Rappan Athuk (PFRPG) PDF

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The Granddaddy of All Dungeons Returns!

Rappan Athuk, the legendary mega-dungeon by Frog God Games and Necromancer Games is nothing more and nothing less than a good, old–fashioned, First Edition dungeon crawl updated for the Pathfinder Roleplaying Game. Very difficult, Rappan Athuk will truly strike fear into the hearts of the most stalwart adventurers. It offers legions of inventive traps, tricks, strange features, and monsters—many of them never before seen. It affords numerous opportunities for roleplaying, but anyone willing to brave these subterranean halls better arrive ready to rumble, or their lives will be short indeed. Many, many players have lost favored PCs delving into the depths of this dungeon, all the while giggling like children and having the time of their lives. Hundreds, if not thousands of players have combed the halls of Rappan Athuk over the years, seeking treasure and fame, making it one of the best-known dungeon locations the game has ever produced. Even players who have never entered its halls know the term: “Don’t go down the Well!”

An adventure for 4 – 6 PCs
Character Levels 1 – 20
Authors: Bill Webb, Matt Finch, Clark Peterson, WDB Kenower, Greg Raglund, Greg Vaughan, and Skeeter Green

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5.00/5 (based on 5 ratings)

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5/5

Disclaimer: I purchased a physical copy of this book from Frog God Games.

Rappan Athuk is one of the largest and most complex adventures ever written. Clocking in a 672 pages - most of which is dungeon content - this is a tome that amply deserves the title "megadungeon". It is so large, in fact, that it has areas rightfully considered full-length dungeons in their own right as optional, easy-to-miss sidequests. In addition to the main dungeon itself, the book also details the areas around the dungeon, some of which are gargantuan in their own right.

Just going through this book took me nearly two weeks of dedicated reading every night, and now that I've read it cover-to-cover, I can confidently say that Rappan Athuk fully deserves its reputation. It's also an outstanding value for the price being charged - there is a seriously huge amount of content here, and the creators are right, you don't even have to use this as a megadungeon. If you need to whip out a level or two of a dungeon for any reason, chances are there's something in here that will fit!

If there's one thing to note, it's that Rappan Athuk doesn't have a plot, per se. This isn't an adventure path with a specific story for the player characters. There IS a story here (and reading the entirety of this tome has allowed me to appreciate the subtle complexity of it), but you may want to give your players a reason to try and conquer this place, and work in roleplaying with NPCs when you can. Some places, of course, make this easier than others.

Incidentally, this is an expensive book, but it more than justifies the price with the amount of content contained within. In all seriousness, you could probably run a game for years with just this book. All in all, it more than deserves its 5-star rating and my personal recommendation.


WONDERFUL

5/5

Best dungeon ever. Thank you so much for publishing it.

The book is black and white, but it doesn't detract, in fact I think it adds to the charm.

Our veteran gamers will be waxing nostalgic, but all will be chomping at the bit to face the next challenge from Rappan Athuk.

The players guide is worth checking out as well. Especially for younger ( under 40 ) gamers, it helps to set the tone for what will be a truly epic, death-defying ( hopefully ) adventure to beat all adventures.

In fact, I think Frog God should make the first page or two from the Players Guide available for free, because I doubt many gamers would be able to resist buying the whole darn thing after reading them.

Since you're basically buying an entire adventure path, the price might be enough to make some folks blink... IT'S WORTH IT! Let's say that again, just to be clear. IT'S WORTH IT! If you find yourself skeptical, spend 5 bucks on the player's guide, and I'm betting you won't look back.

Thanks again, Frog God.... all hail the Frog God!


This is it

5/5

Are you an old school gamer looking for a product with the same "feel" you remember from your old campaigns? This is for you. Are you new to gaming and want to see the way adventures used to be? This is for you. This is a weighty book, and I'll spare you the line by line recap, but this re-imagining of Rappan Athuk for the Pathfinder Rules is well worth your money. It's been said "Don't go down the well"; if you never get this product, you'll never know why.


The best iteration of the excellent dungeon so far

5/5

This pdf is 676 pages long, 1 page editorial, 2 pages ToC, 10 pages of thanks for kickstarter backers, 4 pages of SRD, 15 pages of space for character obituaries, 5 pages of advertisements,1 page front cover and 1 page back cover, leaving a total of 635 pages of content.

How does one review the third iteration of Rappan Athuk? Seriously. I asked myself this question for quite some time. Slumbering Tsar, the last monster-book by Frog God Games came in installments. Not so the granddaddy of dungeons, the so far highest grossing PFRPG-kickstarter and one of the highest funded RPG-products ever - Rappan Athuk starts off as this vast monster of content and here I am, at the point of writing this, after big-mouthed announcing that my review for this monster would be ready for Gencon. How am I to do this? In order to fully appreciate the book and quality-check the new content, I'd have to go through all of it and that's exactly what I'm planning to do. I initially thought about comparing it to its former two iterations, but with the review going to be as bloated and the limited use for people out there, I'll refrain from doing so. Since asking for mercy would be futile, I'll leave off for now with another wish: May Orcus look the other way, I once again open the pages that contain the most deadly dungeon I've had the pleasure of running in 3.X.

