The Blasphemous Temple of Yargolith

By Steve Johnson
Hex Games
Levels 3-7

Embark on a journey to the ancient and mysterious Temple of Yargolith, where forbidden knowledge and dark powers reside. Brave treacherous ruins and face off against deadly cultists as you uncover the secrets of the temple and confront agents of the powerful entity known as Yargolith. Beware, for those who dare to enter the Blasphemous Temple may never return.

This 114 page digest adventure contains a small village, a hex crawl, and a multilevel dungeon with about sixty rooms. It’s an assault on a cultist castle, and once they get wind of you then you’ve got about twelve turns before they finish sacrificing everyone and their god shows up. Good luck, Hackey McHackface!

Some chick hires you to go find her friend and her adventuring companions. They are off in some village in a jungle somewhere. You go there and find out they were there, disappeared in the jungle, and, oh yeah, that castle up on the mountain that glows red with the demon skull face on front is over there that direction also. Approaching it, they probably see you and start their mass blood sacrifice and twelve turns later their god shows up, all 50 foot tall and rampaging, if you don’t stop the sacrifice. I’ve got two general problems with the setup and flow of the adventure.

First, you’re hired. I know I’m not going to change anyones mind here, but I need to say it anyway: hiring is boring. This is akin to a quest giver in a crpg. “Collect 50 griffon wings and I’ll give you a pony!” It lacks motivation, and, more importantly, I think it removes a great deal of player agency and investment. Second, there is the issue of the alarm. Basically, you’re not even sure the adventurers you’re here to rescue are IN the fortress. And the fortress is pretty well run, so, they are gonna be pulling the fire alarm if they think they need to. And once they do then their god is popping off in twelve turns. So, you don’t REALLY know you’re on a timer and that timer is on a pretty hair trigger, as far as these things go. The parties only real chance here is to come in via the saves underneath everything, which is in a different hex (and, I think, non-trivial to discover) and then get up in the dungeons, first, and fuck with the cult gods tomb. In both this scenario, and in the frontal visit or “sneak in over the backside”, you’re playing the standard adventurer assault game: sneak/bluff until caught and then hack everything. I’m not morally opposed to any of this. It’s a hack and D&D has hacks. I think my problem with it is the lack of support for the obvious happening. Telegraphing the cults intentions a little more would go a long way to telling the party that they are, or will be, on a timer. Timers are fine, as long as you can figure out you’re on one. And I don’t think you can do that here. 

Order of battle for the alarm, is contained in the various rooms. There is a little section about “on alarm” or “at night” or “during the doomsday ritual” that changes up the room a bit. And then this is supported by a three page (!) timeline that covers those twelve turns between pulling the fire alarm and the god showing up. The in-room data is generally ok. It does have tendency to note the occupants of the room instead of the impacts of the room. If you are pouring oil on the front gate then it’s the oil pouring room that gets the detail and not the gate. This is always wrong. You need to know whats going on at the gate IN the gate description. But, the general concept it fine. It’s not overdone, doesn’t show up for each room, and is generally only used where needed, as it should be. The timeline, though, is a disaster. I mean, great in concept but poor in execution. “Frank and the guards start their search of the third floor” is not exactly an easy thing to run. You have to backtrack through the timeline to find things. If you end up on the third floor on turn eight, did Frank start his search there on turn to and is still there? Quick, go scan every entry before the current time! This could have been handled much better. It feels more cinematic than useful.

The layout and font are clear, with boxes used when need be. Bullets are used. Although … there is something going on with the line spacing or justification or something. It all kind of runs together. The bolding, italics and so forth, when they show up, don’t really contribute to comprehension. Your eyes glaze over. There’s just too many words, too many sentences, for each section. We’re talking a page or half page devoted to some simple concepts. The text overexplains, justifies things, and engages in padding … with if/then padding being particularly common. II’m absolutely certain the editing and layout on this were pretty good. It shows. It’s consistent and, as I said, there are parts of it that are easy on the eyes. But, unfortunately, no one told them what to shoot for. And, given that, they didn’t put something together here in layout and editing that  made the adventure easy to run at the table. Easy to scan. Easy to pull information out of. 

They kind of know this. They give you, for the may NPCs present, a little thing like “Dame Judy Dench” to run an NPC with. Of course then they also give you “Miranda Cimber, the party’s sorceress and the scion of a moderately powerful noble family in the north. She became an adventurer after fleeing her homeland to avoid an arranged marriage. Although she rarely wears it, Miranda is known to carry a brooch inlaid with her family crest, a swan on a rose background.” All of this is trivia and none of it is useful. You do not find her brooch. It’s just trivia, not gameable. And while we don’t need to go 100% in this direction, and I’m not even certain I know where the line is, I do know that when the preponderance is trivia then there’s a problem. This detracts from comprehension. This isn’t a game world you’re building. You’re building something for me to run at the table. EVERYTHING must be seen in that context. 

Take this: “This is the communal space where the cultists gather to eat and socialize. The well is just a normal well with a short retaining wall, a roof above the shaft, and a few buckets attached to ropes for use in drawing up water. There are typically 2d4 cultists loafing and gossipping here.” Little of this is usable. Instead, describe the 2d4 cultists that are loafing and gossiping. Frank is staying down, his tentacle robes hiked up to his knee, mouthing off Subaltern Keltern because he was caught eating after 6pm. Some shit like that.  Show, don’t tell. And don’t give us the room purpose, tec. SHOW it to us. 

Yeah, I could go on and on and on. It’s not the worse thing ever written. It’s not a rip off product. It’s just not a particularly good implementation of something to be run at the table. There is little evocative text, very little showing, and a lot of padding and such. It’s not oriented toward the type of play that is to be expected: a stealth before the alarm hack. Nice try QAGS. AT least I’ve still got from ramed QAGS character sheet from ORIGINS.

This is $15 at DriveThru. There’s no preview. There should always be a preview that shows you some of the relevant text so you can make an intelligent purchasing decision.

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One Response to The Blasphemous Temple of Yargolith

  1. Vorshal says:

    If I understand correctly, that “Miranda Cimber, the party’s sorceress” is the NPC who hired the party, then:

    instead of the party just being “hired” for job; have a hunted and desperate lord gathering “banner-men” to aide her plight. She knows the stakes and cult’s time table. Maybe have the cult specifically hunt her due to her “noble (kings)” blood which is required for the ritual. By having some of the party being vassal to be jilted husband could add more faction play especially a paladin type having to follow an oath breaker

    Just my 2 cents

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