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Cha'alt
Publisher: Kort'thalis Publishing
by John B. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 10/10/2019 18:35:24

So, the very first review for an RPG. Which I will have to admit a bias for. I accepted the product with the thought that I in fact will dislike this. Firstly because it’s author is known for overtly sexual content, and secondly because he is known for gonzo content. Both of which are not up my alley. I’m happy to say, I like this, and I like it quite a bit.

Cha’alt is a weird future OSR RPG setting with a well populated megadungeon that immediately breaks the rules of design in a great way. Formed as a great pyramid in external shape, you discover that it is in fact a massive inter-dimensional playhouse of madness. Some portions of it remind me of a mashup of 80’s science fiction movies, and Mad Max smoking crack cocaine. It has a vibe to it that grows on you rapidly. Full review at https://warpscream.com



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Cha'alt
Publisher: Kort'thalis Publishing
by Timothy B. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 09/23/2019 19:33:55

Full review is here: http://theotherside.timsbrannan.com/2019/09/deserts-of-desolation-death-more.html

Venger Satanis sent me a copy of his latest publication in exchange for a fair review, but it was on on my radar anyway. There are a few reviews ok for it now, so I am going to gloss over some of the "reviewy" bits in favor of how I am planning on using it.

Cha'alt is 218 pages, full color, desert-themed adventure in Venger's normal gonzo style. The rules are his O5R system which is a mix of OSR and 5e, so it works with just about any game. There is a "Campaign Map" of sorts with twelve areas, but only a few of them are heavily detailed. The campaign map and the sandbox nature of this adventure gave me a few ideas for use in my own desert-themed games, so that made the review worth it to be honest, but there is a lot more here than just that.

Like all of Venger's books there is a high-quality production value here. He is not afraid to spend the money to get high-quality artists and layout. Also, true to his style, there are plenty, ok LOTS, of tongue in cheek pop-culture references throughout the book. Ranging from 80s nostalgia to yesterday's internet humor.

The adventure is gonzo as I mentioned, so there is a fair bit of science-fantasy thrown in for good measure. Enough that is t makes me think it too is also a good fir for Astonishing Swordsmen & Sorcerers of Hyperborea. The levels are more in line with AS&SH than my current campaign, but that is fine. Though in either case, I'll need to figure out what to do about the giant sandworms, spider droids, and hunter-killer robots.

In true old-school fashion, there are plenty of random tables and charts. Advice for surviving in the desert and plenty of new monsters.

The Black Pyramid The biggest feature of this book is the Black Pyramid. The obvious inspiration for this portion is the venerable Lost City, but again through a darker, slightly warped lens. As with the rest of the book, this section is full self-referential humor and nods. So of it works, some of it doesn't. Adventure-wise the pyramid is full of eldritch weirdness. At 111 rooms not all of them are great, but there is enough here to keep the players all busy and adventurers entertained.

There is a lot of fun to had with Cha'alt. I have quite a lot of ideas of things to do with it, none of which are as it was designed. Still, there is a lot of material here and plenty of ideas. For me, I am likely to remove many of the sci-fi elements if I run this as part of a campaign, or at least tone them down if I run it using AS&SH.

If you are familiar with Venger's work then you will find more of this here though this might be his best looking work to date.



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Cha'alt
Publisher: Kort'thalis Publishing
by Steven T. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 09/20/2019 12:04:58

If you like your RPGs to be rated with Gs then please, move along, there is nothing to see here. However, if you are an alumnus of the Old School, a connoisseur of the gonzo, or a devotee of the weird, you should definitely give this product a good hard look. If you look at it you will like it. I like my gaming in a genre in which you can't tell where the science-fiction stops and the fantasy begins and in that sense this book delivers in a big, big way. Cha'alt is a magnum opus from one of the greatest minds working in the realm of OSR in the modern era. I can not recommend this campaign setting slash megadungeon highly enough. Everything about it is pitch perfect, the layout, the artwork, the prose. Everything. BUY IT! Go on, you know you want to.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Cha'alt
Publisher: Kort'thalis Publishing
by Andrew M. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 09/10/2019 21:25:20

A couple of things to get out of the way: I was a Kickstarter backer for Cha'alt and I do not run any “5th edition” games, so I can not say if the Stat Blocks are useful or how applicable they are.

