Review: Beasts & Barbarians Adventures

Here are my thoughts on three GRAmel adventures for their Beasts & Barbarians setting. I would like to go into more detail, but that would potentially spoil the adventures, so capsule reviews only this time.

DEATH OF A TYRANT

44 pages. This consists of a four-part adventure set in the Red Desert, NPC and creature statistics, and background information on the Red Desert and its inhabitants, human and otherwise.

The PCs become embroiled in intrigue in the desert city of Quollaba; their success in their initial assignment leads to unforeseen complications, but with luck and cunning they can emerge alive and wealthy.

My players are currently partway through this one, and enjoying it hugely. My average session is 4 hours long, and I think we will get two or maybe three sessions out of this one.

CITADEL OF THE WINGED GODS

66 pages. This is a scenario in four parts, with NPC and creature stats, and background information on Kyros, its rulers, its problems, its religions, and its famous horses.

As an army moves to crush a rebellious city in eastern Kyros, the PCs learn of a great treasure inside the walls, worth a man’s weight in silver. The treasure is not quite what they expected, but it leads them to the secrets of a lost city, pursued by vile bandits.

Again, I think 2-3 sessions worth of play for my lot here.

THE SKINNER OF SYRANTHIA

21 pages. A shorter adventure, with NPC and creature stats, set in the city of Syranthia.

A visit to a favourite tavern alerts the heroes to a spate of kidnappings and murders. They must investigate, and bring the culprits to justice. In the course of doing so, they will learn about Syranthia’s Great Library and its gladiatorial arena, and uncover a dark secret.

Probably 1-2 sessions in this one, I think.

CONCLUSIONS

These adventures are good at three things; first, capturing the feel of Conanesque swords and sorcery; second, showing how to use chases, co-operative and dramatic tasks in creative new ways; third, setting up “battlemats” made of whatever you have lying around already, such as blast templates.

The scenarios are essentially linear, which is a change for me after the last few years of sandbox play, but it’s working so far.

I’m not a fan of the dark and ink-intensive backgrounds on each page, but fortunately these are a separate layer in the PDF file and can be turned off for reading and printing.

Overall Rating: 5 out of 5.

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3 thoughts on “Review: Beasts & Barbarians Adventures

  1. I just finished reading Death of a Tyrant and I agree with your points about chases and battlefields. There’s some brilliant work in there; changing the abilities used in the chases as the terrain changes is my favorite. It seems like it requires too much PC magic use to really fit my ideal of REH-style action, but that’s just a nit-pick.

  2. I have Death of a Tyrant which I’ve also reviewed, and I agree that the B&B adventures (at least those that I’ve seen) are magnificent. There are also three free ones: Wolves in the Borderland, The Carnival of Nal Sagath and The Cliffs Queen’s Court.

    I’m not into linear adventures either, but I’m really considering running these. I think Kyros & Syranthia adventures don’t have setting appendix, right?

    • Yes, it was the free scenarios that persuaded me to get B&B – which is after all part of their purpose. =]

      “Death of a Tyrant” and “Citadel of the Winged Gods” both have setting chapters, on the Red Desert and Kyros respectively. “Skinner of Syranthia” doesn’t have such a chapter.

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