EZG reviews Horns of the Hunted
This plug-in module for the Kingmaker AP is 32 pages long, 1 page front cover, 2 pages editorial, 1 page ToC, 1.5 pages of how to use/introduction, 2 pages of advertisement and 1 page back cover, leaving us with 23.5 pages of content, so let’s take a look, shall we?
This being a review of an adventure-module, potential players are hereby advised to skip to the conclusion to avoid the imminent SPOILERS, which btw. also extend to the Kingmaker-AP to a lesser degree. You have been warned.
Still here? All right! Generally, this module is intended to happen at around 6th level, near the end of “Rivers Run Red”, i.e. the second Kingmaker module. Bow one of the imho weaker aspects in one of my favorite APs (and many others) is the lack of foreshadowing of the BBEG – and this module addresses this particular gripe via a henchman of Nyrissa, one bound fey warrior named Harakund. His devious plan focuses on acquiring unicorn-horns to allow his mistress control over the Gnarled Forest. Things get more complicated, though – Harakund’s entourage contains a forlarren in love with a satyr bard who may yet be saved from damnation.
On the first anniversary of the PC’s kingdom, their celebrations are interrupted by a young lad, distraught and crying, pointing them to the mutilated corpse of a unicorn. Getting a pouch of special dust from one of the NPC-confidantes they have acquired by this point, the PCs are off to a rendez-vous with one of the remaining unicorns in their lands. Unfortunately, before the unicorn can relate any information, their meeting is crashed by the Furious Hunt – namely a troupe of Buckawns riding worgs (that have been nerfed of their ability conjure forth insect swarms – an ability I’ll return to their arsenal. Player complaining about swarms being unfair are wusses… but design-wise, for a wide audience, definitely the right decision – not all groups enjoy the thrill of impending TPK and are experienced enough to handle such a challenge.)
Especially, since the second encounter follows hot on the heels of the first, with fey wolves attacking with rather men wolf tactics. After that, the PCs are on the chase – the hunters have taken one of the unicorns and a cool chase is one – 9 instances await the heart-pounding hunt for the hunters, aligned in an easy-to grasp one-page flow-chart. Neat indeed! There also are two hunting groups to spice up the chase and track via the special dust the PCs received. Aforementioned Forlarren sorceress (awesomely depicted by Pete Fairfax) proves to be the one covering the escape of the hunters -and there is the moonstone key to follow the fey into their lands.
Stepping through, whether with the Forlarren defeated or not, the PCs meet an actually rather friendly faun who may prove to be a font of information for the PCs. Among the other forces they meet, there would be a grizzly with functional butterfly wings (who can actually be reasoned with – neat!). It should also be noted that from spring to summer to autumn, this fey realm follows thematically the progress of seasons, with the third season pitting the PCs against giant twigjacks and finally, at the heart of winter, they have to deal with Harakund himself – a dread cold rider, riding a deadly rimefrost goat. This and the penultimate encounter both come with glorious maps, btw. Reward-wise, beyond saving a unicorn, the module offers for cool benefits on the kingdom-ruling context and even offers some synergy-benefits when used with Ultimate Campaign. Neato!
Editing and formatting are top-notch, I didn’t notice any glitches. Layout adheres to Legendary Games’ parchment-style 2-column standard and is full color. The maps by Alyssa Faden are superb, but come sans a player-friendly version without numbers etc., somewhat limiting their usefulness as handouts. The original pieces of full-color artwork herein are interesting – Pete Fairfax utilizes a soft style of pastel-colors that lend a distinct, hand-drawn flair to the module without compromising in quality – And I really like it, since it is very distinct from standard artworks, lending the product a unique sense of identity. The pdf comes fully bookmarked for your convenience.
Matthew Goodall has not reinvented the wheel here, but oh boy does this serve its purpose perfectly – lighting up the task of kingdom-ruling at a place where it is imho all but required, this fast-paced action-romp adds a superb change of pace to kingmaker, blending cool action, iconic imagery and a cool planar sojourn while making the actual storyline of the overall AP work better. This module doesn’t just have cool encounters, intriguing adversaries and options to actually spare foes and solve encounters without killing everything, it actually makes the overall AP run smoother thematically. So…fun module. Diverse challenges. Improves overall AP. Synergy with Ultimate Campaign/Rulership-rules. If you can’t guess by now – “Horns of the Hunted” should be considered a required addition to the Kingmaker-AP, a module that improves the overall experience and well-worth 5 stars + seal of approval.