While this is does raise the bar for the quality of Kort'thalis Publishing products, it does have a few rough edges. The main, but minor, issue that I had with Cha'alt is the editing or the presentation of information. A new word or thing would be introduced early in the book, however it will not be defined or explained until much later, if at all. As a result, you will need to read through the book multiple times to get a better understanding of the world of Cha’alt. Then again, even without this flaw, Cha’alt should be read multiple times anyway.

The book of Cha’alt is actually five books in one, a world overview and four adventures. The most impressive accomplishment of the book as a whole is not creating a concrete foundation for this new world but creating a “feeling” of what the world is like. For a GM, if something feels like it would fit in the Cha’alt world, it probably will.

The overview section includes descriptions of some pockets of civilization, factions, items, monsters, and survival in the desert. There is a lot of information and ideas here. The descriptions give just enough details for story hooks and to raise further questions. Perfect for the GM to mold and shape Cha’alt as they see fit.

The adventures are not only areas for players to explore but provide a basis for the GM on how the world interacts with the players. Plus, the adventures are varied: a dungeon below a city, exploring the insides of a demon-worm that is almost 800 feet long, a spice mining colony/spaceport, and finally The Black Pyramid.

The Black Pyramid is a massive dungeon. Not only does it have 111 rooms, each of which are unique with their own story and hooks, but The Black Pyramid has its own separate lore yet still connected to Cha’alt. As a result, a lot of the happenings of Cha’alt revolve around The Black Pyramid. While some of the rooms in the dungeon are more interesting than others, the shear amount of creativity that can be found in The Black Pyramid is astonishing.

Finally, the ART! Yes, the artwork is that exceptional to deserve the “all-caps” treatment. For me, the weakest art of the bunch would be the “cosplay” photos, some of it seemed out of place or not matching the rest of the aesthetic. However, all the art really establishes the world of Cha’alt, demonstrating the interplay between fantasy, sci-fi, and the occult. Even the maps convey the interplay to a lesser extent. The artwork can even inspire plot ideas and adventure hooks. Very well done!

Before doing this review, I reread Alpha Blue as a comparison of how a previous game world was introduced. Cha’alt is a definite improvement over Alpha Blue. Considering how the world of Alpha Blue was expanded and refined over time, I fully expect Cha’alt can evolve into something even more amazing.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Cha'alt
Publisher: Kort'thalis Publishing
by Jonathan S. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 09/10/2019 21:24:09

[minor spoilers below]

Cha’alt is a unique RPG product. It’s a campaign world, a small sandbox of interesting locations, a megadungeon, and even a dash of game system all rolled into one 218-page book (I only have the PDF). The campaign setting is a post-apocalyptic, sci-fi fantasy desert world. Think Dune meets Gamma World, with a healthy dose of Lovecraft thrown in as well. There be demons here, gargantuan sand worms, and slumbering ancient gods beneath the irradiated desert sands.

The one-page map of Cha’alt shows 12 locations to be explored, however only four are fully detailed in this product. Perhaps the rest will be left to future products from Kort’thalis Publishing, or maybe it was the author’s intent to give GMs room to create their own campaign. As it is, all of the locations have interesting descriptions with enough detail and plot hook to get any GM’s creative juices flowing so they can create their own encounters or mini-adventure. The four locations that are expanded upon in this product include: beneath the city of Kra’adumek, the giant Purple Demon Worm (yes, it’s a location), the Gamma Incel Cantina, and the Black Pyramid megadungeon.

