Shunned Valley of the Three Tombs (PFRPG) PDF

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A Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Compatible adventure designed for 1st-level characters by Creighton Broadhurst

Far from the nearest town, hidden deep in the forest, lies a marshy, boggy valley. Woodsmen and hunters shun the place—kept away by rumours of a terrible beast lairing within and of a ghost haunting the valley’s boggy mere. But, as well as great danger, treasures magical and mundane may yet lie unclaimed in the valley for three unexplored tombs built by ancient hands, stand amid the mud and reeds. Dare you explore the Shunned Valley of the Three Tombs?

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An Endzeitgeist.com review

5/5

This adventure clocks in at 28 pages, 1 page front cover, 2 pages of advertisement, 1 page editorial, 1 page ToC (including tables for statblocks by CR), 1 page SRD, 1 page back cover, 1 page of advice on how to read statblocks, leaving us with 20 pages of content, so let's take a look!

This product was moved up in my review-queue as a prioritized review at the request of my patreons.

All right, so what do we get here? Well, first of all, we get a incredibly gorgeous b/w-map of the Duchy of Ashlar: The cartography by Simon Butler, Dan Dyson and Tommi Salama employed herein is...well glorious. Oh, and guess what? If you're like me and get a LOT of Raging Swan Press books to supplement your gaming experience...you'll notice something. The map tells you, which direction the lonely coast is, where deksport can be found - and indeed, in this duchy, you can see Wellswood, longbridge, ashford -some of the unique villages and places my groups have visited and come to love (or abhor) - oh, and the map also sports a wide array of as of yet unexplored places. And, in case you're asking - this whole region, contextualized, can easily be dropped into just about any campaign setting, though theme-wise, settings like Greyhawk, The Lost Lands or the like probably work best - and yep, the Shadowed Keep of the Borderlands is also mentioned.

There is a second important thing to note about this module: It is explicitly made for (relatively) new players - Core is assumed to be known, but that's basically about it. Hence, the challenges in this adventure are somewhat less pronounced than veterans would expect. At the same time, it should be noted that this pdf does not necessarily feature themes explicitly designated as "kid-theme" - it is not gory or grimdark or anything...it is just fantasy. I tested this module with my kid-group and ran into no issues. This is very much an adventure that allows the GM to utilize tropes of adventuring and fantasy, but sans being inappropriate. So yes, I'd consider this appropriate for all but the youngest and most sensitive of kids. The pdf also provides extensive scaling advice for each encounter - by +1/-1, which means that you can also run this for more seasoned adventurers sans the players becoming bored. One more thing - while this module introduces PCs and players to some of the classics, its structure allows the GM to include ample options for rest...or not, allowing for pretty concise control over the pacing of the module itself. And no, thankfully my most loathed adventuring clichés, the shadow and ogre bosses are absent from these pages. Thank Gygax!

All right, this is as far as I can get sans diving into SPOILERS. Potential players of this module should jump to the conclusion NOW.

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All right, only GMs around? Good. We begin this module in the town of Dulwich, with 3 basic adventuring hooks and 4 entries of village lore being provided - this, as a whole, sets the stage for the motivation to explore the valley. A table of 6 rumors, some of which are false, some of which are correct, provide further information and, as a whole, this section of setting-up the module already indirectly teaches the value of doing one's legwork. The overland journey by movement speed has convenient travel durations noted and sports the option of getting lost. a brief 12-entry table of minor events during the journey features mechanically-relevant, fun little encounters that range from woodland critters to deep gulleys and streams.

The valley itself can be pictured as one that sports, obviously, multiple tombs - said tombs are the mini-dungeons in this book, but they are not the only graves there: Cairns can be looted and a table of items can be found there. Similarly, an 8-entry dressing table for the valley allows you to customized the dressing and generate more atmosphere. From the small waterfall to tracks, the valley has several interesting locations as such - but the interesting component, at least to me, would be that the mini-dungeons (usually only a couple of rooms) sport unique challenges: In the tomb of the stone woman, one can, for example, face an animated statue, with some traps that are painful, but not necessarily lethal, teaching this component of adventuring. And yes, from chests to sarcophagi, the level of detail provided in this pdf is excessive and makes running this very easy.

The tomb of the champions features unique adversaries and has a completely different flavor - inside lie the now undead remains of two erstwhile champions of the hobgoblins, emphasizing the component of combat in the exploration here. Finally, there would be a third mini-complex, wherein an owlbear and its young lair - these caves can be seen as introductions to animals and terrain - with bat guano, a bat swarm, uneven footing and the like, the focus here is admirably different.

