Slumbering Tsar Saga (PFRPG) PDF

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The Sleeper Awakes!
At last, after languishing in its crypt for an age, the secrets of the slumbering city of Tsar burst forth in all their macabre glory. Poured forth from the eldritch furnaces and crucibles of the Necromancer and Orcus himself comes Frog God Games bringing you at long last The Slumbering Tsar Saga.

Something Stirs in the City of Evil
Over the distant northern hills, beyond The Camp, and past the Desolation stand the pitted walls of Tsar. A hundred armies have crushed themselves against this bulwark in futile attempts to breach the city. Even the combined might of the Heavens and Earth were unable to break through in the final battle of Tsar. So why was the city suddenly abandoned on the verge of victory, and what waits for those foolish enough to enter the Temple-City of Orcus?

The Black Gates Await
Only the bravest and most powerful of heroes dare the depths of the Desolation and live to tell of it. But what happens when they penetrate that blasted landscape and look upon the gates of the very center of evil on the earth. Can even heroes of such renown breach the Walls of Death and live?

The Slumbering Tsar Saga began its journey years ago as a single mega-adventure for the masters of Third Edition rules and First Edition feel, then became a trilogy of adventures, then a trilogy of mega-adventures, and now finally comes to you as a monthly series culminating in a massive book with over a half million words of pure First Edition-style adventure. Updated to the Pathfinder Roleplaying Game to accommodate today’s audience of the classic fantasy roleplaying games, The Slumbering Tsar Saga brings you 14 chapters, each chapter the size of a full adventure in its own right (30-50 pages), but in the Hardcover compilation (and NOT in the PDF) you will get something you can't get anywhere else—the final fifteenth chapter!

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Are there errors or omissions in this product information? Got corrections? Let us know at store@paizo.com.

FGGSTSE


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A massive book that's worth every dollar

5/5

Disclaimer: I purchased a physical copy of this book and got the PDF with it.

Okay, before we go anywhere, we need to make one thing clear - The Slumbering Tsar Saga is not an Adventure Path. There is a plot here, but it's more of a setting than anything else, a reason for why things are the way they are. This book is better described as an adventure setting - if Rappan Athuk is the ultimate dungeon crawl, then Slumbering Tsar is the ultimate ruined city crawl. (For a city adventure taking place somewhere that's still fully active, you'll want to look at The Blight, forthcoming from Frog God Games.)

The series starts off in The Desolation, the ugly wasteland that was once a battlefield as the forces of light assaulted Tsar. Most notably, players are quickly introduced to The Camp, which is the safest place for them to rest on excursions throughout the area. (Note that "safest" does not actually mean "safe"... just not quite as dangerous as everywhere else). Before the players can even get into the city, though, there's danger and death to be had. In the Lost Lands Campaign Setting, Tsar was not the site of a skirmish or a battle - it was a war, with the unholy city besieged by a force of over 140,000 (including outsiders, representatives from many species, and a significant number of the world's heroes). Great powers were used by both sides... and the ruins left behind are what the players have to make their way through. One way or another, everywhere they go they'll see the remnants of battle - from storms of deadly bone dust to an enormous chaos rift, players could spend quite a few sessions just trudging around and learning what happened.

Sooner or later, though, they'll want to start making forays into Tsar itself - and while the city may be ruined, it's far from deserted. There are multiple dungeon-sized regions players can stumble through just by walking around (and indeed, they'll have to if they actually want to get into the Temple of Orcus, which is massive even by Frog God Games' standards (comprising over 400 locations). There are waaaaaay too many things here to even begin covering all of them in detail - suffice it to say that if your players enjoy seeing what's in the next building and exploring the world they're in, this book will not disappoint. (If you prefer a more structured adventure, you can trim out some of the locations and insert a plot of your choosing. The book provides a very good mechanism for delivering information.)

