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Quests of Doom Complete (PFRPG) Hardcover

***** (based on 1 rating)

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What happens when you take some the best adventure writers in the world, and set them loose to assemble a book of masterpiece-level challenges for players? Quests of Doom, that’s what happens!

This book is packed with 18 adventures in over 300 pages, by acclaimed and award-winning authors Ed Greenwood (Forgotten Realms Campaign Setting, The City of Splendors),Bill Webb (Rappan Athuk, The Lost City of Barakus), Matt Finch (Swords & Wizardry, Tome of Adventure Design), J. Collura (Caverns of Thracia Reloaded, Chaos Rising), Michael Curtis (The Dungeon Alphabet, Realms of Crawling Chaos),Casey Christofferson (The Tome of Horrors, City of Brass), Steve Winter (Tyranny of Dragons, Murder in Baldur’s Gate), James M. Ward (Gamma World, Pool of Radiance, Castle Keeper’s Guide), and Skip Williams (Axe of the Dwarvish Lords, The Rod of Seven Parts).

Containing some of our older adventures ("Demons & Devils" and "Vampires & Liches"), and a vast array of new ones, your players will be pitted against the craftiest and most sinister adventure-writers we could find, to give you more of our Adventures Worth Winning!

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Product Reviews (1)

Average product rating:

***** (based on 1 rating)

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An Endzeitgeist.com review

*****

This massive book clocks in at 312 pages, not including the covers. Of these pages, 1 is reserved for notes, 1 for the editorial, 1 for the ToC and two for the SRD, leaving us with o less than 307 pages of content, so let's take a look!

But before we dive into the matter at hand, let us first define what this book actually is - a kind of celebration of a series that was nicked in its bloom due to various reasons - I'm, of course, talking about "Demons & Devils" and "Vampires & Liches", the two module compilations released back in the day by Necromancer Games for 3:X. In case you haven't been around back then to check them out, the premise was simple: Provide old-school modules that are HARD. Not regular FGG-level hard, but...well, nasty. Diabolical. Obviously, I was all for this and coincidentally, "Demons & Devils" was one of the first three books by NG I purchased back in the day at my local FLGS.

The others were "Tomb of Abysthor" and "Crucible of Freya", but I've reminisced long enough about them in my review of their re-release/expansion, Stoneheart Valley. The series never was as popular as the more prominent NG-offerings and thus, only those two installments were made - much to my chagrin. Why? Because they were eye-openers for me. While the other books I purchased were great and have become legends in my group, there are few modules my players talk about more than those contained in these humble pages - which is due to a variety of factors. For one, they are pretty logical, as far as old-school gaming is concerned. Beyond that, they are challenging and dare to ask for brains - whether it's puzzles or simply traps that cannot be easily disarmed by a roll of the bones, their philosophy was different and simply FUN. (Well, I may have made them even more deadly for my main campaign, yes, but that's another story...)

I was at the same time exhilarated and dreaded the arrival of this book - I knew that there were more modules planned that never saw the light of day, but would they live up to the legend of their predecessors? Would the new versions work?

Before I present the modules, let me share some observations with you: For one, fans of FGG's Lost Lands will cherish suggestions of where to place the modules in the context of the campaign world. Beyond that, the modules sport copious new artworks of rather neat quality, so there's that. At the same time, I think one can pretty easily discern the modules that hearken back to the Necromancer Games-era. I may, obviously, be mistaken and only goaded on by some minor relics that refer to NG instead of FGG, but I believe that a certain sense of growth can be seen by quite some authors herein. The conversion-work, generally, is pretty good - when e.g. vehicles are included and ACG-rules are used here and there, one can see that not only the bare minimum was done. At the same time, I do believe that the conversion could have done a slightly better job in some instances, but let's talk about this when it does rear its head.

The modules are grouped by 3s, with each segment having a certain creature-theme. It should also be noted that the modules do sport less hand-holding than many contemporary modules - experienced GMs are definitely going to have an easier time here, with so modules being more challenging (but also more rewarding) than others.

Well, let's not dilly-dally any longer and take a look!

This being a review of a massive adventure compilation, the following contains SPOILERS. Potential players should jump to the conclusion.

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All right, still here? Great!

