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Against the Cult of the Bat God $8.99 $6.74
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Against the Cult of the Bat God
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Against the Cult of the Bat God
Publisher: Raging Swan Press
by Timothy B. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 08/09/2018 10:46:12

A while back my players ran into the Demon Bat-God Camazotz. He managed to get away with the what he thought was the heart of the Sun God (it was his liver). Since then my players have been itching for a rematch against him. This adventure might just be the thing.

While the creature here is listed as "Servant of the Bat God" a little tweaking and I could make this into a coastline being terrorized by the Bat God himself.
The characters have three days to complete their task, so it's a nice tight adventure, exactly what I want, and it weighs in at just under 60 pages.

In any case there is a lot of good stuff here to use.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Creator Reply:
Thank you, Timothy! I much appreciate the review and the kind words!
Against the Cult of the Bat God
Publisher: Raging Swan Press
by Megan R. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 04/09/2016 09:58:06

The usual preamble opens the book, a brief bio of the author, notes on how to use the adventure from a mechanical standpoint (reading stat blocks, the anatomy of an encounter and so on), and then there's a rundown on the Lonely Coast, the wild frontier in which Raging Swan's adventures are set. The default location for this adventure is a remote and insular village by the name of Oakhurst, but it's relatively simple to either use a village in your own campaign world instead, or relocate Oakhurst lock, stock and barrel to a suitable location there. If you do decide to use Oakhurst, it's presented in considerable detail including locations, principal inhabitants and a map.

We then move on to the adventure itself, beginning with the background and a synopsis. Several ideas are provided to intice the party into visiting Oakhurst - they'll be needed as it is a dismal place with hostile and insular inhabitants, not somewhere you'd visit for pleasure. Like many of Raging Swan's adventures, there's a timeline of events that are going on irrespective of what the party does, not only providing a good feel of life going on regardless but also presenting a real threat: if the plot is not thwarted in time, disaster will befall the region!

To start with, the adventure will involve investigation and general poking about, but the more physical members of the party need not fear, they will soon have opportunity to engage in combat as offence is taken at their nosiness. To support the investigation, there are several locations which the party can visit, with notes on what they can discover at each one. Events - as detailed in the timeline - are presented with ample support to enable you to run them effectively.There are many little touches - such as a chart of 'Sights and Sounds' - to add flavour to proceedings.

After the investigative phase, the characters ought to feel moved to visit a decaying and decrepit manor house to pick up clues, and again there is a wealth of detail to make this a delightfully creepy exploration... even before they get down into a veritable dungeon underneath the house, and then the final part of the adventure leads them to a hidden cave deep within a cliff where they will (hopefully) thwart the cultists once and for all.

With plenty of traps and an abundance of mad inbred cultists to contend with, this is a classic and creepy adventure with plenty of brooding atmosphere.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Against the Cult of the Bat God
Publisher: Raging Swan Press
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 05/16/2014 03:37:20

An Endzeitgeist.com review

This module clocks in at 63 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page advertisement, 1 page editorial, 1 page ToC, 1 page SRD, 1 page advice on how to read statblocks, 1 page help on using the adventure, 1 page back cover, leaving us with 55 pages of content, so let's take a look!

We kick off this module with a handy gazetteer of the immediate area, which would be the lonely coast, Raging Swan's easily plugged in, free mini-setting - which you btw. should have downloaded years ago. ;) Kidding aside, travel distances etc. are part of the deal and mainly, that due to this module taking place in Oakhurst, the most remote of the villages of the decidedly old-school, old-world style lonely coast. Oakhurst (previously spotlighted in a village backdrop), is also one of the most unpleasant places to visit.

Insular and xenophobic, dirty and illiterate, rumors of cults and stranger things abound and still, no matter y which hook - it is here the PCs have to travel. Nestled deep inside the tangled forest, Oakhurst is not a pleasant place, and both its statblock, rumor- etc. tables drive that home.

Now I'm going to deviate from my usual format for a bit - there still will be SPOILERS here, but not as many as usual. Players should probably still skip to the conclusion, though.

All right, only DMs left here? Good! The events that transpire in Oakhurst have a loose timeline of 3 days, forcing the player's hands without becoming hectic - and here's the first peculiarity of the module: The level of detail. It's staggering. From the thoroughly unique areas, villain machinations and plans that make sense to the massive table of sights and sounds around town, this place jumps to life from the very page.

Especially the latter table makes for a joy to read - each entry offering some direct or indirect way of characterizing townsfolk, coming with subtle, yet disturbing nods towards something just being WRONG around town. The sense of decay and decrepitude are more than prevalent and, as any DM with a bit experience in that regard knows - the devil (or rather: horror!) lies in the details.

Even before anything happens, the sheer level of detail makes this module stand out like a lighthouse - and helps with one crucial task: Making this investigation so easy to run, I bet any DM with even a bit of experience under his/her belt can pull it off sans preparation, just reading this book while running the module. For stumped PCs, alternate helps to come to conclusions and provide cues they might have missed are just as much part of the deal, as are thoroughly interesting adversaries.

