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Midgard Adventures #1: To the Edge of the World (PFRPG) PDF

****( ) (based on 3 ratings)

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To the Edge of the World... And Beyond!

This Midgard adventure takes your adventures into the exotic islands of the Western Ocean, to meet the lich queen, raise monsters from the depths, and visits lands far beyond the local hamlet and gatehouse— not bad for a low-level adventure!

To the Edge of the World goes beyond a typical low-level grind of rats and goblins, to an adventure of bigger thrills and a wilder ride for true heroes.

A wild adventure that players will never forget. This is a classic-style Pathfinder Roleplaying Game adventure for 2nd level PCs near any coastline.

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Product Reviews (3)

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****( ) (based on 3 ratings)

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Interesting but Incomplete - Requires Much DM Fiat

**( )( )( )

Rather than lavish praise after praise upon the module, which other reviews have already done, I am going to dissect why it is *not* a well done module.

1. Incomplete Information
The main problem areas here are the Leviathan Island and the Citadel of a Million Stars. The Leviathan Island map showcases several mysterious location names that are not expanded on or described at all. Some of these locations are then referred to later on as though they have already been described in detail- the hallmarks of either a rush-job or cut information. This later referral without proper detailing creates confusion on the DM's part, forcing them to write in their own descriptions of what they think the locations should be. It's a lot of work, and it would have been helpful for some direction on why the locations are important.

The Citadel of a Million Stars is another example. There is a lot of interesting things that could be done here, yet most of the inhabitants of the citadel are glossed over. The locations of several NPCs of varying importance are left up to the GM, and when they become active in the story they are dealt with in an indirect manner similar to the locations of Leviathan Island or, in one of the worst examples of this annoying absence of data- a sentence telling the DM to let the players figure it out amongst themselves, with absolutely no direction or assistance given. A later example is presented within the guidelines on how to reward XP and status for the adventure. One of the optional rewards concerns sending a message to another city, and if the PCs accepted the mission or not. No where else in the entire module does it mention anything about this message, what it contains, or what it concerns.

2. Missing Stats / Grammatical Errors
There are several locations where sometimes vital stats are incorrectly stated, and sometimes not even listed correctly. Relatively simple things such as Initiative modifiers and hit points are omitted in more than one place, leading the DM to have to either make it up or actually research the correct values. There are also some grammatical errors that, while rare, are simple mistakes and quite noticeable.

3. Confusing Story Flow & Presentation
The main problem areas here are the Leviathan Island and the Citadel of a Million Stars. Similar to the reasons in item 1 (see above), the story flow and presentation of the adventure is confusing and very non sequitur. Locations and events are referenced in an arbitrary style after the appearance of the Leviathan Island, giving the impression of a well thought out adventure that was getting too close to its deadline at the end of the Karn'lothra area and became a rush-job. Presented as is, events flow in a disjointed fashion that is confusing both to the DM and the players. This is especially noticeable in the Citadel of a Million Stars- events like the audience with the nobles occur with no respect to time or setting, instead labeling their locations with strange names that do not appear on the map and give no respect to their location relative to the Citadel itself.

Again, the content within the module is very interesting and provides the seeds for some great adventures, but it requires a lot of DM expansion- by itself the module is confusing, sparse, and missing vital information. After thoroughly reading the module several times and running it for my Midgard group, I get the feeling there is a lot of information that was intended to be included, but was cut for whatever reason. A real pity, as the pages that are left are incomplete and present a very difficult adventure to run as is.


One of the best low-level modules I've ever read

*****

This module for the Midgard Campaign Setting is 23 pages long, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 1 page advertisement, 1 page SRD, leaving us with 19 pages of content, so let’s check this out!

This being an adventure-review, the following contains SPOILERS. Potential players should jump to the conclusion.

All right! Still here? This module is all about epic high fantasy – at 2nd level! Simez Rothgazzi, leader of the high order of geomancers, has a proposal for the PCs – They are to visit the island of Karn’lothra, domain of the dreaded lich-queen and secure her permission to open a tomb and secure the Book of Vael Turog. The journey per se will turn out to be as laced with dangers as you want to and several different “random” encounters are provided to help the DM add minor complications: Whether they learn the way to the lich queen’s undead paradise by her undead mermaids or by bargaining with a dragon, they are set for their destination and on their journey may barter with the leshy of a seaweed Sargasso, they may also meet a spark trying to possess them during a storm and have a skirmish with a small goblin warship.

Karn’lothra (which comes with a great map and detailed further in "Journey to the West") should make for a creepy place to visit, with the ominous harbor of last hope, its giant gold/white marble-flecked statues lining the coast and the relative proximity to Nethus’ maw. When evening falls, the ghost of the ankeshelian Mad Prince Deland escorts the characters to the court of the queen, provided they don’t annoy him overtly. There, the audience should be creepy as well and full of tension, since a) an audience requires the adventurers to relinquish their weapons and wands and b) they are hopelessly outclassed anyway. On a particularly vicious botch in diplomacy, the queen may actually take a liking to one of the players – with final consequences for the poor sod.

