This product establishes a new campaign location for the Scarred Lands (the continent of Fenrilik), expanding from old material and connecting some of the dots from this material. It is aimed at two different targets: a) Game Masters (and players), so that they can jump right into the setting for their own games and b) community content creators so that they can write their own product set on that continent for the Slarecian Vault. This dual nature (and the limited page count) has lead to some decisions from the writers to lean on one side or the other depending on the section of the book.
Chapter 1 is a kind of gazeeter, presenting some elements of day-to-day life in Fenrilik (notably environmental hazards and the major settlements on the continent). It opens with in-game description of an explorer who comes to Fenrilik for the first time, which is quite relatable as I imagine most Scarred Lands games never set foot on that continent. NB: the font for the sidebars has been changed (for the best) from the other Scarred Lands products, which is a good idea since it was difficult to read in other books... I'm looking at you, Yugman's Guide to Ghelspad!
- Some informations I feel is missing from this chapter: a) a list of geographical landmarks could have been nice, for example the names of forests, montains, plains, etc. "The forest west of the Tobor gorge" doesn't have the same ring to it as "The Forest Of The Coolest Name Ever" On one hand it provides community content creators (and GMs) room to name these whichever way they want, on the other this may run the risk of having the same location named dfferently by different authors, which could be confusing for readers. b) there is no indication of how many people live among the nomadic tribes. No examples of nomadic tribes are given (a nice way to invite GMs and community content creators to create their own stuff), which may be disappointing for GMs who may need one or two right away for their games.
Chapter 2 and 3 cover the city of Kovokimru and the Tobor Gorge next to it as read-to-play locations for GMs to start their games. There are descriptions of main buildings, characters, local holidays, story hooks (includes a dragon for those who really want to use a dragon). This section is really useful, though maybe the description of one of the accomodations could have been cut short to allow for more space in Chapter 1.
Chapter 4 is aimed at players and presents 3 new character races + 4 new subclasses, which are all enticing to play. Two of the races are new and provide a very nice dynamic to the setting, which is very well highlighted by the authors throughout the book. It hints as a cultural schock (if not war) between two populations who don't know anything about the other, which sparks some great campaign ideas. The subclasses are really evocative and fit very well into the setting (some of them could even be present in other parts of the Scarred Lands). The races and subclasses are great. There are new spells as well, which are conversion from their 3E counterpart, and I feel that the book did not need some of them. Empathy of the faceless one seems overpowered (no damage cap and no concentration required, and should probably deal psychic damage), iceshard description seems incomplete (when can the player use the ranged attack) and seems underwhelming when cast at 2nd level but really grows in power at higher level), rupture sounds like it should have been an option for higher level casting of fracture instead. The feat seems dangerously powerful given that heat metal is a rather powerful 2nd level spell in itself... A table of languages from Fenrilik and the other Scarred Lands languages they relate to could have been useful. This information is somewhat disseminated throughout the book but the reader needs to search for it... I guess it was left over for lack of space.
Chapter 5 presents new monsters including some indication on how to adjust existing monsters to "reskin" them for Fenrilik (which I found very nice). The skerrai seem nasty (though tbh there seems to be some weird things going on in their stat blocks, like the +7 to hit for the immature skerrai, which is incredibly high for a CR1 creature), notably due to their ability to stun PCs for extended period of time, without the possibility to make new saving throws after a failed save (which seems weird). Also, it seems like the authors tried to adjust these monsters so that their CR matches the original CRs, which makes for really high challenge monsters. The 5E mosnters (from the Monster Manual) generally have lower CRs from their 3.X counterpart, so I think it would have made sense to have lowered the CRs here a tiny bit as well. The section ends with two NPC stat blocks which is really useful!
Chapter 6 is an introductory adventure and leverages the cultural divide between the surface of Fenrilik and the underground. It seems to assume that the PCs have good intentions toward the people below, but this adventure may take a very different turn if the players are not as well behaved. It ties up nicely the different elements presented in this book and makes a perfect introduction to the setting.
- Interesting new setting for the Scarred Lands, ready to play for GMs and ready to develop for community content creator
- Very cool races and subclasses which fit very well into the setting (I want to play them!)
- Consistent setting with the different sections working well with one another
- Maybe some of the spells, feats and monsters could use some attention
NB: The PoD version is nice and seems to hold well at first glance, no complaints about the printer here