And how else to kick off such an epic milestone than with a tribute to the true legends among the RPG-designers like Arneson, Barker, Bledsaw, Gygax - touching and well-written. Speaking of well-written: If you know one of the older iterations of the dungeon, you'll know the legend of Rappan Athuk and have a warm (or clammy, if you're a player) feeling when reading the 66 rumors about the dungeon of graves. While an introduction on how to read the dungeon entries was expected, we also get a nice overview of all the levels and their names and then a 2-page side-view map, which makes it (relatively) easy for the DM to get how all the levels are connected. After that, we get into the first chapter, entitled "Wilderness Areas: Dying outside the dungeon". Now THAT's an announcement. Before I go on, I have another little thing to talk about: In the last two iterations of the dungeon, there were several monsters that are IP of certain wizards - when I recall such monsters being there, I'll try to comment on how they've been replaced.

Since from now on, I'll delve into massive SPOILER-territory and since this dungeon is probably the most epic you'll ever play in, I encourage players to skip to the conclusion (after about 3 metric tons of text).

Still here? If you're a player, you may incur the wrath of Orcus AND Tsathoggua by reading on. They watch us. They watch us all...
...Still here? Sure? All right, let's explore the area around Rappan Athuk! The chapter kicks off with the one ways to start old-schoolish wilderness-depictions - random encounters by area (And, again a map), thankfully also including non-hostile patrols - 5 of these general areas are presented. After that, we're introduced to the less savory individuals that haunt the area around Rappan Athuk. If you expect standard bandits, you'll be in for a surprise, though: What about a doppelganger rogue that not only comes with cronies, but also NPC-companions as a kind of party-anathema or a wizard that has enslaved a bunch of trolls? Not only are the respective bandits listed in their own entries, we also get encounter areas for PCs looking for some serious trouble/stamping out of the lawless beings: Care to take on the dragonmarsh's froghemoth, for example? Or PCs wanting to participate in a not particularly harmless fey festival? Other highlights include two mapped bandit-mini-dungeon, a fane with a dread prophecy, a sea-hag coven, a wrecked pirate ship and can purge a tribe of vicious bugbears from an (Also mapped) ruined fort and if the PCs are REALLY eager to die outside of Rappan Athuk, they can also try to invade the island home of the local wyrm...
And then, we get to the inverted-cross-shaped surface graveyard under which the dungeon rests - as well as a one page of grave-markers and the iconic entry to the dungeon: The very first trap is deadly and a potential TPK-machine - when I first ran my players through the first Rappan Athuk installment, they died here for the first time and knew that RA doesn't Screw around... In contrast to the other incarnations of the dungeon, we now also get two alternate, although also rather problematic entrance to Rappan Athuk - and deep levels of the dungeon to boot. However, the entrance is underwater, the caves are guarded by a kraken and at low levels, the PCs will probably die here - if they persevere and e.g. find the solution to a great puzzle, they might score the help of a neat ally - and the PCs can use ANY help they can get.

Another potential location from which to gain access to the legendary dungeon now rests atop a desolate ridge over the marshland and comes with a stellar artwork that immediately evokes a sense of almost lovecraftian foreboding - the cloister of the dread Frog God with two different cloisters and multiple levels of crypts and dungeons containing chthonic remains, dread intelligent killer frog swarms, old artifacts and challenges aplenty - creepy, unique in atmosphere and mood, the cloister of the Frog God would have made for a stellar adventure on its own, especially with the nice, player-friendly overview map: Here, though, it's just a precursor of the dread to come and a possible entrance to a sublevel (4A) of the dungeon of graves. But one thing remains before we delve into the dungeon of graves itself: Zelkor's Ferry, the small settlement and its immediate surroundings are detailed as well, including a nice old necromancer whose resurrection attempts may have some unforeseen consequences for the PCs subjected to theme - rules-wise an awesome throwback to the risks of returning to life.

But we've stalled long enough: Let's go through the dungeon, level by level. And yes, this review will probably be rather bloated and long... After passing the dread trap at the beginning, The PCs delve into the stinking, disgusting first level of Rappan Athuk and meet one of the place's iconic inhabitants - the slow, unkillable and truly dreadful Dung Monster (nicknamed "Dungy" by my players), which has probably slain A LOT of PCs. The level 1A, temple of the final sacrament, is another personal favorite of mine -accessible via more than one location, it features mocking, taunting inscriptions reflecting the challenges faced in this temple and PCs should beware - not only is the temple HARD, it also features an entrance to the dread bloodways, but more on these later. On Level 1B, the abandoned bastion, the PCs can encounter mist-filled alcoves containing strange and deadly connections to the otherworld as well as an organized force of goblins that will respond dynamically to incursions. Special mentioning also goes to the rather cool traps contained on this level. In direct contrast, the "Mouth of Doom" (level 1C), a mostly deserted and rather easy level makes for a new way to introduce characters to the rigors and dangers of Rappan Athuk - among the challenges and ideas on this level, most intriguing, at least to me, was the option to play at a rather neat divine slot machine and get some uncommon boons - or summon disaster! On the classic level two, insane madman Marthek still looms, but those familiar with the older installments will notice that Saracek the fallen, skeletal champion and dread adversary, has been upgraded to antipaladin in this iteration, making the undead menace even more deadly than his prior fighter/blackguard version. Of course, the third "boss" menace is also still here in the person of Ambro the Ogre.
The new area 2A will be hated by players - now, Rappan Athuk also has its teleporter-maze level. Yes. Teleporter Maze. Ouch. On the plus-side, the PCs can actually find a surface one-way teleport out of the dungeon. On the downside (for them) and to my everlasting glee, they actually have a chance to die by BUBBLES! Yes. Rappan Athuk can even kill you with friggin' bubbles! I love it. "How did your character die?" "Welll...ehh...he...was killed by bubbles." I HAVE to kill some PC off this way, I just have to! The Demon's Gullet, the sequel to the Mouth of Doom, also provides rather appropriate challenges (still being deadly, but not as bad as the main levels...) for low-level PCs and even features a wishing statue that could grant you your heart's desire - or swallow and suffocate you. Speaking of swallowing and related deaths - with level 3 and its eponymous warning of purple worms, the dungeon gets deadly. Prior to this level, Rappan Athuk is challenging - from here on out, it gets deadly as hell (or rather abyss) and this incarnation is no different - old favorites like the oracle are still present in this version of the dungeon and Scramge (now a rakshasa maharaja, btw.) and his assault should challenge the hardest of parties - unless they act smart indeed, this level WILL see the end of your PCs.

