There’s really only three reasons to spend your money on a gaming book: it has cool ideas, it does all the mechanical work for you, or it’s simply a good read. Bonus points for the product that manages all three of course. Vor Rukoth struggles to deliver on all those reasons.
Vor Rukoth presents a fully detailed, ready-to-use fortress ruin, complete with secret locations, maps, adventure hooks, monster and NPC statistics, ready-to-play encounters, and a full-color, double-sided battle map. The book is perfect for Dungeon Masters looking for a mysterious adventure location that fits instantly and easily into their existing D&D campaigns.
It’s the second in the Adventure Site line started by Hammerfast. This one is written by Greg Bilsland and runs to 32 colour pages, with a poster map, enclosed by a cardstock cover. The cover depicts a dragonborn and a halfling in a boat outside the ruins. I’m not sure who they’re supposed to be. The inner cover is a greyscale map of the city itself. It’s such a waste, as the image is on the back of the booklet already, except in full colour! The poster map is quite smart, one side has a ruined streetscape, the other an infernal themed throne room.
The city of Vor Rukoth is a ruin from the last days of Bael Turath, the tiefling empire. It was overcome by a dragonborn siege from without and an invasion of devils from within. It’s stood, haunted by undead and devils ever since. A tent shanty town has sprung up in recent years just outside and that serves as a base for delvers and treasure hunters. The old queen of the city is still around, as she’s a lich, with a rather exotic phylactery.
As it stands, that’s a fairly cool idea for a setting. Trouble is, I’ve told you that idea now, so the product has to have more to offer before you part with your cash, and really, I’m not convinced it does.
The city has factions, and districts. The factions have a couple of NPCs for antagonists (no stats, sorry). Each gets a cursory description. The districts have a few locations described and a hook or two for you to make adventures out of. Very occasionally there will be a stat block for a new item or monster, but they’re thin on the ground. Chuck in a couple of hazards and skill challenges and you’ve hit the end of the road.
It’s all just a bit thin really. It’s like a Dragon article that’s gotten too big for it’s boots. There’s not much that inspires, though it’s all serviceable enough. I started to speed read the second half, as it all became a bit workman like. Have a look at the product blurb again. I wouldn’y say it’s completely incorrect, but it’s not exactly as described. The DM will still have plenty to do to make it usable. The author contends that this can be used from levels 1 to 15, which is quite a claim. I can’t help but think it needed condensing, developing and distilling so that a merely ok sourcebook could potentially be a decent adventure.