Adventure Review: Revelry in Torth

Revelry in Torth is a campaign sourcebook and adventure written for the OSR that purports to also be compatible with D&D 5E. It evokes the Sword & Sorcery works of Howard, Leiber and Vance, and is set in a fallen world, one that once had high levels of magic and technology. The old civilisations are gone and adventurers seek treasures in the ruins that remain while dealing with the petty city-states that have arisen. Most curious of all: there is no sun, but seven moons shine in the night sky. Powerful engines work beneath the earth, keeping the planet habitable. There are some really good hooks here for games. The book is written so that characters could either come from Torth, or be visitors from another world.

It’s an astonishing book. There are many problems with it, but it’s bursting with evocative ideas. The first half of the book contains background information on the world and the city of Aryd’s End. The second half of the book contains a series of encounters, which sort of make up an adventure, or at least the starting points of several adventures.

The majority of the encounters take place during the Festival of Masks, an ancient festival still observed by the inhabitants of the city. The encounters give players an impression of the city; the merchants, rogues, revellers, mystics and nobles who wander its streets. Some of the encounters are linked, providing some structure, while others are stand-alone and merely evoke the setting.

It’s noted that the adventure is for novice adventurers, although there are monsters here that could be deadly to a low-level party. It’s a bit hard to tell, because the monster statistics are minimal (and don’t fit well with most versions of D&D). For instance, Ixarquath: HD: 8 HP: 47 AC: 14 [5] Attack Bonus: +6 Damage: 3d6 (bite). Where the attack bonus comes from I have no idea; if there’s a scale, it’s not consistent between monsters.

Two new classes, the Shadow Priest and the Wandering Minstrel, are presented in this book. As with all this book’s rules elements, they’re odd. The Shadow Priest lists no advancement tables. Instead, you get the weapons and armour they can use and ten powers, one per level, that they gain. The Wandering Minstrel at least says it uses the thief progression for XP and attack bonuses. The balance of the powers is unusual – the Shadow Gaze power, for instance, is a 5th level power that can destroy an opponent by turning them into shadow (save negates), although the opponent can be restored by the same or a different Shadow Priest, while at 8th level he can create a lightless area of 30’x30’…

There are a few new magic items, of which a couple are mechanically interesting and a few more have good descriptive text, and likewise there are a few interesting spells, one of which is one of the most badly balanced but scarily cool spells I’ve seen: a 4th level spell which summons a strange creature made of many eyes that drags all who see it (save the caster and those who make saving throws) back to its home plane. Balanced? Not so much. Fun? Yes!

The artwork is generally quite good, and the maps are excellently realised, although a map of Aryd’s End and the surrounding wilderness would have been very helpful. The book begins with a one-page story which is badly written. The book doesn’t really read that well.

Mechanically, the book is a mess. There are a lot of encounters or descriptions that need a lot more work, requiring both better editing and an expansion of what’s there. Some of the sections have a good idea that is insufficiently developed. And if you’re looking for mechanics compatible with 5E? Forget it. Despite all of the book’s problems, there are great ideas here. It’s unlikely anyone will (or could) use the book as is, but as a source of inspiration? That it can do. At $10 for about 40 pages, Revelry in Torth is quite expensive, but fans of this style of setting may well find it worthwhile.

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