Hwellan is a forsaken, indeed forgotten, village high in the mountains in some wild frontier area, the sort of place where barbarians and kobolds can roam unmolested. The weather's generally bad and life was hard even when things were normal... and now, of course, they are somewhat worse!
Within this loose description, you can put Hwellan into your campaign world anywhere that's convenient, as it is neatly self-contained. It is a long way from civilisation, so it can be added to even a well-established setting, because until your characters stumble across it they probably will not have heard of the place at all. However, if just encountering adventure locations does not suit your style, or if you have a bunch of characters who plain won't head for the hills, there are some plot hooks provided to entice them in the right direction.
Once the characters are heading up into the mountains, the fun begins. The weather and environment are treacherous enough, even before you add in the other residents of the area. Snow, hail, high winds and avalances are commonplace, while the cold itself has deleterious effects on the unprepared. There is plenty of detail on how to inflict this all on the characters (although you might wish to consult Frostburn for additional information). There's plenty and enough here for you to present the dangers to good effect, though. In addition, most of the local wildlife is hungry and on the lookout for easy prey.
And so, assuming you get there, the village itself. Originally inhabited by the sort of independent-minded folks who prefer to struggle against the rigors of nature rather than live in more comfort but under another's governance, things have gone dramatically wrong over the past year or so. Without going into game-spoiling detail, suffice to say that disease plays a large part, and there are several nasty new ones for your characters to contract!
After an extensive background explaining what's been going on and the current state of play, there is a section detailing how to build up the atmosphere of horror that hangs over Hwellan. This is very well done, and shows how to make this an adventure that will be the very stuff of nightmare through suggestion and innuendo. It also gives an overview of how to organise the characters' progression through the adventure.
Next comes a detailed description of the village of Hwellan and its buildings, linked to a comprehensive map. Everything can be at your fingertips as the characters explore.
The rest of the book is made up of appendices describing the monsters, NPCs and new items and spells involved in this encounter. The NPCs are presented with statistics at 3 levels to enable you to pitch the challenge appropriately.
Overall, this is really a complete adventure built around the location and villain promised in the series introduction. It is presented clearly and should prove easy to run. The illustrations are apposite and overall presentation is good although there are one or two sloppy errors which a good proof-read should have caught. All I need to do now is entice some adventurers up into the mountains...
Return to Forsaken Hwellan page.
Reviewed: 27 July 2006