After securing her permission (or doing it stealthily behind her back), the PCs are off to visit the tomb of the minotaur prince Qoraz, where not only traps, but also red-mist emitting braziers, vampiric mists and a couple of shadows await the PCs – hopefully, they’ve conserved the scroll of protection from undead they got from Simez – or they can try to gain control over and use the lesser sphere of annihilation to waste the undead… The thing is, that the queen, true to the evil of undeath, has sent minions to off the Pcs and claim the book for herself. The book, however, also might be their best chance, for the thing is intelligent and can provide not only a potent protection, but also a summoning ritual that should make the breackneck flight from the island interesting.

When the summoned leviathan island (again, more details in Journeys) makes its appearance, the PCs should be all about going for it, for the mobile island is moving. Braving reefclaws, the adventurers are now stranded again, lavishly with a map detailing Leviathan Island . Only said island is heading towards the end of the world and is inhabited by mongrelmen intent on subduing the PCs and feeding them godsflesh to add them to their ranks. Whether they sit out the time or manage to find godsflesh and commune with the leviathan, they should soon notice that the huge being is actually headed towards the end of the world – whether for spawning, death or rebirth, they probably won’t be able to tell.
A sense of foreboding and imminent doom should be now suffuse them – until the leviathan plunges into the starlit sea, from the very edge of the world. Starbearer-scouts will inform the players that the leviathan is on its way to the star citadel, compelled by the ancient eldritch magics that summoned it – though this by no standard means that the PCs are out of danger – an array of weird creatures ranging from oculus swarms to vargouilles wait in the wings to challenge the brave explorers. The star-shaped citadel awaits them and it is here, they may plead their case before the court of a million stars and its king and queen, for the rulers intend to kill the leviathan, stranding the Pcs in this strange realm beyond the world. In order to seize control of the ancient beasts, the PCs will have to negotiate with Abdiel (an NPC-cheat sheet is btw. provided), the current master of the bridle- unbeknownst to them, though, he wants to control the creature himself and with his ally, a traitorous starbearer, tries to poison and subdue the PCs. The finale, whether it will be trial by combat, varying degrees of success for the villain or the PCs triumphing, should be definitely memorable and result, in the case of victorious PCs, an interesting choice: Do they set the leviathan free or do they steer it back to the western sea? What about the strange egg in the alchemist’s tower?

And by the way, I haven’t even touched on the short sample NPC-list of inhabitants of the strange citadel, not have I yet touched upon the 10 sample events to spice up what is going on in this wondrous place.

Conclusion:
Editing and formatting are top-notch, I didn’t notice any glitches. Layout adheres to a gorgeous two-column full-color standard and the copious original interior artworks are of the same quality as the mind-boggling front cover – this is a premium product in every meaning of the word regarding presentation. The pdf comes fully bookmarked as well, but without a printer-friendly version. Then again – why rob this gorgeous piece of its colors? Also, it's printed version is BEAUTIFUL. Full-color, gorgeous, awesome.

There is a good reason Wolfgang Baur is the legend he is and this pdf shows VERY well how his formidable reputation came to be. Doing adventures that evoke a sense of grandness, of epicness and at the same time trailblaze ahead and provide iconic locales is hard. Doing so at low levels is even harder, especially if you want to keep the players from doing stupid things that could get them killed – like challenging a certain queen, trying to find ways to control a certain beast etc. This module takes an experienced DM with a good mojo to run properly, but OH BOY. If you manage to pull this off, then your players will be talking about it for years to come!

The iconic scenes and locales in this module are enough to weave at the very least 3 whole modules from the content and the fact that this much AWESOMENESS fits in these scarce few pages is mind-blowing. And it manages to do it without feeling misplaced in the level-range. This is high-fantasy at its very best and if I had to nitpick one thing, then it would be that the module by design requires almost to be set in Midgard or a similar flat world, since it is so steeped in the world’s contexts. That being said, this still perhaps one of the best low-level modules out there and deserves to be added to your library – especially at the ridiculously low cost. My final verdict? Easy 5 stars + seal of approval. This would be a 6-star-candidate, if that was possible.

Endzeitgeist out.


If only I could give a 6 star rating

*****

We've all been there, those little squishy tasty scooby snacks known as low level characters...just waiting to be fed to a group of rats, or maybe if you're really lucky a pack of goblins....Woopee!! Yeah, not so much, right? Low level notoriously blows, because so little is written for it with the idea that the group can handle a real challenge, let alone is worthy of a story that goes beyond the most absolute basic concepts...after all, the good stuff is reserved for those characters that can do something with it. Well, Wolfgang says NO MORE!!

