Slumbering Tsar 6: The Temple-City of Orcus, Part 3—The Harrow Lanes (PFRPG) PDF

****½ (based on 2 ratings)

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Stretching across the center of the city like a jagged scar, the Harrow Lanes block all access to the ways above. To plumb the secrets of the city, the lanes must be surmounted. But this is no easy feat when wheels within wheels set powerful pawns into motion at the hands of chess masters filled with ancient wisdom. What lurks in The Harrow Lanes is something few will live to tell of.

This adventure includes the exploration of the many sites within the Harrow Lanes, including Mordecai’s Stair, the Cursed Smithy of Larach-Umbriol, the Encampment of the Beast-Fiends, the Khanjar’s Gauntlet, the Cathedral of Pain, and many more.

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****½ (based on 2 ratings)

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Good, albeit not perfect installment of the ST-series

****( )

This installment of the epic Slumbering Tsar series is 60 pages long, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 1 page ToC, 3 pages of advertisements and 1 page of SRD, leaving 53 pages of content, so let's take a good look at the second level of Orcus' dread temple-city!

This being an adventure review, the following contains massive
SPOILERS
so please, potential players, stop reading.

The second foray into the mean streets of Tsar is introduced via, how could it be any different, random encounters and the respective critters. In order to access the harrow lanes, the PCs might have to brave the so-called lower tower gate (which comes with a one-page map) and an advanced devourer acts as the boss-fight for one of the Tsar-spanning side-quest detailing the redemption of Mordecai and offering a crucial hint for a future installment of the series. The hammer that is a part of this quest is depicted in the appendix (as a minor artifact) and gets its own detailed b/w-artwork. Nice!
Next up is the smithy of Larach-Umbriol, a smithy necessary to complete another quest from the desolation, potentially resulting in an event described in the "lower City" - it should be noted that we get another one-page map.

There is also an encampment of rather elite gnolls that make for a rather hard encounter - the PCs will have to deal with the huge wicker man the gnolls revere (interlacing with another encounter from the lower city) as well as many deadly opponents - if the PCs don't tread lightly or fight smart, they'll be in for a world of pain. The map for the gnoll camp is also provided on another page. However, the encampment suffers from a relic <n> that has eluded the editors. From the swill hole, the PCs can enter the chambers and cavern that run along the infamous subterranean missing river of Tsar, the piece of water that feeds the swamp-like section of the city. The river comes with a one page map as well as an additional map page containing 2 encounter areas. From morlocks to phantom fungi and a tentacled horror boss, this river is rather creepy and deadly in a cthulhoid way and e.g. a leech vermin host makes for another compelling fight as well as providing another one of the disciples for the PCs to find.

At the northernmost point of the harrow lanes, the PCs can find a majestic villa, where a covey of hags and their fire giant minions reside - here the PCs might complete a quest for vengeance for a exiled hag. Of course, this area also gets its own map. The fallen towers of the city get a map, too and the encounter from the lower city featuring the invisible sniper can be brought to a conclusion in this area. The Next area we are introduced to (again, with its own map), is the Khanjar's gauntlet, i.e. the rather deadly gallow-trees guarded lair of a deadly woodwrack dragon.

Next up on the plate is a foundry, which one day was intended to create a titanic super-cannon, now being guarded by a plethora of golems and undead and elemental-driven furnaces. Of course, we get another nice one-page map for the foundry.
The final area of the harrow lanes depicts the cathedral of pain, the lower-class former temple of Orcus. Unfortunately, there is another <n> in one of the boxed texts.

Apart from that, though, the PCs can end the threat of ashborne arachnae by slaying the brood mother. That is not all, though - several deadly undead creatures, a daraka demon and a terrible cursed cleric of Orcus (a gauntling) make for rather challenging and deadly adversaries and will be sure to test the mettle of your PCs to the limit and possibly even beyond. The cathedral gets 2 appropriately epic maps as well, making for rather cool showdowns with the big baddies.

The pdf closes with appendices detailing a new undead creature (with its own b/w-artwork), the dark custodian, as well as entries on afore mentioned hammer and the entry on the 9 disciples.

