I am a fan of savage worlds. I haven’t been able to play a savage worlds game recently, but all the ones that I have ran or played in have been a lot of fun. Because of that reason, I have been looking for a new campaign to run with Savage Worlds and decided to buy Hellfrost by Triple Ace Games
this weekend. I have now read through most of the setting and decided I would give it my review. I bought the pdf so keep that in mind as you read the review.
First off, Hellfrost had a nice layout. The pages were colorful with quite a bit of artwork throughout the book. Nothing to big though and not so much that it took away from the book. The material was well organized and referenced other sections by page numbers when it referred to them. I did not have trouble locating any information in the book so far.
The book is well written. I did not notice many over mistakes in the writing, and it was actually a pretty pleasant read. The story world was engaging and the authors created a world all their own in this book.
There are many things I like about the setting. I like the world they created and the constant battle with the cold. The races are mainly the same ones you always see, but I enjoyed a few of the twists they added to the different races available. I feel like all the new edges and hindrances really added to the setting. The setting is also rich with details on deities, everyday life, and organizations.
There were several new magic hindrances as well as different approaches to learning magic. I also enjoyed the fact that powerpoints are not used in this setting. The backlash system for magic is also great, but with my one complaint being that it might be just a bit too brutal. I understand why they made it that way, to prevent magic users from becoming to powerful, but I feel like there are different ways to do this. You can make a magic user worthless with the first cast of a spell in this setting, and I think that is too punishing of a system. I will probably houserule a system that takes into account how many spells they have cast that day before getting to that point. Overall though, I really enjoy the detailed magic system that Triple Ace Games put into the Hellfrost campaign setting.
However, there are some aspect of the Hellfrost setting that I didn’t like. Some of these cons are probably just my own personal opinion and you might not agree with me, so take what you will from this. First, the book does not have any maps in it. I don’t know about you, but when I pay for a campaign setting, I would expect at least some type of sketch of the world. At first I couldn’t believe it wasn’t in there and looked through it a second and third time to make sure, but I did not find a map. I will relent a little on this though because I did find a map for free download on the site, I would just expect to see it in the book. Remember this for future settings/adventures/whatever, we by pdfs usually because we are going to use them to game online, and maps are invaluable for that. Just take a look at all the expensive RPG map making programs out there.
My second complaint is one that people may not agree with me on, but I hardly ever like coming up with a different, hard to pronounce name for things that are already well known. Mage and wizard are standard for the fantasy world. I understand wanting to come up with your own name for it, but if you are going to use something, at least include the pronunciation for it. They did at least include in parenthesis what it would compare to when they are first introduced. Don’t get me wrong, this isn’t all bad, but TAG reused many of the common names for classes except when it came to magic users and I’m not sure why.
My last complaint is my biggest, but again, it might just be the fact that I need to suck it up and get used to it. While reading the book, in one paragraph it plainly said that a GM will need this book, which is called the players guide, as well as the bestiary and the gazeteer (sp?). This is where I was the most disappointed. I like Savage Worlds because it has always been one small book of rules and all the campaign settings so far that I have bought have been all encompassing in one book. This is the only book where they tell you that three books will be required. That was a bit of a shock to me when I read it. I realize this is the player guide, but it is the only book available for Hellfrost and why would they release it without enough info to run a game? Usually the campaign setting comes first, then the light players guide comes next. I just feel like they are trying to be a bit like Wizards of the Coast and I got away from DnD because of Wizards of the Coast.
Again, these problems are probably just me and I shouldn’t get bent out of sorts because it is called “The Players Guide.” Don’t let me dissuade you though, Triple Ace Games
put together a good product and I would recommend it for players wanting to play in a Hellfrost game. However, for all the DM’s like me out there. I would advise you to wait until there is some more products for this setting since they plainly tell you in the book that you need more than just that book to DM a game. I’m going to use it next week though for a game and we will see how it goes.
Overall, I think I have to give the book only 3.5 bears out of 5 bears, at least for now. I reserve the write to change this rating at anytime. Just to be clear, this does not dim my excitement to run a game in a new campaign world.