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Dwellers Amid Bones $3.99
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Dwellers Amid Bones
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Dwellers Amid Bones
Publisher: Raging Swan Press
by Megan R. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 04/02/2016 09:21:33

It appears that nothing is sacred: the burial cairn of an orc tribe has been utilised as a lair by a couple of drakes whose marauding has led the local lordling to ask the party to clear them out. That's the adventure in a nutshell, but of course there is quite a lot more than that!


There's quite an amusing foreword from the author where he explains that he has up to now avoided asking any party to fight undead AND dragons at the same time... and the customary masterclass in the anatomy of an encounter which every GM ought to read at least once. This adventure is designed to be run in a single session, so can make a good side adventure during the course of whatever major plotline you might be running.


The adventure background for the GM explains the history of the burial cairn - quite an advanced concept for normally savage and uncivilised orcs - which is probably of more interest to archaeologists and historians that your average adventurer, then we move on to look at how to introduce the adventure to the party. As mentioned above, the local lordling would like the problem dealt with and sends one of his staff to speak with them. Provision is made for Knowledge (local or history) checks to reveal more information and for asking the locals what they know, with an added twist if you happen to have any party members with orcish blood - rather neat it is, too!


The site that must be visited is a few days' travel away in the hills. It is a small underground complex, replete with detail... and the possibility of an unusual ally should the party choose to talk rather than fight upon encountering him. Part of the cave system is submerged which presents its own challenges. Several suggestions are nade as to further adventures stemming from this one, a nice way to embed even a side-adventure into your campaign.


Overall it presents a neat and believeable interlude with a few interesting choices to be made, particularly if you have half-orcs amongst your party.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Dwellers Amid Bones
Publisher: Raging Swan Press
by Thilo G. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 12/03/2012 03:49:44

The latest side-trek module by Raging Swan is 21 pages long, 1 page front cover, 1 page advertisement, 2 pages editorial, 1 page ToC/foreword, 1 page advice to use the adventure and 1 page advice on reading statblocks for novice DMs, 1 page SRD, 1 page content-cover and 1 page back cover. leaving us with 11 pages of content, so let's check this out!


This being an adventure-review, the following contains SPOILERS. Potential players may wish to jump to the conclusion.


All right, still here? Dwellers amid bones has the PCs explore an orcish burial cairn to put an end to the various raids conducted by a mated pair of green draconic beings - only forest drakes, thankfully, but deadly nevertheless! After some basic research, the PCs should be able to find the cairn and its details are up to the standard set in Raging Swan modules - general features and details to add to even unkeyed areas make exploring the cairn interesting and atmospheric.


Now from the very beginning, we get a cool twist: Gork Shattershield, undead orcish wight, manifests behind the PCs to demand they purge the drakes (which have time and time again destroyed the stubborn undead orc, only to see him rejuvenate) - thus the adventure begins with an uncommon social interaction before turning ugly - fast!


The drakes lurk in relative proximity and once roused, both attack with their noxious clouds, fight, and when damaged too hard...retreat via speed surge underwater! FANFARE! GLORY TO WHATEVER DEITY OR FORCE MADE CREIGHTON WRITE THIS! Yes, ladies and gentlemen, this is finally one of the scarce, rare instances of draconic foes fighting NOT like complete morons! Hallelujah! Take heed, authors, take heed! Of course, we also get details like wall carvings etc. - but the running battle of the drakes through water-filled maze-like tunnels should pump up the adrenaline for your players - and make the satisfaction of finally confronting the pair in their lair much sweeter! Note: These are drakes. I want to see intelligent dragons in future adventures: With layered magical defenses, terrain used properly, breath weapon cheap shots and traps galore. Oh, and an escape route - dragons fighting inside where they can't take to air always strikes me as superbly stupid on the reptile's side. /ramble.


Of course, the defeat of the dragons does not mean it's over - the problem with the undead orc between PCs and exit remains and plunderers better be smart...


Now, in true user-friendly Raging Swan-manner, we also get 1 page summing up water & combat as well as a sheet of 1 page detailing the effects of water on movement. Nice and supremely comfortable for the DM.


Conclusion:
Editing and formatting are top-notch - I didn't notice any glitches. Layout adheres to Raging Swan's elegant printer-friendly b/w-standard and the module comes with a version optimized for screen-use and one for printing out. The module also features pregens and player-friendly, keyless maps as web-enhancements and is fully bookmarked in any iteration.


