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Deliver Us From Evil
by A customer [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 07/07/2024 16:58:31

A simple, linear, scenario about a canoe trip gone bad. Nice layout with thematic artwork and handouts. The story is very linear and has no/few investigative elements, but given that it is intended to be a single session adventure, this makes sense. With experienced players who can make use of the pre-gen's tangled backstories, you could have a lot of fun with the inter-PC dynamics. With players who are not motivated by player-to-player RP it might be a bit thin and predictable. I'd like to have a bit more given to the Keeper about the backstory and precipitating events of the pre-gen characters to help them "stir the pot." Despite the warnings on the first page, I'd say the gore/gruesome level is pretty low as written, though there are plenty of opportunities to enhance it. There are a few holes the Keeper will have to anticipate, as the PCs encounter a spots where there are some bridges, and presumably roads, that would allow them to escape or at least take a different route. Maybe the river is deep in a gorge or canyon and so inescapable? Also, the motivations and goals of the antagonists are a bit unclear at some of the conflict points, so the Keeper should put some thought into what they want out of these conflicts before running the scenario. There are several minor typos, the only one of note is that one of the older characters is listed as having an age of "15." For me, I am planning on using this as the scaffold for a short scenario, but plan on making changes to suit my group - notably introducing the lawman on the roadtrip up, possibly using that to spark discussion of the PCs' past,"Hey, don't I recognize you..." and adding a few literal branches in the river so it doesn't feel quite so linear.



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Deliver Us From Evil
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Northanger Abbey and the Necronomicon
by Stuart [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 07/07/2024 13:34:12

A great scenario updated to 7e. This mystery really ties the classic Austen tale and the mythos together really well. Highly recommended.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Northanger Abbey and the Necronomicon
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Back to Balazar- A Griffin Mountain Companion for 1625
by Hannu [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 07/07/2024 01:57:25

The book looks awesome, arts and layout. I have not been able to read it all yet, but I can safely say already, that it is a must have title. There are cool new ideas provided in here, that really makes you want to play in Balazar. Best of all, Back to Balazar has a lot of adventuring to be found in here. This is a book for a gaming table, not for a shelf.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Back to Balazar- A Griffin Mountain Companion for 1625
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Back to Balazar- A Griffin Mountain Companion for 1625
by Jon [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 07/02/2024 01:50:19

I have just finished reading this excellent supplement/complement to the classic Runequest book Griffin Mountain.

Written by Jon Hunter, whose Back to Balazar website has over recent years hosted a lot of the information brought together in a more developed form here, it presents his version of Balazar in 1625. Some things have changed, some are the same or similar. A lot of the original characters are there, although Rigtaina is called Rigitania throughout for some reason.

For those familiar with the original work, reading this gives you the same feeling that reading Griffin Mountain did all those years ago. The setting, the kings and notable people, the encounters, all make you want to play in Balazar. Highly recommended.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
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Swamp Song: A 1920s Scenario for Call of Cthulhu
by Brent [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 06/30/2024 19:05:54

Excellent scenario! My players really enjoyed this one, with its wonderful New Orleans setting, fantastic NPCs, and great handouts. The storyline was engaging with interesting options for the keeper to switch things up a little and lots of good advice for running the game.

I'd recommend that keepers think through the opening scene in the Count's house. My players sat around and stalled quite quickly, but there are several clues in the house that can kick-start the investigation. I needed to get some of the house staff involved early to make reasons for the players to look around a little.

I'd also recommend buffing the monster for the final confrontation, as I felt it's underpowered and can be easily dispatched with a good roll or two, especially if one of your players has a firearm. Adjust accordingly, on the fly, if necessary to create some tension and danger in the final scene.

Tremondous atmosphere, great story and well designed scenario. Highly recommended!



