Princes Of The Apocalypse: Elemental Evil, by John-Paul Balmet
I have to admit that this particular scenario seemed to me to be a bit overpowering for its target gaming party. This particular scenario involves serious threats to a region that involve the elemental planes, and yet the parties that are supposed to be dealing with this are beginning parties around or less than level 5. Admittedly, I have played in some overpowered groups around this level that could take on this sort of challenge, but I don’t know if everyone would be up to such a thing, not least because this is a very lengthy and complicated campaign that manages to try to shorten up its description in order to keep the page level manageable given all of the different areas that the players would have to clear out of their elemental evil and all of the NPCs that must be either killed or driven off or allied with over the course of this lengthy mission. While this is certainly a mission I would have no problem playing if I had a group that wanted to take their gameplay in that direction and deal with planes and the evils to be found there, I don’t know how many people would quickly realize just how massive and complex this particular campaign is.
This particular book is about 250 pages long and is divided into seven chapters. The book begins with a discussion of how to use this book as well as an adventure and synopsis that discuss the rise of elemental evil in four elemental cults (1). After that the authors provide a discussion of the history and current events of the Dessarin Valley, including the Red Larch and locations and rumors of evil involving it (2). After that there is a discussion of the Slumber Hills, including some missing people and cult reprisals for the party’s earlier actions as well as various quests and important locations to investigate (3). This leads to a discussion of how the party can root out of evil in one or all of the four elemental temples that will lead to further retaliation by cult members (4). After this there is a lengthy step of attacking the evils at the Temple of the Elder Elemental Eye, which rules over the various elements and has a larger plan in mind (5) that needs to be stopped in the campaign. After that there are various alarums and excursions that provide side quests and other locations to investigate (6), before the book closes with a chapter on monsters and magic items (7) as well as three appendices that include information on the Genasi as well as spells and the adaptation of this campaign to other worlds, and then an afterword.
In reading this book I wondered, looking at the sort of enemies that were being dealt with, how it was that an ordinary level 5 party of some four characters would be expected to successfully take on any of the elemental threats that this book has. To be sure, there would be ways where it could be done, but it would require some preparation, including having magical weapons and some serious range attacks and defensive buffs. Admittedly, the successful completion of the campaign only requires one of the elemental fiends to be defeated, which makes the challenge a bit easier as the party can figure out which of them they are best equipped to take on, but those looking for completion in eliminating them all with find it to be a difficult task that will end up providing plenty of experience and also the making of new enemies on the elemental plane, for what it’s worth, as well as new friends in those areas who one has protected as a result of one’s efforts. If this sort of campaign will take many hours to get through, it will at least be interesting time, that’s for sure.