Jungle in The Source

September 7, 2011

Ever had that dream where you are in a store containing a bunch of good stuff but can’t find anything worth buying?  I live it most anytime I go to a game store.  I already own enough games to last a lifetime and whenever I learn of something that I must have, it is either old, rare, or otherwise unlikely to be found in a nearby store, so I just order it online.  More than once I’ve returned from a game store and said to my wife with triumphant disappointment “I didn’t buy anything.”

This past weekend I went to The Source, the big game store in the Minneapolis area.  Browsing the shelves, a couple jungle roleplaying books caught my attention:   Heart of the Jungle, a Pathfinder setting supplement by Paizo, and Wrath of the Vohven, a Hackmaster Basic jungle campaign by Kenzer & Co.

Wrath of the Vohven was just released in July.  It’s a 112-page adventure path that seems to be inspired by Heart of Darkness and, by extension, Apocalypse Now.  Honestly, I feel that theme is a little overdone in jungle roleplaying supplements, but it’s powerful and enduring so worth revisiting from time to time.  Of course, I dip into the theme occasionally on this blog and in the Fire in the Jungle Supplement.

Paizo released a similarly themed adventure module a few years back, called River Into Darkness.  Despite the always high production values of Paizo products, it didn’t excite me very much when I looked through its 32 pages on a previous visit to the store.  Seemed heavily railroaded (or in this case “riverboated”) and not even very exciting at that.

At 112 pages, Wrath of the Vohven definitely has more meat on its bones in terms of adventure content.  It seemed a little less plot heavy than River Into Darkness, but I wouldn’t call it a sandbox either.  I’d have to give a more thorough reading to really decide if I could use all or some of it.  Unfortunately, it is severely lacking in visual design and has poor print quality, reminiscent of black and white photocopies.  For those reasons and because I don’t play Hackmaster, I didn’t buy it.  It looks like the PDF of Wrath of the Vohven is crisper and in color, so if I ever do purchase the module it will be the PDF version, which would also make it easier for me to print out individual sections for adaptation into my own jungle campaign.

Heart of the Jungle was released last year and I had seen it before but haven’t been compelled to purchase it since I don’t play Pathfinder.  I gave it a good look through at the store and I believe it’s one of the best jungle supplements I’ve seen for RPGs.  Much info about jungle hazards such as dangerous plants, disease, weather, quicksand, swarms, etc.  Decent write-ups of the jungle’s human and demi-human inhabitants.  It also has nice drawn maps of and info about nine cities.  I would have liked to have seen more info about ruins in the jungle, but it seems to be more of a “living jungle”.  Maybe I could treat some of the city sites as ruins.  At 64 pages, Heart of the Jungle is a nice size, with a good balance between too much and not enough info.  I expect I’ll buy it some day, but something else caught my attention this day…

Imaro by Charles Saunders.  I had been on the lookout for it at used book stores, but I jumped at this chance to get the updated 2006 edition.  Basically, Saunders wrote Imaro to create a character that could kick Conan’s and Tarzan’s white asses.  Sign me up.  Onto my “to read” shelf it goes, towards the front.

Saunders maintains an excellent website and blog about his writing and fantasy fiction in general.  So much good stuff there.  I’m still working my way through all his blog posts.  Check out this one about Three African Superheroes.  Or this one about the Leopard-man cult of West Africa.  Or this one about a theoretical Conan vs. Tarzan Superfight.

To summarize this post:  Hey, there’s some jungle stuff that I don’t own or haven’t read yet, but I’m trying to fix that!  Are you?


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