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Slumbering Tsar 5: The Temple-City of Orcus, Part 2—The Lower City (PFRPG)

***** (based on 2 ratings)
Slumbering Tsar 5: The Temple-City of Orcus, Part 2—The Lower City (PFRPG)

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Battered and crushed after a year of war and centuries of abandonment, intrepid explorers find that now all is not restful in the slumbering city. Dark forces gather to man battlements and perhaps even march forth to war once more. The dangers of the Lower City are very much alive and awake as this adventure explores the lowest tenements of the city known as the Grunge and the flooded Dread Marsh.

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Product Reviews (2)

Average product rating:

***** (based on 2 ratings)

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Excellent encounter-driven part of the series

*****

This installment of the epic Slumbering Tsar series is 64 pages long, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 1 page ToC, 1 page of SRD, 2 pages of advertisements, leaving 58 pages of content, so let's look at the lower city: Can it stand up to the horrors encountered in the tower of weeping sores?

This being an adventure review, the following contains massive

SPOILERS

so please, potential players, stop reading here.

The dread city of Tsar is defined, among other things, by a deadly pall, a kind of evil mist that not only blocks direct sunlight (hello vampires!), but also impedes [good] magic and makes detect evil a rather bad idea. More insidiously, though, the pall corrupts any who dare to rest within, slowly subverting them to Orcus' influence via garish nightmares and the dread power of the demon prince of the undead.

After several rumors to glean in Tsar, the adventure continues to give us a selection of events, as Tsar is a (un-)living environment: The PCs won't have an easy time exploring the city, as e.g. a sniper (an an invisible stalker one at that) with a reach of 3000 (!!) ft. will start trying to pick off the PCs, necessitating some clever thinking/triangulation. Another problem the PCs might face is the return of an advanced storm giant dread ghast with a whopping CR of 17 - Slumbering Tsar is hardcore and epic and while the encounter is epic and rocks, squealers need not apply when the once pure general of the army of light escapes from his prison, hungry for the life-force of men. Oh yeah, once the PCs have a certain artifact, they'll have to deal with a steady onslaught of trolls, troll-kin and mutated varieties in addition to Tsar's dangers.

On the side of things in favor of the PCs, they may complete the quest of Gerrant of Gilboath, paladin-spirit and potential ally as well as mentor for becoming a Justicar (PrC) and source of some more than nice items.

Oh, there's also the encounter that details the return of the cursed undead caravan carrying the last disciple to the temple-city once the PCs have returned the others to their place and the caravan is hardcore. A section detailing return to the camp to stock up as well as random encounters are also provided.

There is a section detailing the Grunge, a part of the city that was heavily damaged during the assault of the army of light, including a fully mapped and disturbing shop of a bone cobbler. Apart from that, we also get a spawning pit of blood golems and a tunnel. Boring? Au contraire, mes amis! The demon-infested tunnel provides access to both the cliff warrens and the missing river (from the harrow lanes) and features e.g. a cool (and somehwat hilarious) Morlock chief that enjoys playing his pipes of pain whom, the PCs will have to stop to enter the higher levels of Tsar, but hobgoblins, ogres, a dinosaur, an ettin-colony and some troglodytes might provide for a challenging delve through the caverns. 1 map featuring some thankfully keyless sample lairs are provided.

The other area detailed is the Great Swamp that once was a regular part of the city and now comes with its very own random encounter tables. The swamp also has 3 bosses - a giant bog turtle, an advanced swamp tyrant and a half-dragon demodand with his own tar golem, guarding one of the disciples and making for an interesting, albeit strange potential ally.

The pdf concludes with 3 monsters (screamer, skeletal swarm, toxic mudman), an entry on the minor artifacts that are the 9 disciples as well as 2 new PrCs, the Justicar and the Disciple of Orcus, both of which, while powerful, are aptly designed. Much to my rejoicing, the Justicar comes with its own spelt-out codex.

Conclusion:
Editing and formatting are top-notch, I didn't notice a single glitch. Layout adheres to the elegant printer-friendly two-column standard of the ST-series. The b/w-artworks rock and evoke a classic flair I've come to associate with the series. The maps feature the used-parchment look and offer grids, but once again, I would have loved extra versions without the annoying map-keys in order to print out, cut out and then offer to my players. The pdf is bookmarked, though not as extensively as I would have liked. An overview map of the city is provided for your convenience. This installment of ST focuses HEAVILY on exploration of a ruined city and does so in a cool and evocative manner - Even while reading it, I felt the dread and pervading oppressiveness and danger of Tsar and its ancient evil. Greg A. Vaughan once again created a superbly iconic location and for anyone interested in the whole saga, this is a clear 5-stars recommendation. However, while you might scavenge bits and pieces, I'm not sure whether this installment would be as fitting to be torn apart and resized for other adventures. People looking for that might want to detract a star. But then again: Why are you not getting the whole series? ;)

Endzeitgeist out.


Second part of the Slumber Tsar city.

*****

The Slumbering Tsar: Temple City of Orcus, The Lower City by Frog God Games

This product is 64 pages long. It starts with a cover, credits, intro and ToC. (4 pages) This is the second adventure that takes place with in the city it's self.

Chapter 3 – Overview of the Tsar (18 pages)
This gives a over view of the city. It has a rumors table and 3 random encounter tables, along with all the monster stats. It also has 7 event based encounters in this section.

Chapter 4 – The Grunge (20 pages)
This is the lowest section of the city, it has terraces levels of the city that move up the side of the mountain it is nestled against. It has two encounter tables, it also has information for Demon Prince Tsathogga and Set as a gods. (domains etc) There is five encounter locations, two of them mini dungeons. As well as a single new spell, Chant.

Chapter 5 – The Dread Swamp (6 pages)
The norther section of the lower city had falls that fell into it, the water has spread into parts of the city and turned into a swamp. There is two encounter tables. There is 3 encounter locations.

Monster Appendix (3 pages)
This section has full stats for 3 new monsters.
Screamer
Skeletal Swarm
Toxic Mudman

Magic Item Appendix (1 page)
The Nine Disciplines, 9 statues that combined make a minor artifact

Prestige Class Appendix (5 pages)
Disciple of Orcus – Cleric of Orcus PrC, that focuses on necromancy.
Justicar of Muir – Paladin PrC focused on defeating evil outsiders.

It finishes with 4 pages of maps including a overview of the city map. A OGL and two pages of ads. (7 pages)

Closing thoughts. I think so far this has been my favorite part of the series so far. It is about exploring a old ruined city. The encounters are well done, with GM advice on tactics and how to run them. The PrC's are well done and can be ported to be used with any campaign setting with just a tweak of the names easily. Such as Justicar of Muir could easily be used as a PrC for Iomedea from Golarion.

The adventure is very sandboxy in that the adventures can go anywhere they want and explore what ever sections of the city they want. Which also makes it dangerous as the CR's vary from encounter to encounter. Which I personally like. The only real negative I can say about the adventure is one of the bookmark links is broke. The bookmark for chapter 3 takes you to chapter 4 instead. The rest all work fine. I am sure FGG will get the bookmark fixed soon and reuploaded. So what's my rating? Well I can't find any flaws in the adventure and the style of adventure really appeals to me. So I am giving it a 5 star review with the stipulation that they fix the one broken bookmark.



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