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Throne of Night Book One: Dark Frontier $10.00
Average Rating:3.2 / 5
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Throne of Night Book One: Dark Frontier
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Throne of Night Book One: Dark Frontier
Publisher: Fire Mountain Games
by Mirko H. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 10/20/2016 02:38:26

Don´t waste your hard earned money on this one. You´ll just end up with 1/3 (provided you´re throwing another 10 bucks out of the window for Book 2 also, else 1/6) of an adventure path. McBride has not produced anything for this AP in over two years (and if you ask me personally the sound of the winds blowing through the smoking ruins of what once was Fire Mountain Games sounds suspiciously like "vaporware, vaporware") and he has refused any communication with people who already payed money to get this AP in his train.wreck of an kickstarter. Don´t support his fraud. You´ll just end up burned as several hundred others already have. Ye have been warned!



Rating:
[1 of 5 Stars!]
Throne of Night Book One: Dark Frontier
Publisher: Fire Mountain Games
by Christopher R. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 11/13/2014 13:08:38

Gary McBridge refuses to communicate in a timely manner with his customers, and ignores them entirely on the issue of providing print products. We paid for print books a year and a half ago, and he refuses to answer our questions about what is going on!

Please, DriveThruRPG, do not support someone with such terrible business practices!



Rating:
[1 of 5 Stars!]
Throne of Night Book One: Dark Frontier
Publisher: Fire Mountain Games
by Shawn P. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 10/24/2014 22:38:19

Don't buy this product with any expectation of Gary McBride or Fire Mountain Games producing anything past the second book. Already missing his completion date for the entire run by 7+ months, Gary McBride refuses to communicate with anyone regarding the product he promised to deliver. Honestly, I'm just sad that what could've been a great product is run by such a terrible company.



Rating:
[1 of 5 Stars!]
Throne of Night Book One: Dark Frontier
Publisher: Fire Mountain Games
by Michael W. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 08/28/2014 16:09:42

I am driven to agree with other reviewers. Gary McBride is either a very clever thief or an incompetent publisher. Regardless of the quality of anything Fire Mountain Games release, I will not be supporting this author in any way,shapeor form ever again and encourage others to think twice before supporting this fraudster.



Rating:
[1 of 5 Stars!]
Throne of Night Book One: Dark Frontier
Publisher: Fire Mountain Games
by Guild F. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 07/02/2014 08:04:52

Gary McBride and Fire Mountain Games are a scam! They funded these products with KIckstarter, are now making money on them here, but have not provided their backers with the rewards they promised! Don't buy anything from these thieves and lairs!



Rating:
[1 of 5 Stars!]
Throne of Night Book One: Dark Frontier
Publisher: Fire Mountain Games
by Luca L. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 11/04/2013 09:22:15

The new AP from Fire Mountain Games is possibily even more ambitious than the first one, which (succesfully!) dealt with managing an evil campaign all the way up to the 20th level. This time we are offered both an evil campaign (as wicked drow upstarts), and an heroic one (as brave and honor-bound dwarves), both of them integrated in a sandbox style tale of exploration, war and empire-building. In future installments there is hint of other thematic races to use, which is something I actually look forward to.

This first issue deals with a rather large but nonetheless limited area, with some excellent suggestion on how to deal with a campaign set underground right from the start (travelling, resource gathering, etc.), a number of very different places to explore, factions to fight or to ally with, tasks and quests, and a rather clear overall mission to tie everything together. It just works, and it almost constantly has you eagerly wondering what's next. Being a sandbox campaign, be prepared to have the adventurers take every wrong turn in the map, waste time following red herrings they almost made up from thin air, step ahead of their abilities with the worst enemy available, and such problems. But it's also the best part of a sandbox campaign, so roll with it and have fun. Unfortunately it seems that the product was originally written with the dwarven heroes in mind, and the drow faction developed later; thusly some pieces do not fit perfectly together for our dark-skinned subterranean elves - they must be retro-engineered by the GM after a careful and complete reading of the whole adventure. Also, there are no custom tables for encounters in the sprawling tunnel complex that crisscrosses the area map. The patron system in the appendix is a very nice atmsphere piece, which helps a lot creating a tight group. Moreover some of the ideas proposed for dwarves or drows are just genius, and ooze future epicness even at these low levels.

Art and layout: art by Michael Clarke is even better than what I've seen in WotW, and that was very good. Maps are great, portraits characterful, illustrations inspiring, and page layout on par with the best big-time publishers out there. Outstanding.

