Dark Waters Rising by Ron Lundeen is a role playing game supplement published by Raging Swan Press for use with the Pathfinder Roleplaying Game. As such, the supplement is covered by the Open Game License and some of it is therefore considered to be Open Game Content. This is an adventure for 5th level characters in the village of Swallowfeld in Raging Swan’s mini-setting, The Lonely Coast.
This is a thirty-eight page bookmarked PDF that is available from RPGNow for $4.99, although it was purchased at the greatly reduced price of $0.22 as part of a special bundle. As well as in PDF, the supplement is available as a print on demand softcover for $12.89 and both the softcover and PDF can be purchased together at $14.88. Print copies are also available from sites such as Amazon. The PDF is the version reviewed.
Two pages of the supplement are Raging Swan’s standard plain front and rear covers, one page is an advert for other products from the publisher, three pages are the title page, front matter, Contents, which also has a listing of stat blocks by CR, and Foreword, one page is a standard one on how to read the stat blocks in the supplement, three pages are the Open Game License and ads for other Raging Swan products and one page is an advert for the author’s company, Run Amok Games.
Using this Adventure is a single page that covers the anatomy of an encounter – each encounter has a standard format – how to read trap blocks and identifying treasure, both magical and mundane.
The Introduction and Adventure Background give an overview of several important NPCs, the background, and some hooks for players to be in the village when the disaster takes place.
Synopsis gives an overview of the adventure itself, and has sidebars on adding the adventure to other settings and on running the adventure, which has a specific event occurring throughout it.
The Lonely Coast At a Glance has a one page summary of the Lonely Coast and a full page map, duplicated from The Lonely Coast supplement, and Swallowfeld At a Glance has a similar one page summary and full page map from the Swallowfeld supplement.
The adventure itself is then a series of seven encounters, starting with the initial disaster as a mill collapses into the river and opens up a subterranean crypt full of undead and the aboveground events and then six in the mini-dungeon itself. The dungeon, a crypt, has a full page map and an overview of its appearance.
Next is the Conclusion, with a potential hook, followed by Further Adventures, which gives three different hooks following the disaster.
Finally, Pre-Generated PCs has one title page and six pages each dedicated to a pre-generated character, including a portrait. These are the same characters, at different levels, as those included in Road of the Dead and Against the Cult of the Bat God.
Dark Waters Rising in Review
The PDF is well bookmarked, with both major and minor sections covered, and the Contents are hyperlinked, making navigation above average. The supplement maintains a two column black and white format and appeared to be error free. There are a number of illustrations, such as stock Larry Elmore portraits for the pre-generated characters and possibly a stock image of the boss monster. There are also half a dozen small illustrations for a puzzle in one of the locations.
The adventure itself is interesting, as it has a degree of urgency. The characters have to go into a crypt that is flooding – and each room has descriptions of what navigating the room is like at different water levels, and how long it takes for the water to reach said levels (these alter throughout the complex) – in order to rescue several kidnapped villagers before they are drowned by the waters and become undead. The rising water creates a degree of urgency that is unusual in an adventure. Details are also provided on the difficulties in fighting in water.
One interesting room has a puzzle to solve, with six pictures. Clues to this puzzle are scattered throughout the complex but, notably, the puzzle itself cannot be solved by a skill roll – rather different that. Skills can be used to get clues on how to solve it, with different DCs and clues for different skills listed, but they don’t short-circuit the solution itself. The various combat encounters also have notes for raising or lowering the ELs by one, making the adventure adaptable for party size and level without any additional work on the GM’s part.
The adventure may be set in the Lonely Coast village of Swallowfeld, but it can easily be shifted to another setting; all that’s needed is a village with a river mill. In fact, the entire village can be shifted quite easily as well, should the useful companion volume of Swallowfeld be owned.
If the adventure has one flaw, it’s the brevity of the adventure itself. Only twelve pages are taken up by the adventure, plus another couple around it; only around a third of the page count in other words. Dark Waters Rising is a nice little adventure with some unusual features, and it can be found by clicking here.