I’ve been doing first impressions of all the person chapters of the opening arc of Fables, which unfold into the Citadel of the Unseen Solar marketing campaign. This time round, I’m going to wrap up trying on the sixth installment, then check out the general marketing campaign arc. If you wish to see the earlier entries on this collection, you will discover them right here:
I used to be not offered a evaluation copy for this journey collection, and made my very own buy for functions of this evaluation. I’ve not run any of those adventures, however I’ve evaluation the Grim Hole Participant’s Information, and am conversant in D&D 5e each as a participant and a DM.
The Last Chapter
Our last chapter clocks in at 80 pages lengthy. This features a title web page, a credit web page, a desk of contents, and a full web page OGL assertion. This follows the identical two column structure as the opposite adventures, and is attractively laid out with good, full shade paintings.
Within the Vault
The guide is split into the next sections:
- Welcome to Fables!
- Flight to the Citadel
- Citadel of the Unseen Solar
- Destiny of the Unseen Solar
- Epilogue: Dawn
- Appendix A: New Monsters
As with earlier volumes, a number of the “Welcome” part is repeated from earlier adventures. This journey, just like the earlier volumes, decide up proper the place the earlier volumes go away off, that means that almost all of this journey is consistently shifting.
The journey begins with the Mild Hunters, the lich Kasimir’s particular troopers, raiding the town of Nov Ostoya, and the PCs are anticipated to make a run for the Citadel of the Unseen Solar. Whereas they have been advised to go there by their patron, the GM might must both remind the PCs the place they have been at and what they have been doing, or do some not so delicate communication of what’s anticipated.
The entire Lighthunters collectively must be an excessive amount of for the PCs, they usually have had an opportunity to battle one in every of them earlier than. They’re tenth stage, so a number of CR 9 creatures must be seen as a risk, however I’ve seen gamers assume bizarre issues as soon as they’ll defeat one in every of one thing, and are later confronted with multiples. It additionally looks like with all the momentum pushing the PCs, this may be the half in story the place they battle off the villains minions, relaxation and put together, then go tackle the boss. As an alternative, they should maintain shifting or battle six CR 9 creatures.
Whereas I sort of just like the time crunch angle, I nearly want it weren’t a straight “run from the minions so you possibly can kill their boss” situation. I might have fairly seen the PCs be capable of take a breather, then do one thing that indicators they’re on the clock with a restricted time to cease Kasimir, inflicting them to rush from that time on.
There are some particular guidelines launched for the pursuit, however they reference absolute positioning ( . . . if the characters flee greater than 1 mile from the sunshine hunters . . . ) and this looks like it might have been an awesome place to make use of some modified chase guidelines or clocks as a substitute of extra particular journey guidelines. There’s a part saying that it might really feel tedious to trace these distances, however the resolution is to have it take a set variety of days it doesn’t matter what and make the PCs really feel like they’re being chased, and that doesn’t really feel satisfying both.
I like a number of of the random encounters. You’ll be able to meet the adventurers that the PCs might have encountered once they first escape the False Afterlife, they usually can also run right into a vampire they might have interacted with previously, and I admire the callbacks to earlier adventures. I do really feel just like the vampire encounter would have been nice if it had been extra absolutely fleshed out, nevertheless it quantities to “you possibly can settle for her assist, and right here is the DC to trick her into doing one thing fatally silly as soon as she isn’t helpful anymore.”
I additionally like that the Marsh offers a spot the place the Mild Hunters gained’t pursue, nevertheless it has its personal risks, which is perhaps partially mitigated you probably have a vampire escort. I just like the synergy of the totally different choices at play on this occasion, which makes for some significant determination factors.
The climax to all the things that has been taking place up up to now is right here within the Citadel of the Unseen Solar. PCs have two main goals, destroy Kasimir’s soul object, and destroy the Unseen Solar. As soon as that occurs, the lich will not be a risk, and the solar will shine over Ostoya once more. Between escaping the False Afterlife whereas interacting with unusual guidelines in numerous settlements, preventing throughout the nation facet, and escaping from a vampire dominated metropolis, a dungeon looks like the appropriate capstone to the journey, particularly because the solely substantial dungeon earlier than this was the edge the place the PCs might have encountered the opposite adventuring get together.
There are a number of conduit cores that feed energy to the Unseen Solar. If these are destroyed, the solar is destabilized. However, Kasimir’s soul object, a crown, must be fed into the solar to destroy it.
There are many very evocative components to this dungeon. There’s a jail that could be a gateway to a pocket dimension that seems as a moon orbiting the Unseen Solar. There are prismatic gates that should be disabled in particular methods. There are bone masons that restore broken conduits, thus complicating the work the PCs have already finished, and there are big demise’s head moths which might be utilized by the inhabitants to maneuver from stage to stage within the dungeon.
There are prisoners that the PCs can work together with, in addition to the undead fireplace big craftsman that works for Kasimir. I particularly love that the hearth big has a number of conceptually unimaginable gadgets that he has created and desires to point out off, and there’s a sphinx that’s solely satisfied that she and Kasimir are actual, and calls for that others show they exist. I like that varied NPCs within the dungeon are given Traits, Beliefs, Bonds, and Flaws (however I’ve some ideas on this coming in a bit).