The first module herein would be J. Collura's "Noble Rot", intended for levels 5 -8. In this module, the PCs explore the dilapidated, decayed wine-making operation of the erstwhile prolific Gluant family, hoping to loot some of their exquisite wines. From a significant array of rumors, one can already piece together some intriguing notes about the family - and indeed, the exploration of their dread grounds proves to be a most exciting task - with the undead roaming and a sense of decay pervading the grounds, one can quickly glean that not all is well: Indeed, the family has fallen to the power-struggle of two dread demon lords associated with fungi and slime and thus, the exploration proves to be somewhat icky. Highlights of this module include definitely the author's obviously well-done research that makes the place feel organic and realistic, the new wine slime, wine-making-themed hazards (which benefit quite a bit from the GM doing a quick research for them - I found depicting them easier thereafter) and two particularly challenging encounters - the final battle and the penultimate one both are nasty and reward smart players for drawing the right conclusions in a way more often seen in CoC-pulp-modules than in fantasy - nice! It should also be noted that the titular Noble Rot, based on the real world fungus Boytris Cinerea, can be contracted as a symbiotic fungus that actually acts as a bonus and which allows the GM to help in case of abysmal PC luck. While I believe this is better suited at 5th level than 8th, this module is a strong opener that definitely deserves accolades for the consistent and tight atmosphere evoked.

"Of Ants and Men", for PCs level 4 - 8, is written by Bill Webb. Do I really need to say more? All right, the short version is that the master of Frog God Games delivers by the spades in one of the most simple, yet unique and challenging crawls I've read in quite some time. The premise is simple: Get Giant Ant eggs out of the hive. Easy, right? WRONG. For one, as the dead adventurers attest, there are more issues looming - and the hive is interesting. Instead of devising a convoluted mechanic to depict the hive, we instead get different alarm-statuses for the hive and an easy means of determining initiated aggression upon intruders - essentially, PCs can be sprayed with pheromones by engaging in combat - this results in "aggroing" the hive. Conversely, smart groups that infiltrate the place, steer clear of the warriors etc. may actually make their way to the intelligent queen of the hive - where they may conduct negotiations via pantomime with the mistress of the place. Following the notion of a Gygaxian simulationist world, incursions into the hive by other creatures provide opportunities for the PCs to be sprayed with "friendly" pheromones, facilitating their infiltration. Oh, and AoE-effect can crumble the tunnels. Cave-ins are NOT fun, so your PCs better be smart. As a nice twist a GM may include or leave out, the hive has burrowed into an antediluvian complex, where extremely deadly traps await alongside a mundane blade made from magic-nulling material - obviously, escaping with this nasty, priceless weapon can be rather tough...and may lead to very intriguing further capers. I LOVED this module - it's unconventional, fun, rewards clever players and could be played as a war of attrition, an infiltration of just a hack-n-slay-type of module. Glorious!

Speaking of which - what's better than a module by Bill Webb? What about one where Matt Finch co-authors the thing? "Hidden Oasis - Temple of Thoth", intended for levels 7 - 9 is ridiculously awesome: When a mysterious stranger, a djinn in disguise, offers knowledge in exchange for a task and produces a strange papyrus scroll with symbols, we kick things into high gear - for the PCs leave their bodies for the plane of shadows, where the equivalent of a Star Gate can be activated with the runes handed to them, bringing them to a kind of odd demi-plane-ish Oasis. Here, an exploration of the ruins and surroundings does show that something has befallen the mysterious planar nexus that is the temple of Thoth. Clever research may also help here, for indeed, the sealed temple that can be accessed via another gate here has been infected with the Waxen plague, a dread affliction that either kills those subjected or turns them into gelatinous cubes - but thankfully, the high-priest is still around, holding the fort. Surely, the PCs can help him...oh wait.

The spiteful djinn may have forgotten to mention that the high-priest is a huge, intelligent transparent slug with a humanoid brain in the torso. Yep, that's the good guy. Oh, and he can control the priests-turned-cubes, in case you're wondering. Exploring the temple can net the PCs access to some teleportals, but that's not the problem - the temple is about to be compromised by a dread force of Planeshoppers. What are these guys? Pretty deadly, locust-like conquerors that seek a waypoint into the PC's world! Worse, they are about to come full force and the synergy effects of their castes render them formidable foes. In fact, their builds are significantly more interesting than I've come to expect from FGG - they are deadly and use some very advanced tricks I really like. With lethal psychic shokwaves predating the invasion, the PCs do not have much time - but there is one ace in the hole: The Scorpion of Sekhmet. If the PCs have been smart, they'll have found some mysterious power-sources - which the can use to power a gigantic SCORPION-MECH, Power Rangers-style. I.e. multiple PCs have to pilot this bad boy, with actions eating at the power source, movement and turning adhering to concise and easily understood rules...oh, and tail-laser. This is absolutely awesome in so many ways - can you remember when you last fought alongside a giant transparent slug-priest and his gelatinous cube henchmen in a giant scorpion-mech against massive, deadly and evil insectoid invaders hell-bent on subjugating your world? Thought so! This is one of the best modules herein and absolutely glorious!