Speaking of the end of PCs - the warning "Don't go down the well" still applies - and level 3A, still features some of the deadliest, most sadistic encounters written - not to speak of this level's boss and his iron golem bodyguards. That's NOTHING, though, compared to the sick and deliciously evil traps that can be found on level 3B - here, the PCs can get into CR 20+ encounters. Several of them. E.g. Greater Stone Golems plus hasted regular stone golems. Or Stone Treants. Have I mentioned the ancient mummy lords guarding the creatures known as ravager spawns (CR 20), gibbering orbs (CR 27) and then, the legendary Ravager, a CR 30 beast that could very well be a spawn of Rovagug. Compared to the apocalyptic dread of level 3B, 3C, the third of the "beginner's levels" of RA feels almost tame - an enclave of healers wanted to once flush out the threat of Orcus. Now, though, only a bleak disease-ridden complex populated by vermin and worse remains. Especially the fountain of pestilence, which generates demons, rats etc. will make for a cool encounter indeed also thanks to the disturbing artwork that portrays it.

It is in level 4 that the PCs will face off with the main quest of Rappan Athuk for the first time - since the ultimate goal (and who are we kidding - rather futile) is to kill Orcus, it is here that the PCs will have to invade the first temple of Orcus and get a sense of the depravity and things to come - and face challenges that will have them sweat blood and tears: The NPCs make use of the Disciple and Zealot of Orcus Prestige Classes (more on those MUCH later), making the adversaries more deadly. Max the intelligent and potentially benevolent (at least as far as RA goes...)otyugh also makes a return. How challenging is the boss encounter? Well, the text tells the DM to buy the players a drink if they prevail and indeed, the finale is lethal...though in the context of the dungeon, it's just the beginning. The Basilisk Caverns (level 4A) include a potential dwarven cohort, the eponymous basilisk(s), a team of lethal goblin adventurers and even a mated pair of vampire/succubus with a rather evil trick up their sleeves... Level 4B, the "Gut" is essentially not a regular level, but a vast tunnel with several sub-sections that links the "beginner's dungeon" (understand that "beginner" means NOT easy) with the main-levels of Rappan Athuk - via Zombie stables, a subterranean inn run by a mongrelman, a colony of plantoids and more foes - including a Tiefling fighter with a rather interesting two-weapon build.

Level 5 provides us with the lair of Banth, wicked transmuter and his creations. Here, players can recruit further allies (or replenish their ranks after suffering losses) with two characters and especially rangers and druids might have a chance to shine/get nice companions in this level. A stream of lava runs through level 5A, the prison of time, in which time elementals guard the so-called Dark Thelaroi are contained - I look forward to reading more about these weird beings in future adventures. In level 5B, "Aladdin's Lament", some problematic, genie-themed items can be recovered - if the PCs manage to survive e.g. the ingenious and awesome trap that will make them feel like frogs in a blender. The level also utilizes some rather neat inscriptions to set the mood. Level 6 has always been one of my player's hate-levels - the Maze not only contains a storm giant ghost and the remains of the legendary titan Ereg-Tal, but also comes with 10 (!!!) sample mazes for your perusal - making sure that PCs will hate these labyrinthine corridors. Level 6A once featured a mind flayer in a gorgeous illustration - unfortunately, with the IP-problems, we only get the intellect devourer-substitution and no new illustration to depict the aberration. The bosses of the level, 3 ancient, well-equipped trolls and the spider/human hybrid, the Spider Queen, also make this level a nice challenge.

