Curse of Kabis
a review by Bent Dalager
This document may be distributed freely as long as its contents remains
Having finally read through the 110-page adventure module for Shadow World,
here are my impressions and judgements. Do note that as I have not yet
tried the module out in real play, my judgement may be somewhat lacking.
Also, I will try to focus more on what is in there than on how I felt about
it. That's no easy task though.
A systems note - this module does not come with Hero stats in it.
Personally, I feel that "A look at Politics and Power in the Scorpion Ridge
and Meluria" would have been a more appropriate title, but "Curse of Kabis"
sounds a lot better, I admit.
The book has the now familiar RMSS look to it, a kind of dark marble
pattern in the background with the new RMSS logo on the front. The cover
shows a neat piece of art with three characters about to be ambushed
coming out of an alley.
Personally, I missed the Shadow World look on this, the last SW module. I
would have preferred the standard SW back cover with the world map and the
nice big SW logo on top of the front cover.
The interior art is passable, and, as usual, serves to give the artist's
impression of some of the persons and selected places presented in the
book. I guess there could have been more of it, but then, one is never
satisfied in this respect.
There are beautiful colour maps of Jaiman and Emer on the inside covers of
the book. These are the same as those drawn maps that have been seen in
previous SW products.
The black/white maps within the book itself are a bit small. The area maps of
Meluria and the Scorpion Ridge could have been a bit bigger (one page each)
and had some more information on them (such as the locations of towns and
villages in Meluria). They do contain the vitals, though, and they have even
remembered to print the scale and compasses on all of them! One minor
gripe is that most of the vertical-slice maps could have had a vertical scale
put on them for clarity. This being absent, one just have to assume that it
is the same as the horizontal scale, and that leaves me with an uneasy feeling.
The interior does seem kind of dull, but it could just be the paper/ink
combination or something, I don't know. They use two coloumns of text
and sometimes put clarifying little tidbits in the margins. Someone
obviously read a GURPS book or two.
The lack of an index is irritating.
The major plot presented in the book centers around the Voidal entity called
Kabis. It entered the Shadow World long ago and started amassing servants and
power. It is extremely powerful (like level 300+). It was emprisoned after
the Wars of Dominion by Eissa and Iorak into an enclosed plane created by
Kadaena in the First Era and since forgotten. It has wandered that plane for
millenia and is biding its time. It has weak links to some of its still
loyal servants on Kulthea, and is patiently awaiting a means of escape.
Meanwhile, it directs its servants to act as spies and forces of disruption
in the world.
I feel that the Kabis concept ill fits SW, but that may just be me. As it
stands, if Kabis is unleashed on the world, he might represent a greater
threat than any of the current entities and organisations. His magical and
mental prowess alone would be a match for the Ahrenreth. This might also be
his undoing, as everyone else would seek to destroy him, from Dragonlords to
Lords of Orhan.
It seems that the campaign info in CoK can stand on its own though, even if
you should choose not to involve Kabis into your version of Kulthea. The
rundowns on Meluria, Sarnak and the Scorpion Ridge contains heaps of valuable
campaign material. Personally, I do feel tempted to run a campaign that
traverses the Kabis adventures, however.
The quest in the Adventures section of the book takes the adventurers through
a series of places on Kulthea. Two of these areas are detailed within the
book itself, while everywhere else is pretty much covered in previous SW
releases. The places in CoK include the whole of Meluria (S/SW of Rhakhaan on
Jaiman) and the Scorpion Ridge (on the west coast of Emer, the scorpion-like
This section contains a small, but usable, map of Meluria, as well as a
rundown of Melurian politics, the five ruling families, and the two cities
of the land. One of these cities (Bazilar) is described in detail while the
other is left more vague.
A number of important NPCs and organisations with different motives and
alignments are descibed in short paragraphs.
Sarnak and City
A complete rundown on Amazon society and how it came into being, as well as
details on their military structure and economic profile. There are
descriptions of the ruling council and some of the nominees for positions
on it, their motivations, etc. Also, a map and description of Sarnak City and
the resident Local God.
