Slumbering Tsar or Rappan-Athuk? Which One? (Possible spoilers)

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RPG Superstar 2011 Top 32

Hi all, I am considering buying one of these products and need help deciding. I've read a lot of rave reviews of both products and I'm pretty familiar with what each has to offer, and I'm a very big fan of these old school style dungeons. From what I gather both are killer adventures (figuratively and literally) that span a wide range of levels, although starting at level 1 is not necessarily a requisite for me. I will be GM, not player, for this.

One other question: Does either of these have an encounter with Orcus? In other words, must the party defeat him in combat if they make it that far?

Both, in a way. [spoiler]Rappan Athuk has the traditional version.
Slumbering Tsar has Orcus consciousness in a unique dragon-avatar!
Personally, I consider ST the better module. It has more wilderness and things to do apart from dungeon crawling, the more interesting scenery so to speak - though, of course, both are DEADLY as all hell.

Hope that helps!

RPG Superstar 2011 Top 32

Endzeitgeist wrote:

** spoiler omitted ** ** spoiler omitted ** Personally, I consider ST the better module. It has more wilderness and things to do apart from dungeon crawling, the more interesting scenery so to speak - though, of course, both are DEADLY as all hell.

Hope that helps!

It certainly has, Endzeitgeist, thanks for the input! I was sort of leaning towards ST anyways, simply because I'm more familiar with Greg Vaughn's work and I really like his stuff. I'm not sure my players will feel the same after this is all said and done, but only one way to find out.

I'm prepping ST now, and it looks to be great fun.


There is a possible fight with Orcus, in his CR 35 glory, but it's not something the players HAVE to do, it's the result of taking a specific action in a specific place. I imagine most groups won't even notice the option, and will move on.

Of course, you could always force the issue...

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Rappan Athuk or Slumbering Tsar?

Both, of course. :)

I'm running my players through Slumbering Tsar now and having a blast!

I'd say Slumbering Tsar. Having DM'ed Rappan Athuk several times, even the latest copy suffers from wild swings in encounter CRs attempting to hew to the original (even though it's toned down, TPKs hide around every third corner depending on starting level of course). That said, the PCs always had a great time, even while they were dying. ST looks to be a little more manageable (although it does seem to ramp up fast to CR 11s; depending on your players, you may start them at lvl 8)


It is kind of like asking if you like chocolate or peanut butter when you really want Reeses! They are related, but if you can only get one now I would get Rappan Athuk first and then get Slumbering Tsar later. Not that one is superior to the other, just RA is the original and Tsar kind of builds on it.
I guess I am an evil DM. I started my players at level 1 in RA!

Here's an idea, something that I will be doing at some point in the future...

First off use Wizards Amulet and Crucible of Freya, add Bards Gate and then use Tomb of Abysthor (all necro 3.5 modules at the mo). This will take the PC's from level 1-8, enough to start Slumbering Tsar (my mind the best), then add in the areas 14-15 of Rappan Atthuk ie the forgotten 50 and the den of Orcus. I'm thinking of throwing in Mythic maybe when they get to Tsar to give them a chance and they may then be able to reach Orcus.

Its a a long way off and just and idea though. If I had to choose 1 I would say Tsar as the adventure is just so damn good and I little bit more than just a dungeon crawl.

However Rappan has a lot going for it and you could quiet easily just mine it for mini dungeons on other campaigns if you wanted too.

The Stoneheart Valley is coming out soon which encompasses WA, CoF and ToA for Pathfinder and additional area information.

Scarab Sages

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I cannot wait for Stoneheart Valley or the Sword of Air actually. I am wanting to run all of these.

Yeah more stuff from the Frogs, can't wait.

Rapan Athuk is a great dungeon, but if your PC's like role-playing you got to add in a lot of your own home-brewed stuff to it. It's worked for me.

Though both are excellent products, I've found that the Slumbering Tsar tends to use clunkier mechanics in an effort to make a fight "epic", while Rappan Athuk tends to use "boss enemies immune to everything (except that!)" for their encounters. The Tsar, of course, has much more in the way of characters and story backing it up.

What this means is that a party that likes to deconstruct absolutely hideous boss fights would prefer Rappan Athuk, while those wanting more story and depth to their gameplay will prefer Slumbering Tsar. The issue is, of course, if you have a DM or a party that behaves in an, "Ooh, Shiny!" fashion, you will have significant problems with encounters such as Krona and locations such as The Firebase of the Damned.

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