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The Lost Treasure of Atlantis
by Eric F. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 01/25/2020 13:32:30

"In the far reaches of Hyperborea’s Crab Archipelago lies a small, mountainous island known as Crystal Point. Passing sailors recently have witnessed a crimson glow in Crystal Point’s waters and beams of russet light shining up from its steep cliffs. Too, unusually frequent lightning storms in the area have torn the sky in blinding flashes, shattering the air with their awesome sound. The seedy wharf taverns of Khromarium and elsewhere buzz with these strange tales—some even speculate that Crystal Point may hold the lost treasure of Atlantis! "

I count myself very lucky indeed because I maintain fantastic friendships with some incredible authors of the OSR & old school gaming. Today's Sword & Sorcery mail call comes in from Chainsaw himself the author of Lost Treasures of Atlantis for the Astonishing Swordsmen & Sorcerers of Hyperborea rpg.

Now 'The Lost Treasures of Atlantis' by Chainsaw is one of those AS&SH adventures that has many of the hall marks of AS&SH quality adventures. Solid writing & design by the module's author, really nice layout, cartography by Glynn Seal Monkey Blood Design clocking in at sixty four pages of Sword & Sorcery Hyperborean OSR weirdness. This is a solid module done with care & eye towards really pulling the PC's into the adventure's heart & action.

Check out the quality of the binding & the paper for 'Lost Treasures of Atlantis'.

The module places the PC's within the fully fleshed out VILLAGE of KREN-FAK & its Esquimaux crab-kin which indicates that your party of adventurers isn't in Kansas anymore especially the village descriptions; "The Esquimaux crab-kin of this village, located a few days from Crystal Point, dye their skin red to resemble their crab-man masters. They also adorn themselves in chitinous titivations. When not raiding Pictish crab-kin villages toward the base of the Crab Archipelago, the locals fish, whale, and oversee slaves in copper mines on the nearby islands. The villagers view travellers suspiciously, but they will tolerate visitors so long as the strangers bring goods to trade, tributes for the crab-men, or important news." This village is an important start point where the party is going to pick up supplies, rumors, hireling, and perhaps even replacement party members! 'The Lost Treasures of Atlantis' is a fully fleshed out adventure & geared for the far reaches of Hyperborea’s Crab Archipelago. The whole adventure is for four to six characters of 6th through 8th level. I want to stress that this is the case! PC's are gonna half to watch their step in KREN-FAK with its Esquimaux crab-kin inhabitants. The ocean voyage to Crystal point is dangerous as it gets;"The voyage to Crystal Point is fraught with peril, island hopping the ocean reaches of the Crab Archipelago. Following the ancient Esquimaux bearing, worthy sea vessels at length will enter the tempestuous zone known as River Okeanos, located betwixt the 18th and 36th parallels. Here the winds flow in opposing belts, looping and crisscrossing at different junctures depending on seasons and other conditions. In Tempest (Year 4, Hare), River Okeanos is plagued by deadly whirlpools. Sea ice forms from Coda (Year 12, Fox) to Genesis (Year 1, Bear), and icebergs are a constant threat7 . Veteran mariners (viz. Amazons, Ixians, Vikings, and Zangeriosans) understand the River Okeanos and use its wuthering airstreams to their advantage. Less realized is the capability of Esquimaux seamen who ply this deadly zone in their umiaks, outfitted with outboard runners" If your running the 'The Lost Treasures of Atlantis' don't take the oceans of Hyperborea lightly they can be deadly. The random encounters add an extra element of action & complete danger to the affair. The colours on the module covers is eye popping & vibrant! The artwork & the paper of solid quality!

Note that this will be happening to your PC's & don't screw with the crabmen!

Crystal Point itself is a study in Hyperborean dungeon design & deadliness with the PC's coming into the action like something out of a Ray Harryhausen movie. 'The Lost Treasures of Atlantis' switches up the Lovecraftian action on 'eleven' & then breaks off the knob with the PC's encountering ruined temples, random NPC's with ties to other dangerous factions of Crystal Point, and adventure elements surrounding the mystery of the isolated & insane location. I mean this in a good way.

Yes my copy of the 'The Lost Treasures of Atlantis'
came with the awesome book marks!

'The Lost Treasures of Atlantis' is both a sandbox, & location based adventure with lots of weird & some tragic NPC's who are going to cross the PC's path. The adventure material here is solidly strange with PC's running across a temple of Shub Niggurath & throughout module we see the strange influence & domination of the AS&SH Crabmen. These beings are strange, alien, unsettling, & very dangerous to the PC's life!