Writing and editing: Gary McBride is good at writing stuff, and it shows in the original NPCs, weird subterranean races and exotic places he describes. There are some really fresh ideas, and the GM will always have a rather clear idea of what to describe or use, even when the characters will take an unexpected turn (like they always do). A few typos creep up here and there: none of them are an obstacle in reading or understanding the problem/location/NPC at hand, nor they are the usual it's/its, than/then or the dreaded rouge/rogue, but they are still there.

Overall: the adventure is very good, the campaign is promising, the concept is a bold move after WotW. I'm not really fond of gnomes, but Knivy Ivy may easily be the most interesting NPC I've seen in a while. The war between intelligent fungal gatherers and intelligent spider hunters - and the survival problems each faction is facing - is simply great. Having to rework some elements for the drow campaign (eg. it's not really clear where in the map drow characters start, while it's really obvious where dwarven characters do), the missing encounter tables, and the necessary work a GM has to do with a sandbox campaign to customize it for his/hers group of players, detract a bit from the otherwise excellent and tight product.

A solid four stars, and looking forward for the new installments.



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Throne of Night Book One: Dark Frontier
Publisher: Fire Mountain Games
by Carl R. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 10/21/2013 09:47:50

When FMG announced it was going to begin work on Throne of Night ("ToN"), there may have been a little concern it would be a rehash of their first AP, Way of the Wicked ("WotW") or that it would fail to measure up to WotW's incredible standards. Adding further tension was the decision to essentially put two different campaigns into ToN -- a traditional "good"-themed campaign as well as an evil, drow-oriented campaign. Well, at long last, the first book of ToN has been released. It is certainly no rehash of WotW. It is an adventure with its own style and themes, and it is an excellent product. If FMG can maintain the quality through the other five books in the AP (yet to be released as of this review), they will have struck gold a second time.

Structure/Concept Throne of Night essentially includes two campaigns (one good, one evil) set in the labyrinthine caverns found beneath the surface of the world. In ToN, the adventure is set in the Azathyr, but it is functionally the upper-most layer of what is called the Darklands in Pathfinder or the Underdark in D&D. The game can be run from the perspective of a good (or neutral) party from the surface, coming to find a way into an old dwarven fortress. The adventure assumes this party is composed primarily of dwarves, but other races could also work (provided they have darkvision). The other perspective is that of the drow, who are stationed at a backwater outpost and tasked by their mistress to attack a svirfneblin village in order to take control of its rich marble quarry.

And... it works. The adventure is mostly sandbox in nature; this is both its strength and a possible weakness. The author takes the necessary time to setup the adventure and goals for both types of groups, and then details the environment into which the party will be adventuring. NPCs and villages will react differently to the two types of parties, and the author gives enough detail and guidance to guide the GM through the process (more on this below).

Although the author breaks up the book into a series of Acts (as was done in WotW), this style of reference probably doesn't work as well for ToN precisely because it is a sandbox. The party is given a general goal or task and a few NPCs are placed along the way to help guide them in accomplishing it, but there are no tracks or fences to keep the party moving in a singular direction. There is a lot of space for the party to explore, villages and strange races to encounter (and with which to ally, subjugate or slaughter), locations to discover where the party might be able to build mines or fortifications in future books, and so on. When and how the party goes about accomplishing its primary goal is left to the discretion of the players. This necessarily introduces some ambiguity and I can see it posing problems for groups that are indecisive or have become used to being guided by the nose in highly railroaded adventures, but this approach will be an excellent fit for groups and GMs that want a less confined experience and room to create their own stories.

And this is where I have to make one comparison to WotW. WotW had a lot of richly detailed NPCs, with detailed backgrounds, personalities and motivations. Frequently there would be half or even full page suggestions as to how the NPC might respond to questions or statements by the PCs. It made it easy for me (as a GM with an impaired imagination) to put all the pieces together with minimal pre-game prep. However, this was also necessary for that kind of campaign, driven by personal hatreds and desires for revenge. Perhaps because it is more free form, ToN does not go into this level of detail. Brief descriptions are provided for the major NPCs and, for the most part, they are helpful but do not provide the level of detail I became accustomed to with WotW. For a GM who decides to run ToN, I would suggest spending some time before the campaign to further flesh out the major NPCs.

That said, the book clocks in at 112 pages, including front and back covers and many beautiful maps. I can't think of anything I would cut, and as a sandbox, ToN presents a fantastic environment in which a GM can use what is provided to great effect or even plug in his or her own side-adventures, characters and even modules. The point is, as a sandbox, a GM is going to need to do a little more work tailoring this adventure to his players but also has a good deal more flexibility in doing so than is found with most other adventures. As future books are released and continue to provide more details about the environment and personalities, this task will likely become easier.