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Swamp Song: A 1920s Scenario for Call of Cthulhu
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[French] Sous Cinq Brassées
by Eric [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 06/29/2024 15:23:34

Mes joueurs et moi avons beaucoup apprécié être transportés sur ce navire. L’histoire est immersive, très originale. Certains événements sont inévitables, mais ça ne rend pas l’ensemble dirigiste et les joueurs peuvent vraiment apporter leur touche personnelle… aussi longtemps qu’ils survivent... Beaucoup de fun autour de ce scénario qui est resté une expérience mémorable pour notre groupe.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
[French] Sous Cinq Brassées
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Pendragon Quick-Start
by Jordan [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 06/28/2024 15:06:22

The Adventure of the Sword Tournament is an easily digestible yet somewhat vague quick-start scenario for the sixth and latest edition of Pendragon, a medieval low-fantasy tabletop role-playing game inspired by Arthurian mythology.

The first 9 pages of this quick-start module explain the rules and mechanics of this game in an easily digestible and referable layout. It immediately introduces the character sheet mechanics (e.g. Characteristics, Traits, Skills, etc.) and details what they mean, what they are used for and how they can be adjusted.

The next 9 pages detail the overall flow of The Adventure of the Sword Tounrmanet scenario, from arriving at the in-game city of Londinium to participating in the eponymous Sword Tournament (i.e. a full-scale mock battle).

The remaining pages provide a list of dice roll tables, non-player character (NPC) blocks and pre-generated characters to use as examples.

Unfortunately, this quick-start lacks a blank character sheet for others to fill in. This may be due to this quick-start module's emphasis on pre-generated characters.



Rating:
[3 of 5 Stars!]
Pendragon Quick-Start
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Overdue
by Nathan [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 06/27/2024 07:05:31

A very solid one shot scenario. It is written well and provides everything you need to run the scenario without leaving much out.

Ran it in about 2.5 hours with three players. Felt it needed a bit more narratively to encourage the players to begin the investigation and find an early clue. My players were more reserved, so it could be as easy as sharing a locker with Bobby, or an encounter with a school news kid prompting the fact other disappearances have happened, and the players following up.

The scenario didn't have a ready option that revealed the curses origins to the players or a way for them to find out about it, I easily added this with some checks and that Bobby may have stumble upon town history in the research of witches. Always feel it should be included in scenarios for players to find.

Will probably add a specific flashback scene for each pregen of them and Bobby to help grant more of an attachment to him when I run this scenario again.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Overdue
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Ships & Shores of Southern Genertela
by David [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 06/25/2024 08:08:23

One of the best books ever for gaming in Glorantha, Martin Helsdon's Ships & Shores of Southern Genertela offers immediate, interesting gameplay and deep insights into this world of wonders and its seas and sailors. This wide-ranging volume covers numerous topics based around the ships, ports, and people of the coast and nearby seas. Linked narratives connect the chapters of the book, providing many views of various themes of the setting. Sections magisterially cover ship construction and elements, complications at sea, trade, travel, naval combat and magic, and more. I cannot praise this book enough. The depth of research into historical ships and fine-grained analysis of Glorantha lore produces a fascinating, integrated expansion of play options with plot hooks and colorful, engaging elements on every page. The art is amazing as well. In particular, Dirim's mythic imagery and Smylie's in-world imagery bring the ideas and geography to life.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Ships & Shores of Southern Genertela
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Creator Reply:
Hi David, Thank you for your comments. Pleased you like the art.
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The True Housewives of Arkham
by Shashank [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 06/24/2024 23:44:10

I discovered this product randomly, and the premise instantly hooked me. Despite never watching a reality TV show in this vein, I understood the basic concept, and there's nothing funnier than the idea of combining cosmic horror and the type of reality drama featured in the media that inspires this work.

If you have a group that is willing to really lean into this concept (and that is a MUST - I don't think this would work with the quiet player that just wants to sit and be told a story - this requires active engagement) there's no two bucks better spent in tabletop roleplaying.

I have run it once for one group, and it was an absolute riot. I definitely plan to run it again when time allows.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
The True Housewives of Arkham
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Pendragon: The Grey Knight
by Roberto [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 06/24/2024 17:06:46

A classic masterpiece, revisited. The Grey Knight was the first adventure to come out for Pendragon 1st edition, in 1986, and became the de facto standard for how should Pendragon adventures be planned and written. And rightly so! Challenges and riddles aplenty, in a plot that makes you feel like one of the characters in the classic Arthurian books. It lets you re-live those stories as the protagonist(s). And in this edition you also get two introductory scenarios that span the years between the Starter Set campaign and TGK, and a chapter on the city of Carlion. Great value for your money, I'd say! And, don't let me get started on how gorgeous the layout is...



