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Ruins of Bonn Kanach
Publisher: Chaosium
by Gary [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 06/15/2024 19:19:08

This scenario is on the lower end of acceptability. I was able to use it without too much difficulty and the players enjoyed the session.

The Good: The opening is strong. The map of Stone Cross is well appreciated; especially since the follow-on scenarios use the village. Lauren Whitemane is an interesting enough character. The initial encounter is very clever and plays well to the man-beast dynamic in the valley.

The maps of the ruin interiors are functionally useful, but are lacking in detail. These maps would reasonably fit into an adventure written in the 1970s or 1980s, but are lacking for a modern audience. Most of the tactical maps fit well into the VTT environment and the scaling was reasonable. The map for the citadel, however, is way too big.

The area descriptions underneath the arena are boring. The GM is supposed to randomly generate the contents of the room and any treasures that can be found. The randomly generated room contents are mostly one-line entries like "Large pile of firewood." This might have been acceptable in the 1970s, but I expect far more from a scenario writer in the 2020s.

Spoilers Follow:

There's a dangerous predator that lairs inside the arena. However, the location of the lair is not specified. There is no description of the lair and no associated treasure with the lair. There are several areas specifically detailed within the arena, but strangely this area isn't detailed.

The cliff tombs are boring. Each tomb has a small random chance of an encounter and minor treasure. It's way too repetitive and seems to exist simply to chew up time. Only one of the tombs is interesting. On the other hand, it did seem realistic that the tombs were looted by other adventurers long before the PCs show up. It makes sense, but it's not interesting.

The bugheads were an interesting inclusion in the scenario. There are some interesting non-combat options available here.

I chose not to present the aquifer to my PCs. While there are some room descriptions, the entire area is essentially bereft of interesting content.

The citadel is another large area similar to the arena. It has several areas described in some detail. But the rest is randomly rolled room contents, creatures, and treasure. This is very disappointing.

Finally, the scenario indicates the canopic jars are a key element to some master plot in Beast Valley. But no reference is made in part 2 of the campaign (Velhara's Mirror). The promised part 3 has never been released (as of June 2024).



Rating:
[3 of 5 Stars!]
Ruins of Bonn Kanach
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To Hunt a God
Publisher: Chaosium
by Gary [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 05/25/2024 15:26:38

This is an excellent scenario. My players and I enjoyed playing it very much. I look forward to other adventures from this author.

The good stuff: The author evokes a strong sense of Glorantha; the voices of the NPCs are well written and evocative of their backgrounds. I particularly enjoyed the concept of bring the PCs into a HeroQuest that isn't tied into their own cults. I appreciated the art for the major characters to display to the players in the VTT.

The author provides a lot of additional details that aren't required for the main storyline. The temple has several interesting places for the PCs to visit. There's a lot of room for the GM to tailor the adventure to their tastes.

Areas for Improvement (some minor spoilers):

Something is weird with the way the text and pictures are pasted into the PDF. That made extracting text and pictures much more difficult than it should be. I ended up retyping more text than I would like and I needed to use another tool to extract the pictures.

Encounter maps for fight scenes would be nice, especially for the encounter with Hrunda. Fortunately, VTT maps for forest areas are easy to obtain.

The author clearly loved developing the rivals. He spends a significant effort detailing their journey through the adventure. Unfortunately, that effort seems wasted after the PCs enter the HeroQuest. The difficulty is that the PCs are traveling in parallel with the rivals; thus, the rival's storyline doesn't really impact the journey of the PCs. The author mentions that the confrontation with the Rivals is the core of the story, but he doesn't really bring that home. Imagine if the PCs have the opportunity during the HeroQuest to rescue Finstaval; do they aid or hinder him?

Is the HeroQuest supposed to be a race between the PCs and the Rivals? It sort of seems like it's a race. I'm thinking that only one sacrifice is necessary. But the adventure doesn't really feel like a race; we simply expect the PCs are the first (or only) group to defeat Hrunda.

The oath of The Talking Tree felt too loose. It would have been much better for The Talking Tree to insist on a specific oath that then has consequences further into the HeroQuest. Then give the PCs the opportunity to take the easy way out and violate their oath or do things the harder way?

