Saturday, February 21, 2009

Review: Pathfinder #3 The Hook Mountain Massacre

Them ogres just ain’t right.


Well, this adventure is rather special, but I am not quite sure of what kind of special it is. Inbred, backwards, hillbilly type ogres are just in a different category all together, and one should only venture into this territory with the utmost care. When Gary penned his famed appendix N, I am not sure that any of the source material Nick used would have made the list. Gary probably knew better than that. So, it is only with the utmost caution that I write this review and hopefully my sanity stays with me before I can finish.

As an X-files fan, I have probably seen almost all the episodes. I have definitely seen the most notable episodes, and some of them more than once. There is one episode that I have seen, that I will probably not be watching any time soon, and that is Home (season 4, episode 2). That one is just plain nasty. I am not sure what inspired Glenn Morgan and James Wong to write it, and I am not sure I even want to know. I shutter just thinking about it. In any event, this Pathfinder adventure was clearly influenced by this episode. When this one hit the retail shelves and folks started reading it, the message boards were ablaze with commentary. Some folks loved it, and some folks were just repulsed by it.

This one is special.

Nicolas Logue

There are a couple of writers that are just in a league of their own, and have separated themselves with the quality of their work from the other writers of adventures and supplements. And then there is Pett and Logue. In my last review I spent a few words describing Rich, so to be fair, I need to spend a couple of Nick.

I must admit, that I have never met Nick, yet, but I am hoping to run into him at Gencon later this year. I have chatted with him on a number of occasions, and I have read a number of his message board threads, and I think I can safely say that he is a wild one, and has an interesting background. I think he and Rich have a friendly competition going on how can out do the other in regards to warped and twisted adventures, and I am not sure who will come out on top. Clearly Nick has distinguished himself with this adventure. I am probably one of the few that have seen snippets of this adventure that ended up on the wrong end of James Jacobs editing pen. Suffice to say that Nick has a very special talent.


The layout is very similar to the earlier Rise of the Runelord Pathfinders, and I am including the text here for completeness. The book comes in at hefty 96 pages not counting the covers, with the actual adventure taking up 47 of these pages, with an approximate word count of ~40,000 words. The original manuscript came in at over 50,000 words, so the amount of words that were cut from the final version was considerable. The book is divided up into several sections including the main adventure, two supporting articles (Keeping the Keep and a Varisia gazetteer), the Pathfinder Journal, bestiary (six monsters) and the pregens.

This adventure shares the same criticism as the other in the series with regards to the small font and the ease of reading. I personally did not find it that bad, but I can see how this could be a valid criticism. There have been a number of modules created with small font, and this module is not any worse than some of the others that I have seen.


As with all Pathfinders published to date, this one is in full color. The cover art by Wayne Reynolds is very well done, and truly captures the spirit of the ogres that are in this adventure. I cannot say enough good things about the about the cover, as I really like it. The overall interior of this Pathfinder is a mixed bag, with some very evocative art, along with some mediocre art. The landscape art and the maps are excellent. Some of the action “shots” leave me a little cold, as they are too bright and do not convey the overall darkness of the module.


This adventure is rather long, and has 5 major subparts to it. The characters are to investigate some missing rangers and run afoul of the Graul family of ogre-kins. After defeating the Grauls, the next hurdle is retaking Fort Rannick, which has been taken over by the Kreeg ogres. With the recapture of the fort, the town of Turtleback Ferry comes under attack by unnatural rains. This will lead the characters to the ancient dam of Skull Crossing. Upon completion of this task, the characters are ready to climb Hook Mountain to put an end to the ogre menace once and for all. This will set them up for the next adventure.

Key features

There are a number of features that this module provides that I am going to list out below:

1. Backwoods style horror adventure

2. The fully mapped out Fort Rannick, and the possibility that the characters can end up in possession of it

3. Fully mapped out Skull crossing dam.

4. An article detailing how to run a keep

5. The gazetteer of Varisia.

6. The Pathfinder Journal, which continues the chronicles of Eando Kline

Final notes

As I mentioned in the opening, not everyone is going to like it, as it has a rather dark and nasty theme to it. There is a lot to like about this module. Nick does a great job in covering the Turtleback Ferry town and the surrounding area. He actually covers a lot of territory, and the adventure moves the characters through a number of the high interest locations. The fort is covered in good details, and the characters will enjoy a chance to run it. This can easily be expanded upon, and offers plenty of role playing opportunities. The dam location is one of my favorites, as there is quite a bit to this location. Wayne’s cover art adds considerable flavor to this encounter. The inner workings of the dam are particularily interesting, but I will not include any spoilers on this. The module has a very smooth transition to the next module, and I think James and Nick did a nice job on this.

Overall, I give this module a thumbs up, as I did enjoy reading through it. I fully understand that this will not appeal to everyone based on the content. If one enjoys backwoods horror and Home, then this one is for you. If you have a more sensitive outlook on things, I would apply caution before opening.

Rating: 3.5 Dragons (on a scale of 5)


Chris said...

My only criticism of this (generally excellent) module is that the Fort Rannick map was created by someone with no understanding of the concept of a load bearing wall.

Probably one of the most enjoyable things about it was that there's tons of stuff in the adventure that just begs for expansion and return visits.

Mr Baron said...

Thanks for the comment. Your point is well taken, as I suspect that most designers do not dig too much into real world engineering. I know when I design my buildings, I don't always pay attention to this.

To your second point, I completely agree that there is a lot of the surrounding area to explore, and a creative GM can add quite a bit to this module. I hesitate to call this a mini setting, but it comes close, with the well mapped out area around Turtleback Ferry.