Slumbering Tsar 1: Desolation - The Edge of Oblivion
This is the first installment of Greg A. Vaughan's epic 500000+ words mega-adventure "Slumbering Tsar", published via Necromancer Games' Bill Webb's new company "Frog God Games." Slumbering Tsar is being released via a subscription model and this review takes a look at the first installment of the subscription.
This pdf consists of 33 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page credits, 1 page OGL.
That leaves us with 30 pages of adventure.
First, we get a 5 pages "Introduction" to Slumbering Tsar, its epic background story as well as several, extensive hooks to draw your PCs into the adventure.
"Chapter 1: The Camp" gives us the main meat of this installment of Slumbering Tsar, the so-called Camp at the edge of the wasteland called Desolation. This camp is far beyond your average town or frontier settlement, expertly evoking a unique flavor reminiscent of a combination of old-school Necromancer Games-feeling and a touch of end-time melancholy à la "The Dark Tower"-saga by Stephen King. The chapter also includes stats for the inhabitants, 4 spells converted from Sword & Sorcery's Relics and Rituals and takes up 14 pages.
"Chapter 2: Events in the camp" is 6 pages long and describes events to spring on your players. They are very cool, and, keeping the promise in the introduction, quite lethal. I won't spoil the fun, though an entity called "Midnight peddler" should be mentioned...
"Chapter 3: A Desolation Primer" is 2 pages long and helps DMs portraying the Desolation.
After that, we get 3 pages of beautiful maps.
The following is true for the whole installment:
The prose is captivating and the editing is very good: No awkward phrases, no typos. The S/W-artwork is among the most beautiful I've ever seen in a 3pp's book and is on par with the heyday of NG. You get the stats for the creatures and NSCs where they are most likely to appear, which helps immensely.
For a measly $2.00, you get an awesome, big pdf, containing one of the most imaginative small towns I've read for quite some time. Even if you don't plan to check out the whole saga, at least give this installment a try. You'll be very hard-pressed to find a better bang-for-buck ratio or quality out there.
5 out of 5 stars.
The one and only drawback I can think of, is that due to the fact that Slumbering Tsar was not originally designed to be published via subscription, you'll have some minor problems when trying to start ST with only this pdf. Right now, the second installment has been sent to subscribers and can be purchased, making it possible to dive into the goodness that is ST.
If you like Rappan Athuk and Bard's Gate by Necromancer Games, give this a try: It ties heavily in with several published classics by Necromancer Games.
If you buy the whole series (including the as of yet unreleased ST 2 & 3) up front via subscription, you get the epic hardcover (probably around 600+ pages) for free once the whole series has been released via pdf and save $44. Plus, the first print-run of the books will be signed by both Bill Webb and Greg A. Vaughan.
If you are like me and have bought the old D&D 3.5-Version of ST: Desolation and think about getting the whole deal, be sure to email Bill after purchasing the subscription.
If you want to know what you get in addition, here's a list:
-everything has been expertly updated to PFRPG
-monsters from the Tome of Horrors series have been updated to PFRPG
Even if you are skeptic, give this special price introduction a chance. If you don't like it (unlikely), you'll still have a great (and deadly) town to spring upon your unsuspecting PCs.
[5 of 5 Stars!]