The Horn of Geryon (PFRPG)

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The Horn of Geryon (PFRPG)
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A Pathfinder Roleplaying Game adventure for 4-6 characters of level 1.

Ancient Ruins. Lost Civilisations. An unexplored island across the sea hiding a treasure of legendary power.

Abandoned. Forgotten. Ripe for the taking for anyone who knows how to get there.

For anyone with a map …

Four Dollar Dungeons are standalone adventures designed to be logical, entertaining, challenging, balanced and easily integrated into any campaign world.

Each adventure has enough material to last two to three playing sessions and enough experience to raise four characters of the appropriate level up by one extra level. Treasure is commensurate with the encounter challenges faced. Scaling information is included for adventuring parties of five or six.

This adventure starts in Port Salth, continues on a sea voyage aboard The Astrid, and finishes where most of the action takes place on the tropical island of Snakero.

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An Endzeitgeist.com review

5/5

This adventure is 65 pages long, 2 pages front cover/editorial, 1 page ToC, 1 page SRD, leaving us with 61 pages of content, so let’s check this out!

This being an adventure-review, the following text contains SPOILERS. Potential players may wish to jump to the conclusion.

Still here? All right! It all starts with a missing rabbit. No, seriously. When the rather difficult daughter of a retired adventurer turned innkeeper misses her rabbit, he asks the PCs to investigate and, providing the distracting child can be persuaded to let the PCs snoop through her things (her interference actually makes the job harder – VERY cool!), they will find that a bauble has gone missing alongside the pet. The trail leads the PCs to a warehouse and it is here I’d like to mention one peculiarity of this module: The maps. While not particularly awesome, the fact that just about every major location is detailed not only in the module, but also as a separate jpg that makes for a nice player-friendly hand-out is a big factor on the plus-side. What about the warehouse? Well, turns out the culprit is one nasty druid named Alydon, who sent his snake companion to retrieve the bauble – the animal just couldn’t let the fluffy food just be! Alydon and his thugs are currently trying to “persuade” a local captain to get them to a certain island. It should be noted that we get a buff-suite and rather extensive tactics for Alydon, adding to the massive skill-DC-tables that help in the beginning investigation. In the aftermath of the quarrel, the PCs will find yet another of the strange baubles – as well as a treasure map that also features a rhyme that will help the PCs decipher what to do – both again replicated as a jpg-hand-out. But how to reach a remote island at this level? Thankfully, they have just rescued a captain and thus, the PCs can board the Astrid to get to the island of Snakero. The tropical island was once a playing ground of Geryon, who led the local kobold tribes in a vast game to almost exterminate themselves while squabbling over the baubles called Hydra Eyes, 2 of which now are in the PC’s possession.

The sea-journey aboard the Astrid, a vessel with 4 (!!!) full color maps (again, with player-friendly versions) is AWESOME. From the mutated rats, chances to deal with diseases, minor lightning elementals accompanying a storm to bad dreams, the journey should be remarkable and would make a great way to e.g. enhance adventures à la “Journeys to the West” even if you don’t plan on running the module.

After 7 days, the Astrid reaches the island and the captain tells the PCs he’ll return twice for them at specific dates – after that, he’ll assume they’re dead. The island of Snakero is a great case of nomen est omen and offers a variety of dangerous serpentine life as well as a great, concise table of travel speeds that provides a godsend, easy help for the Dm to track movement and time. GLORIOUS and something I wish all modules with any amount of wilderness featured. Wandering monster tables, skills it takes to scavenge food and water would be expected – where the module starts breathing this magical sense of wonder, all too often absent from modern modules, is with the allies – from a lucky pelican that actually will provide quite a boon (great synergy with real life mythology) and a monkey (who may or may not give his life to prevent a particularly nasty ambush) to a well-endowed, but not particularly bright mermaid, the PCs will have some nice means of…ehem…interacting with the locals. Especially cool – not all of these interactions are required; there is no catch unless you absolutely want there to be one. This breaks the “everything is connected”-assumption and makes the module feels more…alive. Speaking of alive – the degenerate descendants of the kobold tribes of once still inhabit the island and the tactics of them are WORTHY! They fight dirty and smart – and oh so glorious. Poison-darts, cower below the water surface while breathing through reeds, summoned beasts, deadly ambushes – the environmentally-relevant combat encounters will test not only the mettle of the PCs, but also the brains of the players, which is EXACTLY what so many modules get wrong.

