Adventure This Way! – Crypt of the Mellified Mage [Forbidden Lands]

Forbidden Lands:

Crypt of the Mellified Mage

Author: Fiona M. Geist, David McGrogan, Zedeck Siew, et al.
Publisher: Free League
Page Count: 79
Available Formats: PDF & Print
PDF (DTRPG) – $9.99
Print (Fria Ligan) – $24.24

Unlike traditional fantasy scenarios that oftentimes include multiple locations and interwoven plot threads, Forbidden Lands has adventure sites. These are singular self-contained physical locations of interest to player characters. Adventure sites may be official releases, community content releases, or Gamemaster created. Those officially published by Free League contain everything necessary to incorporate it into an ongoing campaign and include any necessary tables, charts, events, and rules revisions to make full use of the site. With Forbidden Lands being a levelless game, the unique challenge with all adventure sites is assessing if it will be too much of a challenge for a party of players.

The Crypt of the Mellified Mage collects four of these adventure sites into one hardback volume from the creative minds of authors Fiona Maeve Geist, David McGrogan, Zedeck Siew, and Adam Koebel, with each built on the foundation of Sword & Sorcery, old school aesthetics, and takes advantage of Forbidden Lands sandbox design. All four adventures follow the Forbidden Lands standard outline, identical to that used in the Gamemaster’s Guide.

Crypt of the Mellified Mage is available as a hardcover book or in a digital format with a hyperlinked table of contents. Its visual presentation is as wonderful as the rest of those in other books in the product line. The layout is neat, clean, and easy on the eyes. The artwork and semi-isometric maps are nicely illustrated. Free League provided Rolling Boxcars with print and digital copies for review purposes.

Crypt of the Mellified Mage

Type of Adventure Site: Dungeon

“Crypt of the Mellified Mage,” written by Fiona Maeve Geist (of Mothership RPG fame), invites adventurers into a dungeon dripping with honey, weird insectoids, and a foul abomination. “Crypt of the Mellified Mage” is a dungeon adventure site that may be located beneath any village of the Gamemaster’s choosing. This sprawling underground tomb with its 35 keyed locations is home to Pagoag, an ancient sorcerer who had once vainly attempted to master the healing arts while concurrently trying to transform into a lich—the resulting abomination is now sealed in this tomb. Sometime after arriving in the village, adventurers witness its ravaging by insectoids. This is the jumping-off point for the adventure itself.

In keeping with Geist’s style of weirdness, this adventure site offers some interesting challenges for characters. The “Crypt of the Mellified Mage,” due to its sheer size, its direct connection to the village above, multiple ingresses and egress points, and subtle challenges for the player characters, will provide several sessions of gameplay.

Missteps can be very costly, but if they can manage to stay alive long enough, the story has several possible endings depending on their actions. Two of which have long-term effects that may provide additional story hooks for future adventures.

The Firing Pit of Llao-Yutuy

Type of Adventure Site: Dungeon

Like his previous works, David McGrogan’s (author of Yoon-Suin) adventure site has strong Asian influences. “The Firing pit of Llao-Yutuy” is a hidden underground kiln where some of Ravenland’s best magical pottery is created, but each comes with a high price tag. The master of this firing pit is cruel and villainous—creating all manner of magical pottery, crockery, and even golems for the right price. He cares not for their intended purposes or who the client is. He only cares that payment is made and lifeblood is available for the crafting process.

Player characters can get hooked into the adventure through one of three provided hooks or one of the Gamemaster’s own devising. The draw for this site is two-fold. First, to create these magical works, someone’s lifeblood is needed, which occasionally means people go missing (hook). The second draw of the site falls completely outside the legend’s scope, but there is much treasure to be had, and Gamemasters should hint at this. Only if they can find it, understand it, and return from the site with their lives.

This adventure site is only slightly smaller than “Crypt of the Mellified Mage,” coming in at 21 keyed locations. To fully investigate the entirety of the complex, it should take two, possibly three game sessions. This will be no walk in the park, even for seasoned player characters, and might be a location that characters return to multiple times.

The Temple of the Six-Limbed Lord

Type of Adventure Site: Village

In the recent past, the Temple’s leaders decided they would bore upwards through reality to invade heaven itself. Instead, they found themselves in a different reality, the Ravenlands. Realizing their error, they have decided to make the best of things. The Temple of the Six-Limbed Lord, based in Eternal Yimming, emphasizes the simian god’s ambition.

This adventure site, written by Zedeck Siew (creator of A Thousand Thousand Islands), is decidedly different and offers players unique gameplay experiences depending on how it is incorporated into the Ravenlands. Village sites are a more permanent fixture in the world than, say, a dungeon site, “The Temple of the Six-Limbed Lord” has two suggested ways in which it can be used, each diametrically opposed to one another.

Inhabited by simians, Siew first suggests using it as an antagonistic force within the world—making safe spaces dangerous again. Second, allowing the player characters to work for the temple as freelance treasure hunters, land claimants, etc. This can be very lucrative for the characters. Suffice it to say, there is obviously more going on here than meets the eye, but I won’t spoil it.

Unlike the other scenarios, thus far, “The Temple of the Six-Limbed Lord” has a small number of keyed locations, but that is the way of village sites. Everything needed to incorporate it into your existing game is here, including a reasonably large number of events.

Gamemasters should always keep in mind that the temple is from another reality and, thus, not a permanent site in this world. The longer it remains in the Ravenlands, the more its presence and influences are felt.

The Dream-Cloud of E’lok Thir

Type of Adventure Site: Dungeon

“The Dream-Cloud of E’lok Thir” is an altogether different kind of adventure site. Although it conforms to the normal flow of a dungeon site, the location itself is not worldly. Meaning it is the expression of a self-aware being’s fragmented dream state. Player characters will enter the mind of E’lok Thir, a powerful wizard.

The location does not have a keyed map, nor any map at all. This does create more work for the Gamemaster. According to the author, Adam Koebel, “Locations within the Dream-Cloud are unfettered by the rules of causality. A door between the Trophy Hall and the Hidden Self may only operate in one direction, and attempting to return might deposit characters in the Reflectarium. The Foyer is always the first chamber that visitors see, but otherwise, the map may be pre-prepared or generated randomly as the Dream-Cloud is explored.”

As a non-traditional adventure, the Dream-Cloud’s rules shift and change as player characters move about and interact with the environment. An unseen (by the players) timer is ticking. When the clock runs out, the player characters may find themselves forever trapped within unless they can perform a ritual that allows them to leave the Dream-Cloud. Thus, making this the most challenging site contained in the book.

This adventure site, with its unusual design and themes, is going to challenge all player groups. It’s my recommendation that Gamemasters fully understand this site before introducing it into their game.

Final Thoughts

As a new Forbidden Lands Gamemaster, I fully appreciate all the creativity in this book. The first three adventure sites are fascinating, and I can see myself incorporating them into my own game quite easily. The last site, “The Dream-Cloud of E’lok Thir,” just didn’t click for me. While its uniqueness is refreshing, its non-traditional premise and conceits left me uninspired and not wanting to give it a lot of consideration—your mileage may vary.

The Crypt of the Mellified Mage offers Gamemasters four unique adventure sites written by some fantastic and creative writers. Each distinctly different, offering players interesting and varied game experiences. This is a fantastic addition to the Forbidden Lands product line.

~ Modoc

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