The Ridge is to the south and west of Sarnak, and contains logruki, goblins,
dwarves, trogli and men of varying motivations and goals. Also found here are
the ancient Scorpion Drakes who play a dormant-seeming but important role in
the area. Descriptions of the Murlog Realm and the Earth-Demon High King of
the goblins, two Dwarven realms, a human settlement and several independent
Goblin settlements as well as assorted Lugroki and Trogli tribes. Of particular
interest is Sagaroth, a city where all the above races (save the Drakes)
live in uneasy peace, a peace enforced by the half-god half-titan cyclops that
rules the city. Certainly a place of intrigue, espionage, and lucrative trade
A section on the Depths of the Ridge contains more secret and reclusive
cultures of various origins. One of the Dwarven realms (unknown to the
world), three nations of elemental beings transported there through a freak
flow storm and other, more hideous beings make their home in the Deeps.
The adventures are not complete with all you need to know to run them. They
provide the basic framework, NPCs, locations, etc., but the GM will have to
add some detail before running them. I rather feel this is good, as this is
the kind of thing you can easily come up with, on the fly if necessary,
and there's no reason why it should take up valuable pages of the book.
The adventures all focus on Kabis, and were meant to be played in the order
they are printed. The grand task is to gather all the pieces of an ancient
artifact created by Tethior and put them back together. Conveniently enough,
one of the pieces (the first found) points the way to the others.
The adventures take the PCs from a murder investigation in Bazilar, Meluria to
the war-torn border between Rhakhaan and Zor, further to a mystical isle off
the Urulan coast, an isle that seems to shift in and out of existance. From
there to a tomb in Plasidar, where a curse is awaiting fulfillment - and the
PCs are the final ingredient. Further on to Emer and the Scorpion Ridge, they
must enlist the aid of and thereafter survive a half-insane spellcaster, then
travel into the heart of the mountains and embroil themselves in the politics
of the Underearth, an adventure that might involve Goblin hordes pouring over
them and Dwarvish armies seeking an item the PCs possess. From the Ridge, the
final conflict takes them via the moon Charon into Kabis' prison, where they
must face the evil entity itself and its numerous servants on that plane, or
risk death or worse.
Finally, there is a list of possible 'complications' for the various
adventures. Things to clog up the PCs' machinery, if that should be needed.
These are generally good suggestions, and I could see myself using a series
I must also add that this is the kind of campaign which you would want to dot
with small side-stories and sub-adventures, but you already realised that, of
As a conclusion, even though I feel a bit uneasy about the Kabis thing, the
adventures seemed real cool, and I might have to introduce Kabis just so
I can try them all out :-)
The little things
The NPCs follow the standard SW presentation, with one annoying oversight -
there are no prime stats for any of them. I kind of miss those. Other than
that, they seem ok, but I haven't really studied them intensely.
I guess I should mention here that there are a series of local gods presented
in the book, most of these are a lot lower level than what I would expect.
The NPC, Races, Armies, etc., tables are very comprehensive and should prove to
be a very useful tool.
The Random Encounter Chart is presented in much the same way as in previous SW
products, but with some added details which make them a lot more useful. Like
a listing of possible hazards, traps, etc.
There is a Random Feature Chart to be used when strolling underground. Roll
1D100 for the terrain features (i.e., the lay of the cave). This looked real
useful, and is probably usable for strolls through other cave systems as well.
In my opinion, CoK is one of the best buys in the SW series yet, and is a
worthy end to the series. I did have some misgivings about it when I failed
to find Terry Amthor's name in the credits, but they seem to have done a
good job nevertheless. If these are the guys who are going to do the new
RMSS world, I think we have something to look forward to.
The campaign material seems to be of high quality and fits perfectly with the
provided adventures, in addition to having tons of possible plot hooks, quests,
etc., just screaming for a creative GM to exploit them.
Well, what can I say, I loved it ... :-)
Last modified: Tue Feb 25 01:48:57 MET 1997