Thursday, January 24, 2019

LET'S TAKE A LOOK: Echoes From Fomalhaut Issue #1

Echoes From Fomalhaut Issue #1: Beware the Beekeeper!

By: Gabor Lux

Illustrated: Denis McCarthy, Stefan Poag, Gabor Lux, and past masters (whatever that means?)

*Disclaimer* - I was not given a copy, nor requested by the author to review this product. I do this on my own accord without any form of sponsorship, purely to shed light on RPG resources I find interesting. My copy is a first printing, that is signed and was sent with a custom hand-drawn map from Gabor.



INTRODUCTION:

This is the first installment of a tabletop roleplaying fantasy zine series titled, Echoes From Fomalhaut by Gabor Lux. Gabor has much experience writing other zines, but had never published anything himself. Much of the content within is from his own home games and campaigns, "...with an emphasis on adventures and interesting locations." -Gabor Lux 2018
Fomalhaut is the campaign world where this all takes place, I'm guessing.
Gabor also wishes to bring more Hungarian creators to the forefront, as this zine is a part of the E. M. D. T. First Hungarian D20 Society. In fact, some of the rules showcased here are excerpted from the Hungarian RPG, Catacombs & Companies.



CONTENTS:

First off, after a quick intro page where Gabor provides an introduction to the reader, we get a random table called Bazaar of the Bizarre. This table is a d100 table where you can generate the nature(s), persona, what they're selling, and complication(s).
Here's an example: An intoxicated vagrant is selling mascara from a demon dimension
I honestly found this table to be quite entertaining, and useful. There are tons and tons of possibilities for really unique and interesting merchants. Very well done.

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Afterwards, there is a small random table where you can generate what goods a specific caravan is carrying. Anything from artwork, to spices, to weapons. There is a brief paragraph going over what consists of a caravan, such as how many guards to expect, how many camels, and how many travelers. A short little blurb that I didn't quite think was useful enough to justify putting it in. I think most GMs would be able to think of what a caravan is carrying on the fly, as opposed to rolling on this chart, or would have already thought about it beforehand.

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Now comes to the real beef of this zine. The premier adventure. Beware the Beekeeper! For characters level 2 to 4. The author assumes players will be interested, since those that have claimed to delve within the caverns come out rich. There are two levels to the Singing Caverns.

The Good:

  • The maps are generally easy to follow. Everything is labeled, and the sketchy-quality is something I enjoyed since it seemed a bit more personal in style. 
  • The cave system is pretty lengthy, with plenty of different encounters and a variety of areas. The Door of Faces, Grol's Pipes and the Cavern of the great tree stand out to me.
  • There are a variety of different NPCs to customize, found throughout the caverns. 
  • The gauntlets of Arnold Schwarzenogre
  • Assortment of creatures/monsters
  • Assortment of various items magical and not
The Meh: 
  • The NPCs provided are bland, including the namesake of the adventure, the beekeeper. No real tangible background is provided for any of them. The beekeeper, Hellona, and Rothald's Roughnecks are important NPCs that seemed either out of place, or completely sidelined. It definitely leaves more for you to customize, but I like a bit more information. (Not to mention there's another hermit down in the caverns, who had a bit more physical flair to him.)
  • It's described as a relatively high traffic area (at least some of the areas) but there is an immediate tripwire trap, where rocks fall on characters. This seems a bit odd, because I don't understand why there would be such a deceptive trap on the way to a high traffic area right at the beginning of the caverns. 
Overall (Beware the Beekeeper!): I liked more about it than I disliked. And my only gripe about it, is the serious lack of any information. This provides a more blank canvas, so that may be more of a boon for yourself, but it was not for me. A good adventure, to be sure.

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After the adventure comes a couple pages featuring custom Philtres and Dusts. I was really happy with this section. There is a ton of flavor describing each one, and they can be brutal. Some cause such excruciating pain to corpses, that the spirit may answer any question you present because of the pain. Another presents a dust when mixed with a small amount of spit, creates an entire skin of fresh water. These are all very neat and useful.

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More than halfway through the zine, we are given a location called the Red Mound. A rock as red as the surrounding lands, spearing 300 feet above the ground. The only sign of life are the giant beetles an giant scorpions that come out to feed at night. It is said to be the resting place of a great hero of old, and revered by the red men, who are not given much information, but it is known that they will kill anyone who sets foot on the Mound. 
There is an encounter here I won't spoil. but it is very cool. Another thing that is of note is an item you can acquire here, called the Thrice-Accursed Sword, and it is a powerful sword that literally has 3 curses. A very cool item that will undoubtedly make its way into my game.

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On page 27, there are rules for finding retainers and their morale. A simple tool to use if you're not familiar with the concept. This section is by Istvan Boldog-Bernad and Sandor Gebei. 

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To close out the first issue of EfF, is another adventure titled, The Mysterious Manor. This is designed for characters between levels 2 to 4. There are three levels to the manor; the ground floor, the upper floors and the cellar.

A manor a ways from the coast is host to a pirate captain named Saydir the Kassadian, who has hired a host of goblins, orcs, and ogres to keep watch over the grounds. 
Essentially, this is a haunted manor, complete with moving eyes in a portrait, Scooby-Doo style.
Players come to the manor is whichever way they choose. The orcs and goblins are not very loyal to the pirate, so they can be bribed in exchange for free exploration of the manor and ground as long as they don't enter the upper floors where they reside. After exploring the manor, they are bound to find Felinor Bonifaces who is haunting the manor. He pleads for the characters to save him in the cellar.

This adventure has some interesting elements to it, for sure. This is also pretty deadly, since there are 30 or so goblins alone, let alone orcs, ogres and hellhounds. Not to mention undead feature heavily as well, with countless zombies and several skeletons. So players will have to be very cautious not to anger the host, while they attempt to explore every aspect of the manor to get all the flavor clues to what's going on around here. 
The maps are not so good this time around. I found these ones to be much harder to follow, and are quite sloppy. 
There are plentiful problems to solve, all with valuable rewards for their *successful* efforts. I use the term successful heavily, because there are some nasty events that can seriously hurt the characters in more ways than one, as well as at least one save or die scenario, so be aware of that. 

Overall, this is a fun location with a story that can be altered to fit your campaign. The encounters within are fun and a nice change from plain hack n slash tactics. Plus, a funhouse haunted manor should always find room in any decent campaign, as a nice change of pace. 



MISCELLANEOUS NOTES: 

The art within I enjoyed as well. Most all of the illustrations do a great job sparking the imagination in a way to really bring the content to life. Aside from a few of the maps, the art is very well done. 

The paper quality is good, and had no qualms with it. My copy also doesn't lay completely flat on the table, which is not a deal breaker for me, but I figured I'd mention it. 

CONCLUSION:

Echoes From Fomalhaut has a lot to offer those ready to delve into its fun, and unique content. Multiple adventures with a surprising amount of care and consideration put into them, as well as useful tables and great art, this zine rolled a natural 20 for sure. I thought this to be a great first installment to a successful zine. I am looking forward to getting my hands on the next issues, and will be definitely be reviewing them in the future. 


Look HERE if you wanna check out more from Gabor!