Presentation-wise, the exploration of the island is a sandbox in the truest and best form – the aforementioned encounters should provide for a lot of things to do alongside e.g. dealing with malaria and, of course, the Ordeals: Spread throughout the island, there are temples – one devoted to Geryon’s supremacy over the respective elemental lords and home to an hydra eye each. Every temple again comes with a full-color map that also is featured as a player-friendly map – and yes, e.g. wall hp/hardness are included! The respective shrines will scare the players and manage to evoke a sense of danger as well as explorer’s awe – the PCs may see the stones a medusa has left in the earth shrine before they find her remains the caryatid column guardian, for example. Or take the shrine of air, which is a small volcanic cauldron, only accessible from the main island when the tide is low – worse, the caldera is suffused by sulphuric mists that obscure everything inside and make for great hunting grounds for the giant constrictor snake living there. If your PCs are dumb, they’ll die here. Wait, why? Well, I mentioned tides, didn’t I? Turns out the mists clear depending on the tide and tables make this easy to recall for the DM.

But wait, you’ll say, do I have to track tides? Yes, for this module features 10 pages of tide tracking and food consumption-sheets for all the time the PCs spend on Snakero. Adventure-writers out there: Read this. Look at it. THEN COPY IT. These sheets are the difference between tedious tracking and easily looking it up and will feature in ALL my future island/coastal explorations. Better, they are not simply a backdrop/relevant for this one shrine, the tides also greatly influence the type of challenge the PCs will find in the shrine of water – as that one floods completely at high tide, but houses dangerous animals on low tide… The fire shrine is also awesome – toxic fume/heat build up, a maze full of hot mud lakes and flammable gas make exploring these caverns and the foe inside, an advanced thoqqua so rewarding I consider it one of my very favorite locations in ANY first level module I’ve read for any iteration of a d20-based game. Yes. That good.

As soon as the PCs have picked up the different eyes, they’ll have the tools to access the temple of Geryon, which is a stone 1 to 10-Hydra in the island’s central lake – yes, it rises from the water, NOT an island. In order to open the door, the PCs will have to scale the stone hydra-heads rising from the waves and set the eyes into the stone irises of the hydra-heads. As the 200 ton stone door slides open, the PCs may get inside the temple and face its guardian – a variant hydra that fights rather democratically and not to maximum efficiency, but which should still make for a massive challenge for the PCs. Worse yet for them – upon defeating the beast, the door will crush down in one round, the eyes will pop from the sockets and the PCs will be sealed inside. Now escaping via a variety of means is covered – from toppling Geryon’s statue and climbing out and various other means, the PCs will have some options...if one of them managed to get outside, he might even manage to find the eyeballs and set them back in – which, however, will trash the temple for good, for a suitably climactic finale. To once again show you the amount of details crammed into these pages: It is mentioned how many rations of meat the Hydra yields… Hopefully the PCs don’t succumb to the predators of the island while waiting for their trip home – now that they have wrestled the Horn of Geryon (by the way: Not the true horn, of course, but valuable nonetheless!) from the serpentine hell-hole of Snakero…

All spells used by spellcasters in the module have been reprinted in an appendix, as have been fluff-only descriptions of all monsters/adversaries included. A glossary of rules-terms, feats etc. provides even the most inexperienced of DMs with rules-information for just about any particular tactical option without requiring the DM to consult additional books and beyond the GENIUS tide/food-tracking sheets. The 12 pieces of artwork in the module have been reproduced in their own appendix to print out and show to your players, making for yet another great way to make “Horn of Geryon” more rewarding.

Conclusion: Editing and formatting re top-notch, I didn’t notice any glitches. Layout adheres to a crisp, easy-to read, superbly organized standard that makes running the module with an absolute minimum of preparation time not only feasible, but rather easy. The concise table of challenges and rewards also makes customizing the module rather simple with regards to reward/challenge-levels. The pdf is fully bookmarked and the pdf comes in two versions – one optimized to be printed out in a4-format and one optimized for letterpack (US)-paper standards, meaning that Europeans like yours truly get a printed out format that is nicely suited to our paper-size. The pdf comes with extensive, nested bookmarks, 10 jpg-player-handout maps, additional 2 player handouts (which are slightly lacking in the resolution department and could be a bit more crisp) and is VERY easy to run overall.

