Hello Dear Readers! I’m back with a humble blog post to give you a little sneak peek into a project I backed on Kickstarter some time ago. Gods of the Forbidden North by Pulp Hummock Press, on its face, appeared to be an interesting dungeon crawl. This sneak peek that I was fortunate enough to receive reveals that this project is so much more. I cannot wait to get this!
Considering that this Kickstarter was 347% funded, I’m not the only one who is excited about this one. I think it comes out in August of this year.
I decided to back this project when I saw The Basic Expert interview our fearless author, Robert Alderman. It was a great interview. He is a jovial gamer who truly loves the hobby. He projected sheer joy when the concept of the mega-dungeon was brought up. Apparently, the dude has been running mega-dungeons his entire gaming career. Thus, Gods of the Forbidden North. It’s his contribution to the long storied history of the mega-dungeon. From what I’ve seen so far, Gods of the Forbidden North is lovingly crafted by someone who appreciates the game and the pulp classics that inspired it.
So, where to begin?
Bog-Ruins of Fort Ikenvar: The first paragraphs of this section reveal that this entire project is going to be more than a mega-dungeon. This is going to be a bit of hex crawl with a ton of options for your players. This particular section is about 14 pages. It includes a section on the organization of the adversaries contained in this little “Bog Ruin,” along with tactics for the slavers camped out in this old fort. There is more to the Bog-Ruins than the slavers…there is a rather unique “something” lurking here as well. I’m a big fan of horror gaming and this “something” is very unsettling. Even the game mechanics for the “something” will heighten tension at your gaming table…and potentially make your players squirm.
I’m not going to tell you what it is but it is nasty!
Barrow of Eight: This makes up Chapter 5 of the book. This is exactly what it sounds like. It is the burial spot for something long forgotten. It’s a relatively small section of the book, but it contains some fun stuff, including a scrappy sentient weapon that has no problem quoting Rutger Hauer to remind you how important it is.
The Lost Temple of Ninchaga: This is another location for your players to explore. A cursed location such that no one dares speak its name? C’mon! Who wouldn’t want to go there! This one gets into some of the lore behind this entire region. The encounter with the Death Wives that lurk here is spooky. Again, we get suggested tactics for the creatures here. Beneath the temple is a fresh take on a standard D&D creature that will challenge both veteran and new players alike.
Green Dome of Foranadoth: This is a 10th-level adventure location that I don’t want to spoil. Let’s just say this section contains some of the more creative and ambitious adventure locales I’ve seen in a long time. This section goes into some detail on how to run it properly, which I am happy to see given how ambitious this section is. I will leave you with two words though.
In the Tesseract of Time: This is the final section of Castle Thar-Gannon. This is Four-Dimensional craziness that involves a final confrontation. Again, I don’t want to spoil anything. However, from what I’ve been able to glean from this section alone is that there is a cool way to tackle this final encounter. To do so will require the players to be mindful of the lore and know what they have found elsewhere in this book. I absolutely love this. It is not just good world-building but it rewards the players who opt to become invested in the world created.
Taken as a whole, this sneak peek tells me a bunch of things:
- Robert starts many of the sections with inspirational quotes from some classic authors like H.G. Wells or Robert E. Howard. If you look at his bio, Robert knows his stuff. He’s a good writer and this is going to be a gaming product for those who appreciate the classics. This will not be Dragonlance. This will be Dying Earth or Conan the Barbarian.
- I thought I was picking up a mega-dungeon. I am, but it is much more. There is a wilderness map with locations that are separate from the main location. Thus, we are going to have a Keep on the Borderlands type of experience, which is great because I love sandboxes. With the amount of lore built up for this world, this will give any would-be game master some tools to work with and make the world his or her own.
- Speaking of lore, this is deep. I have only gotten a glimpse, but there is a depth here that intrigues me. Each area will provide players with a glimpse of what the world is about. It will reward players who find this interesting, but it won’t punish those who just want to crush their enemies, see them driven before them, and hear the lamentations of their women. Should players desire to know more, there is more for them to explore.
- The art and the maps look great. Clearly, no expense was spared on this. The art team includes Terry Vanatta, Ian Baggley, Adam Black, Carlos Castilho, Jon Torres, and Gary Trow. Billy Longino’s maps are spectacular!
So that’s it, Dear Readers. Should you see this out there, this is going to be worth picking up. It is written with Old School Essentials in mind. However, as it is an OSR product, any OSR system will work. Indeed, with some of the more horrific bits I’ve seen, Lamentations of the Flame Princess could work here as well. If you want a more high-fantasy and/or gonzo feel, Dungeon Crawl Classics or Crimson Dragon Slayer could work here too. To be honest, I was going to use Shadowdark, but considering that this module was written with OSE in mind, I might stick with the classics and run it with The Rules Cyclopedia.