Wednesday, 30 October 2019

Reviews: Highfell and Raiders of R'lyeh

So since sept ive done a bit of shopping. Still on mostly only patreon and paid rpg gigs and no income to live off but life improved mostly. Both these items on pricey side without free pdf but post to Australia was very affordable and worth 6 week wait. Highfell had a few lines where print rollers messed up but 99% good. Raiders pretty flawless and huge 2.2kg 480 pages and fatter than the pic above looks. While Im here I recommend the Castles & Crusades codex series i got as PDF's in bundle and will get hardcovers some day.

Highfell The Drifting Dungeon, the latest from Greg Gillespie confirming his place as best oldschool sandbox dungeon creator. I got first two second hand at a good price and was gobsmacked. The three books of Greg: Barrowmaze Complete, Forbidden Chasms of Archaia and Highfell are overall favorite dnd-ish adventures. Dripping with oldschool vibes, art direction reminding me of mid 80s White Dwarf. I am reminded of Homlet and Temple of Elemental Evil in structure but these are better.

Each book features local religions, a wilderness area to explore and a base village described in detail with rumours and interesting locals. This volume is in a cold wind and salt blasted northern wilderness. All three books feature starting mini dungeons before coming to the big dungeons. Each book has a monster section featuring classic and new creatures used, each illustrated. Frankly they are presented better than most and I would buy a Greg monster manual if he did one. Each book features a type of magic item found locally and in this volume it is books, spells and spell components.  The series format works. You set up a home base, explore wilds, find rumours then start baby dungeons before the megadungeon proper. Its a good setup and I hope it continues. The books overlap in religions and monsters a bit and the setting is the same. Highfell refers to things in other volumes but still enjoyable. Each has illustration section like the better pre Dragonlance TSR modules did. The art is great and as I said has the gritty feel of 80s uk pre warhammer vibe I try to emulate in my settings. I like pathfinder but it and dnd5 art turns me off (not my fantasy).

A ruined magic school brought adventurers for years to area but now its flying about. Adventurers need means to get there. Then explore some wizard towers before a ziggurat and a bigger dungeon. The undead dragon cult is behind various problems and needs to be stopped. I have not read it all yet but im pretty impressed and like previous ones should last a long time. I might ad stuff from
Realms of Crawling Chaos (Labyrinth Lord) to spice it up. The books are fun in every hoard of loot and i could pad it out with my own book lists and magic school stuff. For some reason Highfell inspires me to add more strange stuff. Not from a deficiency but more from inspiration. Getting books to civilisation might be a adventure too. There are 20 towers concluding in the Ziggurat where the major plot is revealed. Like most fantasy ziggurats it is not really historic but gonzo magic floating land mass not history gaming. Then there are 19 other dungeons. Like other volumes you could steal locations to drop in other games if you need a tower or dungeon. I rate all theses highly despite price. I would like pdf's one day. Extra map books and stuff available might be a cheaper option or I could print huge.

Raiders of R'lyeh Gamemaster guide and complete rules, a d100 cthulhu clone 480 pages and has had price drop. It is a fat 2.2kg. I will use to enhance my Call of Cthulhu games and not run as is. Much like I use CoC7 while im still playing 2nd ed. Layout is mostly basic with black and white history photos like other fan mad products/ Some illustrations are quite adequate but mostly text. Being black and white i find it easier to read than the 7th ed cthulhu books.

I got it despite i dislike the book consultant who personally abused me many times and defends Milo Yianopolis. I have 3 of his books, occasional we had reasonable discussions but not with politics and fandom. Im possibly gonna get smeared with that accusation of affiliation soon but for record he is one of my 5 most hated humans alive. Im hoping not to be called a nazi or have death threats but more on that later. For record Im a long time anarchist punk humanist who was a elected paid unionist for 3 years and ran a union paper for three years and mostly worked helping unfortunates.

Set pre ww1. Fantastic detail in setting info history. Great timelines, travel info, stuff on cars and things I wish CoC had done before. You could run this game for 1910 into and into WW1 well or bridge Gaslight era to the jazz age. I will compare this to Call of Cthulhu (CoC) lots here. In many ways it is a CoC/BRP varient but so is COC7 vs all previous versions. CoC7 and Raiders is more complex than CoC1-6.

