A Masterclass Level Review

Endzeitgeist, my mighty neighbour to the west, whose catalog of review-accomplishments dwarfs that of my own paltry efforts like the mighty Sequoia towers over the bonsai, has elected to review my efforts and Aaron’s and gives what is probably the most detailed, most elaborate and most positive review of Red Prophet Rises ever.

Genre-wise, this is a Sword & Sorcery adventure, situated in some borderlands though one could easily argue in favor of it being dark fantasy. What do I mean by this? Well, this is a pretty bloody module, obviously, but it’s not grimdark; neither does it revel in excessive gore. (Unless you want it to…) It also has a very unique angle, in that it does not feel like a system is taken to express preset sword & sorcery tropes with it; instead, all the items and spells and components are used to make the atmosphere emerge from within. The rules are not bent to generate an effect. This is not a D&D-iteration used to express the themes, it is the themes emerging from play. I have seen precious few adventures pull this off. As an aside for all fans of WFRP (Warhammer Fantasy Roleplaying) – if you make the Bull God an aspect of Khorne, this is pretty much an instant WFRP-adventure. As far as environments are concerned, this works imho in any region that can sport a canyon – I could see this work in anything from the frigid north to the blasting heat of the deserts, provided a sufficient amount of uncivilized tribes can be found. Difficulty-wise, it should be noted that this is probably closest in aesthetics to DCC-adventures – it is deadly, yes, but the challenges faced are founded on the principle of player-agenda; this very much focuses on roleplaying over rollplaying, and smart players will have a good chance of survival. Those PCs that think they can murder-hobo through the module by simply charging in? They’ll lose their lives upon bloodsoaked altars.

[…]

It also is, in my humble opinion, one of the very few examples where module-writing has been elevated to an art form.

And I don’t mean that in some hipsterish BS type of way; I mean this in the truest sense of the word. It is a very subdued and subtle process – one that is more evident in e.g. Trollback Keep. In that module, the use of leitmotifs and their contrasting was more readily apparent. In this module, EVERYTHING makes sense; the authors obviously share a deep understanding of not only what makes the tropes of sword & sorcery and dark fantasy work, they also know how to IMPLEMENT them within the context of the game, all while retaining an almost obsessive sense of plausibility. They clothe this pitch-perfect implementation of tropes and details within a rules system with panache aplomb, making the module’s plot and scenario slide into the system like a ruler into their regalia. Adding a constant sense of dynamic, lived-in worlds to the whole just puts the icing on the cake – if this module was a character, it’d be Thoth-Amon or Kulan Gath, in regal strides, surveying all below as they kneel. There is a sense of majestic rawness and harshness to this adventure that is hard to describe and even harder to evoke.

 

Please read the entire thing, as it is a masterful review worthy of its subject matter. Words fail me. To have one’s efforts receive such recognition and bring such joy to other enthusiasts is truly a blessing. I am grateful to Aaron for reaching out all that time ago and convincing me to team up on Red Prophet Rises. It’s been a hell of a ride. Now let’s see if we can blow RPR away with PoUR.

Convinced by Endzeitgeists poetic ode to our elfgame prowess? RPR can be bought, Print on Demand or PDF, here.

And don’t forget we are doing a kickstarter. And if it funds hot enough I too will be involved to make the alchemy work again. Get it while it’s hot folks!

And thank you Endzeitgeist, for the plug and the shoutout.


16 thoughts on “A Masterclass Level Review

  1. And THAT…..is what I’m talking about! All hail the f%*&ing Bull God. Take us to your Crimson Paradise….*mic drop*

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  2. A well deserved review for an outstanding product. I have expressed my admiration for the Red Prophet Rises before, and will go a little further and say (for me) it is comfortably within the ten top OSR works every produced. And it would not be disgraced by comparison with the greats of the past such as the Caverns of Thracia, B10 Night’s Dark Terror, the Halls of Tizun Thane, Vault of the Drow, Ravenloft, The Lost Caverns of Tsojcanth, Graeme Morris’s UK modules. It is reasonable to see the excellent B4 The Lost City as an adaptation of Red Nails, but I’m not sure that TSR ever really captured the visceral Swords and Sorcery vibe as RPR does. The review captures this point well.
    You did also have a “product of the year” rating from Melan, and he is difficult to please.

    I guess Endzeitgeist reviews take a week or so to reach rpg.net? And also DriveThruRPG? That would be a welcome boost for the Vermilion Kickstarter. (I’m in for the hardback myself.) If the sort of folk who bought The Gardens of Ynn and Operation Unfathomable get interested, that would be good. And if not, I shall wait patiently for the Palace of Unquiet Repose.

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    1. That’s very kind of you, thank you for your support, praise and words of encouragement. I didn’t know about halls of Tizun Thane before so for that I must salute you also.