There are not enough wilderness adventures out there. In spite of their popularity, when compared to dungeons and urban modules, wilderness modules often get the short end of the stick – which is a pity, for when I think about 2nd edition and old-school gaming, the environment, the epic journeys through locations like the Desert of Desolation or the jungles of Maztica are what made a LOT of the glorious sense of wonder associated in retrospective with old-school modules. This module captures that sense of excitement, that sense of wonder, danger and challenge that made me get into roleplaying games in the first place. Suffused with subtle humor, details galore, puzzles that don’t feel artificial or might not be even seen as puzzles and studded with just about every comfort a DM could want, this module offers a window back into this peculiar way of crafting modules, one that evokes the sense of wonder associated with e.g. the first tomb raider game or aforementioned classics. Going even beyond that, its mastery in both writing and mood-crafting surpasses just about every module in the Dungeon Crawl Classics 3.X-line and is on par and perhaps even beyond Frog God Games.

Yes. That good. Author Richard Develyn has managed to meld superb ease of mastering with stellar writing in a grand voyage to the heyday of wonder, excitement and danger – survival, tides and the best environmental encounters I’ve read in any PFRPG-module make this a challenge that raises the bar for any wilderness module out there. Yes, the story is not that awe-inspiring, but it doesn’t have to be. If I were to complain about one thing, it would be the relatively low-res handouts jpgs, but then again, this pdf also comes at a price-point that is almost insane for this level of quality.

Want to really know how good this is? It’s so good that I consider it on par with Raging Swan Press’ Retribution, my all-time favorite PFRPG 1st level module. Where Retribution is story-driven, the Horn of Geryon exhibits a mastery of the genre of wilderness modules that has me craving more. “The Firemaker” was good – the “Horn of Geryon” is a whole different beast. Any DM of Freeport, Razor Coast, Skull and Shackles (and perhaps Serpent Skull) – GET THIS. And other DMs – get this as well. If you even remotely have a soft spot for a sense of wonder, for having your preparation time minimized (who doesn’t?) and for those of you who like humanoids that act INTELLIGENT, shell out the extremely fair 4 bucks. This module is iconic in all the right ways: Smart, witty, clever, easy to run, challenging, deadly, unique – in one word:

Glorious.

If I could, I’d immediately, without hesitation, rank this 6 stars. We need more wilderness modules of this quality, more of this wonder, of this excitement, of this design philosophy. If you even remotely like Frog God Games modules, old-school-style or if you’re remotely curious what all those grognards are talking about when they complain about a lacking sense of wonder in those new modules, then this is an absolute must-buy.

And yes, if 2013 does not spoil me completely with mind-bogglingly good releases, this one will feature on my Top-Ten-list. It is not often I get to enjoy a module as much as I did this one. Far more scarce is the module I feel the NEED to run in my campaign. This one, I’ll run come hell or high water (pardon the pun!). Adventure-writers, take a peek. This is how it’s done. Final rating? 5 stars and seal of approval and the status of sharing the throne of my favorite PFRPG-1st-level module. Here’s to hoping we’ll get more wilderness modules from 4 Dollar Dungeons.

Endzeitgeist out.


Webstore Gninja Minion

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Reviewed first on Endzeitgeist.com, here, on DTRPG,d20pfsrd.com and sent to GMS magazine. Cheers!


2 people marked this as a favorite.
Pathfinder Card Game, Companion Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Charter Superscriber

Added to my cart on the back of Enz's review. Thanks Enz!

Sovereign Court Publisher, Raging Swan Press

2 people marked this as a favorite.

Added to my cart as well! It sounds awesome!


2 people marked this as a favorite.

Wow, what a review. And bought.

So what other credits does the author have before 4DD?


Thanks for the trust, everyone. It is only VERY rarely that I get such a module - for such a low price. I'm not aware of more credits, but Richard has created the first module since Retribution that truly blew me away in the first level range and as a wilderness sandbox, it is a thoroughly enjoyable, superb offering. Hope you'll enjoy it as much as I did!


2 people marked this as a favorite.
Paizo Charter Superscriber; Pathfinder Companion, Pathfinder Accessories Subscriber; Starfinder Charter Superscriber

Endzeitgeist's review made me buy this!


