So, last week I saw where this had been released.
"Aw, Man! I'm between paychecks, made a Lulu order with my last one, spent the rest of my Mad Money on GM's Day and had to shell out about a Grand on unexpected expenses, last month. I'm waaayyy freakin' broke!"
Just how much domestic turmoil, would spending that $4.95 induce? Fortunately, I shall never know! Matt Finch sent me a review copy of the Core/Complete version of The Nameless City, quite possibly saving me from a rather uncomfortable conversation with the missus (whew!)
So, I opened up the PDF and what did I see? Serpent People, Lost Cities, Lovecraft, Pulp Fiction, Swords & Wizardry…
Is there an Old School rolling, Swords & Sorcery lovin' GM out there, with soul so cold, that this doesn't hit where he or she lives?
As baddies go, Serpent People really turn my crank! The only form of Ancient Evil which might be cooler is a Toad God! It's really too close to call!
And look at that creative team - Alphonso Warden, Johnathan Bingham, Matt Finch…
Well, well, well! Those guys have never let me down!
So, excited as All Hell, I printed out a copy Saturday and took it to work with me, today! Lunch and break times, were spent exploring The Nameless City! Let's see what I discovered!
The Nameless City opens with "A Word from the Designer," followed by a brief Introduction. Our author relates where he's going with his module and lists some of the writers who inspired his idea: H. P. Lovecraft, R. E. Howard, H. Rider Haggard, et al. He then speaks a little about the philosophy of Old School play and clues the GM in on the fact that he's not writing a railroad!
We learn that the adventure is written with 4 to 6 characters of 7th to 10th level in mind. Interestingly, the text here states that The Nameless City is an OSRIC and Swords & Wizardry adventure. A few more words of advice on how to approach running the module is then given. Lastly, we're informed that the module is loosely based on the H. P. Lovecraft tale of the same name. I don't recall ever reading that one, so I can't offer any insight, there.
We then get down to it! It's a site-based adventure, as you may have surmised. History, the current state of affairs, some ideas on getting the players to the site, etc., are given. Also, some introductory text "to read or paraphrase," to the characters. Text meant to be relayed to the characters is given in italics, throughout the module. I know some GM's like that sort of thing, while others don't. Here, the author sums up useful information, directions and measurements, etc., so GM's who prefer to speak their own mind, as it were, will still find these sections useful.
Allright! The characters will soon find themselves descending into an underground city! The full page map provided has a scale of 1 squ. = 50'. It's letter keyed and the text takes the GM through the keyed areas and sometimes into sub-areas, for which there are six additional, smaller maps, detailing these important areas, where the meat of the adventure takes place.
The maps are B&W and nicely done! They utilize cross-hatching to surround the areas utilized, instead of filling the whole rest of the page with blue or black or whatever. The cartographer isn't credited, but the maps look like Mr. Finch's work! Again, the maps are nicely done, well keyed, cleanly relating the information they're designed to relate. The overall design, accompanying text and fonts on the map pages and so forth, is handsome and pleasing to the eye.
Right of the bat, the players are going to meet with some tough monsters and nasty traps! They are indeed in the last refuge of the Serpent People and there's all sorts of creepy magic, eldritch horrors and dangerous obstacles to overcome, as they make their way through the city. There's more than just Serpent People, down there. There's more than just Spell Casting Serpent People, down there. The author's encounter design is very well done indeed and his use of monsters, grouping of same, dressing and arrangement of evocative details had me smiling to myself often, as I traveled through The Nameless City. Some of the traps are devious as hell!
Alphonso doesn't pull any punches and if your players aren't used to Old School Play, they're all going to Die! If you've properly prepared them, they've got a good chance, to not only survive, but score some cool treasure!
The author successfully captures the eerie ambiance of the Lost City, filled with dangers and fabulous wealth and turns it into a great Swords & Wizardry module! Complete with an Ancient Evil, best left undisturbed. If they have any business being in The Nameless City in the first place, they'll comprehend the available clues and deterrents and wisely leave well enough alone!
The text is two-columned, with a more stylized, rather cool-looking font used for section headers and the like. I noticed one minor editorial error. The end of the module, details new monsters and the whole thing ends with the map pages.
Mr. Bingham's has nine interior B&W illustrations, which I found quite enjoyable, though I wish the one on page 23 of a robed group of Serpent-People Clerics was a little larger. It's my favorite of the nine. And his cover is Sweet!
Dark and atmospheric, The Nameless City made me feel all warm and cozy (apparently, I'm a member of The Addams Family.) I was right! Messrs. Warden, Bingham and Finch did not let me down!
I recommend The Nameless City for your gaming collection! Great work gentlemen!