Sunday, November 10, 2019

Temple of the Bear Review — Bears and Bores

Sharp Mountain Games has put out a lot of mini-adventures for Labyrinth Lord over the last few years, and being a person that finds short-ish adventures the most useful, I've bought most of them. They tend to be a bit formulaic and can be a mixed bag, but once in a while there's one that's exceptional and they are cheap enough ($2.50). Temple of the Bear is perhaps the most generic of the bunch, although it's aimed at a somewhat higher level (7th) than the previous.

Originally SMG's modules were centered around a town of Adela, but recent ones have moved, this is in a village named Fastholme. Basically the place has been beset by animal attacks (bears) and recently a farmer's son has been kidnapped. There's no real detail about the town, only about a half-dozen townsfolk who are are given half a paragraph of background each. But presumably the PCs will investigate, with the mayor offering 4,000 gp. That's not a princely sum for 7th level, but it's better than the miserly amount many other modules offer.

Presumably they head for the Temple of the Bear (pointed the way there by a friendly forrester, pretty much like all the ones based in Adela). It's an aptly named place, since pretty much all the monsters there are bears or bear hybrid monster (like the owlbear). Ultimately they get to the bottom of the source of the attacks, which is an evil magic-user and his family (which I think is the villain in about 80% of the Sharp Mountain Games modules).

Although meant for 7th level characters (that's what the pregens are), all the encouters are with monsters of less than 7 hit dice. I realise Labyrinth Lord and Basic/Expert characters are somewhat weak, but generally I think parties can handle monsters 3-4 hit dice more than their level. The villain is a whopping 4th level, though he does have two wearbear relatives and a bear that paralyzes with a glare (Glare Bear).

It's a bit longer than most previous SMG modules, with 15 or so encounters/areas, including a couple of wilderness encounters on the way. It's mostly combat, there's a trap and not really much in the way of exploration. There's literally almost no loot, just incindental stuff.

Like other modules from Sharp Mountain Games, it comes will all sorts of additional maps for use with a Virtual Table Top. It's mostly illustrated by the author, whose art has gotten a lot better the last couple years.

Temple of the Bear is almost completely unremarkable, other than its bear theme (and lack of loot). If you need a temple full of bear creatures, you might have a look, but it's the least creative module from Sharp Mountain Game, most of which have at least one or two interesting bits.


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