'The Lost Treasures of Atlantis' is a nasty little dungeon delve & Hyperborean hoe down as Chain Saw amps up the weird to Lovecraftian levels again & again. The adventure environs here are going to be very memorable & highly dangerous to the party! Around every corner is another shock & surprise I'm not kidding. I don't wanna spoil the surprises but 'The Lost Treasures of Atlantis' is gonna take a lot of thinking on the player's end & its gonna take whole lot guts, guile, intelligence, & roll playing to get past some of this adventure's obstacles! I mean this in a good way! The PC's are gonna be in way,way, over their heads very quickly.

The room descriptions, the magic item artwork, the twists & Lovcraftian turns, all added to by the editing of David Prata with Chainsaws writing as well as his design make 'The Lost Treasures of Atlantis' . All of this module is brought to life with the artistry of Johnathan Bingham, Mick Fernette, David Hoskins, Diogo Nogueira, Glynn Seal, Del Teigeler, & Mike Tenebrae. Take into all of this & this is another five outta five in my estimation.

I want to thank Jeffrey Talanian & the whole North Wind Adventures crew for bringing to life 'The Lost Treasures of Atlantis' . But I wanna thank Chainsaw himself for sending these modules my way! I've got more to say about Otherworldly Tales adventures coming up so stay tuned!

Eric Fabiaschi Swords & Stitchery Blog. Want more exclusive OSR & Old School content Subscribe to https://swordsandstitchery.blogspot.com/



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The Sea-Wolf's Daughter
by Eric F. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 01/25/2020 01:48:13

"Your party finds itself in the employ of Ragnarr the Sea-Wolf, a jarl of New Vinland and a reaver of old. His daughter, a shield-maiden named Gunnhildr, has been abducted by a brute called Björn Blackbeard. During a desperate search, the Sea-Wolf crossed sails with a former rival, and from the blood-flecked lips of a dying foe, he learnt the location of Blackbeard’s stronghold. Now, deep in the misty fjords of Brigand’s Bay, where cutthroats, pirates, and freebooters thrive, you have been charged with liberating the Sea-Wolf’s daughter."

So I approached the author & designer of The Sea-Wolf's Daughter by Jeffrey P. Talanian who also happens to be the designer & writer of the Astonishing Swordsmen & Sorcerers of Hyperborea rpg system for a pdf copy of the adventure. After a bit of poking & prodding & a few crossed wires the adventure arrived in my email box.

'The Sea-Wolf's Daughter' by Jeffrey P. Talanian puts the PC's into the Viking & mercenary underbelly of Hyperborea. Take one part Pulp Viking adventure romp add in lots of other worldly weirdness & you've got the makings of a higher end AS&SH module designed for PC's from four to six characters of 7th through 9th level. This is a lethal party wipe of an adventure if the players are not careful. This is an upper level AS&SH module with all that that entails. The encounters are harder, the enenmies nastier, & the setting is pure Robert E. Howard with a Lovecraftian Jack Kirby mix of high adventure. But the first part is pure AS&SH Viking & barbarian goodness with the PC's in the employ of Ragnarr the Sea-Wolf, a jarl of New Vinland. But its the adventure material around the events of 'The Sea-Wolf's Daughter' that really sets this adventure off. What I mean is that which each & every module that comes out for AS&SH, the campaign as well as the game setting of Hyperborea is expanded upon a little more. In this adventure some of the NPC's that the party is gonna run across are just as dangerous if not more so then the monsters. Not that these are not deadly. The layout, cartograhpy by Glynn Seal of Monkey Blood Design is on point, but some of the artwork is down right cool with talent the likes of Daisey Bingham, Johnathan Bingham, Andreas Claren, Mick Fernette, David Hoskins, Diogo Noguiera, Glynn Seal, Val Semeiks, Del Teigeler, & Mike Tenebrae.

Its in the second half of the adventure where events turn into a Lovecraftian Jack Kirby adventure experience. The PC's come into conflict with some truly dire & utterly dangerous alien powers endemic to Hyperborea. 'The Sea-Wolf's Daughter' takes on a life of its own as an adventure drawing the party into high level NPC situations that the players are not going to be expecting. Not only does this adventure draw the party of adventurers in with material, puzzles, & Hyperborean weirdness but like many other AS&SH modules there's lots of adventure tidbits the DM can fold back in for other campaign adventures. Within 'The Sea-Wolf's Daughter' there are the hordes of NPC's, locations, personalities, monsters,etc. can be used in other Astonishing Swordmen & Sorcerers of Hyperborea adventures when the events of the module conclude. So there's a ton of utility within the module I feel.

If you were to place 'The Sea-Wolf's Daughter' in an OSR AS&SH that was using classic Advanced Dungeons & Dragons modules which series of classic modules might you as a dungeon master pair it with? Personally I'd use 'The Sea-Wolf's Daughter' with the classic A1-4 The Scourage of the Slave Lords.