Following the three main sandbox adventures is a bunch of extra material, ranging from new monsters (the Battlehulk, in particular, is fun to throw at players) to unique magic items and even a pair of prestige classes. Players may or may not take levels in either of these - one is for the devoted of Orcus (who is quite possibly *the* villain of the Lost Lands setting), while the other is sort of a Paladin on steroids. Lots of extra power (crit-focused builds, in particular, will WRECK evil monsters), but extra restrictions as well (like needing Atonement for things that weren't even your fault). It should be noted that the Justicar of Muir can easily be reflavored to fit the champion of any other appropriate deity, should the GM be willing to permit that. If normal Paladins are the elite crusaders of a church, the Justicars are a lot like divine champions, likely to be known the whole world over. (...As you may have guessed, I rather like this prestige class. XD) There are also a few hierarchy charts, some new spells, and over a hundred pages of maps. The PDF version of this book is very valuable here, since you can simply print out whatever you need to use.

Slumbering Tsar is massive (clocking in at over 900 pages of content, most of which is solid adventure), and depending on the speed of your group, it could easily take them months or even years to finish going through this. That makes it a good choice for stable groups, and... a bit harder for anyone else. As with most of Frog God Games' products, though, it's fairly easy to drop individual sections into your own campaign world. For example, you could pull individual parts of The Desolation and drop them in somewhere, which breaks the series into manageable chunks that are good for shorter adventures and smaller time commitments.

Again, though, Slumbering Tsar is not inherently an adventure path - if you want a true story, you'll have to step up as GM and come up with something that fits for your group. This book essentially demands an active GM'ing style if you want to get the most from it. Obviously, I can't recommend this to everyone - many groups would find this difficult to play (if only because of how big it is), but if it's something that works for your table, then you're going to get a massive amount of content for your investment. Yes, this is one of the most expensive RPG books you're ever likely to see, but on a per-page value, its cost is actually pretty low. There are just so many pages. It might literally take you weeks of reading just to go through it the first time and start preparing to run the game. XD

For those tables that can use this book, I think it's a solid 5/5. It really does require commitment, though - if you're not truly serious about exploring this region, you may be better off looking for a shorter book instead. (Off-hand, I suggest The Northlands Saga Complete - that actually is an Adventure Path.)


Worth every penny

5/5

This is an entire adventure path in a single, massive tome. Is it expensive? Yes, but it is worth every penny.

Let's take a look at the physical product:

-The binding is tough and durable.
-The pages are thick, quality paper.

I've carried this puppy around a lot and it is none the worse for it.

What's inside?

-the maps are clear and easy to read
-the illustrations are plentiful and serviceable
-layout is clear and easy on the eyes
-statblocks are mostly in-line for ease of play

But what about the adventure?

-Tons of memorable characters
-A story that feels like a real life legend
-side stories that feel like real life legends
-A location redolent with history and sorrow
-really mean traps
-amazing locales
-the most detailed ruins I've ever seen in a supplement

This product deserves every five star review it's gotten.


What everybody says about Tsar being amazing...

5/5

It's all true. The Slumbering Tsar is absolutely amazing. I'm not going to bother writing a huge review of it - there's plenty of those out there already.

Consider this a giant +1 for all the reviews already out there saying that the Slumbering Tsar Saga is fantastic. It is epic, twisted, wonderful and genius.


Slumbering Tsar lives up to hype

5/5

I've waited more than a month after getting the PDF of Slumbering Tsar, the epic Greg Vaughan mega-campaign, to offer any kind of review.
I knew when it came that the adventure read well. There were tons of fun, twisty (and twisted) plot elements. Nice bit of foreshadowing.

And I had the sense that the sandbox elements -- which allow players to really broadly dictate the direction of play -- were solid.
But I wanted to see how it flowed at the table and how my players reacted to the story-line and the texture.

First, a few bits of background. In SS, the adventurers begin by arriving at a dreary Camp on the edge of a massive, war-scarred desolation. Over time, they explore, learn more about their horrible surroundings, and hopefully progress toward exploring a ruined, haunted city.

I should say that I love making slight mods to any adventure I buy and this campaign setting allows that to happen smoothly. You can run it entirely as-is, or you can slide in 10% of your own material and ad nuances of your own.

