Review:  Sirocco's Kiss - Lands of Mystery
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Post Posted: Sun Jan 29, 2006 11:55 am 
 

In a thread some time ago, I said I would do a review of "Lands of Mystery" a Kingdoms of Kalamar collection of short modules for AD & D 2nd edition.  However, since my copy of "Lands of Mystery" is missing several pages impacting 3 of the 4 modules, I will only be able to review "Sirocco's Kiss".  I should let everyone know that in my 25 years of gaming I have been on the player side quite a bit more than the DM side and this review will probably show that bias.

Authors:  Christopher Heath, Tony Wilson, and James Mishler*
*James Mishler is also credited as an author on two of the other three adventures in this module.

"Sirocco's Kiss" synopsis:  In the city of Bet Seder, the PCs will discover a mysterious sea vessel know as the Sirocco's Kiss.  PCs who successfully and secretly board the ship will find that it is the headquarters of a group of Rakshasa-worshipping cultists.  The Rakshasa is on board as well.  The PCs may choose to board the vessel, or ambush the Rakshasa and his cultist when they leave the ship.  Only when the Rakshasa and his cult are defeated will the PCs emerge victorious.
                                                                     -page 3, Lands of Mystery


This adventure asks 1st to 3rd level PCs to go up against quite a powerful foe (description of Rakshasa below).  What I like immediately is that the PC's are not be coddled in this adventure.  I've always felt there is too much hand-holding in most modules.  The Rakshasa is quite powerful enough a creature to do some real damage unless the PCs come up with some clever and innovative ways of dealing with it.  

There are several things that distinguish this adventure from your normal ‘Kill the bad guy' adventure: 1)  Our Rakshasa is "at heart a coward."  This provides the DM with a great chance to role play a foe that is not really looking for a fight.  While our foe may not have a lot of fight in him, it turns out he does have some great organizational skills.  Before landing in Bet Seder, Rhingarr (our Rakshasa) had developed the "Tiger Paw Society" in the bustling seaport of Zha-nehzmish.  The "Tiger Paw Society" had over 100 members and controlled nearly half the black market in the city before Rhingarr pissed off one too many VIPs and was run out of the city.  Now, just arrived in Bet Seder, it is likely he will attempt to do the same here.  2) A day and night schedule of the ‘goings on' on the Sirocco's Kiss is provided to the DM.  This allows the PCs a real chance, given their low level, to formulate a plan that has a chance to succeed.  3)  Even though it is not needed to run the adventure, the DM is provided with fully fleshed out descriptions of 11 locations in the Seaport District.  Inns, temples, taverns, a brothel, a city barracks, and a prison are all fully detailed including layouts, the descriptions  of the regulars, tricks and traps, NPC's and their statistics.  These locations can be used by the DM to give depth and variety to the adventure.  The DM could also simply use the locations anywhere in his or her campaign.  

If your worried the Rakshasa is to powerful a foe for low-level PCs to tackle, he does have one rather large Achilles heel.  A hit by any blessed crossbow bolt kills this monster instantly.  The designers of this adventure provide the PCs with blessed crossbow bolts.  This is the part of the adventure I really do not like for several reasons:  1) one hit one kill - its just too easy, 2) why only blessed crossbow bolts?   Why not blessed arrows, a blessed dart, blessed whip, a blessed pea-shooter?  This is certainly more the fault of whoever designed the Rakshasa than the designers of this adventure.  

Overall, I found this adventure well written, intelligent in design, and quite well fleshed out.  The descriptions of the locations in the Bet Seder seaport district are phenomenal.  The design of this adventure allows for easy insertion in any campaign.  The design also allows for a great deal of role-playing rather just a hack and slash type of adventure.



The following information was taken from the PlanetADnD.com website:

Rakshasa Statistics:

Alignment:  Lawful Evil
Armor Class:  -4
Intelligence:  Very (11-12)
Hit Dice:  7
THACO:  13
Damage/Attacks:  1-3/1-3/2-5
Special Attacks:  Illusion
Special Defenses:  +1 or better magical weapon to hit
Magical Resistance:  immune from all spells lower than 8th level

Rakshasas are a race of malevolent spirits encased in flesh that hunt and torment humanity.  No one knows where these creatures originate; some say they are the embodiment of ni.phpares (sic?).  Rakshasa stand 6 to 7 feet tall and weigh between 250 and 300 pounds.  They have no uniform appearance but appear as humanoid creatures with the bodily features of various beasts (most commonly tigers and apes).   Rakshasas of the highest standing sometimes have several heads.  All rakshasas wear human clothing of the highest quality.


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Post Posted: Sun Jan 29, 2006 7:22 pm 
 

Actually, Lands of Mystery is a collection of four 2e Kingdoms of Kalamar modules updated and expanded for 3e.

That being said, the modules (both editions) are good/great.

But, then again, I tok the  Kalamar Whore prestige class. :D


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Post Posted: Mon Jan 30, 2006 6:35 am 
 

Jkason,

Thanks for the correction.  I know very little about 3e.  One of the reasons I decided to do the review was to add some knowledge.


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Post Posted: Mon Jan 30, 2006 1:51 pm 
 

Prufrock,

Thanks for the nice review!

I included the detailed setting material as a backdrop for the adventure. Even with the deus-ex-machina, er, blessed crossbow bolts, it's a tough adventure for a low-level group. I remember when I first got the module in for "editing." It was supposed to be a 16-page 1/2 sized adventure, and I had enough text from Heath and Wilson to fit maybe 6 pages! Since the adventure was pretty straightforward, and to add any more muscle to the rakshasa's group would only unbalance it further, I decided to expand on the Seaport District of Bet Seder, and give the players and the cultists several potential allies and enemies, from friendly bartenders and priests to pirates and rogues. And, of course, as any activity in which characters go around slaughtering locals is apt to get them arrested, regardless of the circumstances, I had to detail the local prison... :)

My regret with Unguarded Hoard, another module in that line, was that I didn't ahve the room to fully detail the city like I detailed the Seaport District of Bet Seder... one of these days I will get around to publishing my own city. One of these days...

James


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