|From Beneath the Glacier|
The Bat Plague may still be out there, but now so is this zine (and YOU can be the judge which one you like better). Not all restrictions are gone, but they are suitably relaxed to resume print sales and shipping. Delivery is bound to be slower than usual for a while – I am hearing that packages, which had taken five or six days to reach European addresses now take twelve days or so – but at least it seems to work without major problems. If you can trust the Post, you can perhaps trust the rest of our civilisation as well.
And so, we have this issue! The common theme this time seems to be “things that go deeper than anticipated” – at least this is one aspect which, by some act of Fortune, unites the four articles. There is something quite fascinating going into an adventure, and discovering that the dungeon you expected to end has a deep well going down to a new level; the plot threads you have almost had in your hand suddenly trail off again in new directions, or the room beyond the secret door has a second secret door, hidden even more carefully. What lies beyond the door, the well, or the almost solved plotline? Only one way to find out!
The titular adventure, From Beneath the Glacier, takes the characters to the high mountains where something has gone wrong. Where do the nighttime raids and strange corpses washed down the rivers come from? The answers are found in this scenario, with 21 keyed areas, offering challenges related to navigation, exploration, and confrontation – not to mention a major dilemma once the company is victorious. This is an adventure for mid-level characters, levels 5-7 (our test party was slightly stronger by the time they got there, and had an easier time).
Of course, sometimes an undead-haunted cellar is just an undead-haunted cellar – The Hecatomb of Morthevole is a take on the proverbial “help this guy with rats in his cellar” dungeon, except it is not rats, and the cellar goes deeper than you might think (levels 2-4, 12 keyed areas, which is not bad for a two-pager – I am thinking there will be more smallish scenarios in future issues).
This issue’s centrepiece, drawn from The City of Vultures, is the best known of its Underworld complexes. The Tomb of Ali Shulwar is fairly well known among the city’s thieves and smugglers, but few know of its deeper layers, and none before have mapped its connections, secret sections and true depths. This article presents two entrance levels and three main levels of the tomb (more precisely, what lies below the tomb… if the tomb is even the real tomb) in 66 keyed areas. The dungeons are mostly for the 4th to 6th level range, with outliers (and tougher side-areas, to be presented next issue).
The issue’s final article, The White Hand, introduces one of the City’s lesser conspiracies. A vigilante group formed to mete out “good old-fashioned street justice” to market thieves (and everyone the members believe to be one!) would usually merit little discussion beyond “Thugs (3d6)”… but something is off here. Links to now extinct organisations, infiltration attempts by other conspiracies, odd musical tastes and bizarre characters hanging around the White Hand make it a gateway into an entire world of hidden meanings and secret warfare. Who is using whom? Who watches the watchers watching the watchers? Most importantly, what happens when it all falls apart at the slightest shove? Whether used in the City of Vultures or somewhere else (which would be easier than it first looks), it will be fascinating to find out.
The issue’s map supplement this time is an unkeyed dungeon level. Or it is multiple smaller dungeon levels on one sheet? You be the judge!
The print version of the fanzine is available from my Bigcartel store; the PDF edition will be published through DriveThruRPG with a few months’ delay. As always, customers who buy the print edition will receive the PDF version free of charge.
In other news...
- Castle Xyntillan is being reprinted. While copies of the first printing are still available, there will be more soon. The PDF edition is also out there, although the promised, improved functionality will still take some time (my IRL job has been picking up pace again).
- If you look at the back cover of Echoes #07, you will discover a listing for EMDT62. This was too optimistic, but this module – the English version of the great In the Shadow of the City-God – should be published early next month… if things go well, along with a module collection.