While the city of Kra’adumek is described, there are no maps, NPCs, or encounters in the city itself. Instead, a Cha’altan introductory dungeon crawl awaits the players below the city. This 17-encounter dungeon is mapped beautifully and recommended for character levels 1-3. The hook provided to get PCs into the dungeons of the Demon-Worm priesthood is a clever one: the PCs have been psionic slaves of the Demon Worm for many years, as was the rest of the city’s populace. Now that their minds are at least temporarily free, the PCs have nothing but the clothes on their backs and the knowledge that equipment, wealth, and even revenge are beneath the city in the small dungeon complex controlled by the Demon-Worm priests.

In a twist of fate, the catatonic Demon Worm itself is frozen outside the city it had enslaved with its psionic mind control. The gaping maw of the colossal, frozen worm is an entrance to the second, fully-detailed location in Cha’alt: a 23-room dungeon crawl inside the belly of the beast, literally. The encounters inside the worm are highly varied in a random, funhouse sort of way. Just to give you a taste, there is a poker game between 4 humanoids and a gaseous alien, a magic cube that forces party in-fighting, a demon who wants to make a deal, a photon torpedo waiting to be detonated, and a smooth-talking wizard trying to get laid.

The next location detailed in Cha’alt, and the only one that is not a dungeon crawl, is the Gamma Incel Cantina. This is Grand Central Station for the space-faring profiteers intent on raping Cha’alt of her only natural resource: the spice mela’anj. This seedy night club, gambling hall, and strip club offers loads of role-playing opportunities for your players, if they are so inclined. There are no fewer than 69 NPCs described in nine different mapped locations inside the cantina. And if your group needs a little nudge toward the Black Pyramid after a few hours of carousing, a mysterious, self-proclaimed Queen shows up and begs the PCs to save her sick daughter by stealing a magical orchid from the Black Pyramid. Will your players take the bait?

This leads us to the final location and crown jewel of Cha’alt: a 111-room, three-level megadungeon inside the infamous Black Pyramid. This thing is like a campaign setting unto itself. Its got its own rumor table, time dilation effects, wandering monsters, random NPCs, and new gods that only exist inside the pyramid.

Like the previous dungeon crawls, each room in the Black Pyramid presents its own unique situation, encounter, or oddity, except cranked up to 11. This is the very definition of gonzo, to wit: a madman’s playhouse with a malfunctioning execution droid, a Polynesian tiki bar inhabited by Ra’ad Zerling, a monstrous ooze creature protecting a depressed supercomputer, a room where black-robed zealots are torturing each other on camera to rid their bodies of invisible alien parasites, a room where surgeons are about to perform dissections on three young adults with psionic powers, a 1960s fallout shelter, a room full of anthropomorphic fruit that are getting all juiced up to kill, an overweight podcaster interviewing Korg the Conqueror about the Za’avek massacre. And all that weirdness is just a selection from the first 14 rooms. There are 111, folks. The creativity that went into this is staggering.

There is no over-arching metaplot inside the pyramid from what I can tell. But its not all totally random either. There are some elements that tie rooms to each other. For example, a powerful being in one area may be looking for a particular item that is located in another part of the pyramid. Also, factions in one location may be at odds with a nearby group. Its up to the players to decide whom to help and whom to fight, if either. Overall, this product is highly recommended for anyone who enjoys sci-fi/fantasy, clever pop culture references, or desert-themed campaign worlds. And if you’re really into over-the-top, gonzo dungeons full of interesting encounters, then Cha’alt is a must-have.



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Cha'alt
Publisher: Kort'thalis Publishing
by Judd G. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 09/08/2019 16:48:46

First let me say I am a paying customer for this game, having backed the Kickstarter. I was not supplied a review copy for free.

Cha'alt is primarily an adventure setting surrounding a mega dungeon, in this case the Black Pyramid, that has two more dungeons in its local area. It is also a gonzo send-up/celebration of pop culture in an over-the-top, winking manner. The title is not as explicit as some of the author's other titles, but it is racy in places and there is some nudity in bits of the artwork.

