Wednesday, February 19, 2020

Tommy's Take on 50 Fathoms: Fire & Earth

Last week, in my 50 Fathoms review, I mentioned that there was a new release: 50 Fathoms: Fire & Earth. So this is my review of that adventure.

DISCLAIMER: Pinnacle did contact me about reviewing this book, and they did provide a comp copy. As noted last week, I have freelanced for Pinnacle in years past. This review does contain an affiliate link to DriveThruRPG, which can provide me with a portion of your purchase in store credit, which is then used to buy more RPG books and feed my addiction.


  • Written for Savage Worlds Adventure Edition (also known as SWADE).
  • Takes places after the 50 Fathoms Plot Point Campaign, but can be inserted into the middle of it with a little bit of reworking.
  • 32 pages (including covers) and full color.
  • Fire & Earth is $7.99 in PDF and $14.99 in print.
  • By its nature, this review is going to have a some spoilers in it, hard to review an adventure without getting into some of them. That said, this portion will be pretty spoiler free.
  • Fire & Earth is meant to be played after the completion of the original Plot Point Campaign against the Sea Hags.
  • The main conflict is rooted in the history of the setting, as the kehana - who once slaughtered the doreen en masse - are in full flight from their homes in the Kehana Flumes after a massive spike in volcanic activity.
  • This puts the Spanish port of Marsales under duress as the refugees mount.
  • Numerous hooks are placed to lead the crew to investigate the goings on at Kehana Flumes.
  • Upon traveling to the Flumes, the crew learns that there is a lot more going on than just volcanic activity.
  • The crew meet the sources of the trouble at the Sickle Islands.
  • Not only do many of the scenarios have multiple ways they can be completed - which impacts the campaign going forwards - but the outcomes of some of the Savage Tales from the original Plot Point Campaign ALSO impact aspects of this campaign.
  • I was REALLY impressed with the layout of the adventure. I loved the various points in which the crew's actions not only impacted the adventure, but how earlier Savage Tales were taken into account (sometimes only in the matter of how rewards are doled out, but there's at least one slightly more crucial instance of history affecting the outcome of an encounter).
  • Again, a good variety of encounters, not only in the types of enemies faced, but in the tasks needing accomplished.
  • The adventure takes literally my least favorite part of 50 Fathoms (the races) and shines a light on the conflict between two of them that feels interesting and morally complicated...and a little bit topical, actually.
  • Easily lives up the reputation of the original, and the "mini"-PPC is executed better than some (not all) of the bigger ones.
And now for spoilers.

For real.

So if you don't want spoilers, go away. I have plenty of other reviews you can read.

for seriously. And if you're a player in this? Really don't read it. It's a crappy move, and it's just going to ruin enjoyment for everyone. So don't be that guy.

  • The dark magic that made the Sea Hags into the Sea Hags isn't done with Caribdus yet, and it's empowered some Doreen.
  • Those Doreen don't want to flood the world...they want to exterminate the Kehana.
  • They don't just summon volcanoes, they summon a massive salamander....but the idea of all of it is the push the Kehana into extinction.
  • Marsales, the port city, is buckling under the weight of kehanan refugees, and tensions are rising, especially since no one really knows just how to deal with the kehana.
  • The city is a powder keg, and the crew can get involved, trying to smooth things over...or they can try to blow things up.
  • The idea is to get them to sail to the Kehana Flumes and discover what's really going on. This is accomplished by potential encounters from NPCs they may have made acquaintances with in the original PPC, or even new encounters, such as with the Kehana leader named "Princess", who is not only looking for a way to save her people, but is also looking for a mate (but not a doreen, for obvious reasons).
  • It is pretty key that the group winds up with a tagalong, a tongueless doreen. If the group doesn't let him tag along, some bad dudes show up (on the crew's ship!) and start asking around about him, which should cause them to wonder what's going on, if they are adventurers worth their salt.
  • A Mass Battle between the refugees and the town watch is a very likely thing, and neither side believes they have much choice in fighting, so casualties are likely to be nasty.
  • Even if the group spent time in the Kehana Flumes originally, they will find a lot more traffic here, as some of the sea life is stirred up, and there are pirates and other looters lurking around.
  • There are a few tasks that can be assigned to get the group out here, including mapping and treasure hunting.
  • The tongueless doreen will guide the group to the place where he lost his tongue, which also happens to be in a place with some bad dudes...but it's okay, because he's really a mage named Bhoon, and he was helping his doreen companions until he came to his senses and realized they were insane, so he was cursed by a shaman and lost his tongue.
  • The final encounter here has a HUGE impact on how much of an advantage the crew has in the final battle.
  • This is basically just heading to the final battle.
  • The crew can storm the island, or they can try to sneak in. The doreen mages have a lot of supporters.
  • The crew can try to talk sense into one of the mages.
  • But the other mage - and his followers - are nuts. This one is to the death.
  • Basically, the crew really needs to try to draw the Salamander to solid ground in order to have a better chance with it, and can accomplish it easily if act 2 went in their favor.
  • Even in success, the eye of suspicion turns to the doreen and, depending on how the crew went about things, they may wind up enemies of the doreen and friend to Princess as they (inadvertently or not) set her up as a major power in the region (if they follow her requests).
  • Fire & Earth nicely addresses the complaint that beating the Sea Hags eliminates the conflict from the world.
  • Great use of mechanics here, with opportunities spelled out to use Chase rules, Mass Battle, and Support roles.
  • Always great to see player choices actually affect the narrative in a pre-written campaign/adventure.
  • Much like the original campaign, the idea is this is a mini-sandbox. You CAN rush it, or you can weave in your own adventures around the ones in the book.
  • Does a great job of taking what came across as two fairly simplistic (to me) racial archetypes and putting a twist on them, and one that feels logical. 
  • A great piece of campaign design - where things not only did past adventures matter, but decisions made here will also impact the campaign going forward, rather than the "Okay, now it's time to check this box" that tends to happen in pre-written campaigns of all systems.
  • Highly recommended for 50 Fathoms fans, and I would love to see more campaigns have this kind of planning put into them.

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