Rappan Athuk, the legendary mega-dungeon by Frog God Games and Necromancer Games is nothing more and nothing less than a good, old–fashioned, First Edition dungeon crawl updated for the Pathfinder Roleplaying Game. Very difficult, Rappan Athuk will truly strike fear into the hearts of the most stalwart adventurers. It offers legions of inventive traps, tricks, strange features, and monsters—many of them never before seen. It affords numerous opportunities for roleplaying, but anyone willing to brave these subterranean halls better arrive ready to rumble, or their lives will be short indeed.
Many, many players have lost favored PCs delving into the depths of this dungeon, all the while giggling like children and having the time of their lives. Hundreds, if not thousands of players have combed the halls of Rappan Athuk over the years, seeking treasure and fame, making it one of the best-known dungeon locations the game has ever produced. Even players who have never entered its halls know the term: “Don’t go down the Well!”
An adventure for 4 – 6 PCs
Character Levels 1 – 20
Authors: Bill Webb, Matt Finch, Clark Peterson, WDB Kenower, Greg Raglund, Greg Vaughan, and Skeeter Green
I picked one up at Gen Con, I had no idea that it was going to be available. AMAZING....absolutely wonderful. Words cannot describe how much I have enjoyed it and look forward to running it. FGG put a lot of effort into it and it shows. The new content is very much worth the redo. I looked forward to this for a long time and was completely overjoyed and satisfied with the final product. This book/tome is a must have for any DM. I would be interested in how many copies were sold at Gen Con, I about fell over when I saw it. I absolutely had to have it! I can't imagine anyone would be disappointed owning this.
If you bought a copy of this at GenCon, you should have a PDF copy in your downloads (provided that you gave an email address to the cashier), courtesy of Frog God Games (if you don't, please contact customer service).
I'm getting mine through Kickstarter funding and I'm very much looking forward to it. I would like to have supported Swords & Wizardry as well but I'm just all tapped out on what I can donate to projects right now (trying hard to get The Gamers: Hand of Fate to succeed; it's a nailbiter right now and there's only about a week left).
I still get to play OD&D on occassion and would love to have a copy of Swords & Wizadry and that version of Rappan Athuk as well.
Ogre CR 3
CE Large humanoid (giant)
Init –1; Senses darkvision 60 ft., low-light vision; Perception +2
AC 17, touch 8, flat-footed 17 (+4 armor, –1 Dex, +5 natural, –1 size)
hp 30 (4d8+12)
Fort +6, Ref +0, Will +3
Speed 30 ft. (40 ft. base)
Melee greatclub +7 (2d8+7)
Ranged javelin +1 (1d8+5)
Space 10 ft.; Reach 10 ft.
Str 21, Dex 8, Con 15, Int 6, Wis 10, Cha 7
Base Atk +3; CMB +9; CMD 18
Feats Iron Will, Toughness
Skills Climb +7, Perception +5
Environment temperate or cold hills
Organization solitary, pair, gang (3–4), or family (5–16)
Treasure standard (hide armor, greatclub, 4 javelins, other treasure)
Would it be accurate to say that a rogue, and by rogue I mean someone with trapfinding and disable device, is pretty much essential for this campaign?
Certainly as much as a cleric, fighter and wizard are.
This is an excellent example of a 'classic four' party adventure. You really need all the bases covered as far as Arcane fire power, Divine casting/healing, front-line fighters and trap-finding types to get through.