I'm not spoiling much (given the title), when I'm saying that the cult of the primal bat god has reactions to the PC's meddling that make sense, their responses working exceedingly well and taking both terrain and creature peculiarities into account. Furthermore, we get a thoroughly unique "grimoire" (you'll understand what I mean by that when reading this module!), a chance for PCs to be kidnapped (and the first handling of such a gambit that makes sense!), awareness of spell-usage to handle challenges...

Have I mentioned the supremely creepy mansion of decadent, inbred scions, the intimidating as all hell, dreadful final encounter with boss fight-level special arena "features" (again, not spoiling!), the unique and lavishly illustrated final adversary? The fact that, throughout the module, not only PCs, but actual players have to show bravery with the actions of their characters? The inclusion of one damn cool haunt?

Oh, and the pdf comes with pregens, should you wish to run it as a one-shot.

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are slightly less superb than in many RSP-products - but I don't care. The few glitches can be easily ignored. Layout adheres to RSP's 2-column full-color standard and the b/w-artworks are neat and thematically fitting. The superb maps can be downloaded for free as web-enhancements on ragingswan.com, which is simply superb customer service. The module also comes with an optimized screen and print pdf. I do own the dead-tree copy as well and the quality of this book is nothing to scoff at - elegant, nice paper, no printer-glitches. If you can, get the dead tree version. Also, the pdf comes fully bookmarked with excessive nested bookmarks for your convenience.

John Bennett's "Against the Cult of the Bat God" is one thing: Supreme.

This is the best gothic horror (not splatter/dark fantasy, but true GOTHIC HORROR) module I've read in ages.

If the spirit of the best Ravenloft modules had a love child with Raging Swan Press' excellent quality control, production values and attention to/level of detail - this would be it.

This module is ridiculously good if you have even the slightest soft spot for horror. Each sentence, each paragraph BREATHES atmosphere, mood - and it's incredibly easy to run to boot! This module is one of the best modules currently available for Pathfinder and can stand alongside the works of giants of horror like Nicholas Logue, Richard Pett or ascendant masters like Tim Hitchcock or Tom Phillips, all while having its very own style, its very own, distinguished voice.

Have I mentioned that I could actually read this somewhat like a novel? Yeah, the writing is that good.

This book is so good that I will take a look at Vathak again (which I have dismissed as not working for me), Fat Goblin Games' setting, which is now under the tender care of John Bennett.

This module is so good, I deleted my original draft of the review, went back and killed spoilers, just to drive home that you SHOULD get this and avoid just about all notions of spoilers for peeking players - because I know that neither my ramblings on the content, nor a tight synopsis would do this one credit.

If you're like me and come from a Ravenloft background, if you're looking for a change of pace and mood, if you enjoy somewhat gritty and SUBTLE horror that plays with your mind and that does not end with "roll initiative" (though there are combats to be had!), then you NEED this.

This is a hot contender for my no.1 spot for 2014. This is a module that makes me recall how joyous being a reviewer can be. 5 stars + seal of approval - and damn it, would I go higher if I could. I do hope, from the bottom of my heart, that we'll see more collaboration between John Bennett and Raging Swan Press, more modules of that caliber.

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Against the Cult of the Bat God
Publisher: Raging Swan Press
by Alexander L. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 04/30/2014 06:47:18

Originally published at: http://diehardgamefan.com/2014/04/30/tabletop-review-against-the-cult-of-the-bat-god-pathfinder/

Against the Cult of the Bat God is an adventure for 5th Level Pathfinder characters, although the adventure does not say what the ideal party size should be. The adventure is designed for use with Raging Swan’s “Lonely Coast” campaign setting, but can easily be adapted to any Pathfinder game. In this adventure, players will be travelling to a creepy out of the way hamlet where the PCs will encounter a foul cult trying to restore their deity to full power. On the surface this sounds like a pretty generic affair, right? There are countless fantasy RPG adventures that have this same basic scenario. Most of them are terrible while a few like Lamentations of the Flame Princess‘s Scenic Dunnmouth completely rewrite the trope. Against the Cult of the Bat God lies somewhere in between. It’s a well written, if highly generic adventure that throws a few twists into the mix to help the adventure stand out from the large pack of like minded pieces.

