Land of the Damned 2: Eternal Torment
Land of the Damned 2: Eternal Torment Capsule Review by Wes Johnson on 18/11/02
Style: 2 (Needs Work)
Substance: 3 (Average)
You got your setting in my rules! No, you got your rules in my setting! Is Eternal Torment two great tastes in one?
Product: Land of the Damned 2: Eternal Torment
Author: Bill Coffin, Kevin Siembieda
Company/Publisher: Palladium Books
Line: Palladium Fantasy
Page count: 192
Year published: 2002
Comp copy?: yes
Capsule Review by Wes Johnson on 18/11/02
Genre tags: Fantasy
Eternal Torment is the second installment in the Palladium Fantasy campaign setting: The Land of the Damned. It is a hodgepodge of material that contains some gems of ideas, unfortunately they are in the rough.
As a preface for those not familiar with this trilogy of books for Palladium Fantasy, The Land of the Damned is a place in the northern part of the Palladium setting that was sealed off by the forces who opposed the infinitely evil Old Ones. The Land of the Damned contains all sorts of evil that is trapped there and forced to fight amongst itself. Such was the fate of those who lost the Chaos War or comported themselves in an evil manner for the forces of “good”. Things can get in or out, but that could be an adventure in itself (albeit there have been very few reasons given in the series to venture north). This is the second book in The Land of the Damned trilogy and like many middle books it suffers from having too much padding and not enough substance. Had this trilogy been compressed into one or two books nothing would have been lost. It might have helped a better focus form instead of a slight disparate collect of settings and rules..
What setting there is in Eternal Torment is decent, unfortunately there is not much of it as it accounts for only a quarter of the book. The were beasts of the Darkest Heart held some interest and could be an interesting side adventure for a party. The elves in the Fallen Palace of Therendil have some interesting ideas, but ultimately that part of the setting felt a little awkward as it feels out of place with the rest of the setting. The premise is that these elves stayed behind to police the Land of the Damned, but fell victim to a curse and the bad guys in the region prey upon them to some degree. But really it is a static as they are basically cursed with lethargy, a nastier sort of curse could have been juicier and provide better hooks. The Eternal Torment region has some very interesting premise, as it is a place where the undead run rampant and it is a twisted sort of Darwinism for them. In this undying anarchy are several “lords” who are vying for control. There is a great deal of potential here that never seems to be fulfilled, as the page count is slim considering the size of the book. There are some other smaller ideas that never really feel like much more than a footnote, namely the faeries and were-beasts which should have been expanded upon.
The best hook that was introduced into Eternal Torment, which should have been put into the first installment of this trilogy, was an excuse to go into the Land of the Damned. This device details the history and personalities of Jidian and His Legionnaires. They were a famed band of adventurers who went into the Land of the Damned and never returned. Now many years later, a signal has been sent and the Legion is forming up parties to go investigate The Land of the Damned. This was an improvement over the first installment, which basically gave no compelling reason to go into the Land of the Damned, other than to die with pain. It is a shame this section got slotted into book two of the trilogy; but it does show that Eternal Torment has more of an assembled feel than a crafted one. Perhaps this has something to do with Bill Coffin’s departure from Palladium Books earlier this year.
For the remainder 2/3 of Eternal Torment the page count is filled with a hodge-podge of additional rules and information some good, some bad. The new types of undead creatures were mostly very creative and could be ported into many other fantasy campaigns. Most of the undead are well done and they could be very interesting additions to a Palladium Fantasy Campaign or ported into D&D3e or some other game. The other monsters that are introduced are alright, but they also don’t contribute much to the setting either. There is a large section on curses and how they tie into the Land of the Damned. That could be a very unpleasant for a party who goes in unaware. This section, like the monsters and beasts, could be applied into any Palladium Fantasy campaign (or other rpg with some work).
all Palladium supplements it is tough to feel ripped off, even if Eternal Torment
is not up to their normal standards. It is
perfect bound and weighs in at 192 pages for $21.95,
or 11 cents a page. The layout and
design is well done. There is little
wasted space and the text is dense (which is a good thing!). The art is generally good. The art is also
recycled frequently, which detracts slightly from the overall look of the book. The cover is by Larry Elmore and like all his
art is well done. Though
from my reading of Eternal Torment it does not give a feel of the Faerie
mounds that neighbor the
Perhaps Eternal Torment suffers like the middle parts of many trilogies; much of it is padding for the final installment. The series might be better once it is done or the last book is superb, because reading it piecemeal has been slightly disappointing. There are so many parts of the Palladium world that are either shelf-ware (The Old Kingdom) or simply never covered in detail (Southwinds, Phi, Lopan or Bizantium). It is a shame that this was not put off as an end piece for the product line. Eternal Torment would have benefited by having a little more time to be crafted and its rough edges smoothed. As it stands now, it has more of a feel of putting a book together with the leftovers from other projects rather than a definitive part of the Palladium Fantasy world.