Art Done by Michael Clarke, the art in ToN is excellent. The maps are simply beautiful, and the character and monster artwork is very well done. I strongly encourage GMs running this campaign to print the images in full color and share them with the players -- artwork like this needs to be shared with the players.

Editing On the whole, the editing for ToN is thorough and well done. I didn't notice any "XX"s in place of page numbers or stats and typos (though they do happen) are infrequent and certainly do not detract from the content. (I have not yet gone through any of the statblocks.)

Conclusion Like Way of the Wicked (a decidedly evil and wicked campaign), this may not be an adventure for everyone but for very different reasons. Yet, if what I described above sounds like the right fit for your table, you must pick it up. It is very well done and a strong first-entry in the second adventure path from Fire Mountain Games.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Throne of Night Book One: Dark Frontier
Publisher: Fire Mountain Games
by Megan R. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 10/19/2013 12:04:44

Amazing adventure awaits in these beautiful pages (with printer-friendly alternative). Here is an epic tale of underground exploration and adventure, with plenty to engage characters in a diverse range of activities far beyond mere brawling. Moreover, there is enough of a 'sandbox' feel to enable the party to feel somewhat masters of their own fates, combined with sufficient direction for the GM such that the plot will not flounder whatever the characters decide to do.

The introduction lays out some of the thoughts behind this adventure, and the entire adventure path of which this is the first volume. One delight is the way in which two completely different plotlines weave through the whole, sharing some locations and notable NPCs. You can follow one or the other as you please and as the choices your players make dictate. This adds to the realism, the feel that this is something taking place anyway, and that whilst the presence of the adventurers will have great effect, if they went home events would carry on regardless. The fundamental choice you - and they - need to make is, are you good(ish) adventurers exploring the depths or are you a pretty nasty bunch of Drow hell-bent on dominating them?

The background is equally impressive and sweeping in scale. Two hundred years ago, the greatest dwarf city of all fell in spectacular black flames, and since then dwarvenkind as a whole has been in decline. In a quest to reestablish themselves the dwarves seek to reclaim their lost city, Dammerhall... and it is to the party that they have turned. This makes at least one dwarf character useful, indeed an all-dwarf party could be run with considerable justification... this is, if you have decided to be the Good Guys.

A full second background is provided for groups interested in becoming Drow overlords, with a mistress who has been 'promoted into obscurity' after losing a power struggle seeking help as she rebuilds her fortunes.

This parallel approach continues once you reach the adventure proper. Separate introductions are provided to lead the party into essentially a common situation: a deep gnome settlement struggling to remain free from Drow influences. Help them or take them over yourselves are the basic options depending on which track the characters have chosen to follow. Whatever they are doing, they have vast trackless wastes of underground labyrinth to travel through, complete with a massive fungal jungle - home to unimagined horrors, of course - and the dearth of anything much to eat, even if you do like mushrooms! It is an unfamiliar environment, an alien place where fine marble and metals are commonplace, firewood is rare and sunlight is never seen.

The adventure comes in three main stages: the deep gnome village, the fungal jungle and a Drow outpost. Each event is approached in parallel with notes aimed at both styles - tagged Explorer and Overlord for ease of reference. Once the scene is set it is up to the party how to reach and what they decide to do. All the details you'll need are provided in the event descriptions, making the adventure very easy to run. There is a tremendous amount to see and do down here, it should keep any party, Explorer or Overlord, occupied and entertained for several sessions at the very least, and there are wonders to be seen and surprises galore.

Given the sandbox nature of the adventure, there are some notes to aid in troubleshooting should the party depart completely from what has been intended... although in many ways, they cannot really go off the rails whatever they decide to do.

Map support is excellent. Players are provided with a virtually blank 'map' to chart their travels on, whilst the GM has copious maps and descriptions to aid in keeping everything straight. There's even a bunch of 'random map elements' you can throw in as appropriate. The illustrations are awesome and some will work well to show the players what their characters can see... and all the maps (unlabelled) and some images appear in a separate 'handouts' file for ease of use.

Adventure done (for the time being) there are appendices. One covers playing dwarf characters, including how to build an all-dwarf party that works coherently within the scope of the game. A second covers drow in much the same way, because if you have chosen the Overlord track, the party will be of necessity drow. Finally there is a fascinating Patron system to aid in creating a divine patron for a group of characters. Whilst aimed at creating some measure of party cohesion for a bunch of self-seeking drow, it works equally well for more conventional good-intentioned groups. A neat idea is that it is designed as a collaborative exercise for players and GM together.

Overall, an exciting start to what has potential to be an epic campaign.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
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