One of the main NPC's within the module would make a formiable addition to the ranks of the Slavers allowing 'The Sea-Wolf's Daughter' to be used as a side adventure. This would take years of play to come to pass but with a bit of Viking spit & Pulp barbarian polish A1-4 The Scourage of the Slave Lords could take on an even harder Sword & Sorcery edge to complement 'The Sea-Wolf's Daughter' Jeffrey P. Talanian brings his usual level of quality writing & clever design that we've seen in other adventures & modules within the AS&SH line. All in all I felt very excited to have my copy of the 'The Sea-Wolf's Daughter' & I feel that it is not only a worth addition to the AS&SH fine family of products but one that I think you'll be glad to own. I think its worth a five out of five in my opinion because it maintains the level of quality & solid design that we've come to expect outta of North Wind Adventures. Eric Fabiaschi Swords & Stitchery Blog Want More OSR & Old
School? Subscribe to https://swordsandstitchery.blogspot.com/



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AS&SH Rogues Gallery II
by Robert N. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 12/05/2019 12:51:07

Good group of pregen characters for one-shots or cons.



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AS&SH Rogues Gallery II
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Rats in the Walls and Other Perils
by Robert N. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 09/27/2019 16:29:24

Great set of short adventures you can string together to start your AS&SH campaign.



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Astonishing Swordsmen & Sorcerers of Hyperborea (Compleat Second Edition)
by Timothy B. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 02/26/2019 13:53:43

This is the newest version of the AS&SH game and there are few notable differences between it and the first edition, but it is still the same fun game from Jeffrey Talanian and the sorcerers over at North Wind Adventures.

I will be reviewing both the PDF and the physical copy. I purchased these via the Kickstarter a while back so no review was expected or asked for.

Where to begin with this massive tome? Well, let's talk about the book itself. The book is massive at 622 pages. The covers are full color and the interior art is a combination of mostly black & white with some new full-color pages; most to designate larger sections of the book.

Some of the art and text is held over from the First Edition, but since this book is designed as a replacement that's fine with me really. It is more than that too.

AS&SH2e is a complete game. Everything you need except for dice is here. There are player's sections and a game master section. I will work through them all.

Volume I: Swordsmen & Sorcerers covers character creation. We have the same basic material we see in all games, what is an RPG, how to play, dice, how to generate stats and so on. I gloss over it here because I know my readers know all of this but to a newcomer to the game these sections are written with a lot of clarity. I do think that most people coming to this game will be coming from other RPGs, but this is still good material. The bulk of this volume (over 120 pages) is devoted to classes. We still have our Basic Four; Fighter, Magician, Cleric, and Theif. Each also gets a number of subclasses. Fighters get Barbarian, Berserker, Cataphract, Paladin, Ranger, and Warlock with the addition of a new to this edition Huntsman. The Magician has Illusionist, Necromancer, Pyromancer, and Witch. with the new to this edition Cyromancer (a new favorite of mine). The Cleric has the Druid, Monk, Priest, and Shaman and the new Runegraver. Finally, the Thief has the Assassin, Bard, Legerdemainist, Scout and the new Purloiner. Each subclass is very much like it's parent classes with some changes. The classes look pretty well balanced. The new classes also feel right with the Cryomancer, Huntsman, and Runegraver falling into the "why didn't think of these in 1st ed, they are so obvious!" category.

Each class has a "Fighting Ability" and a "Magic Ability" which relates to attacks. So yes, even magicians can get a little better in combat as they go up in level. It's a great little shorthand and works great. So a 4th level Fighter has a fighting ability of 4. A 4th level magician still only has a fighting ability of 1 and a cleric 3 and thief 3. Subclasses can and do vary.

AC is descending (like old school games), BUT with the Fighting Ability stat it could be converted to an ascending AC easily.

Races are dealt with next. They include Amazons, Atlanteans, Esquimaux, Hyperboreans, Ixians, Kelts, Kimmerians, Lemurians, Picts, and Vikings along with the catch-all "Common" race of man. No elves or dwarves here. Alignment is a simpler affair of Lawful Good, Lawful Evil, Chaotic Good, Chaotic Evil and Neutral.

There are background skills and weapon skills. Also listed are some gods and plenty of equipment.

Volume II: Sorcery deals with all the spells of the various spellcasting classes. At a little over 80 pages, there are a lot of spells here. Even more impressive when you consider that the highest level spell is only Sixth level.

Volume III: Adventure & Combat covers the next 60 or so pages of what is essentially the Player's section. It deals with combat in all its forms. So combat, mass combat, saves and conditions. Siege combat, strongholds, waterborne adventures, and combat. A great collection really of some of the "Best of" ideas I have seen in many games, but it all works really nice here. It has been expanded on from the 1st edition.

Now there are some differences here between AS&SH and say "Normal" or "Standard" D&D. There are things like group intitative, the Fighting Ability figures more in than actually level and others. Please be sure to read this section carefully when running your first game.

