Review – Lost Hall of Tyr (Kickstarter Edition)

Josh Beckelhimer is an early backer of the project. He requested and received an early preview copy of the adventure, and reviewed it in detail at his website Fantastical Beckelhimer. I have reproduced the entire review below, but have also made some comments where appropriate to address some of his open questions. Thanks to Josh for the review!

A Review – Lost Hall of Tyr (Kickstarter Edition)

As I am writing this up Lost Hall of Tyr: A 5e Adventure (Dungeon Grappling support) just needs less than $400 to be funded. If you read my previous post you know that I am pretty excited about this project.

Gaming Ballistic: About $225 to go as of this post!

Also, Douglas Cole sent me a Review Copy for me to read through. And these are my spoiler free thoughts on it.

In this current state Lost Hall of Tyr is 52 pages (not including the cover and back cover).

  • Introduction/Background – 4 pages
  • Adventure – 19 pages
  • Wilderness Travel Rules – 3 pages
  • Bestiary – 16 pages
  • Quick Start: Dungeon Grappling – 2 pages
  • Preface/Legal Jargon/Table of Contents/Art
  • Placeholder Pages – the rest of the pages

First, and like my previous post, the layout is great. The coloring and the borders for the layout really have set the bar on what a 5th Edition adventure should look like. Yes, a thousand times better than WotC’s layouts for their adventures.

Gaming Ballistic: I expect a page of Kickstarter Backers, at least six pages of maps, a page of scenario flowchart, Table of Contents (no index) as a first pass as to extra pages beyond simple adventure content. If we start punching through stretch goals, the page count may increase.

Introduction/Background

This section gives a brief description of the setting and where the adventure will take place. And rumor has it there is a campaign setting in the works for where this adventure takes place.

Also, there is a brief story that sets up the adventure and the hook for the characters. There is also information on how to tie this adventure into your own setting. Though, there are two things I want to address:

  • 1. No where in the Introduction or the Preface does it state what level the characters should be and how many characters the adventure is designed for.
  • 2. There is a weapon mentioned in the introduction, “magical against all foes and as a +1 magical weapon against a creature type.” (I left out the type of weapon and creature type) But I don’t know if it is meant to be +1 against all foes and a +2 against the creature type or is it supposed to be treated as non-magical +0 against all foes except magical +1 against the creature type.

Gaming Ballistic: Fair cop on the scenario parameters; it was supposed to be printed on the back cover, which isn’t done yet. It’s designed around 4-6 characters of Level 3-6, and I’ll make sure that’s reiterated in the interior of the book.

For the sword, one of the neat things about 5e is that a weapon can be magical but provide no bonuses – there are several spells and power-ups that let mundane weapons strike foes as if they were magical, and this matters for creatures who have resistance or immunity to damage from non-magical weapons. So the sword is magical against just about anything. It gets a small bonus against a particular type of creature owing to how it was created. 

Adventure

*When reading through this the maps were not included just the placeholders for where they would be.*  

First, there is something that needs to be addressed before I continue on with this section. There is NO flavor text. As in, there is no blocked text that is dedicated to the GM to read to the players. Personally, this doesn’t bother me at all. This might be a turnoff for some but I think this also helps with adapting this adventure into whatever setting the GM is running.

I like the writing layout Douglas has done with this adventure. He has created four different categories that helps the GM with running the adventure.

  • Challenges – Describes the challenges that the PCs will have to overcome in this section. Whether it is NPCs or an obstacle that is their way.
  • Concealed – Describes some skill checks they may be needed to achieve a challenge. Also information that may be hidden from the PCs.
  • Alternatives – Describes some alternative ways to deal with the challenge in the section.
  • Rewards – Describes the rewards/treasure the PCs can find in this section. Some rewards are just being able to bypass the challenge.

Though, this adventure was written for 5th edition, there is enough information with this writing layout that the adventure could easily be converted to another system.

Wilderness Travel

This section of the book shouldn’t be treated as something optional. Surviving in the wilderness is essential to this adventure. This adventure is a fairly long trek and a challenge within itself. In this section there are all sorts of rules and information on how to survive in the wilderness. Such as, how much food/water the PCs should have, hunting/gathering, preserving food, weather and climate. Again, this shouldn’t be optional in this adventure.

Gaming Ballistic: I’m very glad that Josh likes the additional wilderness travel guidance. However, for groups that are more of the “let’s just kill some bad guys already!” variety, it’s quite possible to play without using these. In general, though, I think that being able to use the environment as a potentially deadly challenge adds some real flavor and spice to a scenario, and I’ve tried to make it more meaty with the addition of the section on Wilderness Travel.

Bestiary  

This section of the book describes all the NPCs that will be found in this adventure. There is a description for each NPC and their stat blocks. There are familiar monsters that most GMs should know but some of them have been modified to fit this campaign setting. Such as, the goblinoids are considered fae in this setting. There are a total of fifteen NPCs in the Bestiary.

Gaming Ballisitc: One fun note here is that the final PDF will make extensive use of hyperlinks for navigation. So when you see (for example) there are 18 (or 18,000) goblins, you’ll see it as “18 goblins will attack the party,” or the equivalent, with the (curently italicized) goblins taking you directly to the bestiary entry. There will also be return navigation, so you can hop back to the encounters that have the monster. There’s plenty of room for this in the layout, but of course it’ll have to wait for the final layout until we implement it.

Quick Start: Dungeon Grappling

This section of the book is also very important and shouldn’t be ignored or treated as optional. Douglas has created an awesome system when it comes to grappling. The preface of this adventure also describes the importance of this system. If you get this adventure and you plan on running it I highly recommend that you read through this quick start guide and know how Dungeon Grappling works and then show your players how it works. Some of the Challenges in this adventure use this system so it is important to know. Encourage your players to take advantage of this system. You can learn more about Dungeon Grappling here.

Gaming Ballistic: There’s no doubt I love me some grappling – especially when it’s the monsters doing the grappling. And eating. Or dragging you back to its lair. But while I think the grappling rules (“DnD grappling rules that don’t suck!”) are excellent and add a lot of dimensions to the scenario, they are optional. I mean, you should use them. And you should love them. But if you don’t, well . . . the scenario is still fully usable.

I didn’t have any art or the maps but from this Review Copy I could run this adventure now without any of the maps. And that is an important thing to me; being able to just use the text to run an adventure. I look forward to receiving both my PDF and Physical Copy after it is completed. There is still plenty of time to back this project. $7 for PDF backer level and $20 for PDF and Physical Copy backer level. Also, the more money this project receives the more that will be added to it!

Gaming Ballistic’s Final Word:

Thanks to Josh for writing this review of Lost Hall of Tyr. I’m glad my enthusiasm for the adventure comes through, and he’s correct that this is based on the campaign setting for my Dragon Heresy RPG, which is 400,000 words and roughly 790 pages of eventually-to-be-released goodness currently in editing with Ken Hite. 

For now, though – I hope that you enjoy the adventure, and spread the word so that we smash the funding goal and continue into the stretch goals!

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