Dorastor, Land of Doom
Dorastor, Land of Doom Capsule Review by Gilbert Pili on 23/07/02
Style: 3 (Average)
Substance: 5 (Excellent!)
Dorastor is crammed with a wealth of priceless material that any referee will find inspiring.
Product: Dorastor, Land of Doom
Author: Various authors
Company/Publisher: The Avalon Hill Game Company
Line: RuneQuest, Hero Wars, HeroQuest
Page count: 128
Year published: 1993
Comp copy?: no
Capsule Review by Gilbert Pili on 23/07/02
Genre tags: Fantasy
Every time I surface for air after reading the latest RuneQuest addition, I come away with something fresh and exciting. From the stylized "stained-glass" painting on the cover to the philosophical musings on the morality of Illumination, the 128-page Dorastor: Land of Doom verges on masterpiece.
Included with the main booklet is the 16-page "Talastar Papers" containing the more biased chronicles of experiences within Dorastor. A full-color regional map is also incorporated. In the main book, sections describing the history, important regions and inhabitants fill in the background to the region, but the authors also add a full-fledged campaign, details of two unique Dorastor cultures and three in-depth examinations of Dorastor cults.
In other hands, Dorastor could have easily ended up as a book full of generic beasties, whose sole purpose in life is to make life miserable for player characters. A good chunk (47 pages) of this new supplement for RuneQuest is devoted to encounters in this region of Glorantha infamous for hordes of bizarre creatures, strange landscape and turbulent history. But the encounters are well documented with notes describing the monster's niche in the wild Dorastor ecology. These are monsters with personality.
Surprise twists include examinations of the spider folk, who are more intelligent that one might imagine, and the not-so-generic Gloranthan "werewolves." And Ralzakark, King of the Broo and big bad monster incarnate, can't really be pigeonholed as a plain heavy, either. In fact, while many of the monsters are dangerous and hostile, I never once get the feeling that they exist solely for PCs to slaughter (although I have no doubt anyone who plays in this setting will do plenty of that).
The "Riskland Campaign" introduces PCs to local Orlanthi culture as well as to the hazards of Dorastor. The Orlanthis, a group persecuted outside Dorastor for their refusal to bow to another goddess, are free to worship Orlanth in Dorastor, but they pay a heavy price. PCs learn to work with the farm steaders trying to survive in the hostile environment, and may even come to love them. There's not a cardboard NPC in sight, and the richness of the Gloranthan setting shines through in every episode of the campaign. In one instance, PCs must track a murderer to the top of a sacred mountain and confront Orlanth himself.
The supplement ends with an inspired discussion of "Illumination," a philosophical state of mind reached by some Gloranthans that is -- depending on one's outlook -- a worthy goal or an evil curse to be destroyed at all costs. These last pages alone are worth the cover price.
While the cover painting is wonderful, the interior art is more erratic in quality, and the layout is sometimes less than eye-catching. Large chunks of text with no break make for difficult reading at times. Beyond that, however, Dorastor is crammed with a wealth of priceless material that any referee will find inspiring.