Volume IV: Bestiary kicks off what is the Referee's section. Now it is no secret I love monster books so for the next 130 pages we get all sorts of monsters. The format is most similar to Basic or Labyrinth Lord, and it is full of the usual suspects with some Lovecraftian Horrors, and even remnants of alien and bygone ages. "Demons" are here, but no devils. I know NorthWind has a Player's book out now, but a Monster book would also be fantastic. Thankfully nearly every Clone or OSR monster book can be used with this with minor tweaks.

Volume V: Treasure covers the next 50 or so pages. Among the magic items are things like Radium Pistols and other sc-fi artifacts. Very pulpy. It also includes some rules on scribing spell and protection scrolls. There is even a small section on Alchemy in Hyperborea. Very useful to have really.

Volume VI: Hyperborea Gazetteer is our last volume. It is a great bit that I can easily drop into my game. The lands are a pastiche of Howard, Vance, Lovecraft, and Smith. If these names mean anything to you then you know, or have an idea, of what you are going to get here. This section has been greatly expanded from the previous edition. Included here are the gods again and a little more on religion. Basically you get the idea that gods are either something you swear by (or to) or get sacrificed to by crazy cultists. So yeah, you know I am a fan.

Appendix A: Referee Advice is just that. One page and straight to the point. Appendix B: Weather in Hyperborea. You mean it does more than snow? Charts that help you figure out the temperature and conditions at any given time. Also useful for other games. Appendix C: Rogues Gallery. Some NPCs, or what I guess we could call the Iconics of AS&SH. All are easily recognizable from the art in the book. No iconic witch though...hmmm. All are listed at 1st, 5th and 9th levels. Appendix D: Introductory Setting. This gives us the Town of Swampgate. It's a pretty robust setting with some adventure keyed in.

I have said it once, but I will repeat it here. Astonishing Swordsmen & Sorcerers of Hyperborea is hands down one of my most favorite retro-clone/OSR/Old-School games.

For me, it is another example of striking the perfect balance between B/X D&D and AD&D1. This one leans more towards the AD&D side of the spectrum, but the power level, the grit, the overall vibe is far more B/X. THEN you add in material from Lovecraft, Howard and Clark Ashton Smith? Well, that is the perfect icing on the cake really.

Of course, it is nearly perfect out of the box, but it can also lend itself to so much more than what is given us to use between the covers. I have run Zothique games and Pellucidar style ones as well where all of Hyperborea was either one continent in the far future or underground, inside hollow earth (respectively).

The book is as attractive as it is huge.

I really can't recommend this book and game enough.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Astonishing Swordsmen & Sorcerers of Hyperborea (Compleat Second Edition)
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Astonishing Swordsmen & Sorcerers of Hyperborea Players' Manual
by Zargothrax M. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 02/18/2019 05:57:59

Very glad to have this resource for my players, in both PDF and physical form. The core rulebook clocks in at over 600 pages, so having a slim player-side resource is fantastic — 'specially for those trying to sell AS&SH as similar to the 0riginal and Basic versions of "the world's most popular fantasy roleplaying game."



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Astonishing Swordsmen & Sorcerers of Hyperborea Players' Manual
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Rats in the Walls and Other Perils
by Eric F. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 02/17/2019 22:18:59

"Rats in the Walls”: A dockside tavern in Khromarium is plagued by rats of a most unusual breed. These abominable rodents have ruined the tavern keeper’s business and his life. The man is desperate, and he offers a substantial reward for the elimination of his horrific problem." So about a week ago during the last snow storm I emailed Jeffrey Talianin about grabbing a copy of the updated Astonishing Swordsmen & Sorcerers of Hyperborea adventure The Rats In The Wall & Other Perils. Boy I'm glad I did! There are several different things right off the bat about this pdf. First of all every adventure featured in this pdf is centered the Hyperborean city of Khromarium. Next is the fact that the lay out & cartography is light years ahead of the first edition adventure. In fact let's not touch on that other version of Rats in The Wall again. There are in fact three adventures Rats in the Walls, Chainsaw’s “The Brazen Bull”, and “The Lamia’s Heart”, by Jeffrey P. Talanian. (An early draft of the latter was published in the AFS fanzine.) Now Rats In The Walls is named after the controversial HP Lovecraft story but shares only a few adventure elements of its name sake. What the adventure does instead is to place 1st level AS&SH PC's at ground zero & to keep the adventure pressure up. The real star of Rats In The Walls & Other Perils is the city state of Khromarium. Khromarium feels like your wandering around someone else's Sword & Sorcery kingdom that your adventurers have inherited right after they died in their sleep. Elements of this adventure don't feel real but not in a bad way. There is a nightmare like quality about these adventures. Even though Rats In The Walls is only a first level adventure this isn't a first level you really want your PC's to screw up on. They will die rather badly. The adventure is well done & really brings home the madness of the AS&SH's Khromarium campaign setting. If Rats in the Wall is the introductory travelogue into the world setting of Hyperborea's capital city. Then 'The Brazen Bull' is the weird 'Heavy Metal' kid in the corner of the school bus.

