Adventure Review: The Breaking of Forstor Nagar by Ben McFarland from Rite Publishing

What’s the scariest thing you can think of? As gamers and fans of the popular media (books, television, movies) I feel that we often get a bit immune to the usual creatures and monsters that populate these bastions of imagination. But for me, one thing never ceases to scare the crap out of me… the ability we have as a species to do horrible things to one another. And no, I’m not talking about wars here or even your usual criminal behavior. I’m talking about raw violence for the sake of it. Domestic violence. Religious extremism. Torture. Cannibalism. And the people who enjoy these things.

In most of the tabletop roleplaying games I’ve played, the villains are more like those in James Bond books and movies than the ones in the Donner Party or the Reavers from Firefly. When everyone you’re fighting has a clear objective for power, money, or fame and you can tell the good guys from the bad guys pretty easily, it boils down to the old “White Hats” vs. the “Black Hats” philosophy in westerns. You may not like them, but you understood where they were coming from. It’s the Reaver mindset that’s tough to comprehend. And that’s enough to make them truly scary.

The Breaking of Forstor Nagar introduces the concept of “The Hungering Legion” which is the closest I can remember ever seeing to this raw, violent, irredeemable kind of violence. And as such, if you’re looking for a Halloween story to break all sorts of taboos and scare the crud out of your players, this would be the perfect choice. Cannibalism? Check. Cruelty and violence? Check. Siege weapons? Check. And I’m sure there are more things you can check of your list before you’re done reading the first few pages…

An adventure for 8th level heroes written by Ben McFarland for the Pathfinder RPG and published by Rite Publishing, The Breaking of Forstor Nagar boils down to a simple escort mission at its core. The PCs are seeking a NPC within the icy city of Forstor Nagar. Unfortunately, the city is under siege by an overwhelming force from The Hungering Legion. So to see the NPC, the PCs must find a way inside the walls, find the NPC, and then find a way out again. Note however that the Legion isn’t known for its compassion and would rather kill and eat you than talk to you, so negotiating really isn’t an option.

As McFarland says in the introduction about the Hungering Legion… “Utterly despicable and completely irredeemable, the Hungering Legion leaves a swath of bloody destruction and cracked, bleached bones in its wake, inspiring terror wherever it raises its gory, ragged standard.” Not the kind of folks you want to invite home for dinner unless you want your family to become the main course.

The scary part is that the members of the Legion willingly go through the process to become full depraved members, gaining the ability to devour flesh and gain a temporary boost to hit points and speed. These are living, breathing human beings who have chosen to become monsters. They retain whatever intelligence and knowledge they had before, making them 1,000 times more dangerous than an army of zombies. Just don’t get in the way of their next meal… or you might be that meal.

Like Caladon Falls from Savage Mojo, this adventure focuses on the inevitable downfall of a place. The PCs can’t stop the city from being destroyed, but they can try to save whomever they can from the Legion’s evil clutches. And perhaps they can figure out what the Legion is after and keep them from achieving their goals. But they must survive several harrowing encounters to even have a chance of success. This will be neither easy or quick, but it is definitely action packed.

And unlike Caladon Falls, the way The Breaking of Forstor Nagar is constructed leaves plenty of adventure hooks and possibilities for GMs to drop this into just about any existing campaign or setting. There are plenty of ways the adventure could be tweaked to make it work into just about any Pathfinder or D&D 3.5e campaign easily. If that’s not enough to tempt you to torture some players, McFarland introduces a combination of traditional combat encounters and skill challenges to enable players to achieve their objectives in a variety of ways. The sheer number of options for GMs and players to explore should make this quite a unique experience for gamers expecting to be railroaded through the adventure.

But wait, there’s more! Both the print and the PDF versions come with files for Maptool, so you can use Jonathan Roberts’ gorgeous maps to run the adventure electronically. Full color maps, monster and NPC macros, art, and rules hyperlinks are all included for your use, which saves you a ton of time if you’re planning on running this in an online campaign or at your table on a computer.

The Breaking of Forstor Nagar is a gorgeous 48 page book, with great art (cover by Tyler Bartley; interior art by Bartley, James ‘DevinNight’ Hazelett, and Jonathan Roberts), maps (Roberts), and layout (Roberts again). And it’s not light on content with tons of great description for each encounter, plot hooks, motivations, options, NPC and monster stats.

Ultimately if you’re looking for a high-level adventure to test your PCs’ mettle, I heartily recommend The Breaking of Forstor Nagar. Check out the PDF version (with the Maptool files) at DrivethruRPG/RPGNow or pick up the print/PDF/Maptool bundle from the Rite Publishing site.

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