The Lost Lands: Stoneheart Valley (PFRPG) PDF

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Finally, welcome to the World of Necromancer Games! From Bill Webb and Clark Peterson's home campaign comes the old-school setting of The Lost Lands: Stoneheart Valley. For over a decade, fans of Necromancer Games and Frog God Games have been asking to see the world behind the adventures. And at long last, here is where it all began, in the Stoneheart Valley near the town of Fairhill. This mini-campaign was originally presented to the fans of Necromancer Games in three separate modules: "The Wizard's Amulet", "The Crucible of Freya", and "The Tomb of Abysthor". Frog God Games has taken the full series from the 3E version plus supplemental material previously available only online, and converted it all to the Pathfinder Roleplaying Game system and the Swords & Wizardry Complete ruleset.

Weighing in at 192 pages for the Pathfinder Roleplaying Game system and 144 pages for the Swords & Wizardry Complete rules, this new product is the first offering in The Lost Lands setting, coming from Frog God Games. Expanded, enhanced, and providing hours and hours of adventure, this hardbound book is intended for characters of levels 1-8 (and beyond), including dungeon, wilderness and city encounters.

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A solid book for newcomers and veterans alike

5/5

Disclaimer: I purchased a physical copy of this product from Frog God Games' site, and got a PDF version with it.

Okay, so Stoneheart Valley is pretty small as far as Frog God books go - and that might not be a surprise, since it's the book that introduced the Lost Lands Campaign Setting that their other products have been set in. Now, the first thing to know is that Stoneheart Valley is fundamentally a good book for beginners - both players and GMs alike. Nowhere is this beginner-friendly nature more evident than in the first of the three adventures that make up this book, The Wizard's Amulet. The adventure itself is simple and straightforward, with a few main encounters and a couple of variations based on how the game is going... and it guides you through every step of the way, complete with reminders about the rules. If you want to get started as a GM, this is probably the friendliest introduction you're ever going to get. (It also has a slew of pre-generated characters for players to use, so they don't have to learn how to make a character before they get started, and even some advice on what sort of party makeup you should ultimately settle on).

The next adventure, The Crucible of Freya, is more open than The Wizard's Amulet - and it fully recognizes the probable endings of the previous mission. After explaining how to adjust the adventure for each, it dives right into a little bit of everything. There's wilderness exploration, hanging out in town, and exploring a (small) dungeon. None of it is too large or complicated, which reinforces the beginner-friendly nature of the book, although you will want to read the entire module through before actually running it.

The last of the three adventures, The Tomb of Abysthor, takes up a bit more than half of the book, and serves as a larger, more complex adventure for GMs to run once they've gotten their feet wet with the first two modules. As a multiple-level dungeon, this is probably going to take several game sessions to complete, even for relatively experienced players. It can definitely be worth it, though - within this dungeon is one of the few pre-written ways that a character can access the Justicar of Muir prestige class, one of my personal favorites. There's a lot to see in this dungeon, and it'll be good practice for the PCs (and the GM!) if you want to continue in the Lost Lands...

Now, throughout this, I've been discussing how beginner-friendly this book is - but that doesn't mean experienced GMs can't run it. That can happen, too, and you just won't need to worry about the reminders and helpful advice that have been added to the book - even without them, this is a solid set of introductory adventures and a way to get some new characters up to higher levels so they'll be ready to tackle some of the bigger challenges in this campaign setting.

The layout is good, the art is nice, and even this early book displays the quality I've come to expect from Frog God Games. It's earned 5/5 stars, a special recommendation for new GMs, and a place on my bookshelf.


Excellent Sandbox for levels 1-8 or higher

5/5

Starts off with a classic intro adventure for level 1s that leads into a well fleshed out town and wilderness area with an excellent main adventure for levels 2-3. There's also plenty of sandboxing opportunies with lairs and encounters in abundance.

It then goes into a cool 5+ level dungeon where your players will have to play cleverly and know when to run and when to avoid areas. This isn't a dungeon to be cleared like in a computer RPG. This is a dungeon where you go in, get your job done, and get out while avoiding the things that would easily kill you stone dead.