"“The Brazen Bull”: Whilst traversing one of the seedier neighbourhoods of Khromarium, your party are solicited by a greasy-haired Pict. He offers to sell you a sheaf of magical lotus that allows one to see the future or to brew potions that empower the imbiber with sorcery. He beckons you to follow him into a dilapidated building...."

Here the player's PC's are brought into the mind warping effects of the world of Hyperborea right in the city state center of the action. This adventure is like the side streets of a 70's used Sword & Sorcery paperback story brought into focus into the interior of the adventure. This one doesn't over explain every single element & there's room here to really customize the Brazen Bull for your own AS&SH adventure. I like the adventure elements & the bring your own death vibe to The Brazen Bull. So far these are the adventures that I wished had been used for the Astonishing Swordsmen & Sorcerers of Hyberborea second edition rule book.The adventures feel real & solidly like they belong in AS&SH's world setting without being too heavy handed.
Thieves & purloiners are a must in the 'Brazen Bull' & besides the obvious uses. The thieves guild is vitally important to the success or death of the PC's. The fact is that these three adventures are easily exploitable for getting the characters into a heap of trouble in the back alleys of Khromarium. There's plenty of adventure hooks to grab adventurers by the throat & exploit their weaknesses to get them into the further ends of Hyperborea. I'm speaking of using some of the hooks in 'The Brazen Bull' & 'The Lamia's Heart' as lead ins for Tim Callahan's Beasts of Kraggoth Manor. The deep alleys of the city lead to the edge of sand & suffering just waiting to put the 'hold of Hell' on player's PC's. That's the beautiful part of The Rats In The Wall & Other Perils its easily customizable to fit the campaign design & refinement of the dungeon master. Even though it only clocks in at forty four pages there is enough meat here to have the dungeons & adventure elements of Rats In The Wall to fit into your game. The Hyperborean burial grounds that brim with pre–Green Death treasures is only part of this series of adventures.

Is The Rats In The Wall & Other Perils worth your time & your money?! In a word yes! This series of adventures sets the tone & ideas of Hyperborea very well. AS&SH has been using its adventures to help define the world of Hyperborea well & serves as a series of gate way adventures into this blood stained & violently soaked world.

Five out of five in my humble opinion & pick this one up!

Eric Fabiaschi Swords & Stitchery Blog Want More Original OSR Content?

Then Subscribe To https://swordsandstitchery.blogspot.com/



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Astonishing Swordsmen & Sorcerers of Hyperborea Players' Manual
by Eric F. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 02/14/2019 15:51:11

"The heroes of a HYPERBOREA campaign delve the mazes and labyrinths of vast dungeons filled with horrifying monsters, lethal traps, and bewildering puzzles. They explore savage frontiers, breach hostile borderlands, probe ancient ruins, and investigate cursed tombs. They plunder for treasure and magic in a decaying world inhabited by bloodthirsty beasts and weird, otherworldly beings."

Astonishing Swordsmen & Sorcerers of Hyperborea is the premiere OSR Sword & Sorcery retroclone system until the Astonishing Swordsmen & Sorcerers of Hyperborea Players' Manual has come out. This is a solid addition to the North Wind Adventures line of products. If there is one game that sums up the OSR for me its gotta be Astonishing Swordsmen & Sorcerers of Hyperborea. I've spent more time on this game then many others in the OSR. So I asked Jeffrey Talanian for a crack at reviewing the Rats In The Wall adventure. I received the Astonishing Swordsmen & Sorcerers of Hyperborea Players' Manual along with a bunch of other stuff for review. Then I got hit with a rather nasty ice storm in Connecticut. So I settled in with my pdf copy & began writing notes. The Astonishing Swordsmen & Sorcerers of Hyperborea Players' Manual provides the players of the game a lower price point for the Sword & Sorcery world of Hyperborea. A quick overview of the three hundred page tome goes something like this;

"The Players’ Manual contains all the information that you need to play AS&SH, including character creation, spells, and adventure and combat rules. You can play a fighter, magician, cleric, or thief, or one of their many subclasses: barbarian, berserker, cataphract, huntsman, paladin, ranger, or warlock; cryomancer, illusionist, necromancer, pyromancer, or witch; druid, monk, priest, runegraver, or shaman; assassin, bard, legerdemainist, purloiner, or scout. Character races include Amazons, Atlanteans, Esquimaux, Hyperboreans, Ixians, Kelts, Kimmerians, Picts, and several lost or moribund racial derivations, plus a variety of admixtures. "

