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Cultists of Havra Zhoul $4.99 $2.99
Average Rating:4.5 / 5
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Cultists of Havra Zhoul
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Cultists of Havra Zhoul
Publisher: Raging Swan Press
by Alexander L. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 03/30/2012 08:36:24
Originally posted at http://diehardgamefan.com/2012/03/30/tabletop-review-cultist-
s-of-havra-zhoul/

INTRODUCTION: Cultists of Havra Zhoul is a very interesting twenty-seven page fantasy supplement that is fully compatible for Paizo’s Pathfinder roleplaying game and with minimal modifications and can be compatible with other fantasy rules settings. The evil cult that is introduced in this supplement can be easily inserted into any fantasy gaming setting.

CONTENTS: This PDF contains a lot of great information for a DM to use when it involves the use of a cult or any other extremist religious conclave. The contents are very impressive by providing new monsters, new spells, new magic items, new templates, and a new witch archetype. There is also a whole section dedicated to this cult and its formation to include its Dictum, goals, values, beliefs, enemies, and its allies. There are a bunch of fleshed out NPC’s specifically designed for this particular supplement but can also be used in other adventures as the DM dictates. On top of the all of this are some neat adventure hooks that will assist the DM in integrating the information in this supplement into an existing campaign I must add that all stat blocks are included for all NPC’s and monsters that are described in this PDF. All in all, a lot of new information that is easy to read and well designed.

PRACTICAL USE: In the past two weeks, I utilized this entire supplement to the fullest extent and found it to be extremely enjoyable and it provided a good 47 hours of fun for a my group of play testers. There is no doubt that this supplement will provide more hours of entertainment for those DM’s who will utilize it in a different manner than myself. So, with that said, this supplement will provide to a DM a huge source of information on a religious organization (cult) that provides great benevolent services to the masses but when people are asleep, their true dark nature is then revealed. This cult has hidden agendas and in order for them to come to fruition have to continue to function under the false guise of a good religious order. Now, as one continues to read the goals of this cult, it could be understood that the cult is not evil. However, “culling the weak” so that only the strong survive, can be interpreted in only so many ways. The new monsters are brilliant. The NPC’s were well described and full of life. The use of this PDF is just endless.

POSITIVE NOTES: Cultists of Havra Zhoul is an excellent supplement and it provided more fun then I anticipated for the play testers hence the long awaited review of this product. I was very amazed at how the play testers were so quick to assume that the “cult” was actually a good organization until very much later into the game where one of the players actually tried to be a member. The adventure hooks were a total plus. This PDF is well organized, has some very good art contained within, and is certainly a DM’s treasure trove of what an evil cult is all about. This product has limitless potential and can be supplemented in any campaign as a driving force for players.

NEGATIVE NOTES: My only issue was with the format of the PDF. As I have stated on a previous review of a product from this company, I found it needlessly difficult at times to utilize it in a way especially on a laptop. Due to the large amount of information contained in this great product, I was forced to print it out to utilize it more effectively then the way it is presented in its PDF format. When the document is opened, you will see both page 1 and page 2. In order to read page 2, I had to move the slider over to read it. Now, if one is not too careful, it was easy to slip down to page 3 and 4 and then one has to reorient the PDF to read it again correctly from the beginning. Get rid of this format. When I open a PDF, I want to see Page one, then slide down to page 2, then again to page 3 and so on. When you have a format that shows both pages like an open book, it is difficult to work with it on a laptop or an IPAD.

OVERALL REVIEW: Due to the fun at the expense of the players and my extensive playtesting, I found Cultists of Havra Zhoul to be an EXCELLENT product. Besides the issue with the PDF format, this is a must for any DM who needs a fully fleshed out evil cult for their fantasy games. Rest assured, this product will be on my shelf for future use.

Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Publisher Reply:
Hi! I'm delighted that you enjoyed Cultists of Havra Zhoul! I'm sorry you had problems viewing it, though. When I set up these files so that when they open they display both the page and a list of bookmarks for easy navigation. In Adobe Reader you can change these settings by hitting View > Page Display > Single Page. I hope that helps!
Cultists of Havra Zhoul
Publisher: Raging Swan Press
by Thilo G. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 02/03/2012 08:42:29
This pdf is 31 pages long, 1 page front cover, 1 page blank inside of the front cover, 1 page editorial, 1 page ToC, 1 page advice on reading statblocks for novice DMs, 1 page SRD, 1 page advertisement and 1 page back cover, leaving 23 pages of content for the new cult.

This review depicting a cult contains SPOILERS, thus I'd advice potential players to skip to the conclusion.

Still here? All right! Havra Zhoul's cult is not a common "More-Evil-than-thou"-Cult, which becomes readily apparent even from the start - so-called dictums of the cult, i.e. sections from the writing of the holy book of the cult, depicting the philosophy of the sect.

An organized task-force created by a paladin who got too radical, the cult of Havra Zhoul takes the idea of the "good shepherd" and people as a flock and develop it to the logical extreme: A totalitarian organization that seeks to impose the dictums of the cult at any cost. Starting off as a seemingly benevolent secret police that punishes evil-doers the system can't seem to grab/defeat or who have powerful official backing, the cult could even work with the PCs, increasing the horror of realizing the lows to which the cult could sink.

Even better, the cult per se might actually improve the overall situation for a time...before imposing draconic rules, that is. Especially when used in noir-settings like in "Streets of Zobeck" or Freeport, the edge the cult gives law and order might make the organization the lauded heroes of the downtrodden and opens up whole revenues for adventuring - have e.g. the PCs guard murderers and similar criminals, perhaps because they're still needed...

Of course, adventure hooks galore are provided for the cult, beginning with a magic investigator (complete with stats) who lies low, for he knows that he's bitten off more than he can chew and will pay dearly for his discoveries. A sample safehouse of the cult and the artifact housing the founder's soul, the holy book of the cult is included as well as two sample rites to create two unique kinds of devils from willing and unwilling supplicants as well as 2 new templates that grants infernal powers to those fully initiated into the cult. We also get a new witch archetype centered on poison-usage and a new class of magic items, necklaces of venomous beads.

Additionally, we get the full 4 NPC-descriptions of the cult's leaders and powerplayers entangled in webs of deceit, each with at least 2 pages of information, hooks, mannerisms and CHARACTER. There are a lot of NPCs out there, but these are truly fully developed characters, going so far as making even a chaotic evil decadent bastard a valid potential choice for an ally of the PCs. The writing of the NPCs and the cult itself is, let me make this abundantly clear STELLAR. The excerpts from the Dictum make this pdf not only a joy to read, but also gives the DM a great bunch of philosophical things to paraphrase/read to his players when confronting them with the cult, gradually introducing them to ever more extreme appliances of the teachings.

Conclusion.
editing and formatting are top-notch, I didn't notice any glitches. Layout adheres to the 2-column RSp-standard and the b/w-artworks are neat. The pdf comes fully bookmarked and features an extra pdf of collated stat-blocks as well as one optimized for use with e-readers. I LOVE this pdf. I really do.
Pierre van Rooden gives us not one run-of-the-mill cult, but a concisely-written organization that makes sense in every word and makes membership in the cult a believable goal, perhaps even for players. Depending on your campaign, the shades-of-grey approach taken herein might challenge a lot of overtly simplistic and boring dichotomies many players tend to take as for granted, making this pdf not only a good read, but offering an organization that very well could change how your PCs think about law, order and the price living in a peaceful society might entail. A sub-textual criticism of our ever-growing fear and mounting surveillance in real life is evident and, with divinations etc., an experienced DM could use this cult easily as a foundation for a roleplaying social commentary. Or you could simply use it as written and still enjoy one of the best NPC-organizations released for PFRPG to date. My final verdict? Not surprising at this point - 5 stars and the Endzeitgeist seal of approval.

Endzeitgeist out.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
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