An Endzeitgeist.com review

5/5

This massive collection of modules clocks in at 192 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 1 page ToC, 1 page SRD, 11 pages of advertisements, leaving us with 177 pages of content, so let's take a look!

This pdf kicks in with a blast from the past for me - a discussion on the upcoming Lost Lands setting and how different places in the world implied by all Necromancer Games/Frog God Games modules and supplements. If you're like me, this is damn interesting...but let me go back for a second.

When 3rd edition came around back in the day, I was kind of skeptical - but then again, after seeing the very real limitations rules-light systems can sport at one given point, I converted - also due to my players simply enjoying reaping the benefits of system mastery. So I went into the new system, bought books etc. - the whole deal. That is when I realized that balance was terrible and fluctuating - if you've been there during the "Sword and Fist"-era, you'll know what I mean. At the same time, I got modules and while there were some fine gems, WotC just didn't produce enough - and while I will never forget how my PCs defeated Ashardalon (upgraded to CR 38, epic etc.), most, but not all of the new school modules left me craving *something*, feeling like something had been lost in the process. It took me quite some time back in the day to grasp what the problem was - in the advent of massive statblocks, the things that provided the immersion into the world took a step back. In its place came very straight: "This is treated as spell x" descriptions that made the whole system more concise. Additionally, bestiaries went away from complex discussions on habitat, ecology, etc., instead providing almost only crunch, rendering books I used to love to read into something I read once and then used at the table - but never read for pleasure.

The increased size of statblocks also rendered modules simply less detailed - less space to devote to the respective areas and inhabitants, their tactics etc. While this changed over the course of 3.X and in PFRPG is less of a problem, mainly due to a vast array of superb modules, in 3.X's days, it made me feel as if the system was superb in its math, but also soulless. Then there was the issue with player-entitlement, which also became a problem during those days - or rather, the slavish adherence to CRs and a "balanced chance" in every encounter felt to me unrealistic and soulless - it detracted immensely from my sense of immersion.

On the plus-side, the OGL provided a whole bunch of interesting 3pps, so I was browsing shelves in my FLGS. I noticed two old-school looking modules there - "Crucible of Freya" and "Tomb of Abysthor." I bought them. I read them. I cackled with glee. Here we got modules that had line-of-sight-featuring maps of guard-fires, great cartography - and the balls to throw a CR 6 troll at a 1st level party, proudly, defiantly against the zeitgeist, stating that PCs acting dumb ought to result in death. This very philosophy of proper challenges and smart, detailed surroundings was glorious. Better yet, the modules were not afraid of not codifying everything - providing unique terrain hazards, additional encounters (heck, in ToA the PCs can avoid a whole level if they don't want to explore everything!). A couple of years later, I had almost everything Necromancer Games had produced and ordered every book I could get my hands on.

Then, PFRPG happened and I was complaining about Slumbering Tsar, about how much I wanted to see it and had graduated from forum-lurker to reviewer. The rest is history.

Here, for the first time, the free introductory module Wizard's Amulet, Crucible of Freya and Tomb of Abysthor are collected in one massive book, all updated for PFRPG. (And that's damn well and good, for ToA, for example, was nigh impossible to get anymore!) Furthermore, while the original modules utilized various pieces of content from the Scarred Lands Creature Collection-books and the Relics & Rituals-tomes, this revamp sports completely new takes on the respective topics, without these old pieces of content. And yes, this does extend to a point where the crunch can influence the fluff and actually, rather than restrict the narrative capacities of the module in question - see for example th "sorceror's amulet"-sidebar. Better yet, some of the more significant encounters actually come with different tactical suggestions and conditions based on the difficulty level you're aiming for, making this book worthwhile even for less experienced players. (Though people, when you go for FGG, you might as well go hardcore - it's what makes winning awesome.)