The artwork is on point & so is the layout. The system itself is like an OSR revision of Advanced Dungeons & Dragons first edition with some tweaks making it familiar & unique in its approach to the millions of years in the future world of Hyperborea. The artwork is outstanding & on point for this book! The character generation has lost nothing of the big red book of Hyperborea kickassery. Here the characters are solidly put together to get a hunger for adventure right out of the gateway. Everything in this book is here to generate player characters take names & then go kick ass except the world of Hyperborea itself. That's fine since this is a player's hand book that does exactly what the first edition Advanced Dungeons & Dragons Player's Handbook does. It gives this solid approach to the players allowing them to use the role playing system to create their own customized creation. This book boils down the PC creation unto its essential & solid parts. On the whole the hand book gives the players exactly the systems that are needed to play the game. The AS&SH system is squarely between the OSR & old school Dungeons & Dragons which is perfect for many people who love this game. The quality & quantity is right up to North Wind Adventures standards. Note that this PDF comprises the first half of Astonishing Swordsmen & Sorcerers of Hyperborea (Compleat Second Edition). If you have that PDF, you do not NEED this one. This PDF contains all the information that a player needs. The complete edition contains all the information that a referee and/or a player needs.

This is a solid reference for players characters to generate their own create adventurers that they want for Astonishing Swordsmen & Sorcerers of Hyperborea. The Astonishing Swordsmen & Sorcerers of Hyperborea Players' Manual is a superior player's hand book to many of the others that I've seen as a player & dungeon master. I feel that the Astonishing Swordsmen & Sorcerers of Hyperborea Players' Manual is worth your time & your money! A great addition to the OSR & the Astonishing Swordsmen & Sorcerer's of Hyperborea.

Eric Fabiaschi Swords & Stitchery blog

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Astonishing Swordsmen & Sorcerers of Hyperborea (Compleat Second Edition)
by Grahame H. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 11/26/2018 05:18:53

A great version of AD&D minus the elves, dwarves and other high fantasy elements, mixed in with weird fantasy monsters and elements. I ordered both the PDF and the print version from the author's site, so I'll comment mostly on the print version.

This is a beautiful book, well-organised, written and edited. I know art is subjective but some of the artwork is great, some of it not so (in particular the black and white water ink pieces IMO). You can feel that a lot of love and passion went into making this book.

Talanian has his own preferred vocab, such as 'betwixt' in place of 'between'. I have mixed feelings about this, but at least it gives the book a unique tone. On the whole the book is clearly written and conveys the information in a well-organised and easy to understand way.

This book provides a new, cleaned up version of AD&D. For gamers who play these older versions, there actually won't be that much new or unfamilliar in here aside from the setting, some spells, some new classes and some tweaks with the basic mechanics. This game is a homebrew, high fantasy-free version of AD&D. If you have always hated elves and dwarves etc this will be right up you alley.

Talanian has attempted to make a weird-fantasy and sword & sorcery inspired version of AD&D. This is where I think this game doesn't really hit the mark. Firstly, aside from a few new spells, the magic system is just an AD&D magic system. This just doesn't carry the feel of sword & sorcery for me. Magic should be a dangerous, corrupting force in the sword & sorcery genre. And just referring to all spell casters consistently as 'sorcerers' in the text doesn't make it feel that way either. The same goes for the magic items, they are on the whole standard D&D magic items; there should be something dangerous and corrupting about them in a S&S setting, but there isn't. The loot, hoard and run around with an arsenal of magic items AD&D sort of game just doesn't really fit the S&S genre. The addition of Lovecraftian monsters doesn't really carry the 'weird fantasy' thing either when they just appear along beside the standard D&D monsters.

And this is where comparisons need to be made with Crypts & Things, the other D&D inspired OSR game that aims to do S&S. Crypts & Things just gets the grittyness of S&S better than AS&SH. This is due to the combination of the more simplified OD&D inspired rules, but also the dangerous, corrupting way magic and magic items work in that system (although not perfect either IMO). C&T's monsters are almost all new, but somehow feel closer to capturing the danger and horror of S&S than the AS&SH's use of already familiar Lovecraftian monsters. C&T's class system, with its mechanics of choosing a class then specialising via skill choices within the class rather than tons of different sub-classes feels more free-form and S&S in style too.

If you want to play an S&S style version of D&D choose C&T. If you want to play a clean version of AD&D stripped of its high fantasy elements, play AS&SH. Tired of dwaves and elves? Want a cool, humano-centric setting with heaps of class options and Lovecraftian monsters? Then this game will be right up our alley.

This is a great product, one I recommend to all lovers of OSR systems. 4 out of 5 stars.