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Pendragon: The Grey Knight
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Pendragon: Core Rulebook
by Roberto [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 06/24/2024 17:04:24

Beautiful and inspiring! This was supposed to be the culmination of Greg Stafford's writing career and, by Arthur's crown, it sure feels that way! Layout is simply gorgeous, and the refined game system is really both intuitive, simple, and perfectly fitting to the literary sources. Bravo to the late Greg and to all the chivalrous people involved in this work of love (and art, of course!).



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Pendragon: Core Rulebook
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Holiday Dorastor: Risklands
by Antony [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 06/24/2024 13:28:28

Wow what a campaign you could run with this supplement and all the other Holiday Dorastor supplements. I purchased Chaosiums Dorastor Land of Doom when it came out but never managed to run anything there having spent most of my early RQ days as a PC adventuring in Balazar/Elder WIlds. There's a lot of nostalgia here for me as it covers the Renekotling clan in some details and has stats for some of the main movers and shakers in the area like Oddi the Keen, Hakon The Swimmer etc. Detailed Character generation, locations, magic items and scenarios..... an awesome extra rules section .....(I really love the Sacred Mountain stuff). If you put all the releases in this series together you could run a "mega campaign" or possibly segue Risklands into an existing campaign very easily. Stormspearia do all the hard work so you don't have to. It's a work of love and is a pleasure to read.....releases like this are what brought me back to Glorantha after a long hiatus.....top drawer....



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Holiday Dorastor: Risklands
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[French] Un problème mineur
by simon [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 06/22/2024 20:55:39

l'Abitibi, et son contexte culturel des années 20-30, se prête tellement bien à l'ambiance de l'appel de cthulhu ! J'en veux plus ! Plus de terreur du terroir !

Excellent module, je vous lève mon chapeau.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
[French] Un problème mineur
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Skull Ruins: Tusk Riders Need Blood
by Austin C. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 06/21/2024 12:36:04

The enemy of my enemy is my friend—but do you really believe that? Can an alliance of convenience last? Skull Ruins: Tusk Riders Need Blood!—Ricardo Shankland's debut RuneQuest (RQG) adventure for the Jonstown Compendium—explores that theme.

Queen Leika tasks the adventurers with escorting the tusk rider defector Penjurlhi to the Skull Ruins so that he can perform a ritual to reinforce the bond with his tusker, the giant boars which give tusk riders their name. The work explores the relationship between tusk riders and their boars, a new adventure site, and aspects of tusk rider culture in Dragon Pass.

Let's dive on in!

Disclaimers: This review contains some plot spoilers for the adventure. I have a working relationship with the author's relatives on an unpublished project. The author is not involved in that project, and I did not work on Skull Ruins.

WHAT'S INSIDE?

Skull Ruin is basically divided into two sections: the 50-page adventure “Tusk Riders Need Blood!” and a 20-page collection of appendices presenting variants on tusk rider culture. While the sections share common themes, overall my experience was that they're largely separate from one another. For example, I wouldn't feel obligated to reference the appendices while running the adventure.

“Tusk Riders Need Blood!” begins with an escort mission combined with an intriguing character conflict: how do the adventurers feel about working with a tusk rider? For those who don't know, this non-human species is pretty much the only non-Chaotic species described in the Glorantha Bestiary as wholly and unrepentingly evil.

I certainly enjoy providing evil antagonists for heroic adventurers to clobber. Yet it's not particularly on-theme with Glorantha as a setting considering the vibrant imagination put into trolls, ducks, and so on. Broos are excellently repugnant for dungeon fodder. We can seek more complex evils from the non-Chaotics.

