Sunday, October 28, 2018

Review: Undying Orbs Omnibus

The Undying Orbs Omnibus is a module designed for Swords & Wizardry by Ian McGarty of Silver Bulette. It is designed to take a party of four to six characters from level one to level five.


"For centuries, the environs of Redstone have a hidden secret. Under the people's noses, a key to releasing an ancient evil rests. An evil cultist has begun the wheels in motion to unlock the evil. Can a neophite group of adventurers stop the evil from emerging again into their world?"

First Thoughts

Like a physical book I like to examine the cover, the back and flip through the interior to get a feel of what's inside before reading. This is where a little problem comes into play. It isn't anything serious but the PDF is split into three different files. The Cover Interior, Cover Exterior and Interior of the book. There isn't a PDF of all of these combined so I am not able to see the full book as one thing.
The front exterior cover is artwork of what appears to be a few orbs which would fit the title and suggest that orbs are the focus of the adventure. On the back cover behind the text is a an image of a creature that looks a lot like an iron golem.
The interior cover is a beautiful map of the city Redstone by Alyssa Faden.
Flipping through the Interior of the PDF I notice that there is a map of the surrounding region of Redstone. There are also five numbered "dungeon maps." Throughout there is a lot of artwork and the good thing about the artwork is that most of it is new to my eyes. A lot of OSR independent publishers tend to use a lot of the same stock art in their products. So it was refreshing to see some artwork I haven't seen before.

Full Details

Background
This section gives a brief description of Redstone and its four areas; Upper District, Merchant's District, Lower District and the Fields. Also, the Silvery Moon Tavern is mentioned in this section. (My Review of Silvery Moon Tavern)

Groups of Interest
Mentioned here are four different factions; Black Gloves, Church of Muir, Cult of Krocyrian and Red Tooth Goblins. Each has some information that lead into adventure hooks and some background information for the adventure in the book. The Black Gloves is the Thieves Guild of Redstone and the Cult of Krocyrian are mutating cultists that worship a great evil that is trying to break free.

Timeline
This page has a nice timeline of things that should happen once the adventurers complete the Temple of Undying Darkness adventure (starting on page 11). The timeline serves as both what happens before and what happens after the adventures in the book. The in-between stuff isn't mentioned in the adventure sections. So this timeline is very helpful for when the adventurers return to Redstone in-between adventures. It is brief on a single page so it leaves a lot of room for the GM to fill in the rest. I do like the timeline section and I wish more published adventures/modules had them. It helps with understanding the flow of things. Though, some would say it could railroad the game but who cares? It is an adventure that is meant to be played so obviously there is going to be railroading.

Random Encounters
The next six-pages are dedicated to Random Encounter Tables. There is one for Forests, Nighttime Forests, Rivers, Nighttime Rivers and Unique Encounters. Most of the unique encounters can be used in both forests and rivers.

The Adventure Begins
This is just a short one-page hook to get the adventurers into the main story-line of the book. This also introduces the adventurers to the Black Gloves.

The Four Temples - Undying Darkness, Undying Light, Undying Discord and Undying Law
The four temples are the four adventures for obtaining the Undying Orbs. None of the four temples have an exact location listed in the adventure or the maps. There are some details like forests, cliffs and peaks so I assume it is left up to the GM where these temples are located. Which this is a good and bad thing. A good thing because this gives a lot more freedom and control over this story and a bad thing for those that like to have everything laid out for them. The adventures don't really do much with the befores and afters of the adventures within Redstone. This is all left for the GM to workout but the Timeline would help with that. The first temple is your standard goblins and undead adventure. Though, the map is numbered to sixteen locations it is missing locations fifteen and sixteen in the details. The second temple is located on a peak and filled with winged creatures and dangers that aren't from monsters. The third temple is more of a challenge with difficult encounters and puzzles. It also takes a little more to gain access to the temple. The final temple is filled with puzzles and deadly encounters. The temple's map is numbered to seven but the detailed information for location seven is left out. Each of these temples are small enough that they could be completed in their own session. And with all the stuff that happens between the temples it could take more than four sessions to complete the four temples.

Plane of the Orbs
This is the final adventure in the installment. There is a race and a battle through a maze with the adventurers and three of the factions; Black Gloves, Church of Muir and Cult of Krocyrian. The rooms in this final installment are full of puzzles. This adventure takes place within the city of Redstone....well sort of. This is the only adventure in the book that shows the exact location where this adventure can be found.

Appendices
This takes up 5 pages of the book. It has the information for the named/key NPCs, faction minions, the orbs, new monsters and magic items. It also has information on the tomes and texts that are mentioned throughout the book. And with it are the five player handouts that you can print and cut out. The orbs are really interesting and cool items. They are definitely items that the adventurers may actually want to keep for themselves. But it is a good thing there are four different factions hunting them down so if the adventurers do decide to keep them they would probably have some serious problems....in a good way.

Overall

4 out of 5 stars

This is worth the $5.00. Though, there are some minor typos here and there but nothing so horrible that it makes it unreadable. Now, I wish there was just a little bit more. Like, maybe the region map marked with the locations of the temples. And maybe a little bit more of a "push" when it comes to the in-between stuff that I mentioned above. Also, I wish there was another PDF file with the whole book as it would be if it were printed. But I believe, if I remembered correctly, that the physical copies that they had for cons had fold-out covers for the map of Redstone. So maybe that's why there isn't a PDF of all of it together. A big plus for me is that the temple locations are small enough that they could be done in a single session and that you can print them out and have them on a GM screen and not need anything else. With this product and Silvery Moon Tavern you could do a lot more than just the Undying Orbs within Silver Bulette's world.

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