The Hellfrost Region Guides
are short, inexpensive pdfs (earlier guides tended to cover larger areas, and are 12 pages, later ones cover smaller areas and tend to be 6 pages) covering a particular aspect (usually geographic) of the world of Rassilon. In this series of reviews, I shall examine each region guide in order. The format of each is the same; there is no artwork, simply a title page with a one-column introduction to the area, then several pages of double-column information, some pages with sidebars. The text is clear and editing, for the most part, is average for the RPG industry; most region guides have a few typos here and there, but nothing too bad. As such, the Style points for each review will be the same unless there is something especially pronounced in a particular region guide.
This week I am starting with Region Guide 0: Of Men and Gods. Rather than the more usual geographical aspect, this guide covers the topic of faith, expanding on that found in the Hellfrost Playerís Guide. In many ways, this document sets out how faith will be examined in future region guides, which each mention some aspect of a particular cult, religion or lesser god. There are several sections in this free 6 page pdf after the introduction, the first being a discussion of Priests and Paladins. This short essay looks at the place of training for clerics of both types, briefly mentions the use of prayers and oaths to help create a sense of realism in conversation, and then concludes by considering adventure potential and character guidelines. As mentioned above, this section does not give much information on these subjects, but explains how they will be treated in future region guides for particular religions. A sidebar gives an example, focusing on the cult of Hela and going into much more detail on these aspects of her faith.
The second section is concerned with Minor Gods, and again offers a brief introduction to the concept of minor gods, tying them to one or more of the major gods, without looking at a specific minor god. The next section discusses the place and importance of Ceremonies, including rituals and holy days. Examples of two festivals to Hela are given as examples in sidebars. The following section on Cults and Society discusses temple hierarchy, how it can differ depending on the particular cult, and on any hierarchy of the cult itself (several religions have quasi or fully independent temples, others have a more rigid sense of organisation. The penultimate section covers the Pantheon, or rather pantheons, discussing the different pantheons accorded to each of races found in Hellfrost, including which gods are favoured by which racial cultures. This section also discusses the tangled web of divine family trees, noting that some are contradictory; the Hearth elves, for example, do not see Scaetha as being the daughter of Eostre and Sigel, but of Tiw. Likewise, elementalists believe that Kenaz, with the other elemental forces, is a son of Maera, and not Sigel as is generally recognised. The final section in this pdf is devoted to Alien Gods, minor deities often aligned with monstrous races, and which do not fit within the common pantheons. An example is given of Spidari, the goddess of spiders. Her cult is written up in the same format as those found in the Playerís Guide.
There is not as much usable information in this region guide as are found in others, mostly because this is an introduction to the other guides, explaining the formats they take, with the exception of the sidebars on Hela and the description of the Spidari cult. In my reviews of the region guides, I will look at the possibility of using them as stand-alone pieces. Because of the nature of this guide, it is not really applicable to do so. Additionally, I will look at the scope for adventure ideas, overall feel and I will comment on any missed opportunities in my future reviews. There are a few details given in the examples in this pdf that might lead to ideas a GM could use, but generally this is a prologue to the series as a whole.
Style: Clear typeface, not too many typos, simple layout. 3 / 5.
Substance: Not a great deal other than setting the format for future releases, but the sidebar of Hela is interesting, and the description of Spidariís cult is useful. 3 / 5.