Yet “Tusk Riders Need Blood!” does not assume Penjurlhi is the “one good tusk rider.” He's not an especially nice person, but he's not a caricature like Drizzt Do'Urden. Penjurlhi is loyal, generally honest, and generally selfish. His love for his mount is sincere, yet he's also quite callous. For example, he's perfectly willing to let the adventurers kill other tusk riders (or to murder captive riders in their sleep himself) to reach the Skull Ruins and complete the Appease Earth ritual.

The journey's description is simple and effective. A declining rating for the tusker's mood provides urgency and structure, while the players are given meaningful ways to help Penjurlhi handle the beast. The reward for all this trouble is Penjurlhi's continued cooperation with the Colymar Tribe to reveal raid patterns, hidden paths, and other secrets of the tusk riders. The journey provides roleplay opportunities for the adventurers to decide if they trust their ward before serious conflict hits.

The Skull Ruins are the skeleton of a True Dragon which lays in the heart of the Dragonewt Wilds. An Orlanthi bandit lord named Gornorix uses the ruins as his hideout. From there he has raided Lunars, Sartarites, and traveling caravans indiscriminately. Although he began during the Lunar Occupation, Gornorix is an outlaw, not a patriot. His pet Earth Witch has learned to cast Appease Earth through her own methods, allowing Gornorix to build relationships with tusk riders and their associates. According to their instructions, the adventurers are to bring Penjurlhi here so the Earth Witch can perform the ritual and they can all go home.

Of course, adventures rarely go according to plan.

During the journey, the adventurers may have encountered a Mistress Race troll lordling whose cousin was captured by Gornorix (depends on their route). This cousin will be sacrificed in the Appease Earth ritual. The trolls want to attack the Skull Ruins and free the cousin. They may ask the adventurers for aid.

This sets up a complex and fascinating set of possibilities in which the adventurers might be attacking the dungeon, defending it, neutral, or switching sides. There are strong motives and reasons provided for why the adventurers might make each choice, and contingencies for surprises in almost all of the plausible avenues. Despite the compelling stories told by the various non-player characters, the adventurers remain at the story's center. Their choices determine the outcome.

The appendices describe a bit of tusk rider lore—introducing the human Boarsbeard Clan descended from Bloody Tusk converts—but largely focus on the new Cult of Sawtooth. This intriguing cult worships a carnivore Aldryami's ghost on the verge of Herodom. Sawtooth is a great example of the description that Heroes are “endowed with exceptional powers and uses those gifts to battle against enemies that endanger the peace and well-being of the community. And yet, the Hero is not bound by the rules and restrictions of the civilization they defend …” (RQG page 10). Sawtooth sought new ways of living for the good of the forest, and consequently is an outcast and heretic.

The cult's primary worshipers are tusk riders, outcast Aldryami, and the occasional outcast troll. Sawtooth provides rare magics useful for tusk rider scouts, and offers a special form of Resurrect which certainly could tempt adventurers to risk visiting his temple in the Stinking Forest. His cult is fully described with the Hero-ghost himself, a dryad priestess, and a mysterious hermit statted out for the gamemaster's use.

As you may have concluded from describing these two sections, the halves of Skull Ruins are connected thematically but not directly. The adventure includes a few initiates of Sawtooth in a journey encounter, but otherwise the adventure doesn't really explore tusk rider culture as much as I had anticipated. My expectations were something along the lines of “Skyfall Lake” in Trollpak (albeit with lots more violence), an adventure which focused on the players encountering tusk riders and deciding how to handle the situation. The adventurers do get to know Penjurlhi in “Tusk Riders Need Blood!” but overall I felt the adventure focuses on their role in the conflict between the Orlanthi bandits and the troll raiders.

Speaking of, I do truly love Gornorix. He's super Orlanthi, and also just such a jerk. Throughout, Shankland's characterization is quite strong. The troll lordling and the Earth Witch are both memorable. I felt not just that I understood how the non-player characters think, but also how to present them at the table. This is supported by good “high-level” organization of the adventure material into coherent sections with clear directions. Shankland's execution of this complex situation is well done.