And honestly, the PCs will need all the potential tools they can get their hands on, for starting with level 9, things start to get truly painful: The second temple of Orcus awaits and its caretaker, Gudmund, has a vital key the PCs will need. Unfortunately for them, the disciple of Orcus is not exactly a nice fellow and the demon-enhanced showdown will challenge your PCs to the breaking point - especially if you're a sadistic DM like me - there's a maze with a bunch of teleporters on this level and making a running dash for the area allows your NPCs e.g. time to rebuff - just as a tip in case players first manage to breach the temple's defenses and seem like they're winning. ;) Level 9A, the Hydra's Lair, contains one of the truly evil dick-moves of this dungeon: Extremely well-hidden, there's a tomb of a CR 26 death knight AND a CR 27 Demilich. When compared to these "bonus-bosses" of epic power, the normal foes like huge groups of trolls, a pair of umbral dragons and a 12-headed Pyrohydra guarding the mithril gates leading to level 11 feel almost easy. Until you recall and experience their power that is. Hope that your PCs are smart enough to let the two ancient beings lie... Level 9B and 9C make up the two levels of the well of Agamemnon and while the first level is not too hard, the whirlpool the PCs will have to brave to access the latter level will test their luck and ingeniousness, a good precursor for the difficulty that awaits the PCs in the person of Agamemnon, the now-corrupted vampire archwizard and his groaning spirit-brides.
Level 9D are the bloodways, first introduced in Rappan Athuk Reloaded: Taking the trope from the classic "Desert of Desolation"-set, the bloodways are a labyrinth filled with bloody, red mist that obscures vision, are almost impossible to truly navigate and make up 4 (!!!) levels of dungeon - the bloodways are flavorful and confusing, though their boss, Duke Aerim the bloodwraith, feels rather like a bit weak for the level. That being said, the confusing and lengthy nature of the Bloodways makes it still a disturbing challenge and perhaps one of the hardest levels - and there are the forgotten tombs, where undead mummy-priests and even a marilith awaits, so enough potential for death and mayhem here. Let's hope that by the time PCs reach level 10, the aptly-named Lava Pit, they have some option to make themselves immune to fire, otherwise the local salamander-population under the command of CR 28 noble salamander sorceror Irtuk will annihilate the PCs. Who are we kidding? Even if they are prepared, Irtuk and his elemental creatures will constitute a challenge that could break all but the most experienced players - and let's hope that their curiosity doesn't kill them - there's essentially a nice "story-kill" also possible on this level. Level 10A, the "Great Cavern" is appropriately-named - with another total of 4 pages of maps depicting both an overview as well as the respective sites. Among the creatures herein, the PCs can find the "Mother of all Purple Worms", two legendary orcus-mummies, negotiate with an insanely powerful lich who actually is a foe of Orcus, navigate a colony of fungus people and find another set of mithral gates and even a vein of gold! In level 10B, the goblin outpost features some rather interesting green-skins - armed to the teeth, having multiple class-levels and teamwork powers, they and their unit training should make the PCs reconsider hard any notion of underestimating goblins and provide them with a taste of the things to come.
In level 10C, the Talon of Orcus, another outpost of the Orcus-worshippers, has also a rather large contingent of deadly foes and overshadows the goblins from the prior level - the Seer of Orcus, special stone golems etc. won't make things easier for the PCs and the broken, MPD-afflicted adventurer they can rescue may yet succumb to the traumas he had to endure - with potentially fatal consequences, but also some very fun roleplaying potential. On level 11, the PCs can encounter, among other beings, a neothelid (which replaces a beholder, if my memory serves me correctly) as well as find the statue of a high priestess struck by a divine curse - greed and risk/reward ratios of groups are put to the test here, though I always considered it a pity that per se no way to free the priestess has been included. Oh, have I mentioned the mithral vein? Level 11A not only features the gates to the subterranean city of goblins, but also perhaps the hardest group of NPCs in the "rival adventurer"-style encountered so far with non only a hall of 40 wraiths at their beck and call, a group of high-level vampires will bleed the PC's resources further dry. Wait, you say: Goblin City? Yes, one of the largest levels of Rappan Athuk is the meticulously detailed Goblin City of Greznek in level 12A - a roleplaying town that comes with its own attitude-adjustment sidebox and the options for starved adventurers to not only stock up, but actually do some trading and even side-questing, making this city a great alternative and break from all the dungeon crawling. Level 12 contains a whole array of potential cohorts and the reason is rather evident by its title: The Slave Dens contain all those unfortunate enough to have been caught by the servants of Orcus or the goblins and it is from here, if anywhere, that the PCs will need to stage their escape attempt should they get caught alive by anyone. Worse for the PCs, two elite priests, their mohrgs and their option to summon a balor also are a part of the fun things they can encounter this level. Another cool break from standard dungeon crawling would be level 12B, Tiamat's Puzzle, in which the PCs do explore a dungeon, yes, but one focused very strongly on riddle-solving and with a different theme. It is here the PCs may find a potent sword, which remains cursed for now - until they find the parent-sword in the vermin-themed level 12C, that is. This level is more about mass than threat and probably will have the PCs feel a surge of power, which is ok, I guess -especially since the giant amphisbaena anaconda is waiting for worn-down, overconfident PCs...