My group has spent four game-sessions in the campaign so far, two entirely in the camp and another two venturing out into the desolation proper. At our last session, I asked the group for a blunt, no holds barred review and it was the most positive response I've ever had to a campaign.

Basically, they loved that the desolation seems so bloody horrible and dangerous -- lots of battle. But they also loved the fact that there were bits of story and role-playing. Vaughan manages to create something like the feel of a 1st edition dungeon (or wasteland) crawl, but with constant nudges of actual narrative and motivation.

There are also just gobs of cool wow moments here. (SPOILER ALERT SPOILER ALERT SPOILER ALERT) It's not just an undead: it's a hung man who haunts the camp at night. It's not just a tavern brawl: it's a conspiracy of homicidal little gnomes. Bottom line? Vaghan is a great writer, a great storyteller, and he knows that at the gaming table RPGs are about big cool moments. He delivers all those.

I do have one idea that I think GMs should consider before running this adventure. (And you should buy it and run it...) Here it is: SS offers a remarkable measuring stick for power creep in Pathfinder. An adventure that was ridiculously deadly when written is now only moderately dangerous - and sometimes encounters that would have been deadly fierce in August 2009 are fairly easy in September 2014.

I'd suggest looking closely at these encounters, especially ones that should be real tentpole moments and tests. If your party is going to sweep through them, consider adding a minion or two, or giving the NPC some kind of strategic advantage. This isn't always called for. Some moments in SS are supposed to be relatively easy -- a chance to sort of plow through the bad guys. But if you're not careful, a few of the BBEG's in this adventure will topple far too easily.

It's worth noting that some parts of SS are still extremely deadly as written. In four gaming sessions, we've had two PCs die, and two more brought to the absolute brink where one bad roll would have killed them. Granted I've done a bit of tweaking, but that's a much higher risk rate than any campaign I've ever run. And I should end by saying my players are loving it. I told them in advance to create back-up characters, so they knew going in that the tone would be bloody and high body count. So long as you get that kind of buy-in from your table, I think your group will love the Tsar.

--Marsh


And I don't care.

5/5

I held off getting this for months because I figured I’d never run it. Then I remembered that I’ve enjoyed lots of RPG items over the years I’ve never run, just read. So I did my homework on other’s reviews. They all said the same thing: what a total joy to read.

So, I plunked down the full price to the Frog Gods for the hardcover book and the PDF. Then 2 weeks later Paizo had it on sale for $50 off for their GM’s day promotion. And I don’t care.

It’s so huge I don’t know if I could ever actually run it. And I don’t care.

I’m going to lose a whole year reading this thing, and I don’t care.

I’m only on page 52 and having a fantastic time. The reading is easy, flavorful and fun. Like a novel, you really can’t wait to read the next location or situation. Its steal-ability factor is sky high, either just for situations, NPCs, encounters or monsters and flavor. It is also a cohesive set of mini stories all tied to one terrible location. The maps may not be gorgeous but they are clear and easy to follow – so I don’t care.

What I do care about is value for money and this is a prime example of it. If you were/are a huge fan of Necromancer Games’ 3rd edition material like I was, it will remain a treasure on your shelf. My hat is off to Greg Vaughan for sticking with it all this time and Bill Webb for making it happen.


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Sigil wrote:
Skeeter Green wrote:
bigkilla wrote:
Hobbun wrote:

For those who have received their copies, where are you (approximately) located?

I am in the Chicago area, not sure if the copies are getting that far out yet.

I am a hour and a half by car plus a 30 min boat ride from Bill's house soooo pretty close.

BK-

What direction? Im over in Lake Stevens by Everett.

SG

Lisa Stevens is so famous that they named a lake for her? That is super cool! :D

^

^
^
The little known truth of Lake Stevens


@Hobbun,

I am in Houston, TX.

I counted the maps in the back of the book and I got to 180.

Ladies and Gentlemen of Frog God Games you have my appreciation. Thank you.

Grand Lodge

Pathfinder Adventure, Rulebook Subscriber; Pathfinder Battles Case Subscriber

Central Texas here, got my copy today.