There's a lot of nice ideas for additional encounters during the HeroQuest. I would have better appreciated only have a few of these encounters that were worked more tightly into the narrative.



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
To Hunt a God
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Korolstead: Secrets of the Smoking Ruin
Publisher: Chaosium
by Gary [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 05/08/2024 15:22:46

I'm finding this a very difficult review to write. I want to provide a fair review, even while I'm very unhappy with my purchase. The other reviewers were really pleased with the product, I was not.

The Good Stuff: There are a number of maps that you can use to import into your games. The location key includes minimal descriptions of rooms. For RuneQuest GMs, there's a large number of stat blocks and magic items that you can use.

I bought this product with the intent of augmenting the main adventure from The Smoking Ruin (TSR). I spent some time trying to figure out what to do with the material, but I ended up using none of Korolstead.

Problem #1: There's no description of how to use this adventure with respect to running TSR. My best inclination is that this adventure is best used by having the PCs return after they accomplish TSR adventure.

Problem #1a: It would have been really useful if this product included tactical maps of the locations from the TSR (since Chaosium didn't include them in their release). In particular, a map (or maps) of Ernalda's Courtyard would have been a treasure.

Problem #1b: It would have been really useful to have a home base for Vamargic and his minions. That could be a fantastic high-level assault intended to remove his presence forever.

Problem #2: This product includes two scenarios. I didn't find either of these scenarios to be compelling. They largely provide some rationale for exploring other parts of the ruins.

Problem #3: This product relies extensively on random elements, especially for treasure. Some large areas don't have fixed encounters; instead, the GM is supposed to use random encounters from minions or gangs.

I can only recommend this product for someone interested in running a very 1970s type of dungeon crawl. If you do run it as a dungeon crawl, there is a lot of material here. You'll have many hours of exploration for your players.



Rating:
[1 of 5 Stars!]
Korolstead: Secrets of the Smoking Ruin
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Bad Day at Duck Rock
Publisher: Chaosium
by Gary [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 03/27/2024 18:58:51

There's a lot of really good stuff in the adventure; however, there is still room for improvement.

The Good Stuff: There's so many useful pieces of art to use in the Virtual Table Top (VTT). The map of Duck Rock is evocative and helps the PCs explore the village. Many of the NPCs have art specifically created for them.

Many spoilers below:

I found it useful to narrow down the focus of the adventure from all of the elements provided by the author down to 3 key elements. 1) Give time for the PCs to meet and roleplay with the NPCs in Duck Rock and possibly prevent Hector's assassination. 2) PCs discover Tiberian never came to the village. The PCs should find the ambushed caravan. The PCs may find Shrak in the Bat Cave; he can provide useful information and an extra warrior. 3) PCs attack the Cave Complex and destroy the Chaos cultists.

The above sequence encapsulates the main thrust of the adventure; however, the adventure includes several more threads that the PCs can check out.

Areas for Improvement: The map of the cave complex isn't very good. I ended up searching through my VTT map library to find another cave complex I could use instead.

There's no map for the bathhouse; this is a pivotal scene where the PCs have a chance to stop Tethral early in the adventure.

The author seems to have forgotten that the Chaos beasts ambushed the caravan on the day that the PCs arrived in Duck Rock. When the PCs start looking for Tiberian, they should simply return to the spot where they split up with the caravan before entering the village. Following the trail of the two wagons and the caravan guards should be trivial. That gets the PCs to the ambush site.

There should be many clues available at the ambush site. PCs should be able to track Shrak Thelu (along with others) to the Bat Cave. The PCs should also find evidence of all of the Chaos cultists attacking the caravan and then carrying away the trade goods. The trail to the cave complex seems like it should be fairly obvious since the cultists are already overburdened carrying two wagonloads of trade goods up the mountainside by hand. They may not have much time to go back and clean up their trail. (This trail is clearly much more recent than the trail from the farmhouse that the adventure seems focused on.)

The author details several methods the PCs can use to augment their forces to attack the Chaos cultists. However, there's not much in the way of clues that would cause them to decide to recruit others (including the thought of allying with unreliable bandits).

There didn't seem to be clues for the PCs to discover that certain inhabitants of Duck Rock are Chaotic ogres. (There's ample evidence that they aren't good people, but nothing specific enough to justify killing them.) Instead, the adventure expects Yanmak to show up after a few days to eliminate the threat of the ogres.



