Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Review & Commentary On The S'rulyan Vault From Kort'thalis Publishing For Your Old School Campaigns

So last night I received my copy of  The S'rulyan Vault  From Kort'thalis Publishing from the pen of Venger Satanis. It reminds me of some of the Eighties products that I've seen over the years. This is a third tier OSR product and it hearkens back to some of the dungeon adventure  kits that have come out over the years with better production values, designs, and more. If you've got two or three hours before your players arrive to create your brad new old school dungeon that you've been promising all week, but work, real life, and more have gotten in the way but you want to run a bad ass dungeon then the The S'rulyan Vault is for you. This product works with just about any old school edition so using it with an old D&D edition or retroclone system of your choice would be a snap.


Here's the Kickstarter that kicked off and completed the original product.

So besides two old school style maps what exactly does  The S'rulyan Vault have to offer? Well, essentially its a dungeon kit built around the maps and offers an adventure setting that highlights the background, history, and D&D elements with a Lovecraftian twist in the  Kort'thalis Publishing style. But is it worth your time for the seven dollar price tag? I think so because of the fact that lots of folks are using tablets and other mobile tech to enhance their old school table top rpg experience. The S'rulyan Vault plugs into that and brings to the experience a bunch of interesting options for the dungeon master to pull from for their own unique take on the adventure. The tables, elements, bits and pieces within the Vault all pull from the adventure's history;"
For as long as anyone living can remember, the world was full of men and the darker, stranger forms of life remained at the farthest edges of it. But the scrolls contained within the many temples of Tyr’Urden tell us that this was not always so.   
Demonic things came in the night to feed upon mortal souls, ripping and tearing at humanity’s soft, exposed belly. Our people lived in fear. Like children, man was afraid of the dark and what lay beyond the walls of his cities.
Then, one day, a champion came. He slayed many of the evil ones, the creatures who looked like walking serpents. Eventually, his mighty deeds became so numerous that thousands followed him into battle against the forces of evil. Man had both the numbers and the will to push back against these malevolent beings until his cities and forests were relatively free of hell-spawn.
Snake-men were the most powerful humanoid creatures, as they knew the secrets of blackest sorcery, having made a pact with the Demon Lord known as S’rul. Under his satanic tutelage, the snake-men became powerful enough to slaughter the armies of mankind. Before long, the entire race of snake-men were known as the Sect of S’rulyan… (S’rulyan meaning the great and terrible wisdom of S’rul).
At the height of their serpentine reign, a subterranean domain was constructed on the outskirts of the human realm. It became an outpost from where the snake-men continually raided – taking weapons, gold, slaves, and sorcerous objects from man’s cities. This vault was the crowning glory of S’rul and his loathsome worshipers.
Just as the Sect of S’rulyan could see the extermination of man in sight, a large band of adventurers retrieved a lost relic - the Helm of Power, an artifact that siphons the magical energy from everything surrounding it… and gives that magic to the wearer. The Helm of Power protected the adventurers as they waded into the darkness of S’rul’s foul dungeon.
Only three heroes emerged from the S’rulyan Vault, victorious over the evil ones with their spiked armor covered in gore and shreds of serpent flesh. Alas, the Helm of Power was destroyed in the final battle against S’rul. Yet, the Demon Lord was also destroyed, and so the people rejoiced!
The three surviving heroes, Artello, Urden, and D’meskus, established themselves as Kings of the central territories. For decades they ruled and now their children’s children are crowned Kings and Queens of Razira.
One such present-day ruler is Queen Zinnia, an alluring but jealous and ill-advised woman. She reigns over the smallest realm with the greatest ambition for power. Queen Zinnia forced her royal wizard to search deep within the magical abyss where hideous horrors frolic and feed. Upon her instructions, the wizard awakened an entity strong enough to shatter her siblings’ kingdoms – the Demon Lord S’rul.
S’rul’s first order of business was to revive his slumbering legion of snake-men far below the S’rulyan Vault. Brought back to life, the walking serpents felt their sorcery invigorated as never before and concocted a spell that would mean sickness and death for thousands of men, women, and children.
Almost three-quarters of a century after S’rul’s original defeat, nary a snake-man has been seen upon the surface of Razira. Today is the 74th anniversary of the assault upon the S’rulyan Vault. The entire realm celebrates the snake-men’s defeat with feasting, dancing, and merriment. Unfortunately, such revelry was not to last.
At mid-day, the celebration ended with black skies, a broken blood-red moon, and some mysterious plague that immediately killed off a fifth of those living in Tyr’Urden, the largest kingdom and closest to the S’rulyan Vault.

King Urdenson’s seers know that S’rul and his snake-men slumber no more. The King decreed this a time of war, and those who return from the S’rulyan Vault with the Demon Lord’s severed head in hand shall share in the reward: one million pieces of gold… a King’s ransom, to be sure!"
The art and cartography by Glynn Seal, James V West, and Bojan Sucevic really does make The S'rulyan Vault as both a resource and a solid entrance onto the rpg market. This is a both a kid friendly and nasty adventure at the same time that will give players a run for their money.

The overall fun of this adventure makes me want to run it and delve into it. The nice part is the fact that you can essentially drop this product whole cloth right into the background of your campaign world and then back hinge it into place for a complete adventure location within your own world making it your own. So the DYI Dungeons and Dragons aspect of The S'rulyan Vault is both intact and magnified. This extends to the twenty four page pdf of tables and more. What's in the booklet? Well according to the drivethrurpg blurb;"

The PDF contains a short history of the region and dungeon, original artwork by Bojan Sucevic, and several random tables for making this dungeoncrawl easier to run and more interesting.  For instance, there's a d100 table describing things found when searching a room.  There's also a multi-table system for generating fortunes.  
Lastly, there's a custom, old school fantasy character sheet created by James V West."

All in all I do think its worth the download and your time to take a look into the The S'rulyan Vault  From Kort'thalis Publishing for both yourself and your players. I think that you will all have a great time and a unique experience with this homage to the old days of gaming. We can only hope that Venger Satanis and Kort'thalis Publishing continue down this path of old school fun and weirdness. Five out of five because for me it has everything I'm looking for in an old school product.

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