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Forbidden Lands

Forbidden Lands

Monday 18 January 2021
In January 2021 we presented the Forbidden Lands Bundle, featuring the Free League Publishing RPG of treasure hunting and tomb raiding in the ruins of ages past.

Three centuries ago the spellbinder Zygofer conquered a vast and remote valley known as Ravenland. To battle the savage orcs, he opened dark gates and sought help from demons. Consumed by darkness, he ruled Ravenland, his daughter Therania by his side. To contain their vile corruption, the king in the south built a great wall across the mountain pass. Since that day, the spellbinder’s lawless domain has been known as the Forbidden Lands. Zygofer’s henchmen, the feared Rust Brothers, still haunt the land, dark creatures roam the countryside, and the spellbinder himself has transformed into a demon called Zytera. Only the brave and the foolish, the raiders and the rogues, dare venture out to seek treasure and glory in the ruins of old.

Forbidden Lands from Free League Publishing (Alien, Vaesen, Coriolis) is an open-world survival FRPG. You’re not heroes sent on missions dictated by others; instead, you are raiders and rogues bent on making your mark on a cursed world. Travel the land in any direction, exploring as you wish. You’ll discover lost tombs, fight terrible monsters, wander the wild lands and — if you live long enough — build your own stronghold.

The game plays as an Old School hexcrawl. Scattered across the map are adventure sites, exciting location-based scenarios characters can interact with in many different ways. You can visit all sites independently and in any order. Each adventure site has a beautifully illustrated map overview. By building the campaign incrementally using the modular adventure sites, the Gamemaster need never lead the characters by the nose, and can always make sure they don’t miss the story. Fast, effective rules regulate travel, scouting, foraging, hunting, striking camp, and rest, giving every character in the party a role to play during travels.

The Forbidden Lands rules are built on the “Year Zero” rules engine used in Mutant: Year Zero, Tales from the Loop, and Coriolis – The Third Horizon. The core system uses a dice pool based on six-sided dice, but Forbidden Lands adds polyhedra as well, for powerful artifacts and magic items. The concise attributes and skills make character generation quick, while a comprehensive range of talents provide mechanical depth and development opportunities. Talents are tiered to provide variety and progression options. Combat is fast and visceral, and melee combat has been greatly expanded with a range of tactical options that ensure no two combats are ever the same. Magic is wild, dangerous, and unpredictable.

Matthew Pook in Reviews from R’lyeh reviewed the game: “Mechanically, Forbidden Lands has an Old School feel, in that the Year Zero engine is far from forgiving, enforcing the fact that life in the Forbidden Lands is cruel. […] While there is still room for heroism and even quests, given that artifacts in the setting are unique things of legend and grant their wielders great power, the tone of this game is not heroic fantasy, but rough, gritty, and bloody, with a lingering sense of menace. […] Forbidden Lands is a pleasing combination of Old School nostalgia and fast, simple mechanics with unobtrusive narrative elements designed to bring aspects of the character into play. Its setting offers scope for the player characters to develop not just personally, but also in terms of their place in the world.”

Two Forbidden Lands Kickstarter campaigns in September 2017 and September 2019 together raised half a million dollars. In 2019 Forbidden Lands won four ENnie Awards, among them Gold ENnies for Best Production Values and Best Cartography, and Silver ENnies for Best Rules and Product of the Year. This offer included almost all the digital rewards from both Forbidden Kickstarter campaigns — rulebooks, cards, maps, and tokens.

There were three titles in our Starter Collection (retail value $40) as DRM-free .PDF ebooks, including the complete Forbidden Lands Core Game (both the Player’s Handbook and the Gamemaster’s Guide), the print-and-play Forbidden Lands Card Deck , and the four adventure sites in The Spire of Quetzel.

Those who paid more than the threshold (average) price also got our entire Bonus Collection with four more titles worth an additional $53, including the campaign expansion The Bitter Reach, the Bitter Reach Map & Cards Pack, the full-length campaign module Raven’s Purge, and the weird honey-drenched adventure sites in Crypt of the Mellified Mage.

Ten percent of each payment (after gateway fees) went to this Forbidden Lands offer’s pandemic-related charity, Direct Relief. Direct Relief gets protective gear and critical care medications to health workers, with emergency deliveries to medical facilities across the US and to regional response agencies across the world.