Liz Courts wrote:
We will start shipping Slumbering Tsar Saga very shortly—if you subscribe to any of Paizo's subscription products, I would recommend moving this tome over to your sidecart for the next subscription run (which is also SoonTM).

If I ordered this but don't have any subscriptions, does it go out...soon?

Contributor

Quite Soon.

Frog God Games

Big pdf will happen soon--we are still packing store orders and stuff--I think Chuck is done w/ layout--so me and Mrs. Frog just have to get it loaded up


Thanks for the update, Bill. I enjoy your companies products. A true class act.


Pathfinder Lost Omens Subscriber
Bill Webb wrote:
Big pdf will happen soon--we are still packing store orders and stuff--I think Chuck is done w/ layout--so me and Mrs. Frog just have to get it loaded up

Good to know Bill. I thought it was some faceless individual at Bytes Interactive that was responsible for the master ST pdf being available. Now that I know it's on you, I'm less inclined to be impatient about it; you've had a helluva busy week already sir. Hopefully by this weekend you and the Mrs. will have a chance to catch your breath before the big Rappan Athuk milestones start to creep up on you.

Frog God Games

David (the faceless one), is on vacation for the next 2 weeks--good point


Bill Webb wrote:
Big pdf will happen soon--we are still packing store orders and stuff--I think Chuck is done w/ layout--so me and Mrs. Frog just have to get it loaded up

I don't know if this will affect things or not, Bill, but I just did a download of all my individual Tsar pdfs earlier today. I noticed that they were rather large files, so I used Acrobat's Document -> Reduce File Size feature to compress them down some. This is fine for me, they still look the same to my untrained eye. I don't know if there's a reason you wouldn't do this, but I mention it because I recall the load on the server when everyone was downloading the ToHC (~200 MB). When I compressed that file, it ended up at ~66 MB. If there is no loss of information or image quality by executing the process, it might make it easier for everyone if that's an option you can explore. I know that the file looked the same for me after it was reduced.

Hope this is helpful! :)

RPG Superstar 2011 Top 16

*blows hole through paycheck*

Why, Vaughan, why?


Hobbun wrote:

Paizo has to receive their books as well, inventory them, then repackage the books and finally send them off to their buyers.

The people who are receiving them now are ones who bought directly from Frog God Games, therefore they are going to get their copies more quickly.

Thanks. I thought Paizo was going to ship on tuesday of this week. From what I have read the gaming stores had their copies at least last week and some were already selling them.

Sovereign Court

My copy arrived in Dallas today. Packed so well it could have made the trip 3d6 times and still arrived in perfect condition.

Thanks!!!

Dark Archive

Skeeter Green wrote:
bigkilla wrote:
Hobbun wrote:

For those who have received their copies, where are you (approximately) located?

I am in the Chicago area, not sure if the copies are getting that far out yet.

I am a hour and a half by car plus a 30 min boat ride from Bill's house soooo pretty close.

BK-

What direction? Im over in Lake Stevens by Everett.

SG

I'm north up in Oak Harbor on Whidbey island.

Scarab Sages

Adventure Path Charter Subscriber; Pathfinder Adventure, Lost Omens, Maps, Pathfinder Accessories, Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Society Subscriber; Pathfinder Battles Case Subscriber

Another local. I am in Lacey.

RPG Superstar 2011 Top 16

Shem wrote:
Another local. I am in Lacey.

Huh. My wife was born in Lacey. Her parents still live there. We live in Redmond now.


Erik Freund wrote:
Shem wrote:
Another local. I am in Lacey.
Huh. My wife was born in Lacey. Her parents still live there. We live in Redmond now.

Are all you guys going to PaizoCon? I dont know if you've already mentioned it or not.

Im running a game for the PFS DMS after the con is officially over, if there are seats, and you guys are interested, you're more than welcome to sit in.

I was going to wait until they posted the game times, but I can announce I have some AWESOME PRIZES to give away at my table.

AWESOME.