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Bad Day at Duck Rock
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Yozarian's Bandit Ducks
Publisher: Chaosium
by Gary [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 03/27/2024 18:23:09

I included this as an adventure within an ongoing campaign. While I was able to make it work by incorporating elements from the RQ3 adventure ("The Money Tree") that inspired this adventure, it didn't work out great.

The Good Stuff: There's several nice pieces of artwork for ducks; these are very useful for PC or NPC ducks on a VTT. The picture of Yozarian was perfect for running Yozarian's ambush (borrowed from the original "The Money Tree").

The biggest problem was the map of the cave complex. This could have been an excellent addition if the map was in color and showed some extra detail. Unfortunately, the map is black & white in two versions. One version is a hex map that doesn't work for my game. The other version copied poorly into the VTT with the floor of the cave entrance in black; this color scheme confused the players.

Perhaps the most interesting part of the adventure is the setup with the PCs working for Yozarian; that's certainly a good reason to run this adventure with the pregens. While that works for an adventure with pregens, I ended up skipping the setup since the PCs weren't ducks and forcing the PCs to be petty brigands working for Yozarian wasn't going to be easy.

Minor spoilers below:

The rest of the adventure worked okay with the climb up the mountain, exploration of the cave, and then the bonus encounter. The cave encounter wasn't very satisfying because the adventure railroads the PCs into running away.



Rating:
[2 of 5 Stars!]
Yozarian's Bandit Ducks
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The Lottery
Publisher: Chaosium
by Gary [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 01/31/2024 15:34:04

Overview: The Lottery is a solid first adventure from Robert Stoll; I look forward to seeing more adventures from him. This adventure is fairly short and easily playable in a few hours.

The artwork was very good and greatly aided setting up the VTT. Most of the NPCs had artwork associated with them. Most groups immediately recognized the clue on The Deep Cut map and took advantage. The tactical map for Salmon Run is really nice. The other two tactical maps aren't as well detailed. Players were somewhat confused with the Serpentine map and needed GM input to understand the vertical nature of the map.

The adventure comes with six pregenerated characters; I used this with a group of already generated PCs. To a minor extent, the adventure assumes some skills that are present in the pregenerated characters and this caused some minor difficulties. (See below for more detail.)

While the players will easily spot the type of story challenges when Samorela volunteers for the ritual, the players were still OK with it and flowed with the story.

Overall, the players enjoyed the adventure and I heartily recommend it to other GMs.

SPOILERS BELOW

The adventure makes two important assumptions regarding the PCs that can lead to problems.

The first assumption is that the PCs won't immediately go chasing after the cultists. However, the PCs have been hired on as the guards for the caravan, but they are expected to let the cultists leave Hill Ridge with their employers. The preferred outcome has the employers captive for 1-2 days while the PCs figure out how to make a rescue.

The second assumption is that the PCs both know that the Crimson Bat is no longer in the Middle World and that they are able to persuade the people of The Deep Cut about those facts. Unless the PCs include someone able to read New Pelorian, they can't find the the excerpt that will get the locals to help in the rescue attempt. (None of my PCs could read New Pelorian. They either had to persuade the locals to help or attack the cultists with no help from the villagers.)

Finally, does it really matter that the Crimson Bat isn't present in the Middle World? The Lunar Empire wants to summon the bat back and any prior agreements with Lunar subjects should still be in force whether the villagers will be sacrificed directly to the bat or sacrificed to summon the bat. From the perspective of the Lunar Empire, the people of The Deep Cut have resisted the Lunar Empire in a key military objective. It seems to me that the Lunar Empire will return (at some point) and take all of the villagers as sacrifices for the crimson bat.