Level 7, the aptly-named gates of hell, has also been redesigned: While the cerberus-like 3-headed hell-hound being still here, we also get a great substitution of the mind-flayers and giths that once populated this level in the guise of encephalon gorgers and morlocks - a much better r3eplacement for illithids, though I still bemoan the absence of the good ol' squid-heads. In Level 7A, the halls of the phase minotaur king, the PCs not only will have to defeat this legendary minotaur and navigate even more deadly labyrinths, they will also have to deal with more lethal goblins from the subterranean city of greenskins and a crimson death as well as water weirds in their native elements... Level 8 contains the "Tomb of the Evil King", a breather for PCs - at least partially - the vast amounts of cave scorpions, the river flowing through the level and the eye of the deep (which replaces a beholder) still make this a challenge, as does the option to find and unleash a banshee, but generally, this level feels less lethal than others. Level 8A, the tomb of the beacon, on the other hand is one of my favorites: This vast level set in a primarily vertical cave features not only a waterfall, antimagic fields and a side-view map, but also offers PCs the chance to meet the utterly disturbing Blood Orchids and even form an alliance with flumphs! Come on, who doesn't like flumphs? The new level 8B contains not only a neat subterranean jungle, but also has the chance for the PCs to find evidence of a now extinct breed of intelligent apes and utilize their leftovers: Turns out the mummified monkey dung is explosive and that among other treasures, the PCs can find a banana of holding! Now that is cool!

Part 2 of my review is on post 28 in the product discussion -see you there!




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Contributor

1 person marked this as a favorite.

Now available for preorder!

Dark Archive

Adventure Path Charter Subscriber

When?

Frog God Games

1 person marked this as a favorite.

It's available for pre-order now, if you're asking "When will it come out?" then that would be the end of Sept. to early of Oct.


I picked one up at Gen Con, I had no idea that it was going to be available. AMAZING....absolutely wonderful. Words cannot describe how much I have enjoyed it and look forward to running it. FGG put a lot of effort into it and it shows. The new content is very much worth the redo. I looked forward to this for a long time and was completely overjoyed and satisfied with the final product. This book/tome is a must have for any DM. I would be interested in how many copies were sold at Gen Con, I about fell over when I saw it. I absolutely had to have it! I can't imagine anyone would be disappointed owning this.


If your looking for another treat then I suggest the Black Monastery as well

Frog God Games

Thank you, Oozi!

Contributor

1 person marked this as a favorite.

If you bought a copy of this at GenCon, you should have a PDF copy in your downloads (provided that you gave an email address to the cashier), courtesy of Frog God Games (if you don't, please contact customer service).


I'm getting mine through Kickstarter funding and I'm very much looking forward to it. I would like to have supported Swords & Wizardry as well but I'm just all tapped out on what I can donate to projects right now (trying hard to get The Gamers: Hand of Fate to succeed; it's a nailbiter right now and there's only about a week left).

I still get to play OD&D on occassion and would love to have a copy of Swords & Wizadry and that version of Rappan Athuk as well.


I got my pdf today. I too am going to purchase the OE version


Hi,

Could i get a page count on it. That is not a cheap book.

Thanks

Pat


Patoumonde wrote:

Hi,

Could i get a page count on it. That is not a cheap book.

Thanks

Pat

I believe we weigh in at 672 pages, with maps, legal, obituaries, ToC.

Big Book.

SG

Frog God Games

It's 637 pages of adventure.

Liberty's Edge

IS there a lot of differences between the Sword and Wizardry and Pathfinder book?

I am getting the S&W book through kickstarter but was wondering if I should also look at getting this one as well?

Thanks in advance.

Shadow Lodge

2 people marked this as a favorite.

The stats are pretty different. I'll let the comparison speak for itself:

Ogre
Hit Dice: 4+1
Armor Class: 5 [14]
Attacks: Weapon (1d10+1)
Saving Throw: 13
Special: None
Move: 9
Alignment: Chaos
Challenge Level/XP: 4/120

vs

Ogre CR 3
XP 800
CE Large humanoid (giant)
Init –1; Senses darkvision 60 ft., low-light vision; Perception +2
Defense
AC 17, touch 8, flat-footed 17 (+4 armor, –1 Dex, +5 natural, –1 size)
hp 30 (4d8+12)
Fort +6, Ref +0, Will +3
Offense
Speed 30 ft. (40 ft. base)
Melee greatclub +7 (2d8+7)
Ranged javelin +1 (1d8+5)
Space 10 ft.; Reach 10 ft.
Statistics
Str 21, Dex 8, Con 15, Int 6, Wis 10, Cha 7
Base Atk +3; CMB +9; CMD 18
Feats Iron Will, Toughness
Skills Climb +7, Perception +5
Languages Giant
Ecology
Environment temperate or cold hills
Organization solitary, pair, gang (3–4), or family (5–16)
Treasure standard (hide armor, greatclub, 4 javelins, other treasure)

Liberty's Edge

Is it possible to get the PDFs for this from Paizo if we got it as part of the original Kickstarter?

Silver Crusade

+1 to Brutal Ben

yeah I love how I can consolidate all my RPG downloads at one site

maybe paizo and FGG can work something out

Shadow Lodge

Even if they did, I dunno that FGG is going to put some of the bonus stuff up for retail sale, like the:

Bestiary
GM Screen
Battle Maps
Player's Guide
Pregenerated Characters
Libram of Fortunate Happenstance

Liberty's Edge

@Kthulhu- thanks that helps a lot!