Conclusion:
The pdf adheres to the concise and clear two-column layout of FGG, complete with a plethora of high-quality b/w-artworks. Formatting is top-notch, but the two relics I found prevent me from giving a perfect score in formal criteria. It should also be noted that my version of this pdf did not feature bookmarks, which makes navigating the file harder. With regards to content, we once again get iconic and challenging places, encounters and the conclusion to some rather interesting quests from the series, which is great for people following the whole saga. For those of you who want to buy a separate file, though, this one might not be the best choice - the harrow lanes are very entwined with the lower city and both files practically necessitate each other for full usability.

On another note, I noticed that finding the disciples can prove rather difficult on the DM - on my first (granted, rather casual and hasty) read-through of the file while riding the train to work, I missed the disciple statue the PCs can find in this adventure. I hope that in the final book, they'll be somewhat highlighted for the DM's ease - after all, they're the focus of this part of the saga. The separation of encounters in e.g. the lower city and its areas here made my reference of some of the things that go on in Tsar a bit harder than they should be. While I'm sure that the final epic hardcover won't suffer from these problems, I think the two would have been better in a double price and content file. This, along with the very minor editing glitches ( I didn't notice typos or grammatical errors, after all) and the missing bookmarks result in a final verdict of 4 stars. Add half a star if you're using the whole saga or are especially interested in using the whole temple-city.

Endzeitgeist out.


Dark Archive

Another part out. Need to pick this one up when RL allows.

Dark Archive

Reviewed finally, parts 7 and 8 should be reviewed by the end of the weekend as well.

Frog God Games

Great review. Thanks, DM!


Nice review, D_M! Gotta pick these up again...

Dark Archive

Endzeitgeist wrote:
Nice review, D_M! Gotta pick these up again...

Again? What did you lose them?


Reviewed here, on RPGaggression and sent to GMS magazine. I've finally got back to reviewing these - expect to see the others soon.

Cheers!


Excellent and thorough review as always, thanks End!


Thank you for your kind words, Dark Sasha! What reviews are you currently working on?


I have completed everything on my most recent list. I have to go back through and check to see if anything got skipped due to lack of time during TOHC deadlines.

Shadow Lodge

A question for you Frog God folks...I know that there's going to be a hardcover compilation of the entire Slumbering Tsar saga. Will there be a PDF version of this compilation?


Well, as far as I could gather from the official page they always use the plural with regards to pdfs and I haven't seen any announcement of the like, but I gather that either there won't be one or that there will eventually be one, but long after the hardcover has been put out. I'm guessing as much as anybody else, though.

Dark Archive

Nice review End.


Thank you very much, D_M!


Kthulhu wrote:
A question for you Frog God folks...I know that there's going to be a hardcover compilation of the entire Slumbering Tsar saga. Will there be a PDF version of this compilation?

Good question: I'll try to forward it to Bill as I don't know the answer. But it seems to me that you should be getting your downloads for each part as you go and will have the complete campaign once you are done. Granted it will be in 14 different parts, but a heck of a lot easier to open than one huge pdf, IMO.

Frog God Games

Kthulhu wrote:
A question for you Frog God folks...I know that there's going to be a hardcover compilation of the entire Slumbering Tsar saga. Will there be a PDF version of this compilation?

Normally I would automatically say "yes" to that, however, there's additional material available in the compilation (or I should say "will be available") that is a promised extra for those that supported us from the beginning with a pre-order.

So...

So I'm not sure what the answer should be. :)


Dark Sasha wrote:
Kthulhu wrote:
A question for you Frog God folks...I know that there's going to be a hardcover compilation of the entire Slumbering Tsar saga. Will there be a PDF version of this compilation?
Good question: I'll try to forward it to Bill as I don't know the answer. But it seems to me that you should be getting your downloads for each part as you go and will have the complete campaign once you are done. Granted it will be in 14 different parts, but a heck of a lot easier to open than one huge pdf, IMO.

Got an answer from the Frog God himself.

He says, "Nope—only the real book will have the bonus chapter—the rest are in individual chapters only."

Thus it behooves those who can do so, to try to get their hands on the hard copy. :)

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