Character gen uses open game licence d100 BRP with variations of course. Like 7th ed CoC it introduces derived mechanics i would rather not. No Education attribute or credit rating skill. Rationality rather than SAN. Different take on social standing, class, culture and occupations. Some interesting skill ideas. Connections and contacts and family are a thing. My prob with too much detail in characters is I have had 4 characters die in a session and if each took me hours I would be pissed and might quit. I feel like in CoC7 as a keeper i might fear killing a character more than older versions. CoC7 is pulpier than CoC2 without pulp sourcebook. My players are borderline gangster-terrorists and dont need CoC7 Pulpbook advantages or luck systems. Some interesting tables like fam,ily secrets could enhance any mythos gaming if you like detailed characters.

Has good research and investigating rules with tables detailing time. A foreign exchange table for cash very handy. Repairing and inventing stuff. Detailed vehicle collisions for chases and fatigue. Fires, explosions, exploring areas, real poison, radiation and disease effects, lots of good physics type world stuff. Sanity stuff different to but interesting. Reasonably detailed combat with options.Great takes on mythos magic, spirits, spells, study of the occult. Good mishap tables and lots of spells have tables for extra effects. Game uses Essence points not magic points. Magic to turn others into monsters and strange magical gifts, pacts and more. Monsters feel less written in stone. Greater entities have wildly different cults and rumoured attributes giving you lots of option. Could be refreshing takes for players who know too much CoC lore. Random creatures and spirits because more monsters should be unique and strange. Lots of special and random powers for monsters too. Magic can taint you physically not just mentally.

Later sections have more history, npcs to use, earthly beasts, organisations, cults, responses from cults your fighting against. Tables of inventions, Miskatonic uni staff, notes on European noble titles, travels, city populations, recent war and exploration chronology, oddly there is a entry for rail times with insmouth crossed out crudely I guess is deliberate.

Great mythos flavour source book with lots of ideas and world info usable for your CoC games. A slow kick starter, pricey at first and possibly rpg pundits consulting roll may have harmed the books success with some ppl over him forever by then. If it was timely and beat CoC7 out it might have done better. Id still like to see some of the other KS stuff.

Raiders KS
353 backers pledged $28,221
digital eds were estimated due dec 2013
ppl still waiting as of 6 days ago for books
i did hear a creator was losing eyesight which sounds bad
some upset was for sale of drivethrough before they got copies
the project was very ambitious in scope and to outdo a existing product


3,668 backers pledged $561,836
digital eds were estimated due oct 2013 but arrived 2014 books out 2016
some cancelled extras effort made to compensate backers
Was very ambitious and timed with huge orient express box i was too poor for

I guess its a interesting study of KS struggles.

DND is not best game ever but it is so common it is a common language for gamers. Esperanto might be great but Im not going to quit English. In some ways releasing a cthulhu rpg possibly like the older version might have worked as CoC7 departs in many ways from all previous eds in design and rules. Im not a fan of all new rules or slower character gen but if I wanna run con games or try and build local scene because companies wont run demos in my current city I might have to learn CoC7. 7th ed p[roducts have been very good unlike late 6th ed ones. I can't see me using Raiders but it is inspiring, has great info and possible variant rules for my home game. I like major mythos powers have more info yet more nebulous and inconsistent. Some of the spell stuff is great. Raiders reads well and looks ok and one of fattest rpg books I have. It is a interesting curiosity, a valuable sourcebook and might surprise your cthulhu players and open scenario possibilities. Heck I prefer it to most other Cthulhu RPGs out there today.


  1. I've been looking at at Raiders as my next possible purchase; seems quite interesting. Thanks for the very thorough run down. And Happy Halloween!

  2. I like HighFell a lot too. I've pulled stuff from it for one of my own campaigns and I'll soon be running a Labyrinth Lord group through some of it. It's big advantage over Gillespie's other two mega-dungeons, which I also own, is that it's more portable and easier to use for one shots or shorter campaigns.

    1. i prefer other two but yes vol3 probably easier to plunder for dungeons


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