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Friday, 11 September 2015

Rage of Demons. out of the Abyss Review

Developed by Green Ronin Publishing this module is the next in the DND 5th edition lineup

The first thing I noticed with this book was the very high price. 64$ in Canada and 50$ in the usa, Yet some online sellers have it for almost half that. A bit more of an investment but if it gives enough play value it should be worth it.

Print quality is excellent and the images within are top notch and the maps are beautiful. A considerable amount of space in this book deals with setting of the underdark beneath the western  heartlands and specific locals within including towns and cities so as a source book its quite useful as well as the actual adventure within. Ruels for dealing with madness levels and  2 pages dedicated to "fungi of the underdark" expand the page count and do cut into the actual adventure space.

The adventure beginning is an interesting one starting the party at 1st level in the slave pens of the drow.

By chapter 8 the party will have adventured through a large area of the underdark and arrived in Gauntlgrym to deal with the king but with no maps and little detail I felt like a person who had not read all the novels dealing with this area would be a bit lost in running it.

The chapter on Menzoberranzan was especially rich on detail and light on adventure. The new monsters and magic items were very good.

Overall this book holds a lot of great information about setting but seems like it would take more GM prep time than most store bought modules. A full read through of chapters before the players arrive in them is critical in many cases as well as some internet research to fill in some knowledge holes.

Thursday, 16 April 2015

Princes of the apocalypse - Advancing the plot

Now that I have run two groups through both the intro 1-3rd level and half of the 3rd chapter I have some tips for smooth play.

Make sure to assign either party wide adventure hooks or individual player hooks before starting the game. Hooks provided on page 12 make the party far more engaged and directed in their explorations. Without these hooks its easy for the party to wander off somewhere on the map and be unable to find much other than random encounters.

Make sure to pay attention to the Side quests on page 160 and their appropriate levels. Anytime the party seems to loose direction or focus spring one of those on them.

The Reprisals on page 45 are perfect for directing the party toward a potential adventure source.

In red larch it can be difficult to find specific info the party is looking for by page flipping so be sure to read over the whole towns description and make some notes about who is in what faction.

EG Harpers : Endrith Vallivoe area 22 note page 20 and 29

In random encounters be sure to notice the chart is 1d8 + 1d12 not 2d10. P 30

One of my parties got totally focused on trying to track down the missing dwarven envoy but really the first few chapters dont really deal with it directly. This can lead to many frustrating sessions of the party being unable to find information because you the GM cant find anything really dealing with it. Be sure to spring encounters and hints about adventure sites often.

While its not specifically detailed out as an area I suggest expanding on the mention made in page 40. The delegations ambush point can give more clues.

As for factions a great way to get started off is to have the players read the factions on the wizards website and affiliate to a faction before game starts.

Its hidden fairly well on the website so here is a link

Monday, 30 March 2015

Princes of the Apocalypse First session

On reading through the intro 1st level encounters and side quests in chapter 6 I decided to have my established 3rd level party start right from that point and not from the 3rd level point.

I purchased and printed out the players copies of red larch and the valley region. Being PDF's I printed them using the poster method at 150% and 160% so after a bit of cutting and taping some decent mini poster maps provided excellent reference.

Traveling to Red Larch while trying to follow the trail of some brigands the party explored and learned a bit about the town and ran through most of the 1st level encounters which I found VERY well setup and actually drove the party to needed extended rests a few times. Good intro the troubles of the reason and a good amount of coin in their purses for the first time made them quite interested in exploring the troubles of the region. Lot of play time with lower XP and higher gold was different from our normal sessions but actually quite fun.

The offerings of Red Larch as a town were quite an interesting balance. Party was thrown off by needing to deal in used weapons mainly as there is no real weapon / armor smithy in town and the provided npc who deals in used merchandise was very fun to play out.

I am avoiding talking about encounter specifics for now so there is no spoilers out there too early.

in the end a 7 hour play session had them go through 3 of the 1st level areas plus explore town and meet a lot of npc plus start some investigations into the nature of the area and the first few hexes out from red larch.

Saturday, 28 March 2015

Princes of the Apocalypse maps

High resolution player and gm maps are available for sale now from the cartographers website

Very worthwhile if you like to print or display on a screen high detail maps for your players referance

Thursday, 26 March 2015

Princes of the Apocalypse - 2

Just finished a full read of chapters 1 and 2. Chapter 2, The Dessarin Valley, Is awesome. Really excellent detail, plenty of npc notes location notes towns inn's etc etc I have a feeling that I will be referring back to this module for years and running adventures in this area well beyond whats published in this adventure. This module will be sitting in the forgotten realms reference shelf in my library for good I think.

For reference this module is set in 1491 DR - The year of the Scarlet Witch
Doing a quick scan through the book looking for monsters not in the basic package.

Scout - MM only
Veteran - MM only
Ankheg - MM only
Merrow - MM only
Jackelware - MM only

that's 3 pages looked over and found 5 monsters already so yes MM is needed

Maybe a web extra will be published to give the needed stats.

Tuesday, 24 March 2015

Princes of the Apocalypse

At first glance this module is of far higher quality than the first 3 that were published. It even includes a section on adapting for other worlds including Darksun, Dragonlance, Greyhawk and Eberron. From a skim through of the meat of the adventure it seems well designed and could easily keep a group busy for a long while. There are creatures with Challenge up to 20th level included as well as a printing of the free materials that wizards put out for players.

The modules real starting point assumes 3rd level characters but it does include a mini adventure in chapter 6 for running pure 1st level characters up to 3rd.

Set in the Dessarin Valley this module is close enough to waterdeep, neverwinter and balders gate to offer a familiar launching point. The included map has more detail for the area than I have ever seen before in previous products. The town of Red Larch gets more use in this adventure than I think it has in the past.

Good old day / night Random encounter charts make a real comeback in this adventure and will definitely add a good element of tension every time the party comes to a rest.

At the adventure start it seems to be assumed that the GM will be using the faction system but it does allow for a nonfaction start as well. The adventure is quite non linear in approach with included side quests and adventure locations that dont have to be done in order though it could be dangerous taking 3rd level pc's into the 6th level site for example.

By chapter 4 the party should have advanced to level 6 and by chapter 5 10th level. The adventure seems to finish around 15th or 16th level so truly this is a full campaign in a book.

The standard monster manual will get heavy use through the running of this module and will be required for play.

Artwork is top notch I was quite impressed. Well detailed NPC's very cool magic items and fun new monsters including the reappearance of some favorites of older elemental evil products.

Overall the module reminds me of the crammed in wealth of info from old 2nd edition products and the well written approach of 4th edition.

Free player download