Midgard Adventures #3: The Raven's Call (PFRPG)

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Meet the Trollkin... And Drive Them Into the Sea!

The trollkin and their shaman have come to a village by the sea, stormed its walls, and taken all the villagers as slaves and property. They have eaten their way through the saltfish, devoured the herd of sheep, and might be planning to eat the PCs next. Then, one escaped villager begs strangers on the road for help... And gives them the chance to shine as true heroes striking down raiders of pure evil.

"The Raven's Call" is an introductory adventure that brings mythic power and a true rescue story for starting 1st-level characters in the Pathfinder Roleplaying Game, and introduces locales and NPCs that players will never forget. It offers new monsters and new magic in the unique style of Wolfgang Baur, one of the leading roleplaying game adventure designers.

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An Endzeitgeist.com review

*****

This module is 21 pages long, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 1 page SRD and 1 page advertisement, leaving us with 17 pages of content, so let’s take a look!

This being an adventure-review, the following contains SPOILERS. Potential players may wish to jump to the conclusion. Still here? All right!

The world of Midgard, the Northlands – rather specifically, the small thorp called Nargenstal… has seen better days. Thankfully (depending on the hook), the Shadow Road known as Raven’s Road opens for the PCs and dumps them near it – for unfortunately, the village has been taken. By whom will become apparent once the PCs encounter the few villagers that have escaped: Trollkin (which btw. are fully statted) and their kobold allies have taken the thorp and most of the surviving villagers hostage. The PC’s objective thus will be to infiltrate the village and take it back – but how they do that is up to them – trying to kill foes one by one for example might result in revenge-killings f hostages and if trollkin perish, their shaman will demand weregild and start joining the fray. Shaman? Yes, from Kobold Press’ New Paths-series, the shaman is essentially a prepared caster variant of the druid – with quite a few different unique options.

Speaking of options: Two mercenaries are selling enhanced alchemist’s fire (so-called demonfire) that burns longer and produces soporific vapors, but while they sell them for a price, DCs and regular market prices for the item would have been appreciated. The sandboxy environment that is this module also is ehnaced by 12 optional minor tasks/subquests DMs may introduce to the fray to make the village and its surrounding areas come more to life. Speaking of life: The thorp was guarded by gaint crab that has been trained and is now under the command of the invaders – saving it might make for an uncommon ally. Counter-tactics for the PC’s actions and sneaking in are covered as well – the latter option being particularly interesting, since it require first luring the swarms of ravens away that have taken a liking to the carnage.

The village is beautifully mapped by Alyssa Faden and the bulk of the foes will soon either retreat or be waiting in the thorp’s inn – where the Ogre lord as well as the trollkin shaman make for interesting final bosses of the module. Said inn also holds a secret – its cellar hides 3 ancient sarcophagi and 3 javelins of Thor, mythic items. Mythic? Yeah, for this, at least to my knowledge, is the first module that actually has information for mythic tasks etc. – whether saving the crab, finding the javelins etc. Nice! Midgard’s status-rules also get a nice nod. The inn, again, is beautifully mapped in b/w, but since a secret compartment is included in the map, at least one of the 3 levels of the inn won’t be shown to them – which is a pity. A player-friendly map would have helped there.

Speaking of help: DM’s get help in tracking the occupying force by an easy-to-use table with percentile chances of particular creatures being in one location, while the PCs may encounter a help (or complication) in the guise of a dhampir treasure-hunter of questionable morals who is also after the javelins…

Conclusions:

Editing and formatting are very good, though not perfect: I was at first stumped when a particular entry pointed my towards a “Blood Money” boxed text – which isn’t boxed. It’s there, it’s easy to find – it’s still a minor glitch. Layout adheres to a beautiful 2-column full-color standard that is a joy to behold and the b/w-artworks are universally awesome – especially at this very fair price point. The pdf comes fully bookmarked.

I really like this module: There aren’t that many good low level sandboxes out there and this one in particular deals with a trope that has been left mostly untapped and, in spite of the few pages it has to develop it, makes for a compelling scenario indeed – not one that is particularly exciting story-wise, but still a great scenario. It is not perfect, though: The alchemical item for example lacks proper default prices and the mercenaries from which the item can be bought lack stats, though pressganging/negotiating with them into saving the thorp is something most groups will probably try. That being said, the amount of detail crammed into his module is still interesting – swim and climb-DCs etc. –all provided. The optional side-quests also help to make this module come alive – to an extent that few modules manage.

There is a reason why Wolfgang Baur is such a celebrated author and this module shows experience in design, story-telling and details that are the hallmark of an experienced designer. The Kobold-Commander-in-Chief has crafted a cool module indeed, though one that is not as ambitious or mind-boggling in scope as e.g. “To the Edge of the World”. It doesn’t try to be – it’s a different beast, but another minor nitpick I had was that I would have enjoyed a slightly tighter focus of the mythic javelins in the story – as provided, they feel slightly like an afterthought added to the module.

