This is the first in a series of adventures from White Haired Man, available for d20 or Savage Worlds. I’ve had my eye on these for a while, but recently it occurred to me that they would fit nicely into the Buffalo River delta on the Dread Sea Dominions map, thus extending my heavily-tweaked Beasts & Barbarians campaign.
The authors’ objectives are to produce small-scale settings and adventures, easily incorporated into any fantasy campaign; and to separate game mechanics from the plot and descriptions. A rules-agnostic version of the setting is available on the WHM website. I’ll review each adventure in turn, then close with a retrospective and overview.
This fellow is a 46 page PDF, by Dave Przybyla and Michael Galligan. The Savage Worlds version is aimed at 4-6 Novice PCs, and as well as being an adventure in its own right is intended to introduce players to the swamp, its natives, and Kith’takharos politics.
Kith’takharos Region is a swampy, inhospitable area which contains one village, nine ruins, and six reliable sources of fresh water. The region is about 20 x 28 miles, call it 550 square miles in old money; or if you prefer, 32 x 45 km, a bit over 1,400 square kilometres. That’s roughly the size of the Faroe Islands or Guadaloupe, about 20% bigger than Hong Kong. The small size of the region makes it extremely portable, easy to drop into any fantasy campaign.
The authors explain their design philosophy, provide an introduction, and outline the scenario, which consists of assorted setting information, narratives (a console gamer would call these cutscenes) and nine events (a D&D player would call these encounters); I reckon my group would take 2-3 sessions to complete the adventure.
This is followed by four potential adventure hooks, ranging from "seeking the rare plant that will heal your relative" to "oops, we missed the boat". Whichever one you choose, the PCs find themselves in the swamp village of Kith’takharos, and are quickly hired by one or more of the factions with an interest in finding a missing explorer. There’s a full-page colour map of the village, and narratives to set the scene – the local law explains constraints on the PCs’ behaviour; an experienced adventurer tells a tale which may be useful later, if the PCs remember it; and then the job offers begin. A local explorer is missing, and various parties are interested in what happened to him.
This leads us into the local political factions: Lady Salmissra, who strives to control trade in valuable swamp plants via the Order of the Jade Leaf, who amongst other things suppress poachers and smugglers; and the Transit Guild, one of those organisations which everyone knows is criminal in nature but somehow manages to avoid being prosecuted. The PCs are also likely to meet the Swamp Men, indigenous lizardfolk who live in the swamp.
The bulk of the adventure deals with tracking down the missing explorer, finding out what happened to him, and avoiding the same fate oneself.
There’s extensive use of colour throughout, and plenty of maps; GM and player maps of the region, a map of the village, a floor plan of an abandoned temple in the swamp; those are useful in running the adventure. There are colour images of various things which the GM is intended to show to the players at various points of the adventure; these vary in usefulness – I don’t think I needed a full-page colour illustration of a rowboat, for example, but I can see the value of some of them.
Narrative text and monsters are pulled out in differently coloured boxes. Each event opens with a paragraph explaining what other parts of the book are needed to run the event, and a brief description of what triggers the event, followed by notes on how to extend, shorten or omit the event, and its purpose in the adventure.
I’d prefer to download the rules-agnostic setting as a single PDF, rather than clipping various webpages. If I understand correctly, this PDF will be available soon.
It would be nice to have layers implemented in the PDF file, since 46 full-colour pages is slow and expensive to print.
It’s possible to run the adventure without having read the setting information on the WHM website, but I’d recommend you do glance through that first, it clarifies a number of points.
The adventure is well laid-out and seems easy to use. I look forward to running it; I understand though that an improved version is on the way, and I’m likely to get that before I actually run the scenario at the present rate of progress.
Overall Rating: 4 out of 5.