Dark Archive

If I purchase the preorder bundle will I get immediate access to the PDF?


lastgrasp wrote:
If I purchase the preorder bundle will I get immediate access to the PDF?

I just pre-ordered it, and it was indeed immediately available to download.

ET

Contributor

Brutal Ben wrote:
Is it possible to get the PDFs for this from Paizo if we got it as part of the original Kickstarter?

Not at this time.

lastgrasp wrote:
If I purchase the preorder bundle will I get immediate access to the PDF?

Yes.

Dark Archive

Is this book on color or B/W?

Dark Archive

Mr Whos wrote:
Is this book on color or B/W?

Black and White.

Frog God Games

If you went through kickstarter--you should already have all your pdfs. email me a bill@talesofthefroggod.com if you don not


Would it be accurate to say that a rogue, and by rogue I mean someone with trapfinding and disable device, is pretty much essential for this campaign?


Gambit wrote:
Would it be accurate to say that a rogue, and by rogue I mean someone with trapfinding and disable device, is pretty much essential for this campaign?

Certainly as much as a cleric, fighter and wizard are.

SG


Skeeter Green wrote:
Gambit wrote:
Would it be accurate to say that a rogue, and by rogue I mean someone with trapfinding and disable device, is pretty much essential for this campaign?

Certainly as much as a cleric, fighter and wizard are.

SG

Lol....to clarify my question, is this a campaign with lots and lots of traps in it? (It exudes the feeling that this is indeed the case)


Skeeter Green wrote:
Gambit wrote:
Would it be accurate to say that a rogue, and by rogue I mean someone with trapfinding and disable device, is pretty much essential for this campaign?

Certainly as much as a cleric, fighter and wizard are.

SG

This is an excellent example of a 'classic four' party adventure. You really need all the bases covered as far as Arcane fire power, Divine casting/healing, front-line fighters and trap-finding types to get through.


2 people marked this as a favorite.

Part II of my review

And honestly, the PCs will need all the potential tools they can get their hands on, for starting with level 9, things start to get truly painful: The second temple of Orcus awaits and its caretaker, Gudmund, has a vital key the PCs will need. Unfortunately for them, the disciple of Orcus is not exactly a nice fellow and the demon-enhanced showdown will challenge your PCs to the breaking point - especially if you're a sadistic DM like me - there's a maze with a bunch of teleporters on this level and making a running dash for the area allows your NPCs e.g. time to rebuff - just as a tip in case players first manage to breach the temple's defenses and seem like they're winning. ;) Level 9A, the Hydra's Lair, contains one of the truly evil dick-moves of this dungeon: Extremely well-hidden, there's a tomb of a CR 26 death knight AND a CR 27 Demilich. When compared to these "bonus-bosses" of epic power, the normal foes like huge groups of trolls, a pair of umbral dragons and a 12-headed Pyrohydra guarding the mithril gates leading to level 11 feel almost easy. Until you recall and experience their power that is. Hope that your PCs are smart enough to let the two ancient beings lie... Level 9B and 9C make up the two levels of the well of Agamemnon and while the first level is not too hard, the whirlpool the PCs will have to brave to access the latter level will test their luck and ingeniousness, a good precursor for the difficulty that awaits the PCs in the person of Agamemnon, the now-corrupted vampire archwizard and his groaning spirit-brides.

Level 9D are the bloodways, first introduced in Rappan Athuk Reloaded: Taking the trope from the classic "Desert of Desolation"-set, the bloodways are a labyrinth filled with bloody, red mist that obscures vision, are almost impossible to truly navigate and make up 4 (!!!) levels of dungeon - the bloodways are flavorful and confusing, though their boss, Duke Aerim the bloodwraith, feels rather like a bit weak for the level. That being said, the confusing and lengthy nature of the Bloodways makes it still a disturbing challenge and perhaps one of the hardest levels - and there are the forgotten tombs, where undead mummy-priests and even a marilith awaits, so enough potential for death and mayhem here. Let's hope that by the time PCs reach level 10, the aptly-named Lava Pit, they have some option to make themselves immune to fire, otherwise the local salamander-population under the command of CR 28 noble salamander sorceror Irtuk will annihilate the PCs. Who are we kidding? Even if they are prepared, Irtuk and his elemental creatures will constitute a challenge that could break all but the most experienced players - and let's hope that their curiosity doesn't kill them - there's essentially a nice "story-kill" also possible on this level. Level 10A, the "Great Cavern" is appropriately-named - with another total of 4 pages of maps depicting both an overview as well as the respective sites. Among the creatures herein, the PCs can find the "Mother of all Purple Worms", two legendary orcus-mummies, negotiate with an insanely powerful lich who actually is a foe of Orcus, navigate a colony of fungus people and find another set of mithral gates and even a vein of gold! In level 10B, the goblin outpost features some rather interesting green-skins - armed to the teeth, having multiple class-levels and teamwork powers, they and their unit training should make the PCs reconsider hard any notion of underestimating goblins and provide them with a taste of the things to come.