Additionally, it should be noted that this is no lazy repackaging - new encounters, mapped mini-dungeons, copious amounts of superb b/w-artworks - there's a lot of new material and the inclusion of e.g. the APG-classes in builds does result in a very organic, defiantly pathfinder change of the basic modules. What about a misanthropic druid who has developed a wand to control stirges, for example, with a hilarious picture of the poor guy being annoyed by the bloodsucking pests. Ruined waystations and monasteries breathe a significant sense of danger and desolation.

And yes, the CR20+ slightly cthulhoid adversary of ToA, who belonged to a now IP-protected species has been replaced with a rather cool multi-class build...of what race? No, not going to spoil that...

On the crunch-side, the book does sport new takes on archetypes and prestige classes for the foes, numerous magic items and a variety of non-standard creatures to be encountered within these pages.

What is this module about? I'm not spoiling that. This is a piece of roleplaying history that one should experience for oneself. Just one hint: Beware the font and its endless skeletons...

Conclusion:
Editing and formatting are top-notch, I noticed no significant glitches. Layout adheres to a printer-friendly 2-column b/w-standard and the pdf comes fully bookmarked for your convenience. The b/w-artworks herein are glorious, especially the new ones; some original artworks have been used as well. The cartography is neat as well, I just wished we had player-friendly versions for them.

I'll make this short - Bill Webb and Clark Perterson are legends for a reason. But Erica Balsley, Greg A. Vaughan and Skeeter Green as contributing authors should be proud as well. Developers Skeeter Green and Ken Cliffe have taken this collection and made it more than the sum of its parts, rendering this book more than the sum of its parts.

This is a defiantly old-school mega-adventure, a mini-setting-sourcebook and enough adventure material to provide enjoyment for quite a while. Finally, if your players think they're hard - back when I ran Ravenloft campaigns, I played these modules with the following stipulations:

-all damage-dealing magic causes madness checks

-max one starting piece of magical equipment

-+ DR 10/special material or DR 20/special material to all supernatural adversaries, with special materials to be determined by research

...and much more. Yes, a lot of PCs died. They still talk about the experience with a gleam in their eyes and when PC upon PC sacrificed himself to buy some time in my modified finale...well, let's just say that this was simply glorious. If you're interested in that, drop me a line.

Back to the review: I have not SPOILER-tagged the module for a reason - this is less about the story, more about the atmosphere. About the feeling of this massive book. About the freedom, the non-linearity, the sense of danger and a world that has turned forward, a feeling that what little civilization is there, it's in danger. This is a document of roleplaying game history, carefully and respectfully refreshed to the PFRPG-rules and one of the books that should grace the shelves of all PFRPG-DMs -beyond being a great old-school module, this constitutes the best iteration of the material so far, both in production values and builds. That being said, Frog God Games has since back in the day raised the bar by quite a bit, so while this module is still great and awesome, it has aged a bit when compared to some of the glorious modules FGG has produced in the meanwhile. And if your group has played the original modules, this may be the better version, but for me, personally, I wouldn't play this massive array again and instead use the new content as supplemental wilderness encounters. What I'm trying to say is - if you already have the originals, this is optional, not mandatory. If you don't have them, though - this is literally roleplaying game history.

My final verdict will still clock in at 5 stars + seal of approval - this is a book that every group that liked old-school should have played at least once.

Endzeitgeist out.


Webstore Gninja Minion

Now available for preorder!

Pathfinder Rules Conversion, Frog God Games

1 person marked this as a favorite.
Liz Courts wrote:
Now available for preorder!

thank you Easter Bunny!


I'm really glad to have this as a lead in to Slumbering Tsar and/or Rappan Athuk! Can't wait to get my hands on a hard copy.

Dark Archive

When is it set for release?

Shadow Lodge

I've had mine for quite a while.

Scarab Sages

Pathfinder Battles Case Subscriber; Pathfinder Card Game, Companion, Maps, Pathfinder Accessories, Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Maps, Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Charter Superscriber
Kthulhu wrote:
I've had mine for quite a while.

Directly from the Frog Gods...

Me too.

