On a Useful Review of Slumbering Ursine Dunes

You know what this side of the gaming internet is like? On time kickstarters that go above and beyond their goals.

Here's the Slumbering Ursine Dunes and a useful review.


  • My least favorite thing is that it's print on demand and the spine doesn't have the title. That's because I want to see it when I look at the shelf and have it make me feel happy again.
  • This is, effectively, one six mile hex, that goes anywhere in your campaign. 
  • It's a pointcrawl site based adventure with several factions that war in an area of ancient structures and gigantic dunes. That sounds blah, whatever. What it really is (SPOILERS) is
    • WERESHARK!
    • Talking bears!
    • Annoying, tax collecting centaurs!
    • Malevolent Elves!
    • Ancient Ships!
    • Two-headed Giant Vultures!
    • et. al.
  • It's unlike any other product I've read. It's a singular Dungeon Master (+Chris Kutalik of Hill Cantons) talking to you, another Dungeon Master, about how he ran his campaign, and how you should run his campaign based on his experience having done it already. 
  • Chris doesn't present you with a Non-player character. He introduces the character, talks about who they are, how he used him, gives advice and ideas on how to role-play him, and talks about how they fit into the larger picture of the dynamic of the Slumbering Ursine Dunes. 
  • These are actual Non-Player Characters that saw play, so they are brought to life by his descriptions, You can really imagine Jaromir misunderstanding the players so he can intentionally ramble on about some adventure he had once in the past. 
    • This both makes it a pleasure to read and enjoyable to play. You can't wait for the players to meet these non-player characters.
  • In case you missed it above, WAR BEAR B/X CLASS.
  • It's a pointcrawl, and there's an in-game rationale for why it's a point crawl. I feel that you don't need any sort of rationale for a pointcrawl beyond "These are the areas of interest".
  • It isn't  designed for fast and easy use at the table. To use this product you will have to read it once, then re-read it, then prepare some materials before play (such as a larger version of some of the maps. 
    • On the flip side of that coin, it commits no mistakes that many early modules and Dungeon Magazine adventures commit. All fiction/text is concise and evocative, and provides needed, necessary, and entertaining information. No verbiage is wasted on things that will never interface with play. The monster statistics and room descriptions are concise.
  • It contains a number of adventure accoutrements! A rising chaos table, a rumor table, a wandering encounter table, some new spells, some new classes, a table of hirelings for hire, new monsters.
  • The art is really nice, done by David Lewis Johnson who also did some of the pieces for Strange Stars. You can see some of the interior art of Dunes at that link.
  • It is an Interesting adventure. Besides the pointcrawl, there's a golden barge and a glittering spire. The barge may leave or the situation may change based on player action, and the glittering tower has multiple factions and more interesting gameplay then explore/kill/loot.
  • This is the exact right amount of content for a six-mile hex. 
    • So, if you have any sort of travel in your world, picking this up can be a good solution for whenever the players drill down on a coastal hex!
  • The kickstarter hit all its stretch goals and was delivered on time. 
    • You hear that, lying kickstarter starters? The Hydra collective did it right, not like people with 7 unfinished kickstarters, who start more AND run Patreons. The nerve.
  • Slumbering Ursine Dunes is available in Print and .PDF from RPGnow.

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5 comments:

  1. Good review. I think you hit on all the things I really liked about it, as well.

    ReplyDelete
  2. In all fairness, the stretch goals aren't done, so I wouldn't use this as an exemplar of timeliness.

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    Replies
    1. That's correct. The main adventure PDF came out a month early, the print version right before the end of December deadline. We did warn backers that the stretch adventures would take longer than the deadline we set for the main thing and have steadily been working on them--but yeah there's still miles to go before we sleep.

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    2. Are you kidding? David hill has SEVEN Kickstarters with delays from a delivery date of 2013, and still is asking for money on a Patreon and running new kickstarters. I'm still waiting on my print copy of ZED, which apparently doesn't deserve an update on the actual kickstarter.

      The main product was done and came out when he said it would. Taking extra time to provide extra product provided as a stretch goal is perfectly within the bounds of a reasonable kickstarter expectation.

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    3. I want to start off by saying that if it wasn't for Deep Carbon Observatory, SUD would be my favorite RPG product for 2014. I'm not faulting Chris or anyone on the team. I specifically hope that Andrew Picaro takes all the time he needs.

      I guess your statement felt like "counting chickens before they've hatched." I've backed Random Dungeon Generator as a Dungeon Map, Dwimmermount, and Stab City. I'd call the first one a success, but even that took 16 months from funding to final stretch goal delivery. While there's certainly no outright chicanery in these OSR KSes like with David Hill, there's hardly an unblemished record either.

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