In level 10C, the Talon of Orcus, another outpost of the Orcus-worshippers, has also a rather large contingent of deadly foes and overshadows the goblins from the prior level - the Seer of Orcus, special stone golems etc. won't make things easier for the PCs and the broken, MPD-afflicted adventurer they can rescue may yet succumb to the traumas he had to endure - with potentially fatal consequences, but also some very fun roleplaying potential. On level 11, the PCs can encounter, among other beings, a neothelid (which replaces a beholder, if my memory serves me correctly) as well as find the statue of a high priestess struck by a divine curse - greed and risk/reward ratios of groups are put to the test here, though I always considered it a pity that per se no way to free the priestess has been included. Oh, have I mentioned the mithral vein? Level 11A not only features the gates to the subterranean city of goblins, but also perhaps the hardest group of NPCs in the "rival adventurer"-style encountered so far with non only a hall of 40 wraiths at their beck and call, a group of high-level vampires will bleed the PC's resources further dry. Wait, you say: Goblin City? Yes, one of the largest levels of Rappan Athuk is the meticulously detailed Goblin City of Greznek in level 12A - a roleplaying town that comes with its own attitude-adjustment sidebox and the options for starved adventurers to not only stock up, but actually do some trading and even side-questing, making this city a great alternative and break from all the dungeon crawling. Level 12 contains a whole array of potential cohorts and the reason is rather evident by its title: The Slave Dens contain all those unfortunate enough to have been caught by the servants of Orcus or the goblins and it is from here, if anywhere, that the PCs will need to stage their escape attempt should they get caught alive by anyone. Worse for the PCs, two elite priests, their mohrgs and their option to summon a balor also are a part of the fun things they can encounter this level. Another cool break from standard dungeon crawling would be level 12B, Tiamat's Puzzle, in which the PCs do explore a dungeon, yes, but one focused very strongly on riddle-solving and with a different theme. It is here the PCs may find a potent sword, which remains cursed for now - until they find the parent-sword in the vermin-themed level 12C, that is. This level is more about mass than threat and probably will have the PCs feel a surge of power, which is ok, I guess -especially since the giant amphisbaena anaconda is waiting for worn-down, overconfident PCs...

Level 13 houses a dread ghost antipaladin - and options to die. Hard. By becoming cursed, by facing a mirror duplicate and by failing to properly navigate the portal on this level, for it is here that the only point of access to the final level can be found. But we'll return to examine that later - after we've checked out the Goblin Barracks and the military commander of the greenskins (13A), followed the winding Dark River (13B) to Zombieland (13C). Where, bingo, a LOT of zombies wait. To be chopped to pieces. That's fine, let the PCs smash through whole armies of them and find a way to access the "Lost Levels" as soon as they are released. As soon as the PCs are overconfident enough, they can find a wall of force - if they bash it down, they'll have fun with 2 CR20+ liches and the dread evil artifact, the Zombiestone of Karsh. Now if you're familiar with the classic mythology of demon-princes, you may not be surprised to find that the defense of the lowest of the three temples of Orcus falls to not only extremely powerful beings, but actually to a combination of demons, undead and disciples as well as Maphistal, a demon lord of his own right. If the PCs manage to clean this temple as well, they might actually have a teeny-tiny sliver of a chance against the Demon Prince of Undead. Level 14A houses a tragedy - it is here that the defeated army of Tsar retreated to and that a fallen angel and a dwarven undead abomination still lead an army of hundreds (literally, there are that many) undead in their congregation, guarding level 14B, aptly titled "The Grand Cornu of Orcus" - here, the high-priest of the demon-lord of the undead makes his final stand, here his shadow-advisor Pagonis, his Kyton torture-master, his denizen of leng librarian Ashfallen and his personal, powerful undead servants wait and work tirelessly for the detriment of all that is good and holy and it is here that the epic battle against this stain upon the planet will reach its penultimate climax- at least, that's what one would think until one sees the "Architect's Workshop" (level 14C) - where legendary planar architect Glazerel waits alongside his anima engine, where PCs can be hurtled to seemingly prehistoric times, a strange mercane-bar tended by valkyries, awaken stranded in a Kyton-hospital (Silent Hill is calling...), travel to a strange garden eden, battle an undead gold dragon and visit a plateau that might very well be adjacent to Leng itself - the planar chaos and dimensional sidetreks are plain awesome and make this my favorite new level of the dungeon.

Speaking of which: Only one to go: Level 15. The Den of the Master. When the PCs, covered in their own blood and naked, pop up in this dimension, they are in for an immediate blasphemy for fun and giggles, continuing blasts of evil energy and can kiss regaining clerical magic goodbye. Apart from highest echelon demons, we also get a selection of Orcus' most powerful level 20 allies as well as..well. Orcus' friggin' avatar. CR 35. The PCs better be running for that teleporter circle to et as fast away as possible from the Demon Prince. Though, of course, if they prevail, Orcus is gone for 666 years and their feat will be sung of in legends forevermore...

The pdf also contains stats for all new monsters, an appendix with the "Disciple of Orcus"-archetype, the Archwizard and Zealot of Orcus-PrCs, a total of 38 new magic items (of which many are artifacts), an appendix detailing the presumed default gods of the Necro/FrogGod-verse, illustrated pregens for level 1 and 6 of all CORE-classes, but not of the APG/UM/UC-classes, a total of 37 pages of battle-maps as well as the aforementioned obituary-sheets, which imho will see a lot of use...

