March 10

Hollow’s Last Hope Review, it’s Free and Fun

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PZO9500 Hollow's Last Hope Cover

Hollow's Last Hope:

  • Author: Jason Bulmahn, F. Wesley Schneider
  • Publisher: Paizo Publishing
  • Published: 2007 
  • Pages: 16 
  • Price: Free 

Hollow's Last Hope is a wilderness exploration and dungeon adventure for 1st level characters, compatible with the Dungeons & Dragons 3.5 ruleset.

The module was published by Paizo Publishing in 2007 and was Paizo's contribution to the first ever Free RPG Day.

The 16-page saddle stitched booklet contains the Hollow's Last Hope adventure, and an appendix detailing a new creature, the Tatzlwyrm.

Art

The cover artist credits had me doing some research as it mentions UDON, Joe Ng, and Espen Grundetjern.

UDON or UDON Entertainment Corporation is a Canadian studio that's known for its work on the Street Fighter franchise. Both Joe and Espen work(ed) for UDON. 

This explains the comic style feel of some of the art. On Joe Ng's Deviant art page I found the line art for the Hollow's Last Hope Cover. I'm assuming that Espen then did the coloring in this case. 

Line art Hollow's Last Hope Cover by Joe Ng

The cover shows an encounter between Valeros and the worg Graypelt. While the cover art is really nice, it doesn't blow me away like the Godsmouth Heresy cover

Hollow's Last Hope was released for the Paizo early day Gamemastery Module line. It doesn't feature the full cover art yet that would be implented later on for the Pathfinder modules. 

The interior art features an NPC portrait, 3 half page art pieces, 2 magical items, and the worg art that is repeated on the back cover of the module. 

The art for the encounters with the Tatzlwyrm and the Darkmantles is by the UDON crew and features that same comic style feel. 

While I really like the Seoni vs the Darkmantles art, it's a pity that the rest of the artwork has a completely different vibe. 

The depiction of Droskar's Crucible and for example the Soulspeaker is less flashy and more dark and gritty. I prefer the latter for my fantasy art to be honest. 

Cartography

The cartography is done by Christopher West and Robert Lazzaretti. Both have a half page piece on the inside front cover. 

Both maps are absolutely top notch. One shows the surface level of Droskar's Crucible, the other shows the area around Falcon's Hollow and features all the important locations used in the adventure. 

Look & Feel

This adventure module was provided for free at the very first Free RPG Day in 2007. For a free product, it definitely holds up to Paizo's well-known standard of awesome products.  

Hollow's Last Hope has a three-column layout that is regularly interrupted with tables, magical items, art, and sidebars to form a cohesive unit and a great layouting job. 

Writing

Hollow's Last Hope is a very simple adventure. It could be taken straight from your typical Baldur's Gate style computer rpg in which your first quest is to gather some ingredients. 

Pretty much as linear as it gets, you can summarize the adventure as:

  • A village has a problem
  • Villagers point to person A
  • Person A doesn't know where to find the items required for the solution
  • Person A points to person B
  • Person B shows where the items can be found
  • Grab the items and give them to person A

I do have to say though, simple and linear doesn't necessarily equal bad and I think this module proves that. 

While it's perfectly possible to run the module in a single session, there's more there if you want. I ran Hollow's Last Hope way back in 2014. We took our time and ended up with 4 gaming sessions

It only took me 7 years to come up with this review! 

Hollow's Last  Hope also shows Paizo's savy knack for marketing. They provide you with a free adventure and if you want more, there's another release (Crown of the Kobold King) that takes place in the exact same location. And it has a gazetteer of the village of Falcon's Hollow. 

So if you do want to explore this area a bit more, I would recommend checking out Crown of the Kobold King and the Guide to Darkmoon Vale.

Falcon's Hollow actually has some very interesting power mechanics in the sense that the lumber consortium is keeping everyone under its heavy thumb. 

You won't find much about the town in this module however they do try to sprinkle in some flavour with a few random encounters and a sidebar of some region-specific fauna. 

Encounters

The main encounter for which you need to play this adventure is the one with the witch's kettle. That is just hilarious! What a great idea. 

Especially since they try to create a very creepy vibe at that location. There's a bunch of scarecrow in front of the cottage which everyone will expect to animate at any point. 

No one is going to see the kettle coming!

HLH Encounter chart

The module has a very even mix of challenge ratings ranging from 1 to 3. 

I also like that Graypelt is not just cannon fodder. He tries to bargain with the characters only to try and double-cross them later on. 

When I ran the adventure, my players discovered the kobold hiding under the bed. One of the characters elbow dropped onto the bed WWF-style and crushed both the bed and the kobold underneath. 

If you feel like it, read the session reports. We had a lot of fun with this one.  