Level 13 houses a dread ghost antipaladin - and options to die. Hard. By becoming cursed, by facing a mirror duplicate and by failing to properly navigate the portal on this level, for it is here that the only point of access to the final level can be found. But we'll return to examine that later - after we've checked out the Goblin Barracks and the military commander of the greenskins (13A), followed the winding Dark River (13B) to Zombieland (13C). Where, bingo, a LOT of zombies wait. To be chopped to pieces. That's fine, let the PCs smash through whole armies of them and find a way to access the "Lost Levels" as soon as they are released. As soon as the PCs are overconfident enough, they can find a wall of force - if they bash it down, they'll have fun with 2 CR20+ liches and the dread evil artifact, the Zombiestone of Karsh. Now if you're familiar with the classic mythology of demon-princes, you may not be surprised to find that the defense of the lowest of the three temples of Orcus falls to not only extremely powerful beings, but actually to a combination of demons, undead and disciples as well as Maphistal, a demon lord of his own right. If the PCs manage to clean this temple as well, they might actually have a teeny-tiny sliver of a chance against the Demon Prince of Undead. Level 14A houses a tragedy - it is here that the defeated army of Tsar retreated to and that a fallen angel and a dwarven undead abomination still lead an army of hundreds (literally, there are that many) undead in their congregation, guarding level 14B, aptly titled "The Grand Cornu of Orcus" - here, the high-priest of the demon-lord of the undead makes his final stand, here his shadow-advisor Pagonis, his Kyton torture-master, his denizen of leng librarian Ashfallen and his personal, powerful undead servants wait and work tirelessly for the detriment of all that is good and holy and it is here that the epic battle against this stain upon the planet will reach its penultimate climax- at least, that's what one would think until one sees the "Architect's Workshop" (level 14C) - where legendary planar architect Glazerel waits alongside his anima engine, where PCs can be hurtled to seemingly prehistoric times, a strange mercane-bar tended by valkyries, awaken stranded in a Kyton-hospital (Silent Hill is calling...), travel to a strange garden eden, battle an undead gold dragon and visit a plateau that might very well be adjacent to Leng itself - the planar chaos and dimensional sidetreks are plain awesome and make this my favorite new level of the dungeon.
Speaking of which: Only one to go: Level 15. The Den of the Master. When the PCs, covered in their own blood and naked, pop up in this dimension, they are in for an immediate blasphemy for fun and giggles, continuing blasts of evil energy and can kiss regaining clerical magic goodbye. Apart from highest echelon demons, we also get a selection of Orcus' most powerful level 20 allies as well as..well. Orcus' friggin' avatar. CR 35. The PCs better be running for that teleporter circle to et as fast away as possible from the Demon Prince. Though, of course, if they prevail, Orcus is gone for 666 years and their feat will be sung of in legends forevermore...
The pdf also contains stats for all new monsters, an appendix with the "Disciple of Orcus"-archetype, the Archwizard and Zealot of Orcus-PrCs, a total of 38 new magic items (of which many are artifacts), an appendix detailing the presumed default gods of the Necro/FrogGod-verse, illustrated pregens for level 1 and 6 of all CORE-classes, but not of the APG/UM/UC-classes, a total of 37 pages of battle-maps as well as the aforementioned obituary-sheets, which imho will see a lot of use...
