Dark Waters Rising (PFRPG)

***** (based on 6 ratings)
Dark Waters Rising (PFRPG)

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A Pathfinder Roleplaying Game compatible adventure for 5th-level PCs by Ron Lundeen

Catastrophe strikes the frontier village of Swallowfeld! With a grinding groan, the town’s mill slews into the Kilian River and breaks through the ceiling of an ancient subterranean dungeon. This accident frees a long-imprisoned evil to prey upon the shocked townsfolk. When several Swallowfeld residents—some innocent and some not so innocent—are spirited away into the rapidly flooding dungeon, it falls to a brave group of heroes to venture underground and rescue the missing before dark, rising waters seal their fate.

This product is a Dual Format PDF. The downloadable ZIP file contains two versions, one optimised for printing and use on a normal computer and one optimised for use on a mobile device such as an iPad.

For free samples, visit ragingswan.com/darkwaters

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***** (based on 6 ratings)

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An RPG Resource Review

*****

In essence, this single-session adventure is a dungeon-crawl but one which incorporates time pressure caused by a flooding dungeon, tricky puzzles to circumvent, interesting terrain and lots of undead. If that's your thing, you are in for a treat!

An entertaining foreword from publisher Creighton Broadhurst and his customary masterclass on the anatomy of an encounter later, we reach the Introduction, which explains a little about the frontier village of Swallowfield, the jumping-off point for the adventure. Naturally, you can substitute a similar starting point from your own campaign world or - if you like the sound of the place, Raging Swan Press has a whole product devoted to it! Next is the Adventure Background which gives the rationale and backstory for the adventure, for the GM to read and understand. Basically, a concatination of unfortunate events lead to the collapse of a mill and the release of some undead which have been trapped for a long time... just when the party happens to be in town, of course!

There's an ancient crypt down there, you see, that nobody knew about... and the river that powered the mill is now threatening to flood the place and drown several villagers who fell into the hole or were captured by the undead. And presumeably the undead themselves, if they can drown, that is. That's the nature of this adventure, a race against the river to explore the crypt and rescue people.

There are notes on the Lonely Coast setting, which is where Swallowfield is to be found: this is a good introduction to the area, or provides indications as to a suitable equivalent in your campaign world, and a lot more information about Swallowfield itself, complete with a couple of maps showing both the village and the surrounding area. The adventure proper begins with the collapse of the mill into a sinkhole... which releases a load of ghouls which all appear to be spoiling for a fight. The intention is that the characters will be swept up in the action even before they are asked to investigate what lies beneath.

Several people are trapped in the wreckage and need rescuing, and the various options available to the party are laid out clearly - as are rules for fighting in water, which will come in useful later on. A map of the crypt - quite a small place, no wonder the ghouls want out - and detailed description follow, and the exploration may proceed without delay, necessary as the entire place will be completely flooded within 24 hours.

The wealth of detail about what's down there lifts a basic delve into something far more interesting and the time pressure of the water pouring in adds an edge to proceedings. It's a delightful way to ruin a nice quite afternoon in the local village for your party!


Adventure with urgency

*****

I'm a big fan of Raging Swan and have bought most of their adventures. Retribution, their first module and the first one I bought, still stands as classic but this is definitely my second favourite and sprang off the page the moment I opened it.

The adventure is a race to rescue prisoners from a flooding underground prison which is a fairly novel idea but the brilliance is in the detail. The opening scene is brilliant and leads the characters into the action straight out of the box in a way that will stay in players memories in big way. There are several levels to the mission, who has taken the prisoners, why they've taken them and who has been snatched all add levels of complexity to the story. Lastly, and for me most notably, the pace of the scenario allows you to push the players every step of the way as the rooms they are moving through fill with water (in an easily trackable way).

The module should take only a single session to run but where sometimes this feels like a shame it's all over so fast Dark Waters Rising needs to be short because it allows you to keep the intensity up for one evening without any respite at all.


Dark Waters, Dark Deeds

*****

Game of Thrones pun. On to the review!

Crunch
A product's crunch is its rules content, and you don't usually expect to see much when you look at an Adventure Path. The opponents that are presented in this product are built top-notch, and as always Raging Swan gives us additional ways to customize the encounters, making them easier or harder (I always make mine harder for my PCs because I'm particularly malicious). The one piece of crunch that I was particularly impressed by was this neat little table that helps the GM quickly calculate distances between multiple locations in the adventure path, so if you use all of those places, the table is really handy. I absolutely love how its set up; if I may be bold enough, I'd call it a genius design. 5 / 5 Stars.

Flavor
A product's Flavor refers to its story and overall feel, and without a doubt this is the most important part of an Adventure Path. The adventure starts with a very awesome concept; ghoul monks. You had me at those two words, Raging Swan. The set up for this cannibalistic order is very nicely done, and the encounters presented in the product are well planned and thought out. There are plenty of characters to interact with, notable the ones who appear within the dungeon itself. The adventure has a very real flow to it, and while previous Raging Swan adventures I have reviewed have been two or three encounters, this product is clearly designed to be a major adventure and it pulls off this feeling very well. The ending is very thought-provoking, as is the "Continuing the Campaign" section. I don't want to spoil anything (I bet other people have in this thread) so I'll leave you with the promise that this is top-notch stuff. 5 / 5 Stars.

Texture
The final section is texture, or how the product looks and feels. This is layout, this grammar, and this is Raging Swan Press, so I always to remind myself which side of the pond this product was made on; if I don't, the British spellings drive me crazy, personally. That said, everything looks very well set up in this product; it has a very professional feel despite Raging Swan's minimalist design. There are PLENTY of maps in this document's layout; they have this really cool look that perfectly sits between a professional-looking map and a map that you'd expect a cartographer from the era to draw; as much as I love crazy awesome maps, I sometimes feel guilty about giving my players Paizo handouts for that reason alone. This product does a very good job of holding itself together and in check, and it even manages to avoid the dreaded "table split." Most of the time. 5 / 5 Stars.

Final Thoughts
Crunch: 5 / 5
Flavor: 5 / 5
Texture: 5 / 5
Final Score: 5 / 5 Stars

When I saw this product's price, I was like, "Geez, you trying to kill us, Crieghton?" $5.99 (or however many euros that is) is quite expensive for a Raging Swan product. But when you open it up, its very clear why the price is as high as it is; everything is spot-on perfect with this product. The adventure is very solid and it is massive; we're talking over 35 pages of content, which is like 17 cents a page. You really can't beat that! If I had one comment about this adventure, its that Dark Waters Rising has a bit more identity than, say, Gibbous Moon. The adventure is a little bit more set upon itself, and therefore it might not import into people's campaigns as well as the smaller adventures do. But that is an honest risk that you take when you make a bigger adventure, and it should be one that consumers are willing to risk. If they do, this product is head and shoulders above any other 3PP adventure that I have read so far.

— Alexander "Alex" Augunas


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Sovereign Court Publisher, Raging Swan Press

is now available in print at Paizo!

You can check out some free samples here.

Contributor

Someone should have commented on this adventure two months ago.

This is an excellent, affordable adventure that you should highly consider running for your adventuring group.

Sovereign Court Publisher, Raging Swan Press

Thank you everyone for your reviews to date. I'm delighted with the response Ron's module has garnered. Thank you all for taking the time to do the reviews!

Sovereign Court Publisher, Raging Swan Press

Thanks once again UncleRiotous! I again jolly happy you enjoyed a Raging Swan module!

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