The tale of Cha'alt is one that allows for a maximum amount of genre mashups to be had. The world was once a fantasy land that worshipped powerful gods that finally retreated to slumber underground. While they slept, the people on the surface developed technologically and made contact with other worlds via a bustling spaceport. All that ends when the old gods reawaken and get a bit testy with everyone. After the massive destruction, people live in a barren desert, clinging to all of the magic and technology they can scavenge, and living with the usual post-apocalyptic tropes.

Aliens still visit, but now they just come to milk a precious resource from the desert in a way Frank Herbert might find familiar. Various camps vie for what remains of power over the place, and the PCs will have to make some friends and likely get pulled into the rivalries in some way as they do what they came here for.

What they came here for is to do some dungeon crawling. The two "side quest" dungeons are fairly straight-forward dungeon crawls of standard size (when one forgets that one of them is a frozen creature). The large mega-dungeon is a different beast, being a dimensionally-transcendent creation of the powerful forces that once fought over this world. No spoilers, but it gets odd and some of the encounters, while engaging and cool, are a winking jest at things in the real world at times. One example is a humorous entry on the Wandering Monster chart - the Crab Racoon oozes a sweet red fluid as it moves, possibly suitable for dipping.

Stat blocks are presented for 5th Edition and the design of these is pretty crisp - combining small and terse with the information you need at a glance. The maps are supplemented with multipole copies (with an without numbers) so you can present clean information to players.

Physically the book is very colorful and filled with art of a gonzo and sometimes disturbing and sometimes adult nature. Readers familiar with Alpha Blue may be concerned that the game will get more lurid then they hoped. That is not the case, but the setting is wild - containing adult themes and more than a few sidelong glances at current events and occasional political mishaps. It is not lurid, but is a gonzo sci-fi meets fantasy meets horror with "adult" elements.

Finally, the last portion of the book is a copy of Crimson Dragon Slayer d20, which is a rules-light system put together to run 5th Ed modules without having to translate the system too much. It is simple, fast playing, and has an overall OSR feel that the author styles "O5R". These rules are not necessary to play the module, but are offered as a an extra to readers.



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Cha'alt
Publisher: Kort'thalis Publishing
by Brian C. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 09/08/2019 16:09:02

One sentence verdict: this one is a winner, do yourself a favor and get it! OK, let me elaborate without giving away any spoilers: whether as player or game-master, adventuring in Cha’alt is time and money well spent. This gigantic adventure/campaign setting accommodates any old-school rules set, and even comes with its own ‘bonus’ d20 system at the end of the adventure should you choose to use it. Cha’alt is an ‘anything goes’ gonzo world full of intrigue, danger…and humor. If it were a movie, it would likely get a solid ‘R’ rating…as well as be a runaway summer blockbuster hit complete with fourteen sequels and enough product spin-offs to fill half a shopping mall for the next decade. It’s a fever-dream of outrageous encounters, over-the-top characters, and endless opportunities for your characters to become powerful and wealthy beyond their wildest dreams…or die in some of the most outre, squalid circumstances known to gamer-dom. Either way, your gaming group will have stories to tell for years based on the sheer potential for shenanigans that author Venger Satanis tees up in this wonderful carnival funhouse behemoth of a campaign. The campaign itself features numerous meaty sections, including an overview of the land of Cha’alt, the city-state of Kra’adumek, the habited insides of a gigantic worm (!), a crazy space-fantasy cantina full of riotous scum and villainy, and a massive, mysterious Black Pyramid (equally parts wonder, danger, and humor). After all that (phew!), there’s Venger’s Crimson Dragon Slayer game, d20 version. What my paltry words cannot convey here is the author’s informal, eminently readable style and sheer powerhouse imagination. Perusing the pages of Cha’alt is like sitting at the table on your back porch with your favorite gamer buddy discussing his latest, and greatest, campaign world. For all its 200+ pages of murder, magic, and mayhem, Venger’s writing is never dull or pedantic. Just the opposite – the pages virtually pop with Venger’s engaging writing style and profusion of fun, fevered ideas. You’ll have a great time reading Cha’alt, and an even grander time making it come alive at your gaming table. The price of admission for this wonderful tome is a trifle compared to the fun you’ll have with Cha’alt. Upon reading it, my own brain is popping with ideas on how to incorporate it into any of a half-dozen games on my shelf. Folks, this one is a winner. Treat yourself and pick up a copy. You and your gaming group will be very glad that you did. Five strong stars for this gem.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Cha'alt
Publisher: Kort'thalis Publishing
by Jakob M. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 09/02/2019 11:37:44

