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Hot Springs Island is a high fantasy sandbox adventure setting that can be used with any table top role playing game. It's comprised of two books: One for players and one for the game master.
The Dark of Hot Springs Island is the game master's book. It is a fully illustrated 192 page book. Hot Springs Island is a hexcrawl, and the Dark contains all the details needed to run a sandbox game there. There are 75 locations on the island, and 26 maps ranging from ogre villages to a ruined elven city to the volcanic lair of a vain efreet. Seven factions, 87 interconnected non-player characters and 300 problematic treasures are sure to generate plenty of lingering repercussions each time your players make a decision. Finally, 448 random events and encounter motivations help ensure that every play-through of Hot Springs Island can explode into wildly different outcomes from the same basic parameters.
The setting is system neutral, so there are no stats for monsters or prepackaged treasure parcels. No levels are assumed, and there is no path of advancement through this tropical wilderness. The monsters will likely be tough, and the intelligent factions even tougher, but the motivations for (and thus potential leverage against) everything with a modicum of intelligence has been detailed. Combat is expected to be approached like war, and not a perfectly balanced arena skirmish. Crack the mountains. Flood the dungeons, and burn everything to survive.
In the event that stats are an absolute must, most all monsters found on the island can already be found in the monster books you own for your system (e.g., efreet, salamanders, ogres, nereids, imps, elementals, etc). If they are not found there, the size and diet has been provided so you can sub in the stats of a "medium sized carnivore" or "large herbivore" as necessary. Finally, there are a few creatures of such size, age, and power that they'd likely be considered demi-gods. For these individuals it will be necessary to spend some time prepping their particulars, but there should be plenty of ramp up time before they make an appearance on the island.
A Field Guide to Hot Springs Island is the player oriented companion book to The Dark. It is written "in-character" and can be used by characters in the game world to help identify plants and monsters, translate ancient languages, and as a resource of advice and rumors.
If you'd like to hear what other people have to say about the content of the Dark of Hot Springs Island, check out this review of the Lapis Observatory (one of the dungeons that is a part of this book).
Ordering a physical copy of The Dark of Hot Springs Island will also get you a PDF of the book and JPG hex map of Hot Springs Island that can be printed at 18"x24"
13 Reviews Hide Reviews Show Reviews
Pretty close to the best example of what a hexcrawl should look like. The format given is pretty awesome. I have to agree with The Alexandrian in that this is the best example of what a hexcrawl should look like.
I first heard about Swordfish Islands via Questing Beast on youtube. After getting my copy I can see what all the fuss was about. I've read primarily through the Factions/Individuals, as well as a appendices only thus far making reference to the Maps and Events and Hexkey sections. The characters and rich, feel fleshed out, and are understandable. The powder keg analogy that the author promotes in the intro is spot on. This is a list of factions and cadres just waiting to collide with one another. Some of the prose on the characters falls deeply into trying to "act them out," a little too hard at times. Which can feel odd when you are hitting a "Just the facts, ma'am," vibe in your intel gathering, but largely it has a nice feel to it, and gives you a bit of insight into character. I loved that the book is systemically agnostic. I can toss it in either with my 5e or OSE groups with equal ease. I wish this would set off a wave of such efforts by authors to anoint their settings with the sacred oil of being utterly modular, but alas, it is not so. The book is physically gorgeous, and the most recent cover is an evocative treat. It captures a pulp, Howardian scene with a Frazetta style and starts the reader with an impression of Svarku that is nothing short of ironic. The lady's butt is nice too! The cool vs hot colors can do a lot of heavy lifting when you consider the implications as well. My sole major gripe is that there is no ribbon bookmark. I'll be frank, a day after owning this I took a handful of ribbon spools, a tool and a bottle of superglue and fixed that problem with mine, now it has three, I even made them red, yellow and blue to keep with the color palette of the cover art. Overall 5 stars, excellent product!
I goofed up my order and Swordfish Islands were super responsive in helping me amend it - even though it put them out a couple of dollars on shipping. Not only that, but they also packaged my books (I got the field guide and Silent Titans as well) in a huge box with tons of packing paper. It was the first time in my life that I received a book in the mail without any crushed corners. As for the actual books, the print quality was excellent. They feel like art objects, which affords them a special place on my shelf.
No exaggeration here, Hot Springs island is easily one of the greatest Hex Crawls ever made, and the fact that it is system agnostic makes it that much more awesome. Whether you play D&D or DCC or pretty much ANY TTRPG, there is so much to love about HSI. Besides the setting / content, the physical product is a work of art. One of the best RPG books I have ever owned, you'll never regret buying this.
It's even better than the digital product. Gorgeous on my book shelf. Content is still brilliant too.
One of the best hex crawls out there. Easy to reference and amazing layout. The physical book is also top quality. If only more products were at this level. A+
High quality book filled with months of adventure, can't recommend enough
Incredible artwork and world building!! I chose to use this world while running the Savage Worlds campaign. Fits like a glove. What I love the most, is you could honestly run any system with the diverse and immersive world Swordfish Islands has created. 10/10 recommend.
Great quality adventure book with truly unique artwork and adventures. Offers hundred of different directions for players to take and easy to follow charts to use. Great quality book!