you decide where your character is from. A full gazetteer is planned.

Organizations
There are a lot of organizations in this book. This works better than classes, in my opinion, in determining a character's skills and backgrounds. Various orders of knighthood, road wardens, wood wardens, protectors of knowledge in danger of becoming lost as nations fall beneath the ice, charitable organizations that help refugees. Your character can be a former or active member of any of these, and the gamemaster can build a game around having all the players currently affiliated with one of these organizations as an excuse for the party to be together.

Rewards & Recognition
Savage Worlds has an experience point system, that allows you to buy new abilities and increase existing ones. There is also an XP-based "level" system, and some abilities can only be purchased after a character has gained a certain amount of experience.

Summary
This is a beautiful book, with probably the best production values I've ever seen in a Savage Worlds product. It's also really tight; a smaller font was used to keep the page count (and the price point) down, but it's comfortable to read and packed with information. The only thing it really needs is a better pronunciation guide to some of the pseudo-Norse names that have too many consonants and not enough vowels.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
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Hellfrost: Player's Guide
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