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    Average Rating:4.2 / 5
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    Publisher: Lamentations of the Flame Princess
    by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
    Date Added: 01/06/2020 06:40:34

    An Endzeitgeist.com review

    Qelong clocks in at 53 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial (which includes an amazing b/w-artwork in the pdf-version, one missing from the print version), 1 page ToC, 1 page artwork inside of back cover, 1 page back cover, leaving us with 48 pages of content, laid out in digest (A5/6’’ by 9’’), so let’s take a look!

    It should be noted that I own both pdf and print version of this supplement – the pdf version has the full-color hex-map as a fold-out on the back of the book, with the backside of the map covered by the aforementioned b/w-artwork. Very cool: We do get a player’s map sans SPOILERS, but with helpful annotations!

    Nominally, Qelong is designated as an adventure for characters of 4th to 6th level, and they should better be a well-rounded party of at least 4 veteran players – Qelong is deadly. The supplement uses Lamentations of the Flame Princess (LotFP) as its rules-set, but is different in several ways from most LotFP-offerings: There is but one enemy herein that has save-or-die attacks, and if you face that enemy, you’ve been doing it wrong. This creature is basically a local deity, so yeah – not intended to be fought.

    Qelong is a difficult beast to talk about – it is southeast Asian in theme (awesome, we need more of that!), and it is clearly inspired by both Apocalypse Now Redux (and the original themes of Joseph Conrad’s Heart of Darkness) as well as by the themes of colonialism and pollution. Even as a European, it’s hard to not realize that there are some themes pertaining pollution, degeneration and corruption by pollution. It should be noted that these themes are not used to preach or evoke “xyz bad” feelings, but instead are employed to elicit a kind of horror we only rarely get to see. Qelong is one apocalyptic beast that manages to pull off grimdark, truly horrendous and frightening environments better than pretty much all comparable media I’ve consumed. I bought this book back in the day on the name of Kenneth Hite as the author, and it lavished unread on my shelves for very, very long, until a patreon supporter asked me to cover it – so yeah, as far as I’m concerned, this is an overdue review.

    Formally, this book is in the weird space between regional sourcebook and hex/pointcrawl – it does not really adhere to either formula, and could be best considered to be a pretty freeform sandbox and adventure outline. There are read-aloud texts for hexes that e.g. feature canals and the like, but not for individual, numbered encounter areas.

    Since this book is predicated on throwing the PCs into a highly volatile environment, the referee will definitely need to do some work here when running this; but not in the mechanics department or concepts, and only in the details and development as a result to the actions of the player characters. This is not a book I’d recommend to novice referees.

    The book describes the Sajavedra region, and provides a total of 50 rumors, and yes, it does have a name-table (Yes!) and random encounter tables are provided by terrain type, and villages encountered can be in various states of dilapidation. To note this explicitly: This is not a happy-go-lucky environment, and it is not for kids; while it is not overly explicit or gory, it does delve into some seriously twisted themes. You have been warned – this is dark fantasy/horror. It is also more successful in its chosen field because it doesn’t sport the stupid “Roll a d%, oops, you killed the world”-bullshit that plagues some of LotFP’s offerings.

    This notion of infection, of corruption, particularly that of parasites, mutation and infestation, of a biome trying to swallow you whole, is executed admirably well by Qelong: from “good ole plague” to typhus to the monsters encountered, to the global theme, Qelong is a genuine struggle for survival. The supplement contains two spells – one is an uncharacteristically lame “transform stuff into snakes”-spell, and the other is more of a story tool: It is a level 7 spell, and one that ultimately will end the module.

    If Qelong has a weakness, then that would be that its 10 keyed encounter areas would have warranted more detail, particularly since one is a weird plateau that only serves as a way to plug in Carcosa-style oddness – and not a developed one, mind you. Indeed, Qelong feels, as a whole, brief – like it could have used 10 pages or more to further develop its concepts, go into more details, provide timeline-based events or the like – for there is a timeline.

    But in order to start to explain this book, I will need to dive into SPOILERS. Potential players should jump to the conclusion.

    … .. .

