Review of Savage Mojo’s Palace of the Lich Queen

By Caleb Gillombardo on

 

Palace of the Lich Queen, produced by the awesome team over at Savage Mojo, is the third and final part of their Dungeonlands saga. Like their other products, this is a custom campaign set in the Suzerain Continuum, Savage Mojo’s story of unique and interconnected worlds. The entire campaign and all related material is available for both Savage Worlds and Pathfinder players. For this review, I sampled the Pathfinder version.

I’ve had great experience with other Savage Mojo products, and I am a huge fan of Pathfinder mechanics, so I was incredibly excited to dive into Palace of the Lich Queen. Of course, as it was part three of an existing campaign, I could not run my players through the encounters in the exact way that the authors intended. But I was able to play around with the encounters, sample the style of the campaign, and get some excellent feedback from my players.

The Campaign
As with other Savage Mojo supplements, Palace of the Lich Queen is gorgeous to look at and a pleasure to read. The cover art immediately puts me in the mood for classic sword and sorcery adventures. And the campaign’s introduction delivers just that, weaving an epic tale that instantly caught my interest and got me excited to play along with the story. I am certain that the details of the story wrap up events told in the other Dungeonlands supplements, so I really want to go back and start the campaign from the very beginning.

The module is broken down into 35 encounters. Each starts and ends with well-written flavor text that moves the story forward. All necessary stat blocks for unique enemies are included, as are explanations of special situations that will occur. Occasionally, there are references to standard monsters from the Pathfinder Bestiaries, so it is advised to keep your source books handy. There is a great flow from one section to the next. I was wrapped up in the story by just reading through the book, so I can safely say that the same excitement will carry over when you’re playing the game at your table.

While the entire module is framed as a old-school dungeon crawl, every encounter is not focused on combat. There are situations that can be approached creatively and solved with negotiation and clever skill checks. The included flavor text successfully provides hints and clues to players who are paying attention. These details carry references to previous events in the entire Dungeonlands adventure, rewarding players for experiencing and surviving the entire campaign.

One of the aspects of Savage Mojo products that I absolutely love is that the authors flat-out tell you to take any liberties you want in mixing up the encounters and running them as you need to for your table. While this is always true, other modules are much more strict and rigid in how their information is presented.

The basic premise of the Palace module is that the heroes are on the final leg of their journey to fight the Lich Queen. They must traverse an area covered with raw magic that pulls them into portals that connect through different realms. This is where we see the classic elements of Savage Mojo style, with players experiencing adventures across multiple genres. Heroes will jump from classic fantasy to futuristic worlds full of cybernetic tech. The encounters are split between Daytime and Nighttime, with the Night encounters being substantially more difficult.

After surviving all of the encounters, or as many of them as you want to run through, the heroes can approach the Lich Queen’s palace. They must survive seven floors of dangerous combat on their way to the final encounter. All of these battles are firmly flavored in classic fantasy tropes, which makes for a fulfilling end to a campaign that jumped through multiple genres. Each of these sections has maps and flavor text for the included fights.

The final battle is truly epic. I am incredibly impressed with how the Savage Mojo team structured this climactic combat. There is a section about the type of allies the lich will have in combat, and they are drawn from previous adventures. This is a great way to wrap up the campaign and fully immerse players in the world of the game.There are also multiple ways to conclude the fight, again all based on the choices the players have made during previous game sessions. Like other Savage Mojo supplements, there are lots of “if/then” statements, giving the GM an easy way to adapt the game to his or her players.

Playtest
As I mentioned earlier, I have not experienced the two previous Dungeonland campaign modules. Yet. So to test the content of this module, I ran my players through some of the encounters as high-level one-shot games. This is something my players really enjoy, so it was a really fun day at the game table. I had them each roll up several PCs, mostly so we could switch up the party, but also because I had a feeling that there would be casualties. And I was right.

The combat encounters are balanced, but deadly. Players that charge into combat without tactical consideration will see their PCs experience nasty consequences. I ran players through a few of the encounters chosen at random from the Day and Night dimension hopping events. Then we attempted the final round of encounters in the lich’s palace. This is where things went bad and PCs started dropping. We even experienced a TPK. This was not due to a problem with the encounter as presented, it was mostly bad luck of the dice and a few poor choices from the players. That being said, everyone had a blast.

I was most thankful for the flavor text, tactics, and informative inserts included in the module. These helped me add unique elements to the game. Tactics for enemies and monsters can be tricky. A GM has to pay attention to everything happening simultaneously, so it can be difficult to focus on what the bad guys are doing and really bring them to life at the table. Frequently, I find myself picking the easiest attack in a monster’s stat block, or skipping over some of the more complex feat and spell options for the sake of keeping combat easy and focused on the players. The info that the Savage Mojo team provided was incredibly helpful in overcoming that bad habit.

Conclusion
As with the other Savage Mojo products that I’ve worked with, I am impressed with the content and quality of Palace of the Lich Queen. Having only looked at the conclusion, I could not tell you what the first two parts contain, but I can say with assurance that they make for an outstanding campaign to run your players through. Furthermore, Savage Mojo provides more than just the three Dungeonlands campaign modules. There are pre-printed dungeon tiles, books of pregen PCs and side quests, and even a soundtrack. I absolutely recommend that you pick up Savage Mojo’s trip into Dungeonlands to battle the Lich Queen.

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