In addition to the odd lack of tusk riders in the adventure, it also struck me as odd that the adventure lacked dragonewts. After all, the Skull Ruins are a dragon's skull in the Dragonewt Wilds. It felt strange that Gornorix had managed to lurk there for years without reprisal. I kept seeking an explanation, but one was never forthcoming. Despite liking the troll non-player characters and plot elements, it makes more sense to me that dragonewts would be trying to drive the Orlanthi out.

PRODUCTION

Skull Ruins is a collaboration between Ricardo Shankland and long-time Glorantha creator and artist Dario Corallo. Shankland did the words, while Corallo did the art and graphic design.

Overall, I'd describe the text's polish as pretty much right on my subjective “indie average.” It's clear to me that the author put in legwork hunting typos and other infelicities, but they do still appear on occasion. I do also feel that Skull Ruins would benefit from a line edit. In particular, I advise the author to keep an eye out for overuse of commas to create extended phrases. The text doesn't quite hit “run-on sentences” to my eye, but a line edit focusing on sentence construction could improve the “ground-level” clarity.

There's also a few odd word usages which I'm not used to seeing, such as “the Colymars.” However, these are consistent throughout the work and thus are a stylistic choice, not an error.

For visual design, the graphic design works well and the illustrations are excellent. There were a few unusual choices in the layout of the text which I feel are opportunities for improvement. In particular, the indentation of the first line of paragraphs is too consistent. For example, there are instances where a paragraph continues from the left column to the right, and the first line of the same paragraph is indented in the right column. Another odd example is the lack of indentation in statblocks. The hanging indent which is standard in the Jonstown Compendium template improves readability, especially when an ability's description requires multiple paragraphs and there's no boldface header to break up the text.

The art, though. This book might be my favorite Corallo has worked on. (At least of those I'm familiar with—I don't know all of his Gloranthan work.)

What really captures this art's success is its strong use of Gloranthan themes in combination with frequent portrayals of RQG's pre-generated adventurers, Vasana & Co. Being able to see the pre-gens engaging throughout the adventure helped bring the story to life.

Further, all of the major non-player characters are illustrated throughout Skull Ruins. This wealth of illustration strengthens the adventure's appeal and keeps the book firmly grounded in what the players are experiencing. I can see myself using almost all of the art as examples to players.

CONCLUSION

Skull Ruins contains an excellent adventure and intriguing appendices about tusk rider-adjacent lifeways. Even if these sections could be more strongly connected, I like both quite a lot. By way of advice to the creators, my instinct is that releasing the adventure alone at a lower price point would be more successful. The Cult of Sawtooth definitely deserves to be out in public! But it might have fit better into a different product. That said, overall I do recommend Skull Ruins: Tusk Riders Need Blood! and I do think it's worth the price point ($17.95). The book's stuffed to the brim with interesting ideas and Gloranthan goodness. There are some oversights and flaws, as I've pointed out, but the good vastly outweighs the bad on my scales.

I'm giving this a full five because this is the author's debut release. This is not merely “playing nice” or “overlooking errors.” (I'm well-aware I'm fussy about textual polish and it's significant in my overall opinions.) Shankland's work deserves a five because of the excellent creativity and organization of the adventure. That's damn hard to pull off. Having a fun and creative adventure concept is one thing, but executing it well is another. The adventure's combination of player-centric narrative choices and comprehensible semi-linear structure leaves a lot to admire. This is something I'm actively interested in shoehorning into my current campaign.

As a last thought, a quick note on non-player character statistics—this adventure's antagonists are tough. Even the routine antagonists have a good bit of magic and are provided with nasty tactics and clever leadership. This tactical support is also a reason I like the adventure, but I do encourage prospective gamemasters to read the statblocks carefully. I can see this adventure killing an entire group of newer adventurers unintentionally. (I can also see it killing experience adventurers or Rune Masters, but that would probably be on purpose. The climax is delicious.) Reducing the number of available Rune points for the non-player character antagonists or playing out a short skirmish followed by a Battle roll are some easy ways the gamemaster could adapt this for adventurers who've just completed the Gamemaster Screen Pack and RuneQuest Starter Set.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Skull Ruins: Tusk Riders Need Blood
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