Liberty's Edge

I believe the official release was Gencon or right around Aug.


I would review but I try to only review stuff after it's been run. I got several good sessions out of this so far but not far enough yet to review.

Grand Lodge

Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

Have the hardcovers come in yet? I ordered this back in November and it's still pending.

Paizo Employee Customer Service Dire Care Bear Manager

Michael Dean wrote:
Have the hardcovers come in yet? I ordered this back in November and it's still pending.

Looks like something was holding it up. I've pushed it through and we will get it shipped ASAP.

thanks
sara marie

Grand Lodge

Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber
Sara Marie wrote:
Michael Dean wrote:
Have the hardcovers come in yet? I ordered this back in November and it's still pending.

Looks like something was holding it up. I've pushed it through and we will get it shipped ASAP.

thanks
sara marie

Thanks, Sara!


Reading through "The Wizard's Amulet" and it refers to "Corian’s Supplemental Information" but can't find it anywhere in the PDF? I got the pregen's, including Corian, at the end of the PDF but don't see a players handout. Am I missing something or is there missing information from the PDF?


There is.

I find it annoying that the info got left out but if you do a google search for "the wizard's amulet pdf" the first result is the original adventure with supplemental information.


Aha! Got it. Thanks for the tip Laric :)

Pathfinder Lead Developer, Frog God Games

Dang it! I thought we got all the supplemental stuff added in when we published that book. Sorry about that. We may need to add a free pdf to the website to cover it.

On another note, when this book first came out some Necromancer Games purists very legitimately took umbrage at the title because the Stoneheart Valley is not a geographical feature that had been mentioned before in this or any other product by NG.

Just in case you were interested and hadn't heard how that was explained, you can see the (very rough draft) of the Gulf of Akados map that shows what the Stoneheart Valley is and how it fits in relation to the other Necromancer Games and Frog God Games products at the current Frog God Games Kickstarter (the link is here). It is provided as a sample of what the regional map coming out as a stretch goal with the Lost City of Barakus KS will look like, though it is actually a part of the previous book Sword of Air due out this summer(Barakus will have a map showing a different region just south of the sample one).


Thanks, interestingly when I was initially looking around for things to GM a couple of months I reading a lot of good things about The Lost City of Barakus. At the time it was before this Kickstarter and it was obviously out of print but that's what drew my attention to FGG. I'll certainly be throwing in a pledge.

Now I've seen the handout most of the information was in the background anyway but, yeah, an errata or small pdf would be good for future players. Reading Corian's handout I smiled seeing the fragment "raven familiar of Vortigern, peering into your chamber door. Nevermore will..." Hopefully I'll be able to steer a player that'll appreciate the reference towards playing him!


Greg,

I love this adventure and I think overall you guys did a great job in updating it.

However, if you are planning on putting out a free pdf with errata on the FGG website, it should also include the map of the shrines to Muir and Thyr which is in the original Tomb of Abysthor adventure but is missing from Stoneheart Valley.

Pathfinder Lead Developer, Frog God Games

Laric wrote:

Greg,

I love this adventure and I think overall you guys did a great job in updating it.

However, if you are planning on putting out a free pdf with errata on the FGG website, it should also include the map of the shrines to Muir and Thyr which is in the original Tomb of Abysthor adventure but is missing from Stoneheart Valley.

Got it. I have forwarded this info to Skeeter to see if we can get that done. Thanks!


Reviewed first on endzeitgeist.com, then submitted to nerdtrek and GMS magazine and posted here. Couldn't post t on either OBS or d20pfsrd.com's shop since it isn't sold there.

Cheers!

Sovereign Court

Did the Abysthor maps appear anywhere, in the end? I guess the free 5e Wizard's Amulet can be used for Corian's Supplemental Information if FGG didn't release a stand-alone for it, but there's no free Abysthor, so far as I'm aware, so we'd need those maps some other way.


Anyone know of an Actual Play or PbP thread for the Stoneheart Valley adventure? I found one, but it ends mysteriously right after the group enters The Tomb of Abysthor...

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