Editing and formatting are top-notch, I didn't notice any significant glitches and the scarce minor formatting glitch did not detract from my enjoyment of this mega-dungeon. Layout adheres to FGG's two-column b/w-standard and the most iconic of the b/w-artworks have been re-used from the previous two iterations. It should be known, though, that we also get a vast slew of new pieces of art of a comparably stellar quality. One major upside since the latest incarnation of Rappan Athuk is that all encounters feature directly the CR-ratings for the respective areas, which is a huge help, as is the decision to include major statblocks where they are needed in the dungeon - layout wise, especially in direct comparison, this version of Rappan Athuk first mops the floor with its predecessors and then gobbles up the remains. The pdf has also been lovingly bookmarked, enabling easy navigation in this monster.
Rappan Athuk is perhaps the best dungeon released for 3.X. In my opinion, it's the best dungeon-centric module for the system. However, it had its weaknesses: While the initial levels had been detailed to the nth degree, the final levels felt a bit more abrupt and less imaginative. Another weakness was that the module(s) did not offer anything for low-level PCs to do. And finally, the wilderness was not as detailed as I would have liked it to be. These three weaknesses have been purged in the PFRPG-iteration - with the new low-level dungeon, PCs can suffer from 1st level on. The new wilderness-areas and 0-level entry-levels to the dungeon of graves are glorious. The sideview map means I don't need a spreadsheet of connections between areas to navigate the dungeon. The Frog God's Cloister would have made for an awesome module in itself. And the bonus-content keeps on coming: Even when compared with the reloaded version, the latest iteration feels vastly superior - minor ties to Tsar and the upcoming Sword of Air (which are always unobtrusive and don't require the ownership of either), top-notch new levels at the higher levels of the dungeon, more deadly foes, more artifacts and even cool utilizations of PFRPG-rules - Plain awesome all around.
Now is there something I did not enjoy as much? Well, yes. I'm a huge fan of the APG-classes and you'll find no alchemist, no inquisitor, no magus etc. here (though witches are there). I would have enjoyed more support for them. The replacements of IP-protected monsters make sense and work well in the context of the dungeon and serve to mostly enrich their environments, not detract from them. (Though I still miss mindflayers...)
So. After writing this review for x hours, reading the whole monster thrice, I can say I look forward to my kickstarter-exclusive level and the bonus modules as well as the player's guide, all of which will also be reviewed in due time by yours truly. For now, I'll have to give my final verdict and even if my copy of Slumbering Tsar wasn't growling at me from my bookshelf, I couldn't rate this any lower than the full 5 stars + endzeitgeist seal of approval - this could literally be all the deadly, imaginative old-school dungeon-goodness you'll ever need.
Reviewed here, sent to GMS magazine, posted about it on RPGaggression and submitted my review to NERD TREK.com Cheers!
Okay, I have the original three modules, and loved the Dungeon of Graves from the moment I first picked it up. I have print outs of all the extra's, the wilderness area's etc. I ran this dungeon in 3/3.5, for friends and for several years at a local con, many years back. I've always had a good time running it, and it's a dungeon I'd love to be on the other side of the cardboard curtain for. I'd really like a chance to run my current group all the way through. However, what I also love is my very limited (living on student loans and not much else at the moment) money.
I get that this is a monster of a book, and that's actually a concern of mine. I have too many game books (some pricey) on my shelf that I have to constantly baby because the binding is not up to snuff. My Pathfinder core book is dangerously close to tipping into that same category and is not as many pages as Rappan. If I'm going to at all contemplate dropping a hundred dollars on a dungeon I'm not going to have a chance to run for several years (I've resolved not to run games while going to law school), I need to know this beast of a book isn't going to come apart at the seams.
