The Evils of Illmire is “A Mini-Mega Hexcrawl Adventure Zine”, billed as “a 68-page dark fantasy adventure for 4-6 player characters level 1-3” built for OSR systems, produced by Spellsword and written by Zack Wolf. The Kickstarter got $5,282 of a required $500, and was chock full of successful stretch goals, most of which went towards extra art (my favorite stretch goal). I signed up for a physical copy, and it showed up last week so lets dig in.
For a zine, it seems pretty well made. I don’t get a ton of them, but I’m into the form factor, especially for adventures. As a GM I often have too many books on the table, and a small quick portable module is nice. I mention above, but the book is chock full of art. Probably 70% of the pages have something, and many have multiple pieces. As a backer, I got some of the digital art files, and a selection of the maps as .jpgs which is nice. If I’m going to run the game virtually, like in say a pandemic, they come in really handy. I can take screenshots, but this is cleaner and less effort. In the zine, you’re going to get a map for every encounter that needs one, and you’re going to get art for plenty of monsters and scenarios to describe. The maps are by Dyson Logos, so you know they are top quality. The art is black and white, with an old school ascetic, and pretty good throughout.
As for the content, Illmire is a classic hexcrawl. Its got 19 hexes chock full of static and random encounters, and all sorts of cool stuff for your players to explore and get into, from a half-floating, ruined, wizards tower to a crystal palace. What sets Illmire apart is that its also got an overarching plot. Its not just “go explore the region”, although you could certainly do that. In addition to the exploration, the players will uncover a mystery surrounding an evil cult infiltrating the region. A lot of hexcrawls suffer from players burning out and getting bored with the exploration idea, or feeling like its just a series of random encounters over and over. Illmire’s idea of an overarching threat helps prevent that and keep things interesting.
Particular places of note within the guide that I thought were neat include…
- The False Watchtower & Bandit Stronghold. A watch tower intended to keep watch for bandits, who have taken over. I can see a party treking through the wild, only to see this and think “Oh finally, a safe place to rest”. The bandits posing as militia seem like they have a legit scam going on.
- Mound of the Mantismen. An anthill claimed by a tribe of frogling eating mantis folk. Complete with a molting chamber.
- The Observer’s Tower. This might be my favorite. It classic, and simple, with a twist. A tall thin wizards tower, but the middle was blasted away, so the top half sort of just floats there. Filled with weird hybrid monsters made by an evil sorcerer.
There is more of course, but this gives a sample of the interesting mundane encounters, far out exotic encounters, and classics with a twist.
Overall, the Evils of Illmire is certainly worth the $10 for a physical copy, and looks to be a very cool adventure module, in a handy format. Its certainly something I plan to run for one of my groups.