Tabletop Review: Teeth of the Storm (Pathfinder)

Teeth of the Storm
Publisher: Run Amok Games
Page Count: 38
Cost: $9.99 (Print)/$5.99 (PDF)
Release Date: 08/03/2012
Get it Here: DriveThruRPG.Com

I don’t really play or pick up a lot of Pathfinder products, but Teeth of the Storm intrigued me. Ravenloft was always my favorite setting for Dungeons & Dragons and since Wizards of the Coast has done nothing with the franchise save turn it into a board game, I pick up the few things Gothic-Fantasy items published in hopes that it recaptures some of that 90s magic. So far, all I’ve really found are the #30 Haunts series that Rite Publishing puts out. Still, I needed something to hold me over until Shadows of Esteren came out, and Teeth of the Storm looked like it would fit the bill. The end result was a very well written adventure that did indeed feel like it was ripped from the era of Second Edition Advanced Dungeons & Dragons, albeit with a pretty punishing difficulty level. Although there aren’t a lot of monsters in the adventure, Teeth of the Storm‘s two big encounters are close to having constant one hit kills, one of which (a troll) neither fits the classic horror genre nor is an appropriate encounter for Level 1 characters. Still, the end result is a very memorable adventure and should set the tone wonderfully as the first adventure in a gothic-horror fantasy campaign for your Pathfinder playing pals.

The story starts off with the characters encountering a smashed carriage. There is only one survivor – the daughter of a wealthy merchant. As the players attempt to help her, the skeletons of the ravaged corpses tear forth from their once fleshy forms and begin to attack! That’s a pretty dramatic way to kick off an adventure, don’t you think? From there, the PCs discover the terrible curse of the ancient Klaustad family and are enlisted by the clan patriarch to dispatch the horror plaguing the countryside. Thrown in a troll with severe OCD stalking someone affiliated with the party and the characters have a two very touch opponents to deal with – especially since they are only first level in this adventure. Yes, you’re dealing with a troll and a creature with energy drain (possibly at the same time for an unlucky or slow witted group) which equals insta-death if the slightest blow is hit. Thankfully, the adventure does provide ways to cushion the mortality rate if needed, but at the same time, it also offers ways to dramatically increase it if you feel like being an extra cruel GM.

The adventure unfolds over eight acts, and seven of the eight are very well done, with pacing akin to what you would expect from a horror series or Hammer film like Captain Kronos. The only black mark on the adventure is the fifth act, and it’s a pretty big stinker. It’s this weird race thing where the players have to both outrun and outwit the very angry troll chasing them. It’s not very well laid out in the adventure, and in actual practice, it just doesn’t flow at all. It grinds the adventure to a halt and you end up roll-playing instead of role-playing. I thought it was terrible and my advice would be to chuck out this act entirely. Expurgate it like a Gannet from Olsen’s Standard Book of British Birds if you will.

Besides the adventure itself, Teeth of the Storm comes with five pregenerated characters and several maps to help enhance the overall experience. I’m not really a fan of pregens, but this is a good idea, as you can then use the adventure as a one-shot to test your gaming group and see if this is the sort of affair they’d like to see a whole campaign built around. The adventure also sports some really nice artwork. The character portraits for each NPC (and pregen) are well done, although the cover is a bit too cartoony for the seriousness of the adventure. I felt like the thing on the cover was about to go, “GARFIELD!!!!!”

Overall, Teeth of the Storm is an excellent adventure across the board. You’ll want to make sure whoever is running it, as well as the players, are looking for a more Gothic-oriented campaign though. Something like this doesn’t work as a one-off, especially if you play to have more fantastical than folkloric creatures doing battle with the team’s PCs. It’s also very much an adventure built on ambiance rather than combat or dungeon crawling, so if most of your friends just want to hack and slash their way through an adventure, this probably isn’t the best choice for them, as they will all die horribly. I personally found it to be a well told and gripping experience, and it was a fine substitute for the Ravenloft campaign setting. I’m definitely going to keep Run Amok Games on my radar thanks to Teeth of the Storm. Who knows? If they do enough of these, I might have the perfect Ravenloft substitute after all! With a price tag of only $5.99 for the electronic version, this is definitely a great way to see if you (and your friends) would enjoy a gothic-horror campaign that doesn’t involve a White Wolf system. This is one of the better Pathfinder adventures I’ve seen this year, and again, I’m hoping to see Run Amok continue making these types of adventures, as there is definitely a market for them.

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