I did my review via youtube but to sum it up: If your looking for a balls to the wall science fantasy campaign to spice up your D&D or OSR game then Cha'alt its the game for you.

https://youtu.be/6qo9nlwBtd4



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Cha'alt
Publisher: Kort'thalis Publishing
by Eric F. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 08/08/2019 03:28:33

"Who has the balls to confront this dark psychic force? Cha'alt is the beast of a book (218 pages) I've been working on for the past year. It's a ruined world focusing on a couple of introductory dungeons before getting to the main event - the megadungeon known as The Black Pyramid.
The Black Pyramid is like nothing you've ever seen before. Unique design, purpose, feel, magic items, NPCs, monsters, factions, motives, agendas, strangeness, the works!"

Well, actually we've got the balls to actually play a bit of Cha'alt & its pretty massive megadungeon especially if your on the other side of the screen. DM Steve my friend & fellow dungeon master reminded me that I owed him a game today. So he's been prepping his own game of the megadungeon of Cha'alt. This game session goes all of the way back to last year when I got a chance to get down & dirty with DM Steve's Liberation of the Demon Slayer game session. We died about half way through the module over the course of three 0r f0ur months of play. I would later gain my review on the Islands of Purple Putrescence. So I've with drawn my review of Venger Satanis's Cha'alt book from Drivethurpg. And before anyone even starts with me about how there was any shenanigans between me & Venger. Well, he doesn't even know about me taking down the Cha'alt review. I was playing my wizard Shifty McManner & several of our group of players were using characters that I'd seen a couple of years ago in Revelry in Torth . So we're dealing with masked wearing bandits, warriors, & clerics from some of the most treasonous bastards to walk across the shifting sands. We had a sum total of five players & our PC's were bound together by a mission to the Black Pyramid. We started out in a local bar & immediately got into a fight with a local map seller. He was a part of some sleazoid thieves guild & things started to go wrong right out of the gate. We used Astonishing Swordsmen & Sorcerers of Hyperborea with a mix of Venger's Cha'alt material. So tonight's game had a very heavy mix of Sword & Sorcery coupled with a miasma of Edgar Rice Burroughs, Robert Howard, & lots of Lovecraft. We had masked displaced royals mixed in with former cultists turned cleric. This wasn't my usual party of adventurers but a group of masked bastards Hell bent on getting to the Black Pyramid. All of our party were for the most part humans with some Elves scattered in. A sword thrust into the map maker made things very complicated for our party right outta of the gate. We fled into the desert as the crossbow bolts made us fleet into the depths of the Incel Cantina. We almost got set up by a crew of skeevers! The plan was to capture our two Amazon warriors & murder us. We got the drop on two of the bastards & my wizard cast a sleep spell on the rest making short work of them. Then doubling back around we re entered Gamma Incel Cantina. The place is filled with the slime of several universes & we weren't about to let our guard down. We caught up with Yerck: Human; scruffy; stained overalls; tech specialist; has done side-work for sexual performance art and terrorist cell Tangerine Wet Dream. Again not an alien to trust. After a rather lengthy bargaining session we were able to secure passage on a caravan going through the desert. But then our cleric got into a fight with a demonic mercenary just outside the cantina. We got booted outta the place & luckily just managed to survive the bouncer thing that ejected us. Outside of the cantina we picked up a strange albino wizard as a hireling. He was looking for employment & we could us an extra spell slinger. Chella the Amazing was stranded on Cha'alt after the events of the Liberation of the Demon Slayer module. We ended the session taking our place on some lizard thing mounts & a trading caravan we booked passage on as caravan guards. All together the session went very well & Cha'alt plays a lot better then it first read in my estimation. Personally I need to lighten up a bit when it comes to fifth edition games. Over all the Cha'alt setting plays very well & Glynn Seal of Monkey Blood's cartography was rock solid once again. Overall I'd give Cha'alt a solid five for play, writing, and design after actually playing it. Eric Fabiaschi Swords & Stitchery Blog Want More Original OSR Content Subscribe https://swordsandstitchery.blogspot.com



