By Thilo Graf
This pdf from Rite Publishing is 37 pages long, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 1 page SRD and 2 pages of advertisements, leaving 32 pages of content for the adventure, so let’s dive right in.
The living airship is an adventure for 4-6 characters levels 7-10 and comes in two versions, one printer-friendly and one full-color. That is especially important due to the STUNNINGLY awesome maps by Jonathan Roberts. It’s also important due to one fact that just I personally didn’t like that much – the full-color version, while adhering to the usual two-column RiP-layout standard, is actually violet/pinkish, which, at least for me, made the text-portion rather unpleasant to look at and rather prefer the b/w-version. That being said, I still think the maps should be printed in color – they are too nice to not be shown in their glory to your players.
All right, that was the spoiler-free section of the review, potential players please jump ahead to the conclusion.
Ok, here we go!
This is a straightforward salvage/rescue mission – The PCs try to reclaim an airship that has been high jacked. The adventure kicks off when they reach the complex in the mountains where the ship was taken by the major antagonists, the Vallorians. They have goons to guard the complex, though. Deadly ones. Very deadly ones, i.e. hook- and blade-enhanced trolls, including a sorceress. The troll-cavern also feature traps and a sorceress and, to top it off, should be more or less be done stealthily or at least without alarming the Vallorians. Have I mentioned the enhanced fleshgolems? The caves get awesome maps by cartographer Jonathan Roberts and lead into the Vallorian outpost and this is where the adventure really begins to shine – the PCs, either via stealth or brute force, can explore a small Vallorian base and then, via a set of intermingled bridges, move through 3 huge pillars over a gaping hole in the ground. The pillars contain rooms with even more Vallorians and the PCs, after frenetic battles, finally reach the anchored ship for a dramatic showdown. That ship, though, has been transformed into a semi-conscious weapon of flesh and inanimate matter by the Vallorians and serves as either a grisly trophy or strange reliability. The otherwise complex setup is actually easy to run thanks to the 4 (!!!) GORGEOUS maps, totaling 5 (!!!) beautiful full-color maps of the same quality of the fantastic maps line (minus all the additional bonus stuff of that line, granted.).
We also get 5 pages of appendices that detail the Vallorians, humanoids that moved underground and developed into a new subrace as well as their trademark fleshcrafting items and rules for them.
Editing and formatting are top-notch, I didn’t notice any glitches. The purplish-pinkish color-scheme of the full-color version is too girly for me, though. I liked the b/w-artwork and the full-color maps are absolutely stunning.
This adventure feels completely different from almost all crawls I’ve read so far in that it more feels like a dungeon run – fast-paced, iconic and action-ladden. Yes, there is not much downtime and the dungeon does not offer many diversions, alternate routes etc. It doesn’t have to. If you want to know what the closest thing to this one is, I’d reply the showdown of a James Bond movie. Alters have been sounded, tough enemies go for you, an iconic backdrop and a climatic showdown. The Vallorians are cool enemies and their fleshcrafting makes them sufficiently alien and disturbing.
I love smart investigation adventures, but this is a straight action romp you have to like – fast-paced, deadly and no adventure to turn your brain off – yeah, it’s action, but if you don’t fight smart, you’ll be squashed. I DMed an upgraded version of this adventure recently and my players loved it as a nice change of pace from diplomacy, investigation, etc. My final verdict will be 4.5 stars due to both the color-scheme and the fact that the lines of the text feel further apart than usual in RiP-books. Perhaps it’s also another font, I don’t know. If you want a cool, deadly, fast-paced romp – go for it! Plus: If you need your PCs to get a means of transportation they might discard again, this adventure is just about perfect.
The Living Airship is available from: