A Review of the Role Playing Game Supplement The Thousand Fangs Below

The Thousand Fangs Below is the fifth and penultimate, #41, module in the Serpent’s Skull Adventure Path from Paizo Publishing, the next in the series after Vaults of Madness. The supplement is written for the Pathfinder Roleplaying Game and, as such, is covered by the Open Game License with some parts being considered Open Game Content as a result. Characters are assumed to be 13th level at the start of the adventure and should be approaching 16th by the time they are reaching the end and the finale module, Sanctum of the Serpent God.

The adventure is available as a PDF from the Paizo site for $13.99, although it was purchased at the reduced price of $10.49, or as a softcover book, primarily now from sites such as Amazon.

The Thousand Fangs BelowThe PDF is the version reviewed. This has 100 pages of which two are the front and rear covers, two pages are inside the covers with information and sketches of flora and fauna, two pages are the front matter, one page the Table of Contents, one page has the Open Game License and a preview of upcoming releases and one page has an advert for fiction.

Foreword: Serpenultimate is the two page foreword and covers the difficulty in finding appropriate creatures from folklore for inclusion in the adventure path, which the author presumes is due to the plenitude of dangerous real animals.

The Thousand Fangs Below is the actual adventure. This begins with the background to the adventure, the serpentfolk city of Ilmurea where it takes place, the history of that city and the current political condition.

The adventure itself, like City of Seven Spears, takes place in a ruined city, only belowground rather than above, and a city in poorer condition. Also like that adventure, there are not many floor plans – although fortunately the most important encounters have them – and eight generic battlemaps.

Part One: The Shimmering Spiral covers the city’s features, various points of interest, the gates allowing access to it, the current balance of power between the major factions inhabiting Ilmurea and a map of the entire city.

Part Two: The Forgotten People deals with the morlock descendants of the former Azlanti garrison, the primary potential allies of the characters, and various associated points of interest as well as the two different morlock factions.

Part Three: City of Fiends covers the area of the city governed by the urdefhans, daemonic vampiric creatures that, whilst evil, have a common foe in the serpentfolk and are a potential, if dangerous, ally.

Part Four: City of Serpents is the final part of the adventure. The characters have to infiltrate the fortress of Thousand Fangs held by the serpentfolk, in which the Pathfinder they have come looking for is present. They may also do a favour for the urdefhan leader, securing his alliance. This is the most dangerous part of the adventure and it concludes after finding the Pathfinder.

Concluding the Adventure is a couple of paragraphs on wrapping things up after finding the Pathfinder. The players are assumed to return to their base in Saventh-Yhi on the surface to heal and regroup.

Ilmurea gives some more information on the serpentfolk city. Its history and general appearance are covered, including a new type of rock used, serpentstone. There are then details on a number of important or interesting locations in the city, which aren’t required to be visited during the adventure, as well as a minor artefact. No maps are provided for these buildings.

Nethys provides details on a god, one who has been referred to in the fiction. Nethys is a once-mortal god of magic and this provides details on him, his religion, worshippers and relationship with other religions, a new spell and brief details on several planar allies.

Plague of Light: 5 of 6 – Justice in the Ruins continues the fiction.

Bestiary has some random encounters for Ilmurea and details on three new monsters. One of these is a servant of Nethys; the other three are from African mythology.

Finally, Pregenerated Characters provides the same four characters as all the other modules, once again increased in level.

The Thousand Fangs Below in Review

The PDF is decently bookmarked, with all major and most minor sections linked. The Table of Contents simply lists the various major sections. Navigation is decent, but it could be better. The text maintains a two column format and no errors were noted. There are a number of colour illustrations, up to around half a page in size, appropriate to the text and including images of all four monsters in the Bestiary. Presentation is well above average.

Like in City of Seven Spears, the characters are travelling around an abandoned city. The feel is different; this one, despite its inhabitants, presents itself as being more damaged, as it lacks the protective magics of Saventh-Yhi. The underground nature of Ilmurea also creates a difference. There is plenty of room to expand the city, including several gates which provide access to other realms, although said areas are likely too dangerous for characters of the level assumed to be doing this adventure to visit, as well as not being detailed here. There is room for a GameMaster to add to the city though. Like Saventh-Yhi, there are not as many battlemaps as there could be, but Ilmurea is still served far better with these. The important locations visited during the quest are detailed, unlike in the other adventure. The maps provided, especially of the Thousand Fangs (a fortress in the shape of a giant, coiled snake) are very nice.

There are a lot of serpentfolk to encounter, but there are other enemies as well. Interestingly, of the other major forces, only one faction of the morlocks is definitely hostile. The other morlocks are definitely friendly and an alliance can be made with the urdefhan leader, providing an option for diplomacy – albeit with an evil force – instead of combat. This greatly expands the options for characters in the city. There is also an individual NPC drow who, again despite being evil, has an aim that the characters can help with, and is therefore also a potential ally. It’s up to the characters who they do and don’t try to make peace with; except the serpentfolk of course.

A couple of paragraphs regarding a serpentfolk communication device did stand out. It states that many similar lenses have been destroyed and immediately afterwards it is stated that this lens cannot be harmed. In other words, contradictory. Perhaps what should have been said was that characters lack the knowledge and/or ability to harm it.

The section on Ilmurea is quite short but lists some interesting places to find in the city; unfortunately, none of these have battlemaps. The new god, Nethys, comes across as being a bit bland but this probably cannot be helped. The god is neutral and simply wants to see magic used for any reason. He also largely doesn’t care for his worshippers. Hard to make this more interesting. The new creatures in the Bestiary provide some new, dangerous creatures for characters to encounter.

After a couple of really fairly poor modules and one that was not brilliant, this is a step back up, making the adventure path seem more interesting again, something it has lacked a bit since Souls for Smuggler’s Shiv. Once again, play is fairly sandbox in nature – it’s a city – but there is a definite final aim to go for. Ilmurea could have done with some more battlemaps and minor locations, but there isn’t really enough space in a book of this size to cover an entire city and an adventure and everything else. The Thousand Fangs Below is a definite improvement on the recent modules of Serpent’s Skull.

 

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