To the Edge of the World by Wolfgang Baur is (like every book in the Midgard series) a visual treat to look at. To say that Marc Radle was a good choice for graphic design for the Kobolds has got to be one of the biggest understatements one could imagine. Everything Radle touches ends up with a higher degree of professionalism and just all around sexiness. Sexiness? Yeah, I went there. I can not stress enough how much I have fallen in love with the look of the Midgard series of books, and am thrilled to see that the look is going to carry into the adventures as well as the sourcebooks, as this truly ties them all together as a cohesive set.

Now, I know, I know...you didn't come here to listen to me go on and on about how pretty it is, you want to know about the meat of it all, The adventure itself. And how in the world any adventure written for a beginning playgroup could possibly incorporate a cover that freaking cool, right? Well, let me break it to you buttercup....Oh, wait, almost forgot...PLAYERS BEGONE (wiggles the fingers, tosses the dust) ...Alright, almost forgot to cast that handy little incantation SPOILER ALERT...lol. Now, where were we?? Ah yes, the cover, and just what the heck is going on in this adventure....read on my friends, read on.

The PCs are going to find themselves hired to travel to meet with an undead queen, there to do the diplomacy dance and ingratiate themselves through gifts and flattery to try and gain access to a tomb with the intentions of retrieving an item for their employer. Following me so far? Cool. Because what you have here is essentially the hook to get your PCs moving. The man of means hiring them is going to hook them up with some handy dandy toys to help, things well beyond their means as PCs, but in the end they are acting as emissaries for their employer, which is a great way to put means within the grasp of a group without breaking the mechanics of what they themselves could afford to have access to.

Offered the usage of a ship with an experienced captain (a dragonkin by the name of Gullnipper, who has an excellent piece of art on a sidenote), the PCs should have no problems in reaching the island of Karn'lothra. To keep the journey interesting several side encounters are presented to be used or not, as the GM chooses. Upon arrival to the island (which is described with absolutely cool little features - the corpse of a titan washed up on the beach, a ring of large sculpted heads surrounding the islands coastline, the immense amount of tombs forming a veritable wall of mazeworks.) the PCs will have to jump through the diplomatic hoops and deal with the Bloodless Queen (lich-queen) in attempting to get permission to search for a specific tomb, and then enter said tomb to retrieve an item for their employer.

It should be noted that at this point, yes, the PCs are dealing with things that could easily kill them all, without trying. And that's exactly the point. A group that remembers their place in the larger scale of things, and talks instead of unsheathing their weapons stands a much better chance of getting through several areas of this adventure alive. Assuming they get to the tomb, and survive its defenses, they will find themselves in possession of both that which they came for, and an unexpected treat that should amuse any GM out there...an intelligent, talking spellbook. Yeah, a built in NPC who may or may not co-operate at its own discretion, without being so intrusive that it gets in the way of the storyline.

The book, in the attempt to facilitate escape from the Queen's minions, summons a Leviathan Island for the PCs to "board" and "set sail" on. The leviathan island is freaking huge people, and the map showing it off is a piece of artwork on its own, an actual island of stone and vegetative growth, complete with a group of mongrelmen who worship the freaking thing.

So, pretty cool so far, no? I mean, let's face it, that's some pretty epic stuff for a low level group to experience...but we're so not done yet. The Midgard setting presents us with a flat world, and this leviathan is intending to leave, and get back to the celestial sea by swimming to the edge and making the leap...and yes, the PCs are going along for the ride unless they choose to bail, with no ship or hope of survival. Amongst the stars the leviathan heads towards the Citadel of a Million Stars, wherein the PCs will find themselves embroiled within the court politics of the celestials in residence, with no real allies to rely upon.

A fantastically envisioned adventure that allows for the reality that it is OK for a low level group of PCs to encounter things beyond their combat scope, to be put into danger that will require them to do more than hack and slash to survive, and truly pushes the envelope of what a low level adventure is.

Presented in a dual column format with embedded artwork from Mark Bulahao and Marc Radle, cartography from Todd Gamble, Alyssa Faden and Peter Bradley, and of course that insanely cool cover piece from Pat Loboyko. Editing is top notch, with nothing really jumping out and grabbing me.

Whereas the adventure could be ported to another setting, the true weight of the design and the subtle beauty really shines through when it is left right where it was designed to be played, within the Midgard setting. Several references are made throughout the PDF to other Kobold Press publications, ranging from other Midgard titles to KQ issues, all of which one should have within their library (lol), or can be referenced from the D20PFSRD easily enough.

Wolfgang reminds us all why he's a force to be reckoned with in the industry with this adventure, and easily earned a 6 star rating from me, rounded down to a 5 for the purposes of this forum. A true treat, and well worth the price of admission folks!



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