by Ramanan Sivaranjan on August 27, 2013
Qelong is fantastic. The book describes a sandbox setting, a place to have a horrific wilderness adventure. This is the model to follow if you want to put out a setting book. Though only 48 pages long it provides more than enough information to run a campaign in the Qelong River Valley.
Qelong gets right to the point. First we are introduced to the place this adventure takes place, a devastated region that is the site of a war between two elder beings. There is one obvious adventure hook, a magic weapon cast off by one of these creatures is a much sought after treasure. A rumour table helps the DM introduce the rest of the world to the players and provides a quick glimpse to the DM of what Qelong is all about. From there we get detailed descriptions of the various terrain features found in the Qelong River Valley, along with some example encounters. Each terrain type also has it’s own random encounters table, a nice touch. Along with some new monsters this all works to help paint a picture of what this place is like, better than your typical travelog style settings book. In many ways this book is reminiscent of Carcosa in how it presents the game world, though unlike Carcosa the presentation is much less obtuse. The book concludes with a few named encounter sites. These are a bit more detailed, describing the bases of important factions or places of interest to the PCs. A DM would need to flesh these out more for his game.
The book is very well organized. This is one of the few campaign books I could imagine pulling out and using at the gaming table. It’s the antithesis of all those Dark Sun books I have. Most of those books are needlessly wordy to the point of being boring. They are often so detailed they are stifling. Qelong provides just enough information and no more.
The encounters, the monsters, the factions: it’s all good stuff. Kenneth Hite has done a great job bringing to life this creepy fantasy version of South-East Asia. Nothing feels boring or recycled. As written it seems like it’d be a very difficult place to adventure in. It’s a place ravaged by war. There are no friendly faces. Most everyone is disease ridden. The land itself is poisoned, and as characters adventure in Qelong they are going to get poisoned themselves. The rules for this are presented early in the book. They seem like they might be a bit too fiddly to track, but what do I know? They certainly would make adventuring in the region much more interesting.
The art in the book is by Rich Longmore, who did the art for Carcosa, and is some sort of god damn art superstar. I feel like the cover by Jason Rainville isn’t doing this book justice. I wish they used some of the bigger black white art by Longmore for the cover. There are some amazing pictures in this book. It also goes without saying that the production quality of the book is top notch, like all the recent Lamentation of the Flame Princess releases. This is a softcover A5 book sporting a great layout by Jez Gordan.
So, to reiterate: Qelong is fantastic. I hope it’s selling well amidst all the other stuff Lamentations of the Flame Princess have put out recently, because it’s probably the best wilderness adventure I’ve ever read. I’m actually curious to hear what modules people think are better, because this book sets the bar very damn high. Does it sound like i’m gushing? Well I am fucking gushing. This book is a must-buy.
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