Dweller Amid Bones is an unpretentious, short little sidetrek that probably won't last you for more than one or half a session, but it's a smart one that has something to do for less combat-focused characters as well as a nail-bitingly exciting combat that may draw the PCs through the whole 5-room dungeon. This adventure could have very easily sucked, which, at its shortness, would have been a death knell. But the monsters actually for once acting not like complete morons is such a joy to behold that I kept smiling while reading this. The environmental factors that are cleverly exploited by the PC's adversaries and the top-notch production values make me settle for a final verdict of 5 stars + seal of approval, in spite of the module's very British brevity - class instead of mass, I guess.


Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Dwellers Amid Bones
Publisher: Raging Swan Press
by Joshua G. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 12/03/2012 03:14:38

Dwellers in Bone from Raging Swan press is the perfect example of a side trek, those glorious fillers that are not quite an actual adventure, but far more than a simple encounter. Following the 2 column approach for the layout editing appeared to be of high quality, and is decorated with a couple of stock B&W art pieces.


The story behind this side trek falls to this....ah, see, you thought I was just going to jump right into it without waiting to see if the players would stop reading first, didn't you? Come on, we all know by now they're going to read anyway, so if the players out there are looking to ruin their fun, that's their issue, for we must continue, lol. So, without further ado, let the spoilers commence...


The Severed Ear Clan of orcs had accomplished something more or less baffling to most other races, a note of civility. To demonstrate this I offer up the fact that they buried their dead in cairns. Most notably their dead from battles, but lets face it here, that's how most orcs die after all. It is the location of one of the cairns that will be at the center of this sidetrek. Years have passed and the Severed Ear Clan has long since been broken and scattered, and most of their cairns have been located and looted, all save one. And it to this cairn that a mated pair of drake have come to nest. The PCs will find themselves sent/led/or drawn to this site depending upon which of the provided hooks is used, where in they will meet the self appointed guardian of the last remaining cairn of this once proud clan, Grok Shattershield...or at least his extremely stubborn ghost. Grok and the drake's have hit a stalemate, as he keeps reforming after they kill him, and he is unable to affect them himself. Grok offers diplomacy, insisting the PCs aid in slaying the drakes. Of course he really doesn't offer anything up as a perk for doing it, since he is not going to agree to anything leaving the cairn, as he sees it all as property of his tribe, but as least working with the ghost will keep him from trying to possess any of the PCs and attacking with no thought of the damage being done to the body he's joy-riding in.


And what of these drakes? Mistaken for green dragons by the local townsfolk, which if played up enough before sending the PCs off to the cavern could make for some interesting issues once they get there and discover they have prepared incorrectly depending on what preventative steps they take.


An extensive cavern layout, with an entire section flooded, forcing this adventure into the mechanics of swimming and fighting underwater, against a foe that moves through water just as easily as through air. Two pages are included at the end of the PDF with the intention of being printed for each player at the table, so that everyone has handy notes at fingertip to remind them of penalties for swimming, movement, visibility, attack...etc.


Short, sweet and to the point. Just enough fluff to build the encounters up and give us a history to the cairn, as well as those little pieces here and there of description that one would expect from the series that keeps giving us the So What Is X Like Anyway?. Detailed carvings in the wall depicting previous orc glories, specific details to areas of scattered bones throughout the cairn (as opposed to “There are bones.” over and over again). A small handful of potential seeds and thoughts to take this somewhere beyond the scope of what is written here, and to further utilize the NPCs of the local Baron and his trusted servant who initially are used to hire the PCs to deal with the dragon threat.


The beauty of a product like this is that it can be taken straight as it is and run, entertain a group for an evening and be done, no questions asked, and everyone had a blast. It can also be developed with very little effort to be a full blown adventure of its own, having the PCs encounter the drakes on their own, before ever finding the cairn or the town, perhaps a history with the Severed Ear Clan itself. And, best of all, it is designed to be tucked into a campaign easily, which is always a major plus in a product of this nature.


Extensively bookmarked, which always pleases me to no end, and of course the Raging Swan checklist at the opening of the book. I had to bring up the checklist, as it got me wondering the last time I reviewed a book from this publisher, what are they going to do when that list outgrows the page? Personally, I can't until it does, as the Raging Swan imprint rarely lets me down when it comes to solid quality, and delivering exactly what they promise with each product. An easy 5 stars and well worth the price of admission. This is an excellent side quest, and more than enough of a unique challenge to keep a party entertained...I mean come on, how often do you find yourself underwater on a drake hunt?



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
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