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Astonishing Swordsmen & Sorcerers of Hyperborea (Compleat Second Edition)
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Astonishing Swordsmen & Sorcerers of Hyperborea (Compleat Second Edition)
by Aaron M. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 11/02/2018 01:51:30

Absolutely love the mechanics and classes this game brings to the OSR table, but cannot get over how ugly the new character art by JLB is. The first addition art was PERFECT. Why Jeff felt the need to add full page art of the worst illustrations I've ever seen in my 30 years gaming is beyond me. It completely ruins the majestic, dark atmosphere of the original artwork. If it was placed anywhere else this wouldn't be such a deal breaker, but the class section is probably the most important section to get the art right on.

Love the game. So much so, I'm going to edit the PDF and take out the offending artwork. Thankfully they’re all full page, so shouldn't be hard to do.



Rating:
[3 of 5 Stars!]
The Anthropophagi of Xambaala
by Zach P. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 09/23/2018 11:11:45

Crawling for Coppers Review

The Anthropophagi of Xambaala is a module for Astonishing Swordsmen & Sorcerers of Hyperborea written by Corey R. Walden and kickstarted by North Wind Adventures along with The Beasts of Kraggoth Manor in the aptly named Beasts and Cannibals campaign. The kickstarter was launched back in March with an estimated delivery date in August. PDFs were delivered to backers on July 30th and the printed books started shipping over Labor Day weekend. I've said before that Jeff Talanian runs an extremely professional and punctual operation and he continues to deliver.

I've had time to read through the adventure and my game group has a few weeks of play in it now, so let's see what this Anthropophagi stuff is all about. Spoiler review after the break.

The Anthropophagi of Xambaala is both a dungeon module and an adventure setting. It is set in the city of Xambaala in the Zakath Desert. This region gets a few paragraphs in the core book's gazetteer but Corey really injects a lot of personality into the city. The city has a hereditary slave caste made up of mixed Ixian-Esquimaux stock, a pair of rival temples serving Rel, God of Thieves, and Helios, the Sun, and plenty for adventurers to see and do in between dungeon delves. The arena provides the spectacle of gladiatorial combat with a roster of gladiators and the buzzing anticipation of a crocodile and a sabre-tooth tiger being introduced to the sport soon. There are a few henchmen to be acquired, a table of rumors to hook adventurers into the intrigue of the city, and a pair of taverns to rest up and mingle with the locals. One of these taverns is a pretty shoddy affair with just a common room to sleep in, while the other is a luxury caravanserai, much more tempting and somewhat integral to the happenings of the region. And what's troubling the city? From the back cover:

Furtive and odious tales circle through various Hyperborean ports of call. Rumours whisper of an ancient occult city, Xambaala, clinging to the edge of the Zakath Desert. Perhaps the hideous horrors said to assail the city in the darkest hours are exaggerated. Maybe too another explanation can be found for the foreigners who are said to have disappeared to some uncanny fate. But the whispering tongues also hint that gold glints in the shadows of Xambaala, ready to be taken by the bold.

The title and setup of the adventure are derived from Robert E. Howard's Conan story, The Man-Eaters of Zamboula. I reread that story in preparation for running this adventure and suggest doing the same. Corey lifts the premise directly from the story and then creates added layers of intrigue and leads the adventurers to a dungeon in the ruins of an ancient warlord's palace. From there, Conan's adventure is left behind and the players will find a sinister force at work behind the rise of cannibalism amongst the slaves and a surprisingly deep dungeon with connections to the darkest realms of Underborea.

The dungeon of the Warlord's Palace is 3 levels and 69 rooms. It starts with the surface level ruins of the palace, mostly inhabited by the titular Anthropophagi, and as it descends the adventurers will confront a variety of other creatures. There are a few factions at play in the dungeon and room for the players to ally with or manipulate some of them. The dungeon maps are by Glynn Seal of Monkey Blood Design, who always impresses. There is a nice variety in routes available (although only a single normal option for level transitions), a few clever traps and puzzles, some secrets hidden around, and a good sense of depth. There are cliffs inside the dungeon that drop 200'-500' into yawning abysses. There are large sections of cyclopean ruins of alien design that are left for the judge to expand on. I love how easily a fairly normal seeming dungeon can transition into the weird and frightening world of Underborea. Although the module is written for levels 1-3, this provides plenty of opportunity to develop this into a larger campaign and the city of Xambaala is a fun base of operations to work out of. It's great to see a module written with so much support for long term campaign play.

The art throughout is very good, such as the above Warlord's Palace. There is art of the new gloom-eater zombies, the cannibals and their ritual, and the serpent-men at work that stands out. One of my favorite pieces is by Del Teigeler, showing a winding path descending deeper into the dungeon through giant mushroom fields and approaching a massive stone bridge. The book is well organized and room descriptions are written with a few bullet points listing important facts first followed by a short description and then monster stats. It's very useful for reference and easy to run at the table.