This, however, is not nearly the extent of adventuring the pdf contains - beyond fully depicted random encounters, the module also sports a rival adventuring group that can act as a major complication for the PCs, feigning friendship and loyalty, while waiting to backstab them. Beyond these low-lives, there is another optional encounter that will introduce the necessity of ROLEplaying to PCs and players alike: The ghost of a perished adventurer haunts this valley's lake and putting her to rest is one of the more unique challenges in this pdf. It's not hard, mind you - but it makes it clear that sometimes, words are more powerful than thrown spells and drawn swords. These add-in-encounters, including an owlbear, obviously can also be used to save the PCs - if the aforementioned adventuring group's too much to handle...well, then the arrival of a pack of wolves or said owlbear may act as a save...and teach the valuable lesson of considering that the world is dynamic. (Fyi, in case anyone wondered: My kids are worse munchkins and power-gamers than my adults and walked all over the combat challenges...but still had a lot of fun, particularly relishing the chance of putting the ghost to sleep!)

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are top-notch, I noticed no glitches. Layout adheres to Raging Swan Press' elegant two-column b/w-standard and the pdf features copious b/w-artworks (some of which I've seen before). The cartography is excellent, though no map-key-less versions are included. The pdf comes fully bookmarked for your convenience and in two versions - one optimized for screen-use and one for the printer. Kudos!

Creighton Broadhurst's Shunned Valley of the Three Tombs is a great example of a first level module I would have loved to have back in the day. Why? Because it actually teaches the basics of adventuring. Watching for traps, not assuming that violence is always the solution, taking care of terrain, knowing that the world's dynamic...all those important little lessons are taught in a pretty concise manner by showing, not telling. The challenges are sufficiently moderate to make sure that the players don't get wiped out while learning these, though this does not mean that they can act foolhardily: This is an adventure and as such, it sports danger. Now granted, veterans may not necessarily be too blown away by the mechanic components, but the dressing and atmosphere may make this a feasible option for these as well, particularly if they prefer a campaign's start to be less lethal than the things to come.

Beautiful in its simplicity and level of detail, this is a great introductory module for the game we all know and love - and for this purpose, it should be considered to be a 5 star+ seal of approval module. Veterans and grognards who have seen it all may be slightly less intrigued, though the old-school vibe and aesthetic employed here may tug at one's heart's string. Still, for experienced and jaded audiences, this may be slightly less compelling and should be considered the equivalent of a 4 star module. One final note: Fans of Raging Swan press need this module -the contextualizing map of the duchy is awesome and truly evocative!

Endzeitgeist out.


An RPG Resource Review

5/5

This adventure is aimed at beginning PLAYERS as well as at first-level characters starting out on a adventuring career. Thus, as the author explains in his foreword, some of the encounters may seem a bit simplistic to more experienced role-players. It's also quite low on role-playing, presumably on the grounds that it's all that die-rolling stuff that's novel and needs practising - anyone can talk after all, even when imagining that they are someone else! There is a cut-down version of the usual Raging Swan 'masterclass' on the anatomy of an encounter along with notes on reading stat blocks, so I guess that it's expected that the GM will know what he is doing, even if his players are learning the game.

There's a map which shows the area in which the adventure takes place. Interestingly it is depicted as over the sea to the southwest of the Lonely Coast, Raging Swan's default setting. The overall concept of the adventure is that there is a valley that the locals won't go near, many believing it is haunted, and for some reason - perhaps sheer bravado, perhaps one of the hooks provided - the party decides to go there and take a look around. As the adventure begins in the town of Dulwich, there are opportunities to gather information before setting out for the five-mile journey to the south, partly through thick forest, to reach the valley. There is no direct path, they'll have to go cross-country. Some minor events are provided to enliven the trip, but a major brawl is unlikely...

Once there, the above-ground part of the adventure is sand-box in style with a list of locations which the party may investigate as they please, and a few encounters to throw in as the need arises to maintain interest. There's also an optional encounter to use if your players seem to like the role-playing aspects of the game - but be warned, if they go in looking for a fight things are likely to end badly for them.

The below-ground part of the adventure is provided by the three tombs situated in the valley. Two are sealed and appear undisturbed, the third is a creature's lair and actually seems to be a natural cave formation rather than a tomb. Each 'mini-delve' is well-constructed and coherent, with traps and monsters to deal with and items to loot... all the thrills of being an adventurer encapsulated!

Everything is quite open-ended, the party will be able to come and go as they please, but the whole gives the impression that life is going on as normal whatever they decide to do. For follow-up adventures, one suggestion is that the Shadowed Keep on the Borderlands adventure from the same publisher (and author!) could be located nearby. This is an excellent introduction to classic adventuring and should give new players a fair impression of a hobby that hopefully will give them years of fun.


Sovereign Court Publisher, Raging Swan Press

Is now available at the Paizo store! You take a look at what is in store for your PCs here!

I hope you enjoy your visit to the Shunned Valley of the Three Tombs!


Reviewed first on endzeitgeist.com, then submitted to Nerdtrek and GMS magazine and posted here, on OBS and d20pfsrd.com's shop.

Sovereign Court Publisher, Raging Swan Press

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Endzeitgeist wrote:
Reviewed first on endzeitgeist.com, then submitted to Nerdtrek and GMS magazine and posted here, on OBS and d20pfsrd.com's shop.

Thanks very much for the review and the kind words. I'm delighted you enjoyed the adventure so much, Endzeitgeist!


You're welcome - and thanks for a great first-level-first-adventure-module that does not consist of trite od clichés!

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