Review: In the Realm of the Elm King

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Reading through the most recent Hackmaster Basic adventure module, In the Realm of the Elm King, was yet another exercise in overinflated expectations.  In some ways it was similar to my first viewing of the League of Extraordinary Gentlemen where my expectations, based on the Comic which is awesome, were far too high to be realistic.

The reality of the situtation is that, though the adventure is the first HMB adventure to cost money (White Palette Ivory Horns was the first published HMB adventure, but is it free.), it was only released in PDF.  If Kenzer had more faith that Elm King was going to be an instant classic I'm sure they would have opted to distribute it traditionally.

Just so we are clear this isn't a review where I slam Elm King, it isn't a bad adventure.  My expectations, probably because this is the first HMB module that I have purchased, was that it would be amazing, which it isn't.  It is nothing more or less than a pretty standard low level adventure.  It won't be the most memorable your group will run, but it appears to be a well balanced that will present your players with a challenge and save you a lot of time.  Whenever running a new system for the first time it is often difficult to gage what will be a challenge for a group vs what will be overwhelming.  If you are new to Hackmaster Basic you could do a lot worse than to run Elm King for your players and use it to get a feel for the system prior to creating your own adventures.


(Spoiler Alert)

The Basic plot of the adventure is that children have recently gone missing from a small rural village.  There are several hooks to draw  PCs into the small village of Has where the disappearances have taken place.  Hooks to connect Elm King from Ivory Horns and even the yet to come Frandor's Keep are among those provided.  It turns out the disappearances are caused by a local Bugbear who is offering the kidnapped children to his mate in order to produce an heir.  The Bugbear is the central villain the main enemy that the group must battle at the end.  Other enemies include spiders, the Kobolds who serve the Bugbear, and the Bugbears mate who is featured in an optional encounter.  The adventure includes a series of random encounters with things like Bears, giant ticks, and giant centipedes.  Major NPCs in the adventure include the town's blacksmith who sort of the unofficial leader of the town, the Innkeep and his Wife, and the local "Witch" who is really a crazy old woman who once tried to raise the Bugbear when he was a babe.

The town of Has has a very serviceable map and is well fleshed out.  There is plenty of combat with a variety of enemies.  For those who enjoy puzzles there is one in this adventure, albeit not a very good one.  Obviously there is also a mystery element to the adventure as none of the townsfolk know what is causing the children to go missing. 

Again this isn't destined to be a classic, for that you'll have to wait for Frandor's Keep, but it is certainly a serviceable adventure.  Just keep your expectations in line with reality.

This entry was posted on Saturday, January 23, 2010 at Saturday, January 23, 2010 and is filed under , , . You can follow any responses to this entry through the comments feed .

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