I missed Dungeonlands: Tomb of the Lich Queen when it began as a kickstarter for Pathfinder and Savage Worlds. I'm sure I saw Pathfinder and left it alone since I don't play that system. When it hit DriveThruRPG I noticed it was also for Savage Worlds. Taking a second look I saw that also included a few freebies one of which was a free module Dungeonlands: Into The Black bonus encounter for Savage Worlds by Shane Hensley. Anything with Shane's name on it gets my attention.
The work is essentially a 7 page full color teaser: the Cover, 2 pages of the encounter, and 4 pages of Suzerain adverts. Fair enough! The encounter is a great nasty Toparkil; a darkly enchanted undeadish aquatic lurker. It reminds me of the Watcher in the Water by the magic back door to Moria in Lord of the Rings with some very nasty differences. Put this critter in a deep dark pool in your dungeon and let the fearful fun ensue. And did I mention, it's free? Smartly done. I was now curious.
What is Dungeonlands: Tomb of the Lich Queen?
To investigate further, I went to the Kickstarter site and watched the pitch video and listened to the 4 songs on their page. The cinematic score and animated art told the story of the evil Lich Queen, the captive angel Anat, and the death of all who tried to rescue the angel. It seems to be a new and different Tomb of Horrors for a new generation? It even has a Lich!
Dungeonlands: Tomb of the Lich Queen, part 1 of 3
129 pages for $19.99 in pdf.
"Savage Mojo's realm of fantasy maiming, centered n the Lich Queen's abode. This old school killer dungeon is split into three parts, and LQ1 Tomb of the Lich Queen is the first part of that trilogy."
Set within Mojo's Savage Suzerain, it appears to be a setting within a setting and feels like the most dangerous and dark challenges in the old school vein. All the old school feel updated with fantastic art, full set of dungeon tiles, and it's own epic soundtrack.
I love the invitation: "Enter...and die!"
Strangely, there is a full length sample preview in case you have any doubts to what you are getting. Nothing is withheld. Some of the character illustrations looked to have jumped off Pathfinder's own covers, left hand dominant weapons and all! The setting feels very comfortable and tickled my old school memories with plenty of rooms randomly created on the fly. This is helped along by some free sets of bonus encounter tables, encounter cards, and tomb cards (see a few sections below).
Dungeonlands: Dungeon Tiles: 63 pages $14.99
Amazingly, a 63 page full preview of all the dungeon tiles is available to view. At 24 cents per page, it's a remarkable deal.
Cartography: Alida Saxon
Illustrations: James Denton, Jason Engle, Alida Saxon,
Design: Aaron Acevedo,
Layout Aaron Acevedo, Mike Chaney. $14.99
Using the tiles (from pg 2): Encounter tiles 1-31, Final Encounters A-D, and The Long Stair conincide with the encounters found in Dungeonlands: Tomb of the Lich Queen. Encounter 25 was skipped intentionally, it's not keyed to a specific location. Classic tiles 1-26 are for creating your own dungeon or any time a random result is desired. A great set of tiles and easily usable for your own set of random dungeon building.
Dungeonlands Original Cinematic Score to set the mood was a nice addition.
40 minutes for $9.99 on DTRPG
Individual tracks in order can be seen here on Alex Cottrell's Bandcamp.com site with short samples. Alex's music reminded me of the best of the soundtracks for many fantasy TV shows and some movies. I much prefer the classic orchestrations with driving drums, horns, strings, and choral elements. For me, music plays an immense role in my enjoyment of the movies I watch.
The blurb from DTRPG: Channelling old school movie soundtrack like the original Conan the Barbarian, Alex has created a soundscape that's special for roleplay groups in Dungeonlands, but also epic in scope... making it perfect for most roleplay settings, whether high fantasy or otherwise. If you ever wanted to get into the mood for a game session, play the Dungeonlands soundtrack and let Alex dial up your heroism meter to 11!
There are several free modules to help draw you into Dungeonlands.
First up: Tomb of the Lich Queen bonus Material (Savage Worlds) Free!, 3 pdfs, 48 pgs of goodies. Contains:
- TotLQ: Tables - 11 pages of Monsters (and their stats), Treasure, Traps. Many items are unique to DL so its fun reading.
- TotLQ: Tomb Cards: 23 pages of cards and their covers. 30 encounter cards, 4 final encounter cards (A-D), and 19 generic cards with full color tiles (like geomorphs).