      I’m trying to think back to old TSR Modules that might qualify. 2e was too creature and magic heavy for S&S so that one I can discount. Does Temple of the Frog count? I think Temple of the Frog came pretty close, maybe Master of the Desert Nomads as well.

      Here’s hoping that rpg.net picks it up. We still got 20 days to go and quite a while but we might win out in the end, lord willing. I’m doing an interview with Aaron tomorrow or the next day so he can tell us a little bit more about what its going to be about, how it will rock our socks off, and why you should support it.

      I will aim not to dissapoint with Palace.

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      1. You are welcome. Malrex is simply not getting the recognition he deserves for a significant number of very good or better modules he and co-writers have produced, and The Red Prophet Rises is the best of the lot.
        Good call regarding X4 Master of the Desert Nomads; another from David Cook, I1 Dwellers of the Forbidden City could be regarded as Swords and Sorcery. From 2e, some of the Dark Sun adventures might qualify: Road to Urik, Dragon’s Crown and Merchant House of Amketch are possibles.

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      2. Good call on Dwellers, would also recommend the Hidden Shrine of Toamachan as a decent example, still zilch on the visceral potency, but then again that was part of the appeal in writing it.

        I was under the impression Dark Sun was awesome but the modules kind of blowed. Are there any classics?

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      3. To some degree, all the Dark Sun modules were railroady. (Events from the novels are the backdrop for the first two.) The quality varied wildly: the three I mentioned in another post I would rate as good, with some splendid set pieces; others such as Black Flames, Marauders of Nibenay and Forestmaker are dreadful, suitable for kindling. Road to Urik is a war module, with a recruitment/mustering stage, and then the PCs are in command of the scouts; Dragon’s Crown is an epic quest, as powerful psionicists try to take over Athas; the PCs are caught up in a trade war in Merchant House of Amketch.
        This site has erudite discussions about fantasy (and related) literature; the Dark Sun books are not the novels you are looking for!

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      4. Those last sound awesome. I always thought Dark Sun’s Endgame had the most potential but actually using the Battlesystem in play is a bridge too far for my taste.

        Hahaha I read the first two Dark Sun novels when I was a teenager. I thought they were alright then, I’d probably groan a little if I read them now. The setting is cool but the characters in dnd fiction tend to be boring, an unforgiveable offence for Sword & Sorcery novels.

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  3. I wanted to thank you for the shout-out here as well, and for crafting this masterpiece with Malrex. The Red Prophet Rises is an exemplary module in every regard, and it made me back the City of Vermilion – The Merciless Merchants really need more love, and I’ll be doing my best to spread the word. (And I really hope it’ll make your stretchgoal!) Plus: While I really enjoy reading your reviews, I sincerely hope to read more modules you worked on.

    As for my reviews: They show up on OBS, etc. on the next work-day, where possible. I don’t have any control over when RPG.net publishes my reviews, so no clue when they’ll post it. I submitted it last Friday.

    Cheers and thank you!

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    1. Thanks a lot man. As I stated on your blog, its a pleasure to have one’s efforts receive love and dedication from a fellow rpg enthusiast and thanks a bunch for giving us a signal boost.

      I will redouble my efforts, PoUR must see the light of day and strike fear into the hearts of brave and timid men alike.

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  4. Thanks for all the kind words everyone. I do this for fun, sometimes I enjoy doing it more than playing. I want to get better at it so any feedback, good or bad is welcomed. I can’t explain how much fun I had collaborating with Prince on RPR….laughing out loud while reading emails, and sharing ideas…was a lot of fun. We have different styles, that seem to entwine together nicely. RPR started off as a set of 3 caves with an ogre on it, a centaur slave and a few bandits…somehow that ogre got elevated to wearing bull horns who think it looks cool, and everything else started to blow up. Lot’s of fun!
    We are doing a role reversal on our approach for PoUR and from what I’m reading so far, it looks fantastic and I’m excited about it. Thanks for checking out our material and although I love seeing great reviews (and put them on my fridge, much to my chagrin of my wife and stepdaughters), I also don’t mind constructive feedback from anyone, because that’s how I’ll get better.

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  5. RPR iswotrh every praise it’s getting. The only minor thing that confused me was pdf size – 100MB is kinda mostrous for that page count. But that’s 100MB of pure awesomeness, so it’s all good.
    Say, dear sirs, Malrex and Prince, what do you think about free fan Russian translation of RPR? I’m trying to bring more people into our tiny OSR community, and such top quality module would help a lot.

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    1. Publishing is not my day job, but I’m picking up some things….I can reduce the PDF MB size. Maybe I’ll do that in a update soon. I’m open to the idea for a translation.

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