SG

Scarab Sages

Adventure Path Charter Subscriber; Pathfinder Adventure, Lost Omens, Maps, Pathfinder Accessories, Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Society Subscriber; Pathfinder Battles Case Subscriber

I would totally sit at your table Skeeter...

Scarab Sages

Adventure Path Charter Subscriber; Pathfinder Adventure, Lost Omens, Maps, Pathfinder Accessories, Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Society Subscriber; Pathfinder Battles Case Subscriber
Erik Freund wrote:
Shem wrote:
Another local. I am in Lacey.
Huh. My wife was born in Lacey. Her parents still live there. We live in Redmond now.

Wish we could put together a group of people from the board.


Pathfinder Battles Case Subscriber

I would love to go to PaizoCon one of these years, but it's either that or GenCon, and there are several things I enjoy doing at GenCon that I don't think I would be able to at PaizoCon. Nevermind the fact Indy is also only a stone's throw away for me (comparatively to Washington).

Lantern Lodge

Pathfinder Adventure Path, Rulebook, Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber
Hobbun wrote:

For those who have received their copies, where are you (approximately) located?

I am in the Chicago area, not sure if the copies are getting that far out yet.

Got mine #320 in the Chicago Western Suburbs today. My kids are looking in horror at all of the pages ready for obituaries.

Liberty's Edge

Very cool. This looks like its going to be a blast to play.


Got the beast today, #47 of 500, very cool. Hey--I just realized, that's my age!

Maybe it's safe for me to go down the well...

Thanks Bill for the awesome packing job, and thanks to the entire crew for putting this leviathan together.


#193 is safe and sound. This thing defies expectation with its huge-osity. Thanks for making this monster available to us guys!

Frog God Games

Very nice to see people already enjoying this baby. :)


#290 reached Worcester, MA yesterday. I found it on my doorstep after work and lugged it up to my 3rd floor apt. DW looked at me, pointed to the box and said, "What's THAT?"

I answered, "It's The Slumbering Tsar Saga book. The dining room table broke when I set the box down. The box nearly fell through to the second floor apartment. I guess I should have paid better attention when walking up the the house; the broken down mail truck SHOULD have been a clue.**

When I opened the box, though, there was no damage to the book whatsoever!

Awesome, packing job! Awesome book! The more that I interact with the folks at Frog God Games, the more impressed I am.

-Aaron

**WARNING: Some exaggeration and may have been used in the telling of this tale.


Pathfinder Battles Case Subscriber
michaelane wrote:
Hobbun wrote:

For those who have received their copies, where are you (approximately) located?

I am in the Chicago area, not sure if the copies are getting that far out yet.

Got mine #320 in the Chicago Western Suburbs today. My kids are looking in horror at all of the pages ready for obituaries.

Hmm, hopefully I'll get mine today.


Liz Courts wrote:
(which is also SoonTM).

You can make that Soon™ with alt-0153!

Anyway, I ended up purchasing mine from Paizo since the $25 pre-order discount more than offset the shipping cost AND I better maintain a unitary location of all my gaming PDFs. I look forward to getting mine what seems likely to be next week.


Pathfinder Card Game, Companion, Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game, Starfinder Society Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Charter Superscriber
Itchy wrote:

#290 reached Worcester, MA yesterday. I found it on my doorstep after work and lugged it up to my 3rd floor apt. DW looked at me, pointed to the box and said, "What's THAT?"

I answered, "It's The Slumbering Tsar Saga book. The dining room table broke when I set the box down. The box nearly fell through to the second floor apartment. I guess I should have paid better attention when walking up the the house; the broken down mail truck SHOULD have been a clue.**

When I opened the box, though, there was no damage to the book whatsoever!

Awesome, packing job! Awesome book! The more that I interact with the folks at Frog God Games, the more impressed I am.

-Aaron

**WARNING: Some exaggeration and may have been used in the telling of this tale.

I am in Jamaica Plain, so I am hoping to see it today!

Frog God Games

As long as you paid postage--priority usually gets to any US location in 3 days max; so today all should get it. I still have about 30 with unpaid postage--they will be sent out Monday on the honor system for people to send me postage (label will say "Please remember to pay postage).