- TotLQ: Monster Cards - 14 pages: 24 cards of monsters with original art. Several are main encounter characters for TotLQ but I can see using them for generating some random fun.
These were obviously projects from the Kickstarter but make great give-aways to gain interest. Excellent art and layout.
More products to flesh out the Dungeonlands campaign
Heroes And Servitors. 58 pages, $9.99 on DTRPG
This is not your standard book of Pre-gens. It has the pre-gens but also has evil, twisted versions of the characters as well. Interestingly, the characters have been drawn from all over the Suzerain universe. That means their Edges and Hindrances will often be specific from the other realm from whence they came. There is a section in the back that has all the various Edges & Hindrances unique to these characters, often from settings yet to be published. It also includes a pre-made dungeon encounter for each so quite a bit of content which justifies the $9.99 price. I could have seen this as a freebie as well but my guess is the page count pushed them to keep this a separate product. This is definitely a good product for the Suzerain line but would take some work to see it make sense in any other use.
Dungeonlands: Isle of Paxectel. 144 pages, $29.99 - companion maps to Tomb of the Lich-Queen. Blurb from DTRPG: Picture an island in the ocean, with ruins, a mysterious cave, and a portal from…who knows where. Maybe there are harpies on the highlands, bugbears on the beach or arachnids in the ancient temple. What people find is up to you, but we can guarantee you plenty of inspiration where every square inch of the island is beautifully crafted by master cartographer Alida Saxon. And we’re talking about nearly 7,000 square inches of island in nine parts, each the size of most map sets!
Interestingly, the DTRPG title leaves out the "c" in Paxectel but the module is a whopper of a set of maps with a price to match. The "7,000 square inches" of maps means you get all the locations on the island for the Lich-Queen adventure. This is the 9 volume set of maps condensed into one volume from the Kickstarter. For those intenting to play thru the campaign, I see these as huge time savers and for visual folks like me, a necessity. The price is high to me. I appreciate all the work that went into it and how clearly it helps give a tangible layout in the adventures, but I'd have said $19.99 at most. Also, the Savage Mojo style of map art is very usable but not high art or detailed in any sense. My assumption is they are digitally made but they appear to have been painted with broad strokes. Stylistically it works, it's just not detailed and it's broad stroke style also move me to say that it shouldn't be
$29.99. I'm a map person so I see maps as necessary to convey the space as well as aid in any potential combat distances/areas. For those who don't use maps, this is one to skip.
Dungeonlands: Fear of Life. 17 pages, $1.99 - Illustrated Story by Matt Forbeck
The final product in this review is the illustrated story written by Matt Forbeck who, you may remember from Brave New World and the formation of Pinnacle Entertainment Group with Shane Hensley to publish Deadlands. Yup, that Matt Forbeck.
The story shares how two adventurers, Lexa & Skargar, team up and descend into an ancient tomb... and discover the horror that is the Tomb of the Lich-Queen. It's a short story and doesn't spill all the beans but gives a nice introduction. The illustrations are well done. It seems to be quite a bit of art for such a short story. There are other works of fiction in the DL setting mentioned in the Kickstarter. I didn't dig for those and some will come as deliverables in time. I believe these works of fiction help further the life of the setting. They also share one of many visions of how the setting breathes giving inspiration to GMs on how to run their adventures.
The Dungeonlands project represents a huge amount of work. The primary work that tells the story and lays the ground work for the "dungeon" is very well done. Excellent art and maps clearly convey the setting Savage Mojo created to extend their Savage Suzerain property. I had that same "we'll never get out of this" feeling that my very first Tomb of Horrors conveyed all those decades ago. I keep referencing the old Tomb of Horrors but there is no direct connection other than the name "Tomb", a Lich, and a really difficult dungeon to conquer. It successfully captures that same feeling and sense of challenge that indelibly marked itself in my brain. The additional cards, tables, monsters, treasures, setting material, music, and maps all contribute to a richly designed offering.
REMEMBER, the Dungeonlands: Tomb of the Lich-Queen is only part 1 of 3. Semi-spoiler: The dungeon seems to randomly re-arrange itself. If you take out the Lich-Queen, there's more to do!
If you are a Pathfinder person, not sure how you got here but there are Pathfinder links for all the products as well.
Keep it Savage!