1 person marked this as a favorite.

Gee, Endzeitgeist, I've never come across a more undecided review. C'mon! Pick a side! Do you like it or don't you?(/sarcasm)

This looks like it will plug all too easily into my Skull and Shackles campaign, plus

Spoiler:
I love the vaguely related foreshadowing potential regarding Geryon's involvement in the Skull and Shackles AP
It looks like this just ended up in my cart.

Dark Archive

I actually had tears in my eyes when I read that review. Thank you Thilo - it meant a lot. As for other work - none. I've been playing for over 30 years but Four Dollar Dungeons is my one and only sortie into the module writing world. I am currently working on module number 3. I hope I can keep up the standard!

All the best

Richard


1 person marked this as a favorite.

Wow. I may have to pick this thing up just for the maps and tables, especially since I plan to run Savage Tide again in the future and things like tidal charts could be very very useful. You guys seem to have thought of everything.

Grand Lodge

Pathfinder Adventure, Lost Omens, Pawns, Rulebook Subscriber

Tidal charts? Dude...

Sovereign Court

2 people marked this as a favorite.

Well, End has convinced me. I'm in.


2 people marked this as a favorite.

Ends review made me put this in my shopping cart, I buy it tomorrow.


I'm quite sure this won't disappoint you, Baldwin. I've run this since and it was GLORIOUS.


1 person marked this as a favorite.
Endzeitgeist wrote:
I'm quite sure this won't disappoint you, Baldwin. I've run this since and it was GLORIOUS.

Thanks, I bought it a few minutes ago. The maps are impressive!

I run a two games on Paizo as PBP, and my long running COT game in nearly in the last book after 15 months of PBP gaming, and I was looking for a shorter module that I can run next in the Fall. Sort of a break from the the long running campaign. Looks like I may have found it.


1 person marked this as a favorite.

Glad you like it so far!

If I may, some advice:

Put on some jungle ambient tracks when running this, preferably with a second track of gentle waves close to shore, get in the mood and read the tactics and terrain - and your PCs will LOVE this one - though they may die. Also: If you have poisons and diseases or want to give starvation and thirst rules a go - this is the place to hit PCs with these nasties. ;)


Pathfinder Pathfinder Accessories Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber

If we wanted to import this to a Golarion game, where might it best fit?


Endzeitgeist wrote:

Glad you like it so far!

If I may, some advice:

Put on some jungle ambient tracks when running this, preferably with a second track of gentle waves close to shore, get in the mood and read the tactics and terrain - and your PCs will LOVE this one - though they may die. Also: If you have poisons and diseases or want to give starvation and thirst rules a go - this is the place to hit PCs with these nasties. ;)

Thanks for the insight.


In Golarion - well anywhere in the South, really. You only need an ocean and an area where (sub-)tropical clime is possible. Whether for Serpent Skull or Skull & Shackles (and the whole areas covered) this would make a nice sidetrek. I can easily be run in conjunction with Varisia, though - minor cosmetic reskins are all it takes.


Pathfinder Pathfinder Accessories Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber

Grazie

Dark Archive

Thanks Thilo :-)

Incidentally, I might finally have a cover on its way for my next module, Panataxia, which has been sitting here waiting for publication for 3 months!

Hope you like it as much.

Richard


This first module is terrific, I look forward to your next project. I'm looking forward to actually running this one.

Dark Archive

All feedback gratefully received :-)

Richard


Sounds like Richard has done it again with Panataxia. Some very high praise over on Endzeitgeist.com in the review of his latest module.

Dark Archive

Excuse the little plug, but this adventure received the joint top #1 spot in Endzeitgeist's top products of 2013 list along with my other adventure "Panataxia".

The complete list is published in this free e-zine:

http://paizo.com/products/btpy94z0?Pathways-36

All the best

Richard

Scarab Sages

2 people marked this as a favorite.
richard develyn wrote:

Excuse the little plug, but this adventure received the joint top #1 spot in Endzeitgeist's top products of 2013 list along with my other adventure "Panataxia".

The complete list is published in this free e-zine:

http://paizo.com/products/btpy94z0?Pathways-36

All the best

Richard

I'm actually buying both from the very high praise from that article.