One of the things I really like about adventures from Raging Swan Press is how organized they are. You are given multiple pages on how to read and use the adventure before it even begins, allowing even the most inexperienced or new DM to run the adventure. You are given information on how to read stat blocks, how to identify treasure (both magical and mundane) and a ton of information about the Lonely Coast. I was impressed by the sheer amount of detail provided here. Features, locations, mileage and travel times between city and so much more are provided before you even get into the meat of the adventure. The back of the adventure also contains a set of pregenerated characters for players to use if they have no desire or time to make their own. The Larry Elmore portraits for each one are really gorgeous, if not more than a little inspired by his earlier Dragonlance work. Now things are not perfect with Against the Cult of the Bat God. For example, on page 8 of the PDF, the population for Oakhurst is listed at 413 but on page 10, it is down to 121. There are other inconsistencies in the information ranging from alignment (Rasla Neblor for example is listed as Chaotic Neutral on page 10 but then as Chaotic Good on page 12.) on down. So while there is a lot of information to help you run Against the Cult of the Bat God, some of what is in the PDF is contradictory and makes the overall piece feel sloppy. A good editor could have caught much of this and usually RSP adventures ARE better than this. I’m not sure how so many errors got through in this one.

For whatever reason, the PCs have journeyed to the remote town of Oakhurst (there are several story hooks provided). Oakhurst is a backwater community full of rumours about dark magic, inbreeding and being a hotbed for all sorts of illegal activities. Most of the rumours turn out to be true. In addition to all this is the villainous cult of the Bat God who seek to help their god gain more power as well as fully manifest in this reality. Of course players have no idea about the cult of the Bat God when the adventure starts (unless the see the name of the adventure and let character and player knowledge bleed together). Players will have to discover the real horror plaguing Oakhurst once they have arrived on a unknowingly related matter.

Against the Cult of the Bat God is a sandbox style adventure. This means the PCs can openly explore Oakhurst and the surrounding area without feeling railroaded to a specific location by the DM. Now, some events will occur at specific locations at specific times, but these are to help the adventurers find the direction they need to go in order to complete the adventure. Of course there are also some events that occur if the players don’t reach specific goals in time, but this doesn’t necessarily mean “gave over” or that the PCs lose – just that there will be a much unhappier ending. The PCs have three full days in-game time to discover the machinations of the bat god cult and (hopefully) prevent them. There isn’t a great deal of combat in this adventure save towards the end. Most of the adventure is exploring and investigating, which is nice as too many Pathfinder adventures devolve into hack and slash dungeon crawls. Now that doesn’t mean Against the Cult of Bat God doesn’t have that – just that it is more balanced than most Pathfinder offerings, ensuring that every gamer will get to experience the part of tabletop RPGing they like best.

I will say I was very happy with the monster choices in this adventure. I have a soft spot for the main antagonist “race” ever since it appeared in the first Ravenloft Monstrous Compendium back in the golden era of AD&D 2e. It’s a logical choice for the adventure and the slight modifications to the Pathfinder version for this adventure are interesting ones. At the same time, I was very unhappy to see this adventure fall prey to the big problem plaguing most Pathfinder products, third and first party alike, which is the reference of way too many releases in order to make the adventure work as originally conceived. Now there’s nothing wrong with referencing two or three books beyond the core three books every Pathfinder player should have, but more than that and the adventure begins to not only thumb its nose at more casual players, but also makes a gamer feel like they need to spend a lot of cash on other Pathfinder releases to the point where it is the only game they can invest in. Unfortunately, Against the Cult of the Bat God references a whopping seventeen other Pathfinder releases, which is unacceptable. It’s a sign that the author is through and great at cross-referencing, but no adventure should require that math supplements and sourcebooks to run properly. In the adventure’s defense, Against the Cult of the Bat God does its best to make the adventure run as smoothly as possible without needed that actual enormity of dead trees, but that is still WAY too many releases for ANY adventure to reference.

Overall, Against the Cult of the Bat God is a decent, if forgettable, affair. It’s a well written adventure and extremely easy to use thanks to the layout and format provided by Raging Swan Press. The adventure is very generic in plot and follow through however, so some gamers may find this too close to dozens of other fantasy releases that they have encountered over the decades and thus not enjoy the experience. Still, the trope works and Against the Cult of the Bat God makes good use of it. For nine dollars though, there are a lot of better Pathfinder adventures out there and Against the Cult of the Bat God is a bit sloppy compared to other Raging Swan Press releases. Against the Cult of the Bat God might be worth picking up if it goes on sale, but for right now it’s a bit too generic and expensive compared to other options out there.



Rating:
[3 of 5 Stars!]
Creator Reply:
Thanks very much for the comprehensive review. I\'m very grateful for you taking the time to do so and I\'ll definitely keep your comments in mind when designing upcoming modules. I just wanted to comment on one facet of the review. While you are absolutely correct that the OGL section for this adventure lists 17 products, you don\'t need all of them to run the adventure! Unfortunately the way the OGL works is that if I reference (for example) The Lonely Coast in a product I\'m legally obliged to list all the products the Lonely Coast references even if they have nothing to do with the adventure! In this example, The Lonely Coast references six products which have nothing to do with the module and which you absolutely do not need to have to run Against the Cult of the Bat God! Hopefully, with the exception of specific feat and spell descriptions from other books, the adventure text should contain almost everything you need to run it. I agree with you that adding new stuff in just for the sake of doing so is not a great design choice and we try to avoid that at Raging Swan Press. Thanks again for the review. I look forward to more of the same!
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