Conclusion:
Editing and formatting are top-notch, I didn't notice any significant glitches and the scarce minor formatting glitch did not detract from my enjoyment of this mega-dungeon. Layout adheres to FGG's two-column b/w-standard and the most iconic of the b/w-artworks have been re-used from the previous two iterations. It should be known, though, that we also get a vast slew of new pieces of art of a comparably stellar quality. One major upside since the latest incarnation of Rappan Athuk is that all encounters feature directly the CR-ratings for the respective areas, which is a huge help, as is the decision to include major statblocks where they are needed in the dungeon - layout wise, especially in direct comparison, this version of Rappan Athuk first mops the floor with its predecessors and then gobbles up the remains. The pdf has also been lovingly bookmarked, enabling easy navigation in this monster.

Rappan Athuk is perhaps the best dungeon released for 3.X. In my opinion, it's the best dungeon-centric module for the system. However, it had its weaknesses: While the initial levels had been detailed to the nth degree, the final levels felt a bit more abrupt and less imaginative. Another weakness was that the module(s) did not offer anything for low-level PCs to do. And finally, the wilderness was not as detailed as I would have liked it to be. These three weaknesses have been purged in the PFRPG-iteration - with the new low-level dungeon, PCs can suffer from 1st level on. The new wilderness-areas and 0-level entry-levels to the dungeon of graves are glorious. The sideview map means I don't need a spreadsheet of connections between areas to navigate the dungeon. The Frog God's Cloister would have made for an awesome module in itself. And the bonus-content keeps on coming: Even when compared with the reloaded version, the latest iteration feels vastly superior - minor ties to Tsar and the upcoming Sword of Air (which are always unobtrusive and don't require the ownership of either), top-notch new levels at the higher levels of the dungeon, more deadly foes, more artifacts and even cool utilizations of PFRPG-rules - Plain awesome all around.

Now is there something I did not enjoy as much? Well, yes. I'm a huge fan of the APG-classes and you'll find no alchemist, no inquisitor, no magus etc. here (though witches are there). I would have enjoyed more support for them. The replacements of IP-protected monsters make sense and work well in the context of the dungeon and serve to mostly enrich their environments, not detract from them. (Though I still miss mindflayers...)

So. After writing this review for x hours, reading the whole monster thrice, I can say I look forward to my kickstarter-exclusive level and the bonus modules as well as the player's guide, all of which will also be reviewed in due time by yours truly. For now, I'll have to give my final verdict and even if my copy of Slumbering Tsar wasn't growling at me from my bookshelf, I couldn't rate this any lower than the full 5 stars + endzeitgeist seal of approval - this could literally be all the deadly, imaginative old-school dungeon-goodness you'll ever need.

Reviewed here, sent to GMS magazine, posted about it on RPGaggression and submitted my review to NERD TREK.com Cheers!

Endzeitgeist out.

Grand Lodge

Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber

Wow read THRICE!

I am in two minds whether to continue on the PDF or wait til the hard copy arrives. So far just awesome and couldn't agree more with the above review (although I am only a few levels in.

I can't wait for all the bonus goodies either :D


So if it's possible to reveal them via spoiler:

Spoiler:
What have they used to replace beholders, mind flayers, umber hulks, and displacer beasts?


Gururamalamaswami wrote:
So if it's possible to reveal them via spoiler: ** spoiler omitted **

Different things in different places. Sorry to be vague, but we honestly didn't use the same monsters across the board for replacements.

I can tell you in one area, hulks are replaced by gugs, because I do love all things Lovecraft. And that was one of the lower-powered replacements...

SG

Frog God Games

Thanks for the in-depth review, Endz!


3 people marked this as a favorite.

@mach1.9pants: I always read products I review multiple times to minimize errors/over-sights. But yeah, Rappan Athuk is a joy to read and I seldom actually enjoy these re-reads. ^^


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

Well done review, Endz.


Thank you so much - I was quite some work and I'm glad if people like you find my ramblings useful!


Often the work of an editor is underappreciated. Thanks for the kind remarks End!


3 people marked this as a favorite.

I've said it time and again: Editors and Layout-artists are the unsung heroes of the industry, only noticed when something goes awry. I seek to try to remedy that, at least a bit. :)

Contributor

1 person marked this as a favorite.

As somebody who worked (hard) on this product, I'm tickled by the review. Thanks, Endz.

Dark Archive

1 person marked this as a favorite.

Excellent review of a fantastic product Endz.

RPG Superstar 2011 Top 16

Just purchased due to End's review. Read (some of) PDF last night. LOOKS AMAZING.


Thanks for all the kind words and the votes of confidence, everyone! It's really this I do this for and it's great to see that some people out there actually read my insanely long reviews. :D

I really hope your experience with the book is as great as mine! :)

Grand Lodge

Okay, I have the original three modules, and loved the Dungeon of Graves from the moment I first picked it up. I have print outs of all the extra's, the wilderness area's etc. I ran this dungeon in 3/3.5, for friends and for several years at a local con, many years back. I've always had a good time running it, and it's a dungeon I'd love to be on the other side of the cardboard curtain for. I'd really like a chance to run my current group all the way through. However, what I also love is my very limited (living on student loans and not much else at the moment) money.