    Okay, only referees around? Great! When deities war, everyone suffers – and in one such war, a cylinder of a weapon unfathomable to puny men, fell to earth. To Sajavedra. And from it, aakom oozed forth. What is aakom? Picture pure magical energy crossed with Agent Orange and a healthy dose of radioactivity. Much of Qelong’s survival-struggle stems from aakom poisoning being an omnipresent danger. It’s in the air. The food. The water. Wounds, ability scores damaged by disease, everything can cause it. The land is blasted by spells flung from above, and residual death magics hang in the air. Those suffering from poisoning may develop a dreaded aakom curse – and you can’t cure it. Unless you find the source. Unless you find the cylinder, the shell that has fallen from a cosmic weapon, unnoticed by the combatants. The mechanics here are RELENTLESS, and if you play this, you should make sure that the group has cure disease (which can grant a brief respite), and that you implement the rules consistently. This is what makes Qelong unique – a persistent, brutal struggle for survival.

    One that gets harder by the day. The peasants of the valley, marred by warfare, will try to steal armor. Bandits and cannibals roam the landscape. Angry ghosts abound, and beyond the hostile fauna, horrid Gaja Simha stalks the landscape (and WILL kill players thinking they can easily take it); between the mist and the lotus fields and the lotus-eating monks with their strange powers, the PCs will have their hands full – and that is before the three big factions, apart from the monks, come into play: On one hand, we have the Varangians – essentially a quasi-European colonialist army, who has undead elephants and a garuda-lich under their control. On the other, we have the 4-headed naga Qelong, basically an evil local deity, awakened by the aakom, and not happy…and with her, her slithering children have come. Oh, and there are the myrmidions. What are these? Ants. Ants that will make you living, mindless incubators. Their soldiers, always male. once human, now shielded by clay ingested, march ever onwards, driven by their mysterious hivemind, destroying everything they can, while harvesting those that can’t flee, adding to their ever-swelling ranks.

    Yep. We have essentially a super strong monster, a quasi-deity, and not one, but two armies as dynamic factions. And yes, the varangian leaders get full stats. They are rather high-level as well. Any referee worth their salt only needs one of those to make the trip to Sajavedra awesome. All of them? CHAOS. And not in the funny way, but in the “maelstrom of nightmare-inducing fantasy warfare”-kind of way.

    Particularly when you consider that the outclassed PCs will also have to contend with the ever-present aakom-poisoning, with mines shielded by strange elephant heads…and the spreading of the lotus monk’s way. This is pure, frickin’ gold. But what you weave is all up to you…the race for the cylinder, and the various cataclysms threatening this place…they’re on, and there is no easy salvation, no “I win”-button. This can carry a whole campaign, if you choose.

    Conclusion: Editing is top-notch on a formal and rules-language level. Formatting is somewhat uncommon, as NPC stats, such as HD, AC, etc. are not bolded or otherwise set clearly apart, but spell-references and the like are bolded and in italics – formatting could be better, but is totally okay. Layout adheres to a two-column b/w-standard that uses a lot of high-quality, evocative b/w-artworks. The pdf version has a really amazing one missing from the softcover. The cartography of the hex-map is decent and full-color, but the lack of a player-friendly version of that one means it won’t be seen by many. Having instead the player-map in full-color would have been smarter. The pdf is fully bookmarked. The physical version is a softcover book, with name on the spine. It’s solid for the length, and personally, I think that books of this length should not be hardcovers in most instances, so yeah. Nice one.

    Kenneth Hite’s Qelong is a breath of fresh air; even if you generally don’t like LotFP’s excessive gore and sometimes random “oops, everyone dies”-moments, Qelong may be worth checking out. I certainly consider it to be one of the best books in the entire catalog of the company. Its themes of warfare and pollution, of struggling for survival, are strong in theme and implementation, yet always grounded in that gritty mud, while smoke-and lotus-choked haze and imagery suffuse it.

    This is one of the best set-ups I’ve ever read, but the lack of timelines, of less freeform guidelines may make this less referee-friendly for novices than it needs to be. This is not a book to spontaneously run; it needs planning, expansion and a referee capable of making this their own. That being said, if the above sounds even remotely exciting to you, then Qelong will probably blow you as much away as it did me. I seriously wished that master Hite wrote a longer book here; I’d certainly immediately go for a 100+ page hardcover of this level of quality. As provided, Qelong is not an adventure, nor a setting book per se; it is a toolkit to make your version of this nightmare. If you understand that, and are willing to invest the effort, it is simply brilliant; if not, you may want to detract a star, for the scavenging potential isn’t as high – this lives from the combination of factors working together. My final verdict will be 5 stars + seal of approval.

