Under the Horn is the latest adventure by Johua de Santo of Genius Loci Games. Although this review is of the Pathfinder release, there is also a Swords & Wizardry
version and Johua assures me the 5E version will be available in the near future.
The Horn series often combines technological elements with fantasy adventure. In this adventure, people have been going missing near the Horn – a great metal edifice – that stands close to the Mage Academy of Coralius. The adventure presumes that the players investigate; it is up to the individual GM to work out the specific method of introducing the adventure.
The adventure sees the group exploring caves beneath the Horn, not the Horn itself. The map is fascinating and worthy of note, as it is multi-levelled and relatively complex, with the caves not appearing in a simple linear fashion. A side-view of the caves is much appreciated, as it helps the GM make sense of how the caves fit together.
The dungeon is mostly inhabited by sahuagin, with a smattering of other cave creatures. It’s a dangerous place due to the high density of monsters, and resting in the dungeon may be a group’s final mistake, due to an unusual “wandering monster”.
I find quite interesting the design decision to have some of the monster numbers indicated by a random die roll rather than a set number; there are a couple of editing errors where the number is omitted (how many sahuagin are in a war party?) I’m not quite sure how I feel about random numbers of monsters; it could cause a large variance in how dangerous the adventure is. As a technique, I’d prefer it more if there a total number of monsters living in the caves was given, with the remainder found in a final location or out on patrol and able to replenish groups, if the party take more than one expedition to clear out the caves. (Random numbers are great when the party may scout the caves on more than one occasion).
More notes on the sahuagin behaviour would be appreciated, as well as some additional background on the final Big Bad. What there is intrigues me, but I’d appreciate having extra details provided.
It isn’t a particularly big dungeon, consisting only of 12 areas, but it does have some interesting encounters in it. Although the map is attractive, there are a couple of questions that it provokes – in particular, wondering how the sahuagin and their captives get down to the final chamber, which is not an easy climb.
Overall, there are some strong ideas in Under the Horn, although I think it still needs just a little more development and editing. It’s certainly useable, though, and could provide an entertaining session of adventuring.