Monday, September 14, 2015

Review & Commentary Of The Beneath The Comet Adventure For The Astonishing Swordsmen & Sorcerers Of Hyperborea and Your Old School Campaigns

There are adventures that scream to be run and Beneath The Comet  is one of those, it packs a bit of everything in one pot but it makes the pot steaming and piping hot with Hyperborean sword and sorcery action set against the celestial events of the adventure. Today we take a look into the background, setting, and much more with Beneath the Comet.

Grab The Adventure Right Over
Lately I've been quietly returning to the shores of Hyperborea with the Astonishing Swordsmen & Sorcerers of Hyperborea rpg system. After a long and highly successful Kickstarter the AS&SH adventure three pack produced three highly intiguing adventures to the AS&SH product line. Among those was the Beneath the Comet adventure by Ben Ball. This particular adventure adds in lots and lots of new details on the Hyperborea campaign setting that is essential to the world of AS&SH. Beneath The Comet features some wonderful illustrations by Johnathan Bingham, & Del Teigeler along with lots wonderful cartography by Ben Ball, Glynn Seal ( The front cover is evocative and well done by Peter Mullen. I went to Jeff Talanian and asked for all three adventures from the AS&SH adventure three pack Kickstarter.
Beneath The Comet was one adventure that jumped out at me and looked very interesting. I was not disappointed when I read it. The basic plot like goes some thing like this;For weeks the Comet has blazed in the sky above Hyperborea, inspiring widespread superstitious dread and fear of some star-borne contagion. Under the light of this harbinger from the Black Gulf, the PCs have come to Bogrest, following a magical treasure map that reveals great wealth buried in the Lonely Heath north of the village. Finding that treasure will be no simple matter, however, for Hyperborea is a weirder and deadlier place than ever beneath the Comet. It is suggested that if this adventure is used with the Hyperborea setting, the default starting point is the small village of Bogrest in the wild depths of the Gal Hills. With some modification, Beneath the Comet could be set in any rustic portion of Hyperborea or any old school campaign. As an adventure set  in Hyperborea designed for from four to six characters of 6th through 9th level , it lives up to the challenge. Seriously this is one adventure that in forty eight pages manages to massively expand and fill in the world setting of Hyperborea while giving the DM and players a damn good rip roaring adventure featuring lots of pulpy sword and sorcery action set against the weird vibe of the comet that races over head. Plenty of the challenges and adventure setting encounters are placed against the backdrop of Hyperborea itself, here the land is as much a character as the adventure itself.
There were two things that sprang to mind reading the Beneath The Comet adventure, one how much detail this adventure packs, and how much Hyperborea has expanded in only forty eight pages. There is lots of adventure encounter action but its very well balance across the board enabling the DM to mix and match some elements. This adventure places the PC's center stage of the events of the adventure and brings lots of elements right into the adventure spot light. Some of the encounters are down right dangerous but never frivolously deadly. Beneath The Comet moves things long as adventure events are put together quite nicely. There are elements of dungeon crawling, investigation, a bit of plundering, and more. This adventure is quite unlike the Rats In The Walls AS&SH adventure by  Jeffrey Talanian this adventure has a totally different set of parameters; on the hand it serves a solid old school adventure fleshing out its adventure locations, setting information,adventure encounters, and generally fulfilling quite nicely all of its intended adventure goals. But on the other hand Beneath The Comet also fulfills something else quite nicely it serves as a mini source book fleshing out all of the little details and campaign bits of the Hyperborean setting. I've been quickly scanning the other adventures in the series and whoa all of them pack in a ton of details and bits about the Hyperborean setting.
Beneath the Comet does another trick that original Dungeons and Dragons module series adventures also did at the same time it fleshes out details it also gap fills all of the little bits and pieces about its corner of the Hyperborean setting and world through its adventure encounters, NPC portraits, background details, and game elements. Needless to say this makes Beneath the Comet essential to the Astonishing Swordsmen and Sorcerers dungeon master and even perhaps players. It also fleshes out the world of Hyperborea even more making it a living and breathing weird sword and sorcery adventure location, believe me it lives up to the weird end quite nicely. Does the pdf live up to the price tag? Umm perhaps but personally I'd go for a print copy when I get the chance. All in all Beneath the Comet is very,very, well done.

How To Use Beneath The Comet For
Your Old School Campaigns
Beneath The Comet offers lots of unique opportunities for a Dungeon Master to cause mayhem for their players. There's lots of adventure bits that can hook and dial in a party to the Hyperborean setting.

Beneath The Comet has many of the old school weird tales style elements to it including bits of science fantasy and solid adventure but in this adventure the focus is on the world of Hyperborea and a particular corner of the world if the DM wants it too. That being said the weird science fantasy elements don't over whelm the entire adventure but can be used as a basis for a cross over adventure for a party of OD&D, Sword & Wizardry party or your adventurers. With the focus here on Hyperborea DM have an opportunity to carve out their own niche of this rich world and make it their own. Throughout Beneath the Comet there are several places where a DM could hook a party into and pull them into this world. As I said there's lots of adventure elements from NPC's to encounters to gather the Hyperborean bits to flesh out.
Because of the encounter balance and NPC conflict there are parts of this adventure that feature plenty of old school ultra violence and death does await stupid PC's and there are several monsters that are more then capable of taking off the fools heads if they roll lousy but there's also some neat bits that make this adventure work on many levels.
Because of the local focus for Beneath The Comet there are a few limited ways that this adventure could be used to plug in a Lamentations of the Flame Princess party but DM's might want to restrict the gun powder issue. Also Dark Albion parties might make a flying visit but this would  allow the expansionist adventuring parties of Dark Albion to see a rich and all to exploitable world for their Albion empire. This is a perfect way for the  setting up  for a rich campaign of warfare and future conflict as the two worlds cross over an all too common missed opportunity. Planar cross over is easily one of my top five ways of bringing conflicting worlds into focus with one another like ships passing in the night. It allows a DM to introduce world settings together and then pull them apart by giving a limited time window for the settings to co exist. Because of the celestial events of Beneath the Comet its the perfect opportunity to introduce just this sort of technique to bring home the weird and dangerous nature of the Hyperborean setting. All in all Beneath The Comet is a really solid adventure with plenty of thrills and chills to grab your adventuring parties kicking and screaming into the weird darkness of Hyperborea!

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