- The Four Dooms of Thisium, our Bat Plague placeholder campaign, keeps racking it up. 44 PC and follower casualties have been noted, and while one Doom has been averted, three more still hang over the city, abandoned and cursed by its very gods!
|From Beneath the Glacier|
I cite that one in the intro - it has never been more applicable!Delete
Any more print copies left of "The Barbarian King"? I already have Echoes 1-6 and Xyntillan, and prefer to order several items together when possibleReplyDelete
The Barbarian King has been reprinted, and is available (I try to do reprints in smaller, flexible print runs). If you wish to combine items, and have a month or so to spare, two modules should be released in the first half of June.Delete
I will wait, then. One module is the 'Shadows' city midule, I gather. But what's the other one?Delete
That's a good guess. The other one is Trail of the Sea Demon, a revised and re-edited collection of city-based mini-adventures, which have appeared in Fight On!, and for free. The first awaits translation; the second awaits interior art (some pieces are already in).Delete
Also, can you tell us some more about the Baklin city supplement? How is it different from Gont, that is also described as a pirate-controlled merchant town?ReplyDelete
I have been procrastinating too long over Baklin - it is too large for a zine article, but I haven't been able to write it up as a proper supplement, despite the fact that I have a bunch of typed notes on it.Delete
Baklin is larger and less shady than Gont; as the "City of the Merchant Prince", it is the centre of marine traffic on Erillion. (Neither Baklin nor Gont have much in the way of land power - they don't really need it, since their important rivals/trading partners are also marine powers.)
You can find some materials on the city starting from the 10th installment of our defunct campaign journal (25 June 2017), with the most complete map posted 5 October 2017 - c.f. https://tinyurl.com/y9a9cqm8 ).
Baklin looks and feels a bit like an Elizabethean port town built into the slopes surrounding a semi-circular bay that cuts into a highland. The northern parts, clustered around the Palace and going down to the level of the gates, are higher up, and tend to be the expensive palaces of the aristocracy, as well as upper class residences and some public offices. The western parts and the seafront around the bay are a bustling port, while the eastern and south-eastern streets are a shady old quarter for the poor, but also the city's trade guilds (of which the Thieves' Guild is one in the role of a sort of "private security company").
Baklin has a bunch of underground dungeons connecting its residences, but of the two main complexes I envisioned, only one, located under the Old City, has been found and explored during the campaign (and later) - the other will be left to the GM even in a published supplement.
One specific feature of Erillion's cities is the absence of churches and temples, as the locals are not a deeply religious folk, and prefer worship to take place in the home, or outside the city walls. A second one is the lack of modern burial grounds, as the dead are collected by the Knights of Yolanthus Kar, and taken for burial in the Valley of Barzak Bragoth. Naturally, things are not as clear cut when it comes to the Underworld...
Also, anyone have an idea how to wrap text around an image with the newest Blogger update? Or is this yet another thing Google has just broken because they could?ReplyDelete
I wish you had tried to produce one or two excellent products, the best you could do, something you have not achieved yet but might. Instead you have decided to squeeze out formulaic pap as if everything you think of is worth publishing. It isn't. Try to do something lasting. One module. At the very least try to do something worthwhile *at the same time* as this canned porridge.ReplyDelete
Don't assume my editorial advice will always be free. I too may lower my standards and charge for formulaic criticism on tap.
How generous of you! Could you please refer us to examples of products you have published, so we can see how *real* modules should be?Delete
Kent, you should seek medical help.Delete
To be fair, criticism does not require participating in creation. Now, honest criticism is rooted in a sufficiently deep knowledge of the material under scrutiny.Delete
Melan, do you think you are more creative than I? Do you think you know more about AD&D than I do?Delete
Oswig studied Moncrief for a long moment.Delete
"Doubtless, you are a deep-dyed scholar, and a past master of poodle-de-doodle. Also, you have read several books. Still, your knowledge of Star Home is a muddle, and your theories are bunk."
Moncrief blinked, but maintained his sangfroid. "I will give your comments careful study. They may well illuminate the unusual quirks of local custom."
I have not read Lurulu, and don't perceive who has the upper hand here, but I acknowledge a deft reply to an unanswerable question.Delete
Coolest cover so far (though #4 with Tumula himself is a close contender).ReplyDelete
Yes, the cover is awesomeDelete
I just discovered your blog and this zine and it looks fantastic. I think I'll have to order it.ReplyDelete
My group got into the Hecatomb of Morthevole last night. One foolish character almost got disemboweled by the slicer, and in the end a few of the henchmen didn't make it. Overall it was great!ReplyDelete
Very cool! Our party also got out in one piece, but they were massively creeped out by the place, and used animated zombies to test the ground before them.Delete