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
The Lottery
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Creator Reply:
Gary- Thank you so much for your very thoughtful and in-depth review. The points raised in the "spoilers below" section are especially helpful. You zeroed in on the parts I struggled with most while writing it, quite rightly. This was my first experience in learning how to use Inkarnate for making maps. I think Salmon Run was the last one I made, and it shows. You're watching a rookie learning new tools. Of course the inciting incident feels like a railroad job, because it pretty much is. As you said, the players kind of flow with the story at that point, which was the expectation, but in retrospect I could have organically baked in more compelling reasons why the characters could not take action against the cult at that time. The people of Hill Ridge should, at that point, be very hostile toward anyone interfering with the ritual. The Ancestors are also right there, and could have offered some sort of magical protection; perhaps binding the outsiders to the ritual beforehand, with what amounts to the threat of spirits of reprisal should they [short-circuit the adventure] act quickly? Providing evidence and clues for convincing the Deep Cut folk to help the party was probably my biggest struggle. There aren't enough "hooks" for PCs to use to make compelling arguments. I did want this to be time for the Lhankor Mhy character to shine, using their fancy booklearnin'. That alone may not be enough to convince the valley folk how badly they've been lied to, so it would take more of a group effort. Perhaps the Issaries character could have some useful perspectives/divine inspiration about how the cult seriously breached the contract they've been honoring for generations? The Humakti arguing from his Truth Rune association? Again, those Ancestors are right there: if the players had better access to them, and could plead their case convincingly, that would give much more leverage. Hell, given the ways of Deep Cut folk, they shouldn't really do or believe *anything* without the Ancestors' approval. The Lunars absolutely do use the valley for Bat support, whether that means feeding it or sacrificing to return it to the world. That's why they've been invested in keeping the valley isolated from current events outside it. They'd certainly behave as if their long-standing agreement with the Deep Cut is still in full force. My assumption is that the Deep Cut would see the distinction as an offensive betrayal: since the Bat is no longer in this world, they would consider their end of the agreement to be fulfilled and done. No Bat = no Bat food. They wouldn't knowingly aid the Lunars in bringing back the horror they've lived with for generations, now that the horror is finally gone. Of course, the Empire pretty much holds all the cards in this game, and everyone involved knows it. Finally, you're right about the ultimate fate of the Deep Cut. Those poor fools are almost certainly doomed, all because of these outsiders. Obviously, if the ritual proceeds (and works), the whole valley is toast. But I thought long and hard about the Lunar responses you describe, and pretty much came to the same conclusions. I did some hand-waving and left it up to the GM to decide, but there should probably be more ways around this. One solution would be to (somehow) convince the Lunar Empire that the players were solely responsible for resisting the cult to draw their ire away from the locals? [Jeff Goldbloom running with a road flare to draw the T.Rex away from the children in Jurassic Park comes to mind!] On the other hand, I consider The Lottery to be fundamentally a cosmic horror story, so maybe having a doomed valley full of innocent rubes isn't necessarily a bad thing. The players have delayed the return of the Crimson Bat, but its return is inevitable. As to the threat of immediate Lunar retaliation, perhaps more heroic players could send for reinforcements and bravely defend the place? Then again, the Empire might just tighten the cordon around The Deep Cut, letting them live in ignorant bliss until they can return with the Bat to show how they really deal with such defiance. Yeah, expanding the adventure beyond thwarting the cult is pretty much guaranteed to destroy The Deep Cut one way or another. You've given me lots to consider for future titles. I greatly appreciate that you and your players liked my rookie effort, warts and all. Your review is more valuable to me than your purchase! I do have more RQ scenarios in mind for future publication, but my crystal ball is a little cloudy as to when they will appear. If you like Call of Cthulhu, I've been working on a far longer adventure/sourcebook for the Miskatonic Repository since completing The Lottery. Teaser: it's set on a US Navy vessel during WWII, and jam-packed with as much historically accurate detail as I could muster! I figure once that title launches, I can get back to the backlog of shorter RQ scenario skeletons waiting in the wings. I can't say it enough: thank you, thank you, thank you for playing my scenario and for leaving such excellent feedback on it. I'm very grateful you and your players had fun with it! Robert
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Six Seasons in Sartar
Publisher: Chaosium
by Gary N. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 08/03/2022 16:01:29

Six Seasons in Sartar is a good product; but, from the reviews, you would think it is a perfect product. Six Seasons has some problems. My intention is to provide some constructive feedback to the author.

I integrated Six Seasons into my campaign and I'm quite happy to have used it. For me, Six Seasons did a great job in transitioning the campaign from a clan-based narrative to a "we're in the rebellion now" narrative.