Demons and Devils are next, all penned by the legendary duo of Clark Peterson and Bill Webb. The "Sorceror's Citadel"(suggested level: 9) is pretty much a straight-forward dungeon-crawl into the abode of a wizard named Crane, known for his mastery of a sphere of annihilation and subsequently eliminated in battle against foes most vile - and infiltrating the place is challenging - the use of magic in particular, with clever illusions etc., renders this a classic challenge.

"Ra's Evil Grin," so named due to the puzzle required to enter the meat of the module, also provides a quest for an artifact, this time, for the Globe of Arden - but to reach it, the PCs will have to brave a dungeon that has one of the nastiest traps in FGG-history (Yes, on par with the legendary entry to Rappan Athuk) and yes, the maze and foes are intriguing. If you're looking for something different: I ran this as a solo-module back in my old campaign (only suggested if you're *really* sadistic and your players know that death awaits...) and made the whole dungeon times, making the mummy priest and immortal, regenerating badass that hunted the poor PC through the dungeon. And yes, my PC solo'd the demon at the end in an extremely close encounter, but still. That being said, most GROUPS probably will have a VERY hard time surviving this beauty - one of the classics and so sweet indeed... I just wished the web-enhancement of the journey to the island had been included and updated herein.

The third module herein would be my least favorite among the old modules from "Demons & Devils" - it is essentially a two-parter, with the first one centering on a paladin getting a holy avenger. Thereafter the dread deceit of the demons becomes apparent, as the blade corrupts the champion - the true blade still lies hidden and, in the end, one has to be chosen. I'm not a fan of alignment and even less s a fan of forced alignment changes, so while not bad or necessarily problematic, I always considered plots like this to be something of a cheap shot. Rules for lesser versions of the classic demons have btw. been included in the deal here.

Okay, the next triumvirate would be "Giants & Dragons", which kicks off with Michael Curtis' "The Dead from Above," intended for levels 10 - 13. And oh boy, does it kick off! SPLINTER!!! CRASH! FIRE!!! DEATH!!! Undead giants fall on the town and lurch to life, while a dragon skeleton swoops through the air and a gigantic building fashioned from titanic bones hangs in the sky. Defeating the initial onslaught, PCs can actually RIDE the skeletal dragon (!!!) up to the fortress and bring the fight to the nasty giants - who have fused one of their kind with the flying fortress, dooming the pilot to a body-horror-level nasty existence. Taking down the giant's flying fortress and crashing its soul-consuming engines is absolutely AWESOME. This is unrepentant in its glorious ideas, with truly deadly adversaries and a set-up that will leave any metal-head (or boy...or gamer, really...) squeeing. Come on. You ride a skeletal dragon to a fortress in the sky to do battle with necromancer-giants. This does everything right that "Curse of the Riven Sky" did wrong -it embraces its over-the-top OMG-what-is-happening-premise, has glorious terrain and even means for social manipulation...oh, and, of course a reason why PCs (probably) shouldn't keep the fortress. AWESOME!

Where the above module was pretty much straight action, James M. Ward's Dead Dragon temple, for PCs level 6 - 8, instead opts for portraying the majestic - at the side of one of the most difficult to scale mountains I've ever seen represented in a module, lies a dragon-shaped temple, wherein the spirits of dead dragons roam as haunts, while hostile adventurers and lizardfolk cater to their whims - fulfilling the desires of the reptiles can lead to different rewards and sidetreks, should you so choose, and the temple does contain a unique, good white dragon as well as a means to defeating a truly deadly menace - for the PCs venture inside to become dragons to stop an ancient blue dragon from destroying more settlements. The final draconic dogfight is a joy, but only if your GM-prowess is at expert level: Handling a group of dragons in the air is difficult and I'd strongly suggest getting the legendary "Companions of the Firmament"-supplement for the rules on 3d-combats, turning, etc. - with them, this is a huge blast. Without them, you'll have to be pretty adept.

The third module is penned by industry-legend Ed Greenwood and it does show: "Emeralds of Highfang", suggested for 15th - 17th level, is a difficult module, themed, obviously, around giants and dragons. While the hooks are somewhat lame, exploring the complex, where giants mine at the behest of a deadly dragon, who uncharacteristically is more of an underground merchant, can actually be rather exciting. On the plus-side, Ed Greenwood's attention to detail is superb and the respective areas do feel alive and intriguing. At the same time, I do feel that this module does fall a bit flat of its premise, which supposedly is to provide enough for rogues to do and for smart groups to do via stealth - at the suggested levels, the PCs, at least mine, will curb-stomp the hell out of all opposition herein but the final dragon. On a nitpicky note - a rather cool trap unleashes 240 Stirges - which are utterly impotent against PCs of this level. Why not utilize the troop-subtype (or a variant swarm) and make this a challenging encounter, instead of an annoying one? Generally, a solid module, but short of the previous ones.

Part II of my review is in the product discussion - see you there!


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