The principle issues that don’t work as effectively for me embody Kasimir stalling the PCs firstly to probably enable his Mild Hunters to point out up. There’s a sidebar on how they don’t get killed for this, as a result of Kasimir will provide them a deal, however I nonetheless don’t just like the tactic. I might fairly the Mild Hunters present up as an “add on” each time they take too lengthy to do one thing. I’m additionally not thrilled that Kasimir is the one that gives the clues to open his chamber, on account of his conceitedness. Provided that this can be a historical past laden place, I might nearly fairly the PCs discover one thing related to the story of Kasimir and the dungeon that offered the clues.
All of that mentioned, I believe the dungeon is a vibrant spot on this journey, and a stable place to wrap up the story.
The Finish of Issues
Kasimir might find yourself being actually highly effective if the PCs don’t shut down sufficient of the conduit cores. This type of design has been round since not less than third version, however I just like the idea that the PCs have a objective to weaken the ultimate boss, and thus have a cause to discover the dungeon fairly than discovering the closest path to them.
I additionally like that Kasimir offers an alternate that may really enchantment to the PCs. “Let me siphon off the solar bits in your soul, I allow you to go, the solar exhibits up, removes the vampires, and it might take me some time to get my shit collectively to take over Ostoya.” Provided that a complete nation of vampires is current, and the PCs have been pushed onto this course by an archdeamon, perhaps taking the lich’s deal isn’t so dangerous? The worst bit is that he nonetheless retains stealing souls right here and there in his False Afterlife.
Whereas I believe the deal could also be tempting, I want they’d pulled a number of extra heartstrings, perhaps forcing the PCs to weigh among the NPCs they’ve met over the course of the journey. There may be some reference that “finally” a few of them could be hunted down, nevertheless it’s not a risk that’s evident within the second.
Finish of the Highway
Whereas I had some notes right here and there about issues that didn’t utterly click on for me, I believe this was an awesome finale for the marketing campaign. It offered a satisfying ending for the journey, and likewise offers participant characters with an ending that exhibits they’ve completely affected the setting. Even when they reduce a cope with Kasimir, issues don’t look good for the continued reign of the vampires of Ostoya. This is perhaps my favourite of all the adventures on this marketing campaign.
The few lacking parts for me embody offhanded feedback about issues like convincing the Bone Masons to show towards Kasimir. I don’t assume we’re given sufficient info to understand this may even be potential, apart from an offhand remark about doing so. I want there have been extra time with the potential vampire ally, as effectively. The urged vampire had extra in depth NPC info in a earlier journey, however I might have preferred an up to date have a look at what motivates them now that Kasimir’s plan is underway.
To begin, I believe Ghostfire did a tremendous job of holding this mission on schedule. I obtained a discover on the finish of the month, each month, all by means of this subscription. It does make me surprise concerning the growth schedule, as a result of I just lately heard on Ghostfire’s Eldritch Lorecast that the third Fable is presently in manufacturing, earlier than the second has began to ship.
The adventures have all appeared nice, and all of them have imaginative, memorable parts. Working with scavengers to outlive, resolving the ultimate moments of assorted folks trapped in a dream-like afterlife, donning cursed masks, working with different adventurers, and taking part in a blood fueled carnival are all concepts which might be various levels of uncommon or non-existent in different adventures.
For all of this that labored, I believe there have been a number of tough edges:
- Forcing the participant characters to play by means of a situation the place they’re going to die to start out
- Killing the participant characters a second time, with out their company, to encourage them to complete the second journey
- One too many adventures that was going down within the false afterlife, not permitting the PCs to flee the underworld for 13 to 14 classes of play
Introducing an NPC that felt crucial for one journey, who was barely talked about within the subsequent journey
- Getting strung alongside by a patron that solely sort of desires them to succeed, however is okay in the event that they don’t in the event that they aren’t entertaining
That is from an inner studying of the journey, with its personal logic, and never trying on the wider marketing campaign setting. For instance, Ostoya goes to be modified long run after this marketing campaign. Spending slightly extra time displaying what the established order is within the land would have been appreciated. Whereas I don’t count on the journey to reprint these guidelines or to require the usage of the Grim Hole setting books, I used to be actually stunned that there weren’t any sidebars about among the key parts of the setting, just like the transformation guidelines, or examples of individuals utilizing the superior gear launched within the books.
It additionally looks like there may be some confusion about how a lot the marketing campaign desires to be horror and the way a lot it desires to be darkish fantasy, they usually aren’t as interchangeable as they might appear at first. It looks like to bolster that “there might not be a cheerful ending” the journey makes use of evil beings mendacity about who and what they’re, fairly than displaying determined folks making horrible choices, or understanding that an ally is morally compromised, however is the one ally the PCs can depend on in the meanwhile.
An excessive amount of of this felt prefer it was making an attempt to maintain the PCs from understanding sufficient to make knowledgeable choices, and with out knowledgeable choices, “darkish fantasy” feels extra like a bait and change than a tough world made up of onerous selections.
Tenuous Advice–The product has optimistic points, however consumers might wish to be certain that the optimistic points align with their tastes earlier than shifting this up their checklist of what to buy subsequent.
These adventures are enjoyable and imaginative, but in addition slightly irritating and disjointed. A number of the key info that nudges characters in a selected route comes from holding again info from the gamers. It misses just a bit bit on the darkish fantasy facet of issues, and it additionally might have finished slightly extra to showcase the Grim Hole setting. I believe there’s a lot to get pleasure from, however it might not do precisely what somebody might hope when trying on the journey from the skin.
I’m to see how the road progresses, and the Pirates of the Aetherial Expanse marketing campaign that’s subsequent up is attention-grabbing to me as a result of it’s a pirate based mostly story, and it’s additionally introducing a brand new setting whereas additionally presenting an journey path.