I'll start with the Good, the Bad, and the Ugly. At the end, I have notes on the scenarios. While I don't wish to spoil the scenarios, there will be some light spoilers. Don't read my comments if you want a spoiler-free review.

THE GOOD

Andrew has a terrific grasp of what makes Glorantha work. As many other reviewers have noted, Six Seasons is an easy way to start a campaign. The sequence of episodes provides an excellent pathway as earlier episodes provide foreshadowing into the later episodes; Six Seasons flows well. By the time you get to the final episode, players shouldn't feel like it is a shock ending because Andrew has telegraphed it well.

THE BAD

On one level, I love a lot of the narration that Andrew has put into the work. That narration has lots of useful Gloranthan bits and is important in the context of the Six Seasons campaign.

My problem with it is that much of it works a piece of fiction like a short story as opposed to an RPG. Since I'm running the episodes in the VTT environment, I find myself in reading a large wall of text to the players. Without seeing the player's faces, I can't easily tell if the players or with me or if I have lost them. There's too many places where it seems like a firehose of information is presented to the players. The initiation episodes are particularly problematic.

THE UGLY

Andrew needs an editor. The spelling and grammar are atrocious. The maps are very weak and I ended up using other resources for the encounters.

THE EPISODES - Spoilers below, you have been warned. . . . . . . The Riddle and Rites of Passage are both Orlanthi initiation episodes; one for the women and one for the men. They're drawn directly from Greg Stafford's writings. Before Six Seasons was released, I attempted to write up my own version and I'll happily admit that Andrew's version is far superior to my version.

The Riddle is about the women's initiation and is a terrific introduction to becoming a worshiper of Ernalda or another Earth cult. For a PC who intends to worship Ernalda, this is a perfect introduction; simply follow along Ernalda's path and learn more about her story. The problem is with female PCs who are not following Ernalda's path. Early on, there is some discussion about making other choices; however, that discussion is quickly discarded for the remainder of the episode. The PC seems to have no choice but to follow in Ernalda's footprints and loses all of her agency. [I don't want to put all of this on Andrew. There have been significant discussions on the Chaosium messageboards in the past about improving the ways that we work with female PCs in the Glorantha setting.]

Rites of Passage works very well. The meeting with Hengall drags a bit. Hengall talks and talks and talks. There's lots of good information in there. But it needs to be interrupted occasionally to give the PCs a chance to act. The episode can be a tough experience for male PCs who aren't designed for combat such as a Lankhor Mhy or Issaries PC. It would be nice if they had a way to shine. Otherwise, I've run this episode about ten times and it is a lot of fun.

In Sheep's Clothing: The PCs find themselves trying to solve a murder mystery. This episode succumbs to the same problem that I have seen too many times in other RPG mysteries: nothing the PCs do really matters. The episode certainly works as the PCs run around trying to gather clues and figure out what is going on. But, at some point, the bad guy reveals himself and forces himself into a fatal confrontation with the PCs. The actions of the bad guy don't make any sense; he should go to ground for a bit and let everything cool down. Instead, he sows the seeds of his own destruction for no apparent reason.

The Deer Folk: This episode really gets the metaplot for the campaign going. There's lots of good stuff. There's a nice discussion of Harvest Day and Reaping Day that give terrific insight into the clan's worship ceremonies. There's lots of good narration, but too little for the PCs to do. That's followed by a significant discussion with the clan Ring and the PCs have no reason to be present for it. In my campaign, the PCs are much more experienced and there was a good reason for them to be present. In any event, the PCs are sent off on an important mission and are lucky enough to come across something important; the descriptions are colorful and evocative. But it isn't interesting. The PCs don't need to do anything other than walk in and get something. It's important, but there's no challenge.

The Taking: This episode builds nicely from a previous episode. The initial investigation is nice although very brief. The meat of the episode works well.

The Starbrow: The interaction with Kallyr is wonderful; the players really enjoyed how all of that played out. That part of the episode works great. But then there's the dungeon delve. It's short and not interesting; there's just one hazard and one puzzle. The delve could really use a combat encounter to give the PCs more to do here. The puzzle ended up working very well and only about 1 of 4 of players did the right thing. Fortunately, each group had at least one PC doing the right thing.

The Turning: This episode worked out really well. It's a good conclusion for the Six Seasons campaign.



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Six Seasons in Sartar
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