If you ask a group of a dozen gamers why they enjoy fantasy roleplaying, it’s likely that you’ll likely come up with a dozen different reasons why this type of game is so appealing. For some, it is the chance to become a legendary hero and do great deeds in a faraway land, but while others might contend that it is the chance to create and participate in stories like the fantasy novels they grew up enjoying. And for others, it is the chance to confront and overcome a great Evil, or to become rich and powerful, or simply to adventure through unknown lands where there are vistas and creatures only possible in realms of imagination – certainly, the list goes on and on.
But for some gamers, one of the great things about fantasy role-playing is the chance to do all of these things, often at the same time!
Rite Publishing released an adventure last fall offering many of those motivations which fantasy role-players look for – heroic action, a battle against Evil, and strange vistas which can only exist in a fantasy world – in the Pathfinder module, The Breaking of Forstor Nagar!
The Breaking of Forstor Nagar
Lead Designer: Ben MacFarland
Illustrations: Tyler Bartley (cover), Tyler Bartley, James ‘DevinNight’ Hazelett, Jonathan Roberts (interior) Jonathan Roberts (cartography)
The Breaking of Forstor Nagar is a complete Pathfinder adventure module for a party of 8th Level Characters, featuring free support for the Maptools. The adventure features a wide range of complex and varied encounters set in a fantastic city made of grinding glacial ice. In addition, the author provides five new magic items for use with the adventure designed under Pathfinder rules, as well as a new monster template, Hungering Creature, which is used extensively to create the evil forces breaking the great city down!
The production quality of The Breaking of Forstor Nagar is exceptional, with solid writing, a detailed plotline, and a stylish layout that makes reading and using the module a great experience. There were a couple of text formatting issues I noted along the way, but overall the design and layout is very reader friendly, and quite gorgeous from the use of border art, and a nifty font.
The artwork in The Breaking of Forstor Nagar is also exceptional, although I could not figure out what the cover art was depicting, other than something really nasty rampaging through a temple. You later find out that’s a white dragon having a fit, but it’s still an excellent illustration, as are all the others scattered throughout the PDF. And the cartography is exemplary, with a wide range of encounter areas from an ice bridge battle over a ship of marauders to an icy city block where pitch battles can occur in the streets or on top of frozen roofs.
By the way, you can see the maps as well as the free Maptools features in this [ame="http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ppeVmkCXEVU"]quickstart tutorial on YouTube here[/ame]!
I really want to be careful here not to give away too many spoilers, because the adventure is really something that has the chance to both surprise and confound players, while giving them one of thos very memorable fantasy adventure gaming experiences that we all strive to create in our campaigns. The introduction relates that the fantastical ice city of Forstor Nagar is under attack by a terrible army of cannibals known as the Hungering Legion. The characters are asked to break through the siege, as well as the defenders, in order to mount a rescue, and then escape.
The author is very thorough in giving the DM options for how the glacial city and the Hungering Legion can be used in various campaigns, even offering several origins for how the cannibal army came into being. The Hungering Legion was reminiscent of both the space-cannibal Reavers from the short-lived Firefly television show, and the relentless and somewhat ghoulish Necromongers from the Chronicles of Riddick movie – both excellent tropes, in my opinion – which makes for a very evil and very scary army for the player-characters to contend with. A faction which is made up of organized homicidal maniacs and cannibals is one pack of trouble most adventurers would rather steer clear of, I think!
The adventure is presented somewhat linearly, but that is deceptive. It is actually more like a series of little sandboxes, presenting the players with “play zones” and allowing the players to decide how they want their characters to navigate through the city. Given the level of the characters (8th), they probably have some decent magical resources at their disposal, which allow them to avoid trouble spots – or dive right into them – as the players dictate. The author has thought of, or playtested through, a wide range of these player options, and has numerous sidebars containing advice for increasing challenges, or handling things like characters using fly spells or other magicks to change-up the scenario.
The adventure has several branches in the storyline as well, some of which stem from dealing with morally or ethically ambiguous issues in the course of their siege-breaking and rescue mission. Straight-forward hack-and-slash delving is not going to work in these situations, and I like that the author adds these mature gaming elements to the plot to really drive home the horror and hopelessness of the city’s plight against the Hungering Legion.
Likewise, many of the combats are quite complex, and can be handled in a number of ways – with the direct thud-and-blunder adventuring method likely to lead the heroes into trouble. The vistas presented in several of the combat encounters are exciting and cinema-graphic, and heroes can take advantage of terrain features and other “props” to aid them in their quest.
And depending on the DM, The Breaking of Forstor Nagar can actually have a wide-reaching after-effect in a campaign setting, depending on the actions of the player-characters. At the very least, the Hungering Legion might end up becoming a recurring theme in a mini-campaign arc after The Breaking of Forstor Nagar is over, offering DMs a new and interesting enemy to threaten the heroes into their early teens and beyond.
Overall Score: 4.0 out of 5.0
I know I didn’t go into a lot of details about the actual adventure in The Breaking of Forstor Nagar, but I would really hate to spoil it for any player who might have the chance to enjoy it. This is an awesome adventure for Pathfinder gamers, offering many of the attributes which make us want to play a hero in a fantasy role-playing game, and fight the good fight for fame and glory. The production quality is high, and the plot well-written, with great maps and illustrations for a complete experience. The monsters are memorable, and none of them are used in a “throw-away” fashion, which makes each fight feel like it was important to the overall plot, and not just some filler to keep the more bloodthirsty players amused at the gaming table.
The price for a PDF adventure is a little higher than I would expect, but the additional work doen to make it Maptools compatible definitely makes this Pathfinder adventure from Rite Publishing worth consideration for almost any gaming group.
So until next review… I wish you Happy Gaming!
Editor’s Note: This Reviewer received a complimentary copy of this product from which the review was written.
Grade Card (Ratings 1 to 5)
- Design: 4.0 (Great look, solid writing, a good read with only a few odd spots)
- Illustrations: 4.5 (Beautiful artwork, and gorgeous maps!)
- Crunch: 4.0 (Plenty of stat blocks, and well-designed encounters)
- Fluff: 4.0 (Good storyline, lots of twists, potential for more plot beyond the adventure)
Value: 3.5 (A little steep for a PDF adventure, but the Maptools additions up the value.)
I wanted to thank Neuroglyph for taking the time to do a review of our product.
I would also like to mention the print product is also available at Paizo.com, Amazon.com and your Friendly Local Gaming Store via our print/distribution partner Cubicle Seven. We are a member of the bits and mortar program so if you show proof of purchase of a print product you get the PDF for free (paizo and C7 both handle that for you automatically.
It is worth mentioning that the adventure "little sandboxes" are dynamic, changing over the course of an encounter. This is not a quasi-static dungeon.
The other aspect I loved, is that of resource management - the PCs, in more than one case, need to plan their actions, and do the planning on the spur of the moment, while overcoming certain social challenges.
The adventure is a gem, and I hope that the authors plan on revisiting the ruins of Forstor Nagar some time in the future.