    Endzeitgeist out.

    [5 of 5 Stars!]
    Publisher: Lamentations of the Flame Princess
    by Troy V. [Verified Purchaser]
    Date Added: 08/29/2015 07:46:16

    In the typical LotFP fashion, the "winning" scenario is damn near impossible, the adventure contains numerous devices which screw player characters royally, and is grimdark to a fault, replacing wit and imagination with tragedy and cruel jokes. Your characters might as well just stay in the tavern, tea house, inn, or drug den. Better yet, tell your referee to lighten up or replace your referee, and stop pulling these tasteless, depressing pranks on you and the rest of the players.

    [1 of 5 Stars!]
    Creator Reply:
    I\'d like to point out that this reviewer has placed this exact review, verbatim, on eight different products written by six different people, including on one product not released by LotFP. You can decide for yourself whether this harms the credibility of the reviewer.
    Publisher: Lamentations of the Flame Princess
    by Eric F. [Verified Purchaser]
    Date Added: 03/06/2015 00:01:10

    Imagine your party of adventurers caught up in a blood soaked land of an alternative South East Asia where two armies of incredibly dangerous beings of divine aspect are engaged in an eon old struggle. And your party is caught within the shadow of the forces of these beings. This is a wilderness adventure in a world torn apart by war, strife, incredible devastation and very deadly forces including mutated horror, terrible monster of inhuman aspect and much,much more. I can honestly say that Qelong is one of the best setting and adventure books that's come out for the Lamentations of the Flame Princess rpg retroclone system. I don't own a physical copy of this book and only have it on PDF after asking James Raggi for a review copy. I'm not giving the book a good review on that account. I'm giving it a good review because its that solidly well done book. And its certainly not getting enough press in my humble opinion. Kenneth Hite has done a bang up job of fleshing out his setting material for the Lamentations rules set with a variety of factions set against each other's throats and the natives who forced to the edge of existence in this module. The PC's can be part of the solution, the problem, or much more in this adventure. The basic plot goes something like this according to the Drivethrurpg write up: Two barely conceivable beings have fought a war for a generation over Sajavedra, a barely legendary land far to the southeast. They wish to claim its rich harvests of souls and fields, its intricate networks of ley lines and temples, for their own. They have devastated it utterly! Now, a forgotten weapon in their war - a neglected sorcery fallen from a distracted archon's attention - lies in the Qelong River valley at the edge of this near-cosmic battlefield, ripe for the taking! A hellish southeast Asian setting by Kenneth Hite, Qelong is suitable for character levels 4-6 for use with LotFP Weird Fantasy Role-Playing and other traditional role playing games. Qelong takes many of the lessons of Hite's style of writing and design and puts it into a setting that is at once both eerily familiar and utterly alien in the form of the Qelong River valley. There are wheels within wheels within the plot of Qelong. A forgotten item left on the battle field has become the focus for forces beyond the pale of the inhabitants of this world. And that's only the tip of the iceberg. This is a devastated world that has so many possibilities lurking in the background. This is really a thinking man's sandbox adventure. There are rumor tables, things that will each your PC's, nice maps, plenty of factions, and each location is fleshed out a bit with plenty of room for customization. The maps are wonderfully evocative and dangerous locations abound with lots of South East flavored action. And a very nasty piece of magical environmental pollution that is seeping into everything and if your PCs are not careful could change them forever. This isn't a setting that you can simply drop a party into. Well you could quiet easily do this but with a bit of care Qelong could become a permanent setting for a variety of adventures. There's a dark undercurrent to Qelong and its got a very Conrad's Heart of Darkness vibe running throughout it. And this is part of its strength. There are a ton of new monsters,weird bits of spiritual and physical corruption trickling down into the setting. And that's exactly what this module is part sand box setting book, part adventure, and part all around campaign world under one title. The book fleshes out an entire sandbox under one heading and gives the DM plenty of bang for the buck. The ideas here are some of the best I've read for a Lamentations book, and if your looking for a book where the PC's are thrust into the deep end ringed into the setting's problems and background then this is it. The magical corruption in this book is harsh stuff and God forbid that the PC's continue to adventure in this world.They're going to run into some major problems just waiting for them to trip into. That leads to some of the factions in this war torn world. None of them are to be trusted and this evens the playing field across the board as far as the PC's place in the war torn world of Qelong. The setting has pockets of oriental and occidental city-states.There are islands of peace among the worn torn South Asian style strife. There are plenty of areas of customization in Qelong for a DM to exploit and the mercenary vibe is alive and well for a party of adventurers to exploit. Will the black powder weapons of Lamentations make any difference here? Not in the least, there are monsters,powers, and horror that will dwarf any advantage that these weapons might provide at all. Do I think that Qelong is worth your money? Yes every penny for its setting material,epic ideas, and solid writing which is some of the best I've seen in a while.Should you grab this book? Yes if your looking for a setting that utilizes a very different take on the usual tropes of war,fantasy, divinity, and high weirdness in a sand box setting. All in all I really want and need a physical copy of Qelong. I'm glad I got the opportunity to check this one out. Its possibly one of the essential books for the Lamentation line of products and a great little investment for your old school retro clone dollar.