Mind you, this is complaining at a VERY high level and I’m still wholeheartedly recommending this module – my final verdict will clock in at 5 stars, just short of the seal of approval.

Endzeitgeist out.


The Raven’s Call

*****

The Raven’s Call is no ordinary adventure. Set in Midgard it has fantasy elements all its own, but fits into any Pathfinder world. The premise of rescuing an entire town from a band of kobolds and trollkin seems a bit steep for a 1st level adventure. But Wolfgang Bauer pulls it off with some great designing. What makes this sandbox adventure great is the unpredictable ways players will come up with to solve the crisis. There are several interesting encounters allowing for different character skills to shine (always great to see in a published adventure). Enough details are given to allow a GM to respond to unexpected player actions while not bogging things down in a lot of text. The layout is well organized for ease in running a Pathfinder game. Sometimes a stat block will run over onto another page (a personal peeve of mine), but generally finding information when you need it is not a problem. Useful side bars give great tips for running the adventure.

The art is first rate. Wolfgang Baur well chose cover artist Aaron Miller and interior artist Michael Perry to showcase this introductory piece. I like the maps and they would make great handouts to players. As a GM I appreciate this flexibility. Art should not be merely for the GM to enjoy.

While designed as an introduction to Midgard, it is also an engaging stand-alone for a band of new characters. New players as well as veteran RPGamers will appreciate The Raven’s Call.


Liberty's Edge

Really anxious to see what people think of this!


sounds like a intresting story/adventure.

Liberty's Edge

It really is - I'd sure like to play in it (if I didn't already know the adventure, that is :)

The Exchange Contributor; Publisher, Kobold Press; RPG Superstar Judge

It was written to be structurally similar to something like Hommlet, where there are multiple ways to resolve things.

Here's a preview of the art by Mike Perry, as he worked and reworked the iconic Trollkin image.

Liberty's Edge

Wolfgang Baur wrote:
Here's a preview of the art by Mike Perry, as he worked and reworked the iconic Trollkin image.

Interesting article and a really nice view of the awesome final trollkin illustration!

(that AD sounds like a real slave driver though!)

The Exchange Contributor; Publisher, Kobold Press; RPG Superstar Judge

Hey, thanks for the review, James!

Silver Crusade

This will be the one to open up my Midgard campaign. I was going to start in Margreve but that will come later me thinks.

I am going to run this campaign on roll20 VTT. I only wish more publishers would optimize maps and images for VTT when making their PDF's and make it part of the package. The growth of VTT's is becoming exponential IMHO

The Exchange Contributor; Publisher, Kobold Press; RPG Superstar Judge

Hmmmm. Tell me more about the requirements for a VTT map. Because we could totally do that as a map pack, if I knew the specs.

Is it a particular file format, certain scale, or something else?

Silver Crusade

Well, high enough resolution on battlemaps that they were not fuzzy when blown up large enough for tokens. Naturally, scaled to 1" = 5'.

Most VTT's leave you able to enlarge and lay their grid over yours. I know roll20 does this.

Other, say overland, maps don't need grids...just high enough resolution.

AdventureaWeek optimizes for VTT's. check it out.

The Exchange Contributor; Publisher, Kobold Press; RPG Superstar Judge

Thank you Rondor! I might be able to get these maps put together in a high-resolution map pack.

I'll also check out the AaW version, but they are a subscription service, not a one-shot payment.

The Exchange Contributor; Publisher, Kobold Press; RPG Superstar Judge

New review over at Game Knight Reviews!

GameKnight wrote:

Where many low-level adventures fail to offer a ton of choices, sometimes railroading the PCs down a garden path – The Raven’s Call offers a wide range of choices. Plenty of hooks to get PCs involved and different ways to keep them not only interested, but busy once they arrive. Weighing in at 21 pages, with 17 pages of content and art on every other page, this PDF is chock full of possibilities for a Pathfinder campaign.

What I really like is the flexibility of the adventure setup. The PCs can choose to go in with blades gleaming in the midday sun or use some stealth and even employ a bit of guardian magic to help encourage the bad guys to leave. But those choices lie firmly in the hands of the players. Will they play it smart or will they choose to be bold? Either way, things have the potential to go really well or horribly wrong. When or if the PCs succeed, there are even tips on what to do next.

So if you’re looking for a great way to kick off a new campaign in Midgard, this is a terrific way to get one started. It’ll make your players think, which is something I think every GM is after to one degree or another.


Hey guys, I just wanted to know about the trollkins stat block, in Raven's call they have 2 claws and fast healing 1, however in the Northlands they have neither of those. Should I give the baserace 2 claws and slap on fast healing 1 if they are of troll heritage?

The Exchange Contributor; Publisher, Kobold Press; RPG Superstar Judge

The Raven's Call stat block is more recent and offers more options; the Northlands one is slightly underpowered and was written before ARG.

