A Review of the Role Playing Game Supplement Hex Crawl Chronicles 5 – The Pirate Coast – Pathfinder Edition

Hex Crawl Chronicles 5 – The Pirate Coast – Pathfinder Edition by John Stater is a role playing game supplement published by Frog God Games for use with the Pathfinder Roleplaying Game. As such, it is covered by the Open Game License but, according to the license, none of it is considered to be Open Game Content. The supplement is also available for Swords & Wizardry.

This is the fifth in the Hex Crawl Chronicles series. The Sea Lords from this region were mentioned in passing in the previous supplement, The Shattered Empire, as they had sent scouts for an army into the Northmen empire to see what the conditions were like. This region was once the site of a former stone giant empire, now fallen.

Hex Crawl Chronicles 5 - The Pirate Coast - Pathfinder EditionThe supplement is available as a PDF from RPGNow for $4.99 but was purchased at the reduced price of $3.74. This is a 60 page bookmarked PDF. One page is the standard Hex Crawl Chronicles colour front cover, one the front matter, one the Table of Contents, two and a half pages are the Open Game License and one page is essentially blank.

The supplement begins with a brief introduction to the history of the region, the stone giant empire and their former human slaves and how pirates from the White Islands started raiding the region then, when the islands sank, settled there. The flora and geography of the coast are covered. This is a fairly sparsely settled region.

Adventures in the Wilderness gives an overview of using a hex crawl and rolling for wandering monsters. There is a d10 wandering monster table, with different results for Mountains, Swamps, Hills & Woodlands and the Sea.

Pirates gives an overview of the pirates, who are Sea Lords, with details on the three great pirate fleets of the present, each fleet’s leader and where the pirates are based and some important NPCs.

Sea Lords covers the Sea Lords themselves in more detail.

Last Men are xenophobes who consider all other races of men to be sub-men, although they are still willing to trade with them.

Bucranians are the descendants of the stone giants’ slaves who have a bit of a bull fetish.

Humanoids covers the orcs, goblins and hobgoblins of the region.

Elves are the elves who live in the wooded regions.

Dwarves live in the Aderumdoc Mountains which border with the empire of the Northmen.

There is a d20 table of Rumours, most of which are linked to hexes and, despite it being stated, they are not marked which are true or false. Which is a bit inconvenient, as a GM will probably thus have to check out some themselves.

There is a black and white hex map of the region, 28 hexes across by 31 down, for 868 hexes in total (a hex is 6 miles across).

The Encounter Key describes the hexes. 103 of these in total are described, which is quite substantial. There is one battlemap, of a fully mapped-out mini-dungeon and rather more weird encounters than were seen in the previous edition. There are plenty of interesting things to discover, and really dangerous encounters (although the high-level NPCs don’t have much powerful magic; perhaps more suited to a low magic setting) such as a pit fiend that can be released by accident. One caused by greed, admittedly, but it will be the last accident that many parties will ever have. Four winds can be released to bring death and destruction, and trapping them again will be tricky to say the least.

Hex Crawl Chronicles 5 – The Pirate Coast – Pathfinder Edition in Review

The PDF is reasonably well bookmarked, with all the hexes and minor sections linked. There are no sidebars that need linking, such as for new magic items, in this instalment, so the bookmarks are thorough enough. The Table of Contents is similar, so navigation is above average.

The text maintains a two column format and a number of errors were noticed, largely missing words and grammatical errors. There are a number of black and white illustrations appropriate to the text but the two maps are again black and white, not colour as seen in the earlier entries.

The true heart of this supplement is the whole host of bizarre, interesting, and occasionally extremely deadly, encounters that can be found, all described in wonderfully evocative writing. Not wraiths, but oblivion wraiths, who are associated with deadly gold clouds. Strange liquid that comes from a monument that appeared from a demon’s corpse and leaks a liquid that a goblin tribe turns into a brew. And many more such. All with various remnants of the stone giant empire (and how often are there giant empires?).

Dropping the entire region into another setting may be difficult; it’s large enough that it could be problematical on a map. It can be used with others in the series as a setting though. Alternatively, many of the wonderful encounters can simply be scavenged and placed into another setting with no trouble.

Hex Crawl Chronicles 5 – The Pirate Coast – Pathfinder Edition is really a wonderful piece of old fashioned hex crawl and it can be found by clicking here.

 

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