Usually folks just forget:)

Besides--I have to clear the space for RA shipping prep!


#236 has found its home in far north Chicago area!

Players: What are we playing tonight?
DM sets the Slumbering Tsar behemoth on the table.
TPK before the first die rolled!


Pathfinder Battles Case Subscriber

Mine just came in!

Now I just need to wait until I get out of work. *looks at clock*

Dark Archive

just got an email from Paizo that they've just shipped my copy, 4-8 days....

Dark Archive

waitingwaitingwaiting*checks mail*waitingwaitingwaiting...

Liberty's Edge

Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

So wish I could afford this as it would look great next my ToHC, but with the RotR Anniversary edition and Minis coming out over the next couple of months its just not in the bugdet. :(

Grand Lodge

My copy arrived today in pristine condition!


Pathfinder Battles Case Subscriber

Same here! Great job on packing, guys.

#243

Frog God Games

Digitalelf wrote:
My copy arrived today in pristine condition!

This is the kind of thing I was hoping to hear. We packed the #&$* out of those things, and I was hoping it would be worth it. If they made it undamaged, then it was.

Liberty's Edge

Pathfinder Adventure Path, Companion, Lost Omens, Rulebook Subscriber

Will the PDF of the big book be available for purchase or (hoping against hope) does it come with the purchase of the big book?

Grand Lodge

Greg A. Vaughan wrote:
This is the kind of thing I was hoping to hear. We packed the #&$* out of those things, and I was hoping it would be worth it. If they made it undamaged, then it was.

Indeed...

Packing peanuts and enough bubble-wrap to strangle a small moose, this thing was very secure!

Awesome job guys (on all accounts)...

-That One Digitalelf Fellow-

Dark Archive

Dice Munkey wrote:
Will the PDF of the big book be available for purchase or (hoping against hope) does it come with the purchase of the big book?

I don't know.

Add Print/PDF Bundle: $125.00
Add PDF Collection:$89.99


Number 267 arrived yesterday in pristine condition.

And now it's mine. Mine, I tell you! ALL MINE! AHAHAHA!!!!!

Frog God Games

Dice Munkey wrote:
Will the PDF of the big book be available for purchase or (hoping against hope) does it come with the purchase of the big book?

It comes with the purchase of the big book, and you can also buy it separately.

The PDF, however, does not have the bonus chapter. That's print-only to keep a promise.

Liberty's Edge

Adventure Path Charter Subscriber; Pathfinder Adventure Subscriber

#147 checking in!

It arrived in great condition, and I have been flipping through it non-stop. It is just an amazing book.

Grand Lodge

I got #64, and I have to agree, pristine condition, and it looks incredible.

If you're reading this and have any doubts about whether or not to get this, pull the trigger and do it. You won't regret it, and you'll almost certainly regret not doing it.


got mine, #33!

Anyone in LA running a game? I'm not going to read mine yet...

Ken

Liberty's Edge

is the hardback out yet? When I clicked on the link on the Paizo page added all the issues to my cart. I didnt see the link for the hardback?

Mike

Liberty's Edge

Pathfinder Adventure Path, Companion, Lost Omens, Rulebook Subscriber
Chuck Wright wrote:
Dice Munkey wrote:
Will the PDF of the big book be available for purchase or (hoping against hope) does it come with the purchase of the big book?

It comes with the purchase of the big book, and you can also buy it separately.

The PDF, however, does not have the bonus chapter. That's print-only to keep a promise.

Thanks for the clarificatilon Chuck, you've made one iPad weilding GM very happy!


Chuck Wright wrote:

It comes with the purchase of the big book, and you can also buy it separately.

The PDF, however, does not have the bonus chapter. That's print-only to keep a promise.

Ugh. I just "preordered" the bundle, then read this. I'm a big fan of getting print and pdf, and something like this makes me consider getting neither, not both.

Please try and find some other incentives other than making it impossible for someone to get a legal pdf copy in future products.

Shadow Lodge

Wow dude, chill. The 15th chapter is just that, a BONUS for people who preordered. It's not like the story is incomplete without it.

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