Vesper the Defiler and Erg the Assassin subdue the Ravager of Shurax

Vesper the Defiler, a half-jinn outcast, and Erg the Duneborn assassin Vesper rescued from slavers wander the wastes.

Our two would-be fortune hunters stumble upon the fabled Well of Souls, and throwing caution to the wind, drink deep. Erg discovers a magic carpet soon after, “Why then the desert is mine oyster, which I with scimitar will open!”

The dynamic duo travel the wastes completing missions with abandon, looking for treasure, looking for purpose.

The discovery of an ancient artefact buried beneath the silt sea puts our outcasts in the employ of a caravan back to to the city-state of Phorora. A friendly librarian takes an interest in our heroes’ escapades and finally convinces them to try subduing the titanic Ravager; he’s just a deeply misunderstood godly creature of vast destructive power. But for that they are going to need crystals… lots of crystals.

An eventful caravan journey back to the wastes leaves our adventurers worse for wear and without provisions; nothing a carpet ride to a nearby oasis can’t solve. With the ever increasing presence of their enigmatic worm-friend, there is just enough time to explore and harvest the crystal towers before the arrival of Act III and the Ravager’s revenge.

Erg the Duneborn finds his true vocation, harvesting Ravager crystal and growing extra limbs. He develops an acid tongue, literally (Acid Spit x 5 for the assassin — talk about Toxin attack). Vesper the “Defiler” is a puritan who sports a Skyfire Crystal.

On the final turn before Act III, they take the Boom cannon travel service back to Phorora, dragging along a lost Merchant found wandering in the dunes. There’s barely enough time to “cleanse” the crystals and upgrade gear.

The Ravager erupts beneath our hapless heroes and the city-state of Phorora is besieged!

With a “nexus charm” shielding the city defenders, “cleansed crystals” get stuck into worm chakras and other crevices; toxic acid spit makes short work of the bugs.

Ravager down, heroes victorious!

Overall another surprising experience with the Hexplore IT world-building toolbox. What started as a quick play-through on easy to learn the rules, turned into a tantalising solo-adventure through the desert wastes of Shurax.

Hexplore IT is the perfect system for the jaded Dungeon Master who always wanted to be a player. Or the mentally deranged among us that enjoy reading an RPG campaign book even if you never get to play the campaign.

The world building is great. The rules are a hot mess.

I had to spend a few hours on the rule book and watching play-throughs on YouTube just to get a handle on things. This despite having played “Forests of Adrimon” a couple of times, so I already understood the core loop of a basic game turn.

For example, it was hard to get a definitive reading on how you are supposed to harvest crystals and take on mutations. I was lucky to stumble upon a play-through to help me with this core feature. I didn’t get anywhere near the Scarabs or Arena rules. And I let fate decide which city-state rule-set I should pay attention to.

Overall, well worth the struggle for me. However, I think a lot more could be done to help a wider audience into the system. I fear too many will find the rules impenetrable in their current guise and miss out on a great experience.