I received a pre-release copy of The Lost Hall of Tyr, by Doug Cole of Gaming Ballistic, currently in the middle of a Kickstarter with 16 days to go. It reached the base funding goal yesterday. I am late with my review dues to my computer dying. Now that I have the replacement up and functional, I was able to read this 52 page PDF.
This is a Norse/Viking based setting. Doug has written many articles on his blog, in recent months, about his work with a Viking/Norse re-enactment group. They study history and martial arts based on Viking weapons and armor.
Doug developed this from a scenario he ran at GenCon 50, back in August. It allows the players to engage in grappling with encounters, should they desire it. The grappling mechanics are based on his 2016 Kickstater, Dungeon Grappling. It is a D&D 5e adventure for four to six characters between 3rd and 6th level. NOTE: I am a big fan of his model for grappling as seen in my review of Dungeon Grappling. I have follow up reviews of the final PDF, book, and eBook here.
The introduction makes clear that this is a scenario designed to showcase Dungeon Grappling. It is also set in the world of Etera, which is the setting for the forthcoming Dragon Heresy RPG. Three ideas in bullet points makes suggestions for incorporating this adventure into an existing campaign.
The first 30 pages are the adventure. There are three pages about wilderness travel and weather. Fourteen creatures are presented in the bestiary section, with one per page. The final two pages before the OGL are quick-start rules for grappling.
The various stages of the journey to retrieve the mcguffin weavean interesting adventure in a Norse inspired world. It is not all combat, or more specifically of the hack and slash variety. There are some twists on creatures from how they are often presented in RPGs, making them new creatures. There are a lot of ideas in here that one could pull out and use in their own games. Several of these ideas can be used with any genre and ruleset.
What I liked:
- The layout, background image/color, and font are easy to read on screen.
- There is a hazard table for random occurrences for the overland journey.
- He has an interesting mechanic for how to deal with a rickety rope bridge.
- In addition to the bridge itself, several methods of crossing the bridge or crossing in other ways are suggested. Skilled players will be able to come up with other ways to cross.
- Another interesting mechanic is included for dealing with river rapids. After a certain number of failed checks to avoid drowning, an individual enters “combat” rounds with the river and takes damage for each round they fail to keep their head above water.
- Several of the encounters are for creatures that will attempt to grapple, giving the opportunity to use the grappling rules.
- There is a quick start of the grappling rules.
- Each creature in the bestiary includes their grappling stats. Player characters will need to calculate their grappling stats. I would recommend doing so as part of character creation or for pre-gens the GM supplies.
- The pages on wilderness travel bring in realistic amounts of food and water requirements.
- Since mountains are involved there are mechanics for dealing with climbing. An example is also provided.
- It includes methods for avoiding falls, and how to save yourself or others from a fall.
What I’d like to See:
- Since this is a pre-release and not the final PDF, it has several issues with missing words, or words out of order. I know these will be addressed in the final copy.
- There is no table of contents, but like in Dungeon Grappling, I know it will be hyperlinked to the different sections.
- There are placeholders for many pieces of art and all the maps, so the layout is basically complete.
- I did not see anywhere in the PDF what number and level of characters this adventure is for. This is a helpful piece of information to know when selecting it for ones players or creating pre-gens for one-shots or convention play.
I backed the Dungeon Grappling Kickstarter because I liked the initial grappling rules from The Manor #8, as mentioned in the review I linked above. Doug does good work, and gives regular updates after the close of the funding campaign, and delivered three months ahead of the delivery deadline. Based on that experience, I would expect similar efforts to deliver this Kickstarter.
This is a neat adventure that gives one lots of ideas for running a hexcrawl style scenario in 5e. If you are a fan of the OSR and are curious about 5e, this will fill that need. For those wanting to see an adventure with dungeon grappling baked in, this is your chance. For 5e fans that wander about old school style of play, this guides them through the process.
I find this an imaginative way to blend the Norse mythology and the fey of that mythos with 5e and the dungeon grappling mechanics. I am curious about the art and maps missing from the pre-release PDF. For $7 you can get the PDF, and $20 gets the PDF and softcover. There are tiers for multiple copies. All backers get their name in the credits.