The Tatzlwyrm

The tatzlwyrm is actually a dragon, albeit not a very powerful one. The detail about them inheriting the collection habit from their dragonkin is great though. 

I could totally imagine the bodies and gear hanging in that gigantic tree. That makes for some great descriptions if someone decides to climb to the top. 

Interesting sidebar as well. Apparently the creature is based on  European legends and was believed to be real in the Middle Ages. Even Marco Polo claims to have seen one. 

The magical items

I can be quite short about the Ring of Torag. It's basically a spell-in-a-box that provides fire resistance. 

The Soulspeaker is a really creepy addition to the witch's cottage. So creepy in fact that my group found it and left it behind. 

It's magical effect is nothing major. It's just a joy to describe to the players. Both when they find it and when they decide to use it. 

Hollow's Last Hope's story

As mentioned before, the story of Hollow's Last Hope is not very complicated, nor does it have to be. 

Falcon's Hollow is a small town on the outskirts of civilization. Recently members of its population have fallen victim to a disease. 

The disease was caused by certain mushrooms growing in the town's well. Even though the cause is clear, a cure is not available. 

The local priestess is new and her healing skills are not trusted and the local herbalist is out of ideas. Well, except for that recipe her grandmother got from a witch. 

From there on, it's a linear path towards looking for the ingredients, bringing them back, and saving the town. 

GM Preparation

  • If you want to know a bit more about Falcon's Hollow, I highly recommend getting Crown of the Kobold King and the Guide to Darkmoon Vale and reading through their gazetteers. 
  • If you do use those gazetteers to flesh out the town, you'll notice that there's a High Market area that is restricted to only certain people. Once that becomes obvious, you can rest assured that your players will want to gain access. Be prepared for that. 
  • Be prepared for questions. I wasn't when I originally ran this adventure. The disease is caused by a mushroom growing in the town's well. The mushroom, however, is not a local specimen. So how did it get there? The adventure does not answer that question. My players suspected foul play and spent quite some time trying to figure out who would benefit from the villagers getting ill. 
  • Try and make the witch's cottage as creepy as possible. Go all out on describing the clearing, the plant growth and trees all bending away from the cottage, the scarecrows, add in some razorcrows on the roof. The kettle encounter is in my opinion the highlight of the adventure so make sure to make it as epic as possible. 
  • For the stats of most creatures in this adventure, you are referred to the Monster Manual so make sure to have that handy. Don't forget to also read up on the creatures in the random encounter table if you decide to use that. There's a kobold shaman in there for example with no reference to the Monster Manual at all. 
  • I would highly recommend having a friendly GMC (Game Master Character aka NPC) affected by the disease in order to get the characters involved. I randomly rolled the number of deaths every day as the module describes and did the same to see when the friendlies would die. That really upped the tension. The players tried their best to get back to the village as soon as possible. 

Critical Hit or Fumble?

For those who just want to skip straight to the ratings:

Pros

  • Simple and linear story that you can turn into a lot more if you want to. 
  • Lots of roleplaying and investigation opportunities
  • Great mechanic to simulate the death toll of the disease and suggestions on how to create tension by adding friendlies to the list of affected people.
  • Great for beginning players and Game Masters.
  • It's free!

Cons

  • Highly recommended to read up on Falcon's Hollow but you need other books for that.
  • How the mushroom got into the town's water supply is not explained.
76%

Product Rating Summary

Art

cartography

look & feel

writing

story

gm prep

Hollow's Last Hope is a fun 1st level adventure. A simple story, easy to run, and as the GM you can choose to make it a single session, or add more details and turn it into a multiple session story. 

When I ran the adventure for my group it took us 4 sessions to complete. For a free product that's amazing value! 

The witch's cottage is the highlight of the story in my opinion and you can choose to use this module as a prelude to Crown of the Kobold King. 

Purchase Hollow's Last Hope

Hardcopy

Hollow's Last Hope has been out of print for a while. Your best bet for a hardcopy version is to look on Amazon or perhaps on Ebay

Hollow's Last Hope pdf

As it's a Free RPG product, you can download the pdf directly from the Paizo website. 

Also of interest

Since most of the monster stat blocks refer you to the Monster Manual, you'll need a copy of the Dungeons & Dragons 3.5 Monster Manual.

For more information on the region in which the advanture takes place, you can grab a copy of the Guide to Darkmoon Vale.

If you want to run this adventure in tandem with another adventure that takes place in the exact same location, you can look for Crown of the Kobold King, a level 2 adventure that you  can run right after this module. 

Ralph

About the author

Ralph is a gamer, dungeon master, Youtuber, and RPG collector who's incredibly passionate about roleplaying games. Coming from a computer roleplaying game background, he discovered tabletop roleplaying games at GenCon Benelux and a whole new world opened up. When he was properly introduced to them in a local gaming store, he knew he had found the best game ever!



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