Dark Archive

archmagi1 wrote:
richard develyn wrote:

Excuse the little plug, but this adventure received the joint top #1 spot in Endzeitgeist's top products of 2013 list along with my other adventure "Panataxia".

The complete list is published in this free e-zine:

http://paizo.com/products/btpy94z0?Pathways-36

All the best

Richard

I'm actually buying both from the very high praise from that article.

Congratulations, BTW, on picking up the 100th copy (well, download) of this adventure :-)

Hope you enjoy them both.

All the best

Richard

Webstore Gninja Minion

Free preview PDF now available!

Dark Archive

1 person marked this as a favorite.

This month The Horn of Geryon passed its 200 sales mark, which by general 3pp standards classifies it as a "hit".

2 1/2 years on people are still enjoying this "treasure island" type tale that begins with an innkeeper asking the PCs to find his daughter's missing rabbit.

(which was inspired, incidentally, by my daughter and her stuffed toy rabbit - called "rabbit" - which at the age of 23 she still goes nowhere without)

Anyone who loves Dr Who might also have noticed the strong connection between this adventure and the Dr's first encounter with the Daleks back in 1963 (Snakero -> Skaro, etc). I'm a big fan of the classic series and my adventures are full of references to the old black and white stories.

So in conclusion I would like to take this opportunity to say thank you very much to the 200+ people that have bought this PDF, as well as the other adventures that I have written.

And as a general note - purchasers vote with their wallets. Your support of the 3pp scene encourages, inspires and guides the material that we produce. Buy the things you like, and you'll make sure that more of what you like gets written.

All the best

Richard


1 person marked this as a favorite.

Congratulations Richard. I'm glad to hear that so many people have picked this up. All of the 4 Dollar Dungeons sound like excellent adventures and I will check them out when I am in a position to run a game again.

Dark Archive

3 people marked this as a favorite.

Four more years have passed and Horn of Geryon has passed the 300 sales mark.

(and my daughter, who's 26 going on 27, still doesn't go anywhere without her rabbit!)

I stopped writing these adventures some time ago but obviously I still keep track of the sales. They've more or less trickled to a close now, except every now and then I get a surprise such as when someone bought all 10 a couple of months back.

They're still pretty good value, let's face it, even if you just use them to cannibalise ideas.

As PF1 comes to an end and PF2 rises from the ashes, I'm pleased that my most popular adventure has crossed the 300 sales mark, before sales of the line disappear completely.

So many thanks to the 300 purchasers and to everyone else who bought Four Dollar Dungeons.

All the best

Richard


4 people marked this as a favorite.
Pathfinder Adventure, Adventure Path, Pawns, Rulebook, Starfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

Richard: I bought a half dozen of the Four Dollar Adventures a few years ago, and they are some of the best one off adventures I've ever read. They're creative, with a ton of detail, and have that specific flair of managing to present situations that the PCs need to deal with or solve without necessarily laying out a railroad they're expected to follow. You've done excellent work, and while I know that indie publishers get very little feedback or response, I just wanted to let you know that your work was extraordinarily appreciated.

Dark Archive

1 person marked this as a favorite.
Phaedre wrote:
Richard: I bought a half dozen of the Four Dollar Adventures a few years ago, and they are some of the best one off adventures I've ever read. They're creative, with a ton of detail, and have that specific flair of managing to present situations that the PCs need to deal with or solve without necessarily laying out a railroad they're expected to follow. You've done excellent work, and while I know that indie publishers get very little feedback or response, I just wanted to let you know that your work was extraordinarily appreciated.

Thank you very much - I'm pleased you enjoyed them, and I very much appreciate the feedback.

I'd love you to share any favourite moments, if you have any. You're right that indie publishers are always feedback-starved, so even if you can't think of any thank you very much just for putting up your message.

All the best

Richard


Where’s the review gone?


1 person marked this as a favorite.

Reposted. Paizo's HP has been swallowing reviews lately. :(


1 person marked this as a favorite.

The reviews are still there (for all products). If you do not see it at first, refresh/reload the page and it will show up (might take more than one attempt but usually works on the first try). This particular glitch happens quite often and I have no idea why.

CB

EDIT: I stand corrected, it seems that even refreshing/reloading only shows the latest two reviews. Now that's even stranger than before.

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