That said, trollkin are widely variable, and you should feel free to modify them more than a standard race for that reason. And note that the fast healing 1 is extremely limited in the final version of Raven's Call.


Alright thanks, the limited fast healing is good...when travelling in the Northlands one should bring plenty of fire(both magical and alchemical).

The Exchange Contributor; Publisher, Kobold Press; RPG Superstar Judge

An actual-play review over at The Cool Ship, with quotes from the players who played it for the review!

The Cool Ship wrote:

Most of the time, published adventures are not really my bag. I’m not a big fan of dungeon crawls, and I really hate being constrained by adventure modules that (in my experience) are pretty linear. When I create my own adventures, I try to keep them as open-ended as possible; you never know what kind of monkey wrench the players will throw in your plans, so having a less linear approach generally helps me come up with things on the fly.

That’s why I was so surprised by The Raven’s Call! It wasn’t linear. In fact, it set up a fun sandbox for the players to adventure in and gave them multiple possible motivations to move things in the right direction.


That's a great review! I also liked the player comments at the end. Nice one Wolfgang - with To the Edge of the World you are writing some great beginner adventures that don't leave the heroism in the cellar catching rats for questgivers.


Reviewed first on Endzeitgeist.com, then submitted to Nerdtrek and GMS magazine and posted here and on OBS. Cheers!

Sovereign Court Publisher, Raging Swan Press

What level is the adventure for?

Liberty's Edge

Hey Creighton - it's for 1st-level characters

Sovereign Court Publisher, Raging Swan Press

Thanks, Marc! I'm sorry I didn't spot that in the blurb (which I have just re-read in a shame-faced fashion).

Liberty's Edge

No worries! I mainly know because I spent a LOT of time looking at this bad boy while I laid it out :)

Grand Lodge

Exactly where in the Northlands is this adventure set?


I'd set it in Trollheim, but there's no reason it can't be anywhere else - its a thorp, really, and easily inserted anywhere.

Grand Lodge

Is there any reason why this MA is in print and the others aren't? I saw on another thread that the races are hopefully going for a print compendium (like the classes) so I will be waiting for that. I have this one in print are the others going to go to print or maybe a compendium every so often or....?

The Exchange Contributor; Publisher, Kobold Press; RPG Superstar Judge

Page count is the main factor that made this the "let's see if people want them in print" experiment. Well, that and the art and maps seem stronger than some.

It got a great reception in PDF, but not as much in print. So we won't do all the others in print, but a compilation book of, say, MA1 to 7 or something like that is not out of the question. At earliest, we're talking 2015.

Grand Lodge

Thanks Wolfgang, I already have all the PDFs, so I can wait ;)


Wait a minute. The product description advertises the trollkin as a PC race, but the actual PDF only has a bestiary-esque stat block for them. Am I missing something?

Grand Lodge

Axial wrote:
Wait a minute. The product description advertises the trollkin as a PC race, but the actual PDF only has a bestiary-esque stat block for them. Am I missing something?

I'm having the exact same issue. What part of the 2d8 HD makes it a PC race?

Also, the trollkin shamam 3 has only 4 HD. Where's the 5th? Or are trollkins only supposed to have 1?

The Exchange Contributor; Publisher, Kobold Press; RPG Superstar Judge

1 person marked this as a favorite.

The product description is wrong. The trollkin PC race was planned, but we ran out of room, and it is not in the adventure. I've sent Liz a note, and put the trollkin on the list for a future update to this release.

The 5th HD is missing.

Grand Lodge

Wolfgang Baur wrote:
The product description is wrong. The trollkin PC race was planned, but we ran out of room, and it is not in the adventure. I've sent Liz a note, and put the trollkin on the list for a future update to this release.

Awesome. Looking forward to the update. I know a couple of players who want to try out the race.


A question about the Mythic javelins: The adventure describes these as

"javelins of lightning with an additional thundering property, and when the thunder effect happens on a critical hit they are always consumed in
use."

Ordinary Javelins of Lightning are always consumed after their attack, but the above seems to imply that the mythic javelins in this adventure are only consumed on a critical hit, and could be re-used until a character scores a crit with one of these javelins.

Is this the correct reading? Or have I mis-interpreted?

Edit: Also, an excellent, challenging module based on an old - school premise and Norse flavor.

I'm really looking forward to running this.


Specific rules trump general rules, so yes, I consider your reading correct - at least that's how I handled it.

Dark Archive

So, I'd like to run this in the vicinity of Zobeck. Any suggestions for location? Is there a village near Zobeck that could be used for this adventure? Perhaps somewhere in Margrave?

The Exchange Kobold Press

Yes, anywhere in the Margreve forest could be a reasonable location.

You'd want to put it near a big river to replace the ocean, but trollkin raiders against a fishing/logging village on the outskirts of the forest definitely works.

Dark Archive

About what I was thinking :) Thanks!

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