Also, is there that much more to this compared to the modules? Unless that wilderness portion is more robust then I remember (haven't looked at it all together in a bit), I don't recall it all adding up to 600+ pages. What do I, the potential buyer who was not aware and hence did not participate in the Kickstarter get that is not in what I have, besides from the update to Pathfinder. (And I'm a lazy DM, so an update to Pathfinder alone had me reaching for my wallet). I read the review from Endzeitgeist above, thank you, which answered some of my questions about that (more levels, more maps, etc), and that all sounds great (especially a cut away map to show how the dungeon interacts), but I'm wondering how it added up to that many more pages.
It certainly sounds like more than a simple conversion was done, which catches my interest. Before I give it a hard though, and figure out if I should work extra hours at a part time job I loath to make sure I have the cash, a few more details? Because I'll work those hours for Rappan, but only if it sounds like it's worth it to buy it again.
If End's review wasn't enough to interest you, I don't know how much this will help, but here goes:
From the Kickstarter page
Rappan Athuk will be a faux leather-bound, signature stitched book (textbook bound for a lifetime of durability) with either a red cover (for the Swords & Wizardry version) or black cover (for the Pathfinder Roleplaying Game). The book includes:
17 new levels (topping over 50 levels) with many revisions to the existing levels
A number of lower level areas (character levels 1-10) including the village of Zelkor's Ferry and its surrounding environs
A Temple of Tsathogga with a three level dungeon of its own
2 New Prestige Classes and a New Archtype (Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Version Only)
27+ New Monsters
3 New Monster Templates
5+ New Artifacts
30+ New Magic Items (including some old favorites)
The return of Bill Webb's favorite spell from the Relics and Rituals days as an ability!
29+ miniature-scale battlemaps (detailing 10+ separate locations) provided for iconic locations and key encounter areas
Plus I won't make you sick by all the add-on stuff we gave for free if you were a Kickstarter supporter. You REALLY want to find someone selling the stuff on Ebay (we will not sell the bonus level) to get all the goodies.
Oh, I didn't need End's review to interest me (great review though, don't get me wrong), but I really just needed some bullet points.
Textbook bound, gotcha. So the same as World's Largest Dungeon was done in back in the day?
You see, I was not aware of the Kickstarter until very recently (and I figured I didn't want to look at that to see all the extra's I had potentially missed out on...) so I had no idea what all was added. The 17 new levels of dungeon and 27+ new monsters explains where the higher page count comes from almost by itself.
I'm guessing the mini-scale maps are a map pack then? I can't see that many pages being a tear-out (or mini-scale having any utility being part of the book, lol!). That's really nice actually, and amusingly enough tipping the scale heavily in favor of getting this.
Again, the bullet point upgrades are really what I needed to see the list of, and that helped a lot. Like I said, I have the original three modules, so I was curious on how much had been added that I wouldn't have just from converting the dungeon myself.
As someone who ran the three book set for 3.0, then when reloaded came out and run another game in 3.5 I jumped at the chance of getting it for pathfinder.
I've got the PDF's waiting on the hard copies, but have already run a session of it for my players using the electronic copies.
All I can say is I doubt I'd ever look at the earlier versions again...
This is awesome. The details of the wilderness area alone is worth it. I loved the town, it works well with my gaming style.
I wanted a dungeon crawl that could take players comping and going, that would challenge a novice and an experienced players, and was going to last the test of time, and not be finished in a few weeks.
I also bought the Tsar sage at the same time, and I recommend it to anyone who loves this as they have are designed to work well together or stand alone, I intend for cross connections between the two giving my group many years of adventuring before the books are closed on the campaign.
I've taken the first edition feel that necromancer games liked to advertise on their products back to some of the character creation. All new characters are level 1 and its up to the party to keep them alive, so each new character is a fresh faced recruit, and loosing a character will be a big event in the game...
They have only been to the town and down the river north of the dungeon and so far its made an impression on the group that its become one of my favorite campaigns out of the four that I am running.
So I would recommend it, its got humour, challenge and death in well measured doses... Just warn the players beforehand that characters are fragile and tend to come here to die horribly.