I'm trying to think of anything to criticize in this adventure. The hook to look into the cannibals is a little weak, but fortunately my players understand that the game is about looking for adventure so I don't need intricate motivations to entice them. The outer Xambaala region is kind of sparse, with only one real adventure site aside from the Warlord's Palace, but if the book had completely skipped the region map and just included the city and the nearby dungeon that wouldn't even be noticeable. As it is, there's plenty of room in the desert to throw in extra material if you'd like to add even more possibilities to the area.

Overall, it's a great adventure module that adds some welcome depth to a small region of Hyperborea. Highly recommended for fans of AS&SH, Conan stories, or just quality design.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
The Anthropophagi of Xambaala
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The Anthropophagi of Xambaala
by Luke V. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 08/02/2018 22:43:18

It's not a spoiler to say Anthropophagi of Xambaala is inspired by Robert E. Howard's Man-Eaters of Zamboula. A player's experience won't be ruined by reading the original story and that goes for other North Wind titles inspired by classic tales of pulp fantasy and cosmic horror.

Anthropophagi of Xambaala uses the tried and true formula of civilized area + wilderness area + dungeon that dates all the way back to B2 Keep on the Borderlands. It’s a popular format and for good reason: a DM can get a lot of mileage out of it and 'Xambaala is no exception.

The maps are attractive and clear. With one exception, a DM can quickly and accurately represent the encounter areas on a mat with miniatures. At the time of writing, I have not had the opportunity to print any of these maps.

Xambaala proper is an interesting location that should attract players; on the DM side it's a nice hub for downtime and generating adventures. I am happy the author provided story hooks and adventure seeds but Xambaala could easily have used twice as many; this is my only disappointment and it's a minor one (in other words, I enjoyed the meal but the portion was too small). I dislike having to come up with story seeds and adventure hooks myself; that's a big part of what I'm paying for when I buy published RPG material.

A DM doesn't need to spin convoluted reasons or railroad players to find adventure in Xambaala. My biggest gripe with published RPG material is that the authors often make crazy assumptions about how players will act during play and the entire adventure falls apart if the players don't follow along. Thankfully, the author avoids this common pitfall. 

I love the bullet point summary for keyed locations. This gives me something to work with on the fly without having to digest paragraphs of text or memorize the entire scenario. Here's an example:

  1. BAZAAR:
    • Chaotic, colourful, loud, malodourous, overwhelming
    • Animals, merchants, stalls, fortune tellers, dung collectors, guard patrols
    • Central fountain

This is awesome. Why this isn't an industry-wide standard for published adventures is beyond me.

Anthropophagi of Xambaala is an excellent supplement that offers a DM great value and requires little prep to be table-ready.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Rats in the Walls
by Luke V. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 06/06/2018 02:51:59

I ran Rats in the Walls for my group and it was a huge success! I normally cringe at the tired old trope of 1st level characters clearing rats out of a cellar but this was a pleasant surprise. The straighforward plot and succinct but evocative exposition allowed me to run this adventure with minimal prep; the adventure was a lot of fun for all involved.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Rats in the Walls
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Astonishing Swordsmen & Sorcerers of Hyperborea (Compleat Second Edition)
by RN M. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 05/19/2018 20:31:21

This is probably one of the most lengthy and in depth works in the OSR, and definitely belongs right next to the Rules Cyclopedia in terms of indexes of rules.

The clever usage of subclasses means that the game can have a wide range of parties while sticking to the traditional four classes of classic D&D.

Simplify, and then show depth seems to be the motto here. You start with fairly traditional retroclone rulesets, before giving rules for stuff such as dual wielding and phalanxes. The exhaustive effort put into this just shows.

All in all, a really good product for if you're in the mood for playing some classic swords & sorcery rpg gaming.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Astonishing Swordsmen & Sorcerers of Hyperborea (Compleat Second Edition)
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AS&SH 2E Ready Reference Sheets
by Steven S. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 04/06/2018 22:49:27

This review is hard to write for me, I enjoy the AS&SH system to death and have been eagerly awaiting the official reference sheets for some time. But I am let down, first some caveats I have had an unofficial ref sheet for sometime that has almost every table this pdf does in only 4 pages and I am using that as a comparison. There are 16 pages in this reference doc and a hyperlinked table of contents, most pages have either one big table or one to three tables on each page, each page is interspersed with art from the book or new art. My problems are simple If I am using these sheets on a tablet or computer it's a solid 4 stars its hyperlinked and quick to find. My problem is that I am not using online I had planned to print it out and 16 pages? Seriously it's cumbersome to carry and use at the table. Jeff dedicates a page and a half to the time of day the sunsets, I've been trying to rack my brain and think how useful this could possibly be even the most serious old school time keeping this is some serious bloat. If you only plan to use it online or on a tablet/pc grab it but if you plan to print this for the table I recommend elsewhere.

tldr: 4 stars pdf tablet or pc use 1 star print 2 star total



Rating:
[2 of 5 Stars!]
AS&SH 2E Ready Reference Sheets
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