    [4 of 5 Stars!]
    Publisher: Lamentations of the Flame Princess
    by Cedric C. [Featured Reviewer]
    Date Added: 08/31/2014 16:56:02

    If you're looking for an oriental-themed world with a nasty twist, this is it. In a war between two celestials, an object of immense magical power has fallen, and not in a good way. Leaking magical energies, not only do archmagi want the power, but it has mutated and devasted the entire land -- and awakened another god, as well. Horrible creatures have arisin, civilization has broken down, and terrible magic seeps over the countryside. Refugees... mutated creatures... magical devastation... pockets of oriental and occidental city-states... the occasional sanctuary... the followers of a snakelike demigoddess... Qelong is packed with adventure seeds for a GM to develop.

    However, that may be the problem. For GMs looking for low-prep adventures, Qelong isn't it. Most of material is presented in the conventional "two lines of description and a big stat block" format, with random encounter tables for wilderness areas. With many of the scenarios involving humans and other intelligent creatures, the GM will have to develop a situation which can't be solved with combat alone. The ideas in this setting are fantastic, but require a fair amount of work to develop.

    [4 of 5 Stars!]
    Publisher: Lamentations of the Flame Princess
    by Jamie W. [Verified Purchaser]
    Date Added: 01/03/2014 22:37:31

    Quelong is great. Picked this up in the LotFP sale and it's far and away the best product I copped. It's Ken Hite doing old school D&D in a magickally wartorn South East Asian setting. What more do you need ;)D Great setting, great rules, great monsters. Get this one.

    [5 of 5 Stars!]
    Publisher: Lamentations of the Flame Princess
    by Megan R. [Featured Reviewer]
    Date Added: 10/23/2013 11:11:26

    This is a rather fine classic 'exploration' adventure, a setting that is adventure of itself and rather fun to wander about in, discovering the wonders and horrors of a far-off land.

    The land has been squabbled over by a couple of extremely powerful ancient beings who really ought to know better, who have left it in a bit of a mess - ripe, of course, for brave and intelligent adventurers to profit from exploring and discovering here. Loads of detail is provided to help you make the setting come to life as the adventure proceeds, provided that is you can read it through overly-heavy background 'ghosted' images behind the text (fortunately, the PDF is layers and you can turn this off), and can get the PDF width right with an awkward double-page spread (pages 2-3) which throws everything off and will be a pest to print.

    There are loads of rumours to whet the party's appetite, judiciously spread around their normal stamping grounds they will be begging you to run adventures here. Once they do arrive, there are copious notes about the environment and other dangers with which they will have to cope (inculding a really nasty environmental poison...). A wide river, lotus fields, canals, strange edifices called stupa (temples to ancient gods) and more dot the landscape, and there are encounters aplenty wherever you go. There is also an extensive bestiary replete with angry ghosts, armour-stealing peasants, elephants and other creatures that'll eat you, dead or alive.

    It is very much a sandbox: you are provided here with all the tools to enable the party to explore Qelong and have many an adventure wherever they decide to go. There is a beautiful map showing you where notable locations are, coupled with vivid descriptions of what is to be found at each one. Enjoy your travels.

    [5 of 5 Stars!]
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