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Cha'alt
Publisher: Kort'thalis Publishing
by Marc G. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 08/07/2019 19:27:47

I'm not going to waste anybody's time here, Cha'alt is a Marmite product. You are going to love it or hate it. If you like your fantasy four square and wholesome, down the line and by the mediaeval numbers, takes itself seriously and is possibly a bit po-faced, then Cha'alt is not the campaign setting for you. Don't get upset about that, don't get mad, don't feel cheated or take Cha'alt as a personal attack on your idea of what fantasy role-playing is about, just pass on by. Nobody will mind.

On the other hand, if you are looking for something that is probably unlike anything you have ever purchased before, that for sure has a few rough edges, but is a labour of love that's given birth to the demented love child of Frank Herbert, Walter M. Miller, and Robert E. Howard as the result of some sort of crazy threesome. then it probably is the campaign setting for you. At the very, very least, you will be able to mine it for a plethora of ideas easily transferable to your Gamma World / Mutant Future / Apes Victorious / Aftermath / Metamorphosis Alpha / own generic gonzo fantasy-scifi game starring Traci Lords. At the most, you will be able to enjoy years of gaming goodness that will certainly give your players something to remember, for good or ill.

One last thing, in my view the artwork on its own is worth the price of admission. Outstanding.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Cha'alt
Publisher: Kort'thalis Publishing
by Bryan G. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 08/07/2019 02:39:08

Cha'alt is something truly special. It's a bit of a setting book, a bit of a megadungeon, and a bit of mind-bending weirdness. In Cha'alt, warlocks that worship strange entities beyond the stars do battle with laser-rifle-wielding pirates on hovercraft. Here the line between science fiction and fantasy is obliterated (as it should be!).

This product is a sandbox with enough tidbits and hints to create an entire campaign. Cities and factions abound in Cha'alt.

AND there is a 111-room dungeon.

But that's not all! There are two more small dungeons packed in! One of which is inside the body of a giant worm creature.

And did I mention all the non-standard monsters? Technological loot? Odd magic items?

There is a LOT in Cha'alt. Every page is a new wonder or strange idea made real. What will the party find over the next sand dune? Or behind the next door of The Black Pyramid?

If you want a unique, imaginative setting / dungeons to run your party through, pick up Cha'alt!

I backed Cha'alt on Kickstarter and am glad I did so. Highly reccommend this product.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Cha'alt
Publisher: Kort'thalis Publishing
by Stephane G. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 08/06/2019 01:57:51

I've been participating in this Kickstarter. While it may not be for everybody, Players who enjoy Much Gonzo & Flashy scenarios will without a doubt appreciate this title. i'm very satisfied. SG



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Cha'alt
Publisher: Kort'thalis Publishing
by Joseph B. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 08/03/2019 13:03:28

I really enjoyed reading this and can't wait to spring it on my players! It reminds me of old school D&D fantasy mixed with sci-fi like Gary, Arn & Co. used to do. Take Expedition to the Barrier Peaks, White Plume Mountain and Temple of Elemental Evil and smash them together, put them in a giant, crazy pyramid and you are getting the idea of what's in store for you! There is plenty here for any DM worth his weight in D20's to sink his teeth into! I never run anything AS IS, I always change stuff around to fit into my homebrew world and this is no exception, but this product has given me a ton of new ideas to think about and incorporate into my world! Cool, fun stuff! This is the first adventure/campaign product I have purchased from Kort'thalis Publishing, ( I have the "Like a Fucking Boss" series) but it won't be the last! 5 out of 5! Love it!

-Chris Berger



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
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