18 June 2019
A perfect blend of epic fantasy and dark horror
From the first trip in a filth-encrusted slavers’ camp to the pivotal showdown with a genuinely disturbing demonic sorcerer, Raven’s Purge manages to perfectly capture the blend of epic fantasy and dark horror that defines Forbidden Lands. Just be warned that nothing comes easy in the wastelands, and both players and GM will need to put in some solid effort if they plan to come out the other end intact.
A lot of this comes from that fact that – in line with the RPG’s love of freedom and exploration – Raven’s Purge shies away from a traditional linear campaign structure and instead acts more like a toolbox stuffed with locations and characters. It sets out a rough plot involving magical elven rubies, a legendary crown and a battle to decide the fate of the Forbidden Lands, but it’s expected that the quests will come together in bits and pieces as the adventurers forge their own path.
The meat of the campaign comes in eight large adventure sites that range from an old quarry that’s been taken over by a band of party-loving ogres through to an ancient mine that houses a powerful demon with the mind of a child. Rather than having any pre-determined events play out or obvious quest hooks to leap on, each site simply comes loaded with suggestions of what could happen and a solid list of characters to play around with.
While this can make running the sites a little overwhelming, it also allows for absolutely anything to happen – there’s no chance of the party derailing your plans when there weren’t any rails to begin with, after all. A quest to an orcish fortress might end with a dawn raid alongside an elvish strike force, or the party could end up with an emperor as a friend and an army at their back.
Sometimes it can be hard to pick out important details about a site, and a more concise sketch of the campaign’s introduction would be nice, but the writing is generally solid and the presentation is truly second-to-none. Just beware that Forbidden Lands is definitely a game aimed at older players, and that some of the content can get a little nastier than standard fantasy villainy.
The free-roaming soul of Forbidden Lands can make it an acquired taste, but if you’ve had a crack at the boxset and want to expand your adventures in the darkness Raven’s Purge should be an easy purchase.
PLAY IT? – YES
Designer: Granström, Härenstam
Artist: Gulliksson, Brandt, Tapia
This review originally appeared in the March 2019 issue of Tabletop Gaming. Pick up the latest issue of the UK's fastest-growing gaming magazine in print or digital here or subscribe to make sure you never miss another issue.
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