I get that this is a monster of a book, and that's actually a concern of mine. I have too many game books (some pricey) on my shelf that I have to constantly baby because the binding is not up to snuff. My Pathfinder core book is dangerously close to tipping into that same category and is not as many pages as Rappan. If I'm going to at all contemplate dropping a hundred dollars on a dungeon I'm not going to have a chance to run for several years (I've resolved not to run games while going to law school), I need to know this beast of a book isn't going to come apart at the seams.

Also, is there that much more to this compared to the modules? Unless that wilderness portion is more robust then I remember (haven't looked at it all together in a bit), I don't recall it all adding up to 600+ pages. What do I, the potential buyer who was not aware and hence did not participate in the Kickstarter get that is not in what I have, besides from the update to Pathfinder. (And I'm a lazy DM, so an update to Pathfinder alone had me reaching for my wallet). I read the review from Endzeitgeist above, thank you, which answered some of my questions about that (more levels, more maps, etc), and that all sounds great (especially a cut away map to show how the dungeon interacts), but I'm wondering how it added up to that many more pages.

It certainly sounds like more than a simple conversion was done, which catches my interest. Before I give it a hard though, and figure out if I should work extra hours at a part time job I loath to make sure I have the cash, a few more details? Because I'll work those hours for Rappan, but only if it sounds like it's worth it to buy it again.

Thanks.


If End's review wasn't enough to interest you, I don't know how much this will help, but here goes:

From the Kickstarter page

Rappan Athuk will be a faux leather-bound, signature stitched book (textbook bound for a lifetime of durability) with either a red cover (for the Swords & Wizardry version) or black cover (for the Pathfinder Roleplaying Game). The book includes:

17 new levels (topping over 50 levels) with many revisions to the existing levels

A number of lower level areas (character levels 1-10) including the village of Zelkor's Ferry and its surrounding environs

A Temple of Tsathogga with a three level dungeon of its own

2 New Prestige Classes and a New Archtype (Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Version Only)

27+ New Monsters

3 New Monster Templates

5+ New Artifacts

30+ New Magic Items (including some old favorites)

The return of Bill Webb's favorite spell from the Relics and Rituals days as an ability!

29+ miniature-scale battlemaps (detailing 10+ separate locations) provided for iconic locations and key encounter areas

Plus I won't make you sick by all the add-on stuff we gave for free if you were a Kickstarter supporter. You REALLY want to find someone selling the stuff on Ebay (we will not sell the bonus level) to get all the goodies.

SG

Grand Lodge

Oh, I didn't need End's review to interest me (great review though, don't get me wrong), but I really just needed some bullet points.

Textbook bound, gotcha. So the same as World's Largest Dungeon was done in back in the day?

You see, I was not aware of the Kickstarter until very recently (and I figured I didn't want to look at that to see all the extra's I had potentially missed out on...) so I had no idea what all was added. The 17 new levels of dungeon and 27+ new monsters explains where the higher page count comes from almost by itself.

I'm guessing the mini-scale maps are a map pack then? I can't see that many pages being a tear-out (or mini-scale having any utility being part of the book, lol!). That's really nice actually, and amusingly enough tipping the scale heavily in favor of getting this.

Again, the bullet point upgrades are really what I needed to see the list of, and that helped a lot. Like I said, I have the original three modules, so I was curious on how much had been added that I wouldn't have just from converting the dungeon myself.

Thanks a lot, I appreciate the response.

Silver Crusade

1 person marked this as a favorite.

As someone who ran the three book set for 3.0, then when reloaded came out and run another game in 3.5 I jumped at the chance of getting it for pathfinder.

I've got the PDF's waiting on the hard copies, but have already run a session of it for my players using the electronic copies.

All I can say is I doubt I'd ever look at the earlier versions again...

This is awesome. The details of the wilderness area alone is worth it. I loved the town, it works well with my gaming style.

I wanted a dungeon crawl that could take players comping and going, that would challenge a novice and an experienced players, and was going to last the test of time, and not be finished in a few weeks.

I also bought the Tsar sage at the same time, and I recommend it to anyone who loves this as they have are designed to work well together or stand alone, I intend for cross connections between the two giving my group many years of adventuring before the books are closed on the campaign.

I've taken the first edition feel that necromancer games liked to advertise on their products back to some of the character creation. All new characters are level 1 and its up to the party to keep them alive, so each new character is a fresh faced recruit, and loosing a character will be a big event in the game...

They have only been to the town and down the river north of the dungeon and so far its made an impression on the group that its become one of my favorite campaigns out of the four that I am running.

So I would recommend it, its got humour, challenge and death in well measured doses... Just warn the players beforehand that characters are fragile and tend to come here to die horribly.


I think I might be dying waiting for this to ship. I come home everyday and check the mail... then lurch inside despondently...

:)

ET


A friend bought the pdf of this, and we are starting Saturday. I have a sneaky hunch we are not even going to make it through the first room!

Paladin (Myself), Bard focusing on Dervish Dance, Beastmaster Druid, and a Ninja. Low odds at best I think.


Finally purchased. Loving the PDF, the bookmarks are really going to help if I ever get to run this.

Can't wait for the book.

Dark Archive

C'mon physical copy get to paizo already! ;)

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