Cairn of the Skeleton King by Rob Kuntz - reviewed by grodog
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Post Posted: Sat Aug 19, 2006 5:50 pm 
 

I posted my review of Rob Kuntz's recently-released Cairn of the Skeleton King on my web site at http://www.greyhawkonline.com/grodog/games_reviews_cotsk.html.
While I have published RJK's works in the past, and remain a fan of his creative efforts, I didn't have anything to do with the production of CotSK (other than arranging for some printing quotes), so I thought I'd be a good candidate to write a review :D


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Post Posted: Sat Aug 19, 2006 6:57 pm 
 

grodog wrote:I posted my review of Rob Kuntz's recently-released Cairn of the Skeleton King on my web site at http://www.greyhawkonline.com/grodog/games_reviews_cotsk.html.
While I have published RJK's works in the past, and remain a fan of his creative efforts, I didn't have anything to do with the production of CotSK (other than arranging for some printing quotes), so I thought I'd be a good candidate to write a review :D


Great review Gro!!!  I agree with just about all of it. The only differences I had was that I liked the font and the larger style....what can I tell you, my eyesight is going to hell the older I get so it was quite easy on the eyes.
 I didn't like the name "ghool" for the monster...I mean, how do you pronounce it differently in order to refer to a different monster than just "ghoul"? Do you sit there and tell your players "this is a ghoul with two o's, not "ou"?" I would have preferred something along the lines of "True Ghoul" (used inWolfgang Baurs classic Kingdom of the Ghouls in Dungeon Magazine #70) or Master Ghoul, something along those lines.
  But as you say in your review, nits are all we can pick.  The Holloway art was much better than I thought.  I impressed my wife by showing her my name in inside the module, that was worth the price (she doesn't understand sponsorship, I think she thought I had something to do with writing it!!!).  
 I thought the plotline for Cairn was quite interesting and original and don't remember running into that sort of scenario before in all my D&D module reading.  I'm sure Gro gets as tired as I do finding the same old plotlines, tired setups, boring plots, etc.  
    Great review, and a good start for Pied Piper and Rob....

Mike B.


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Post Posted: Sun Aug 20, 2006 1:56 am 
 

grodog wrote:I posted my review of Rob Kuntz's recently-released Cairn of the Skeleton King on my web site at http://www.greyhawkonline.com/grodog/games_reviews_cotsk.html.
While I have published RJK's works in the past, and remain a fan of his creative efforts, I didn't have anything to do with the production of CotSK (other than arranging for some printing quotes), so I thought I'd be a good candidate to write a review :D


i'm still waiting for my copies...  :cry:  as usual, i'm the last to receive items (as already discussed in the other topic...)  :(


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Post Posted: Sun Aug 20, 2006 3:24 am 
 

aia wrote:i'm still waiting for my copies...  :cry:  as usual, i'm the last to receive items (as already discussed in the other topic...)  :(


You're not necessarily the last.  I'm still waiting as well.

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Post Posted: Wed Aug 23, 2006 2:13 am 
 

I have been reading the Troll Lord Games version of Dark Druids, by Rob Kuntz.  A pdf of this module is available on the Pied Piper Publishing website.

I think it's a really nice module.  

I'm not talking about collectibility...I'm talking about usability.

I am sort of a salvage collector...I find and loot game derelicts for use in my own campaign.  

Dark Druids is far from a drifting hulk.  It's more like a nice yacht that was mistakenly abandoned by its (Troll Lord Games) crew.  

(I noticed that the escape pods were missing from Dark Druids as I came aboard...TLG does not have any of their D20 products listed on their website; almost as if they are ashamed they ever published them!  Too bad...there was some good stuff there.  They seem to be focusing on their Castles and Crusades game line...which is D20 wearing a fake moustache.)

Probably the best piece of Dark Druids that I have welded loose and hauled aboard my space renegade gaming ship is a monster called the "dark circle demon."

I like it, and it is well worth the $4.99 that I paid Reindeergamez (thanks again, by the way  :) ) for the module.    It is usable even if one chops away all the "circle" attributes and just focuses on the real meat of this monster...the ability to take the form of anything suitably scary.

Before I bought the module, I read some reviews.  The reviewers mostly snitted about rules inconsistencies and small details.  That is the kind of stuff that any competent DM could fix without even breaking stride.  It's not as if the space shuttle will explode if Monster X has one too many feats, or something.

Dark Druids features 42 pages of adventure guts...followed by one page of summary and details of future modules...followed by 18 pages of monsters, artifacts, magic items, a prestige class and the like...followed by one page on how to Frankenstein the module into Troll Lord's World of Erde...with a final two pages of OGL legal stuff and ads...for a total of 64 pages.

There are a few typos...a standard part of Troll Lord's charm.  Nothing to worry about.  Typos are only important if they make the text unreadable or if important sections of text are missing or misplaced...a crime TSR was sometimes guilty of.  Hell, if "unreadable" is a typo, then the 3rd Edition decision to mix in "she" all over the text instead of the standard "he" has to count as one, giant, serial typo.  (Presumably, women will be drawn to gaming if the publisher has made the product more difficult to read by using feminine pronouns?  God!  :x )

I would describe the maps as "informal."  The large-scale map is more of a concept map of a forest.  There are no castles or other structures mapped aside from a generic dungeon cave-squiggle.  (You know what I mean. )   There is a map showing the outside of the dark druid complex with some highly interesting map elements...such as giant mushrooms.  I wish there was more of that...a clever DM could quickly mock it up.

One could argue that the maps are "user-friendly."  Dark Druids could fall from space and land with a splap into most any campaign almost seamlessly.  No one but the local birds would notice.  

The module itself might be hard to run because the DM must be able to take the part of spell-casting druids.  Spell-casters are hard to just pick up and fling at the party...they are either over-powered or ludicrously underpowered depending on how well the DM juggles the spell list.

I really like the cover art...a black circle demon rising up from the forest as a sort of green, spectral treant.  The interior art is also interesting.  TLG could have added more of it, but I like what is there.

One negative point...the text includes boxes in bold print that are supposed to script the adventure with lines like, "You arrive before a large, bolted iron door.  There is a noticeable stench in the air which is different from the smell of death around you."  Does anybody actually use this sort of text...I mean, outside of Pleasure Prison of the B'Thuvian Demon Whore?  Wasted space!

Anyway, the author was kind enough to email me an attachment with the stats of the demon lord N'Threxus.  Troll Lord Games is apparently not supporting this D20 line anymore on their website.  Rob noted that the stats he sent me were for 1st Edition, rather than the 3.0 for which the module was written.  Any DM who cannot convert these stats between editions within 30 seconds is not worth gaming with. (Saving throws being the only caveat.)

I predict that this module will become collectible in the future, when everyone is scrambling about and cursing themselves that they did not pick up all of the Troll Lord Games publications when they had the chance.

So, if you pass this module drifting in the void you would do well to stop and loot it...or even tow it back to port.  The usefulness of the Troll Lord Games module bodes well for the pdf version on the Pied Piper Publishing website.  Collectors might want to hunt up a hard copy, but active gamers might grab the pdf and run.

I just noticed a Maze of Zayene module drifting off my port bow...more on that when I have had time to board and plunder.

Mark   8)


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