Torth is a strange desert world. Always night, always deadly. A little bit sword & sorcery, a little bit science-fantasy, and just enough post apocalypse to keep things interesting.
This is a … book of adventure seeds? Maybe? I don’t know what this is. A very small part of this booklet is a description of a world. A very small part of this the description of a city on that world. A much larger part of the booklet are a series of events and/or adventure seeds, some of which are connected to each other. While it’s a mess organizationally it’s also got more soul in it than most of the products I’ve reviewed. This book is everything I wanted the XOth.Net adventures to be. It’s evocative and summons the imagery of Sword & Sorcery perfectly. Weird, bizarre, just slightly gonzo, Venger understands the core of Sword & Sorcery and brings it to the reader. Long time readers know that this is one of the key things I’m looking for; the ability of the writer to transfer their vision to the reader. In this respect it does what Deep Carbon Observatory did: provide little seeds and/or vignettes for the party to explore. Just not as well.
The first part of this booklet is more of an campaign setting. There’s a brief description of a world wracked by sorcery. There’s a brief description of the people in it, the various tribes, and then of some of the cults and secret societies. Weird costumes, food, and buildings round things out. This is all WONDERFUL. It does what I wish more supplements would: gives the area a distinct feel. “Remember that place where we ate baby sand squid sashimi?”, “Oh Yeah, where they walked around ‘covered in the blood of their enemies.’” There’s enough here to for a DM to work with. With it you can color to the various encounters the party has. It’s a very strong section. Just brief little sections, but they communicate the flavor of the place beautifully, and you end up wanting to run it, and start building scenarios in your head on how you would incorporate them.
The second section of the book is a loose collection of adventure seeds and/or events. Little brief vignettes, some of which lead to others. The strength of these is much the same as the strength of the first section. The imagery is quite strong and they make you want to run them. Your mind immediately starts building on what you read. They are generally very good little sceneses because of that. The overall arc is one of a killing in the streets and tracking down what happened. The king gets involved, there’s a demon idol, and a call for mercenaries. It’s all a little more coincidence based than character-driven. Still, quite imaginative/evocative and I’ll take that over Perfectly Organized.
The monsters and treasure mesh well into the Sword & Sorcery vibe going on. The magic treasure is distinct and not from any standard book I’ve ever seen. These are the sorts of things I’m looking for, something interesting and wonderful, rather than something that simply emulates and boosts a mechanical system from the game. The monsters fall into the this category as well, coming from the authors brain and having weird twists. Scorpion Squids, Giant Ooze Slug Brain with Spider Legs, Three-headed Sand Demon, Saber-Toothed Shadow Gator. This all places the adventure closer to the Psychedelic Fantasies/OD&D style than it does the mechanistic 2E/3E style … and that’s a very good thing.
It’s disorganized. It’s not obvious from the get go how the various events work together. Some of the events are stupid (like the sculptor who will destroy the world in an hour … and there’s no way to figure that out in advance.) It’s more of a collection of vignettes tied together with an OD&D Sword & Sorcery feel. This is right on the edge of me keeping it. I’m partial to city adventures, especially those cities with good factions/cults/etc, so I’m keeping it.