A Review of the Role Playing Game Supplement Hex Crawl Chronicles 6 – The Troll Hills – Pathfinder Edition

Hex Crawl Chronicles 6 – The Troll Hills – 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 and some parts are considered to be Open Game Content as a result. A version of the supplement is also available for Swords & Wizardry.

This is the sixth in the Hex Crawl Chronicles series and there is more on the golden men who were mentioned in Valley of the Hawks. This region is possibly located to the south of the valley. The golden men had more influence on this area, and were technologically advanced.

Hex Crawl Chronicles 6 - The Troll Hills - 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 48 page bookmarked PDF. One page is the standard Hex Crawl Chronicles colour front cover, one page the front matter, one page the Table of Contents, two pages are the Open Game License and two pages are blank (if this was available in a printed edition, those two blank pages make sense).

The supplement starts with a brief background on the Troll Hills and the civilisation of the golden men. The region is dominated now by trolls and hags. Adventures in the Wilderness states that hexes are six miles across and discusses things such as visibility. There is a d10 wandering monster table with different results for Hills & Valleys, Mountain and Woods, as well as an additional column, What Are They Doing?

Hags and Trolls covers these creatures of the region – and they are unusual. The majority of trolls are born from hag mothers and human and demi-human fathers. Most are male, but there is the occasional female who can then breed with other trolls. The hags themselves evolve from evil female elves at the end of their 1,000 year lifespan (neutral and good elves transmute into more benevolent creatures). This is unusual and interesting.

Humans covers the three races of humans; Golden Men, Witchmen and Xanlo River Men. The Xanlo are a cross between Witchmen and Northmen.

Demi-Humans and Humanoids primarily covers goblins and dwarves, with a few elves. Most other humanoids have been driven off by the trolls. There is also a sidebar on a new disease, the Blue Plague, which is found in the ruins of the Ancient Men (the ancestors of the golden men).

There is a d20 table of rumours, many of which are linked to hexes. Once again, although it’s stated that they are marked true or false, this is not the case, meaning that a GM will need to check them individually.

The map of the region is black and white and covers two pages. It is 38 by 23 hexes in size, for 874 in total.

Encounter Key covers the various encounters. 66 hexes in total are covered, less than in many in this series. Many of the encounters are connected to trolls and hags, and there are quite a few, sometimes odd, dwarf settlements. There is the usual range of encounters and settlements, some quite normal and some more unusual, as well as two mini dungeons and a fortress that are mapped out.

For the first time in the series, the supplement has new monsters in the New Monster Appendix. This covers four pages and there are ten new monsters described.

Hex Crawl Chronicles 6 – The Troll Hills – Pathfinder Edition in Review

The PDF is well bookmarked with the major and minor sections as well as each hex linked. The only thing not bookmarked is a single sidebar. The Table of Contents is to a similar level of detail and navigations is therefore decent.

The text maintains a two column format and few errors were noted. These were primarily grammatical in nature but there are others such as NPCs with different sexes depending on where this is read. As well as the hex map, there are three black and white area maps. Earlier editions had the hex map in colour and frankly the black and white maps aren’t as easy to read. There are also a number of appropriate black and white illustrations.

Although this is a decent supplement, it just doesn’t have quite the same feel as earlier entries in the series. There are some of the usual bizarre locations and potentially deadly encounters, but there aren’t as many. There are really interesting locations, such as the City of Blue Glass, that aren’t covered in much detail but which would have benefited from it. Others, such as the cement bunker that is linked to missile silos lack elements of detail. The missiles can be accidentally armed, but not launched, but it’s not stated what this actually does. Have the characters just armed some nuclear weapons that may detonate if mistreated? The map of the bunker also has stairs leading to level 2 and level 3. These levels are not detailed; perhaps the GM is intended to expand upon themselves.

Some of the interlinking between hexes is not as good as it could be; for example, a sword is referenced in one hex, but in the hex in which the sword is actually located there isn’t a backwards reference.

There is a major problem that could be dealt with by players; river traffic has been halted because three hags have seized control of a fortress guarding it. Consequently, these hags are not actually in their homes.

Some of the new monsters are interesting, and the rather weird ecology of hags and trolls is definitely different. It might not be the easiest thing to transplant to another setting though, as it’s rather different to the norm.

This can be used as a source of encounters, as a location to set other adventures in or as simply a giant sandbox when tied into the other supplements in the series. There is some good material in here, but it just doesn’t seem to have the same evocative feel seen in others. Hex Crawl Chronicles 6 – The Troll Hills – Pathfinder Edition is still decent value for money and there is some interesting material and it can be found by clicking here.

 

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