Friday, June 3, 2011

Tommy's Take on The Path of Kane


The Path of Kane is the newest release for the Savage World of Solomon Kane, one of the most impressive Savage Worlds books released thus far (indeed, one of the most impressive RPGs I have ever purchased.

Given my attempts at remaining as spoiler free as I can on adventures, this is gonna be a little different, since the entire thing is adventures. So be warned...there are spoilers below, or the whole thing would be one pointless, vague post.

WHAT YOU SHOULD KNOW: While the Savage World of Solomon Kane included a plot point campaign, as well as a slew of adventures, the Path of Kane is a 224 page tome of adventures that can be used alongside, or in lieu of, the adventures found in the Solomon Kane rulebook. You do need the Solomon Kane rulebook to play (note that the Kane book has all the Savage Worlds rules in it, so you can run the game off of that alone). The Path of Kane is available in PDF format for $24.99, and the print version will be running about $40.

The new book boasts the same impressive production values as the Solomon Kane core, and has 27 new adventures for Europe, 21 new adventures for Africa, 18 new adventures for the New World and 15 new adventures for Cathay and The Orient. Each adventure uses the assumed date of 1610, with the caveat that travel was a lot slower back then, so if you hew to realistic passage of time, you may wish to adjust things, as your game could easily run decades. Another nice bit are Adventure Links and Rumors sidebars. Adventure Links are helpful links between certain adventures, so that nothing exists in a vacuum, while rumors can be dropped into play, setting the PCs on the path of other adventures.

In Europe, the PCs can encounter the Ghost of Guy Fawkes, as well as Excalibur (with a gruesome twist). The Holy Roman Empire hosts rumors of a faith healrer, while a visit to Russia leads to involvement in the middle of a fight between a witch and a vampire (featuring a famous name from folklore).

Africa hosts a necromancer, a mummy and a contingent of ancient roman legionnaires among others.

The New World features mirror matches, wendigos, vampires and even some (relatively) mundane conflicts.

Cathay and the Orient includes scorpion men and rakshasas among their adventures.

Each section also includes more relevant background information than was found in the Solomon Kane rulebook, such as local superstitions and the like (knowledge of which can be a huge gamechanger, as Solomon Kane found out himself more than once).

Artifacts are also peppered about the book, some of which the PCs don't actually have a chance of gaining (unless the GM is suddenly very generous) and some of which they do. The book is also extensively indexed (in addition to the PDF bookmarks).

Each adventure is about "Savage Tale" length...in my experience, enough for approximately 3-4 hours of gameplay in most circumstances.

WHAT WORKS: There is some very good stuff in here, with many adventures drawing on existing mythology and events for maximum effect, and seeing the "Links" and "Rumors" sidebars makes one kinda sad this wasn't thought of when the first book was released. The production values are gorgeous, though the PDF layers can be stripped away, allowing for more funtionality (and cheaper printing, if you so desire).

WHAT DOESN'T WORK: There were at least a few art pieces recycled from the first book, and one might have hoped that the lesser developed areas from the first book would have gotten more love than Europe this go around.

CONCLUSION: Minor quibbles. If you're a Solomon Kane GM and you don't want to sit and concoct a bunch of adventures, this thing is a Godsend. I tend to really enjoy taking canned adventures and dropping my PCs into the middle of them and seeing what happens, so I obviously give this a thumbs up, plus more Solomon Kane support is always a good thing. If you strung ALL the Solomon Kane stuff together into one mega campaign...wow. The book has a great pedigree, developed by John "Night Train" Goff and co-written by Tony Lee (among others). Even if you're not a huge fan of using adventures "straight", there are enough NPCs, artifacts and ideas that it's probably worth at least getting the PDF and mining away.