Product review - Palantír Quest
Authors: Phil Kime and Chris Kennedy
(Middle-earth Adventure #2009)
Iron Crown Enterprises, 1994 — Charlottesville, Virginia
Reviewer: Gerrit Nuckton
One of the most powerful artifacts ever to grace Middle-earth awaits Fourth Age adventurers who answer King Elessar’s bidding to find a mystical palantír in ICE’s first-ever campaign module, Palantir Quest. Also a first for an ICE publication, the module features a Fourth Age setting which requires no special preparation by the GM, since detailed scenarios present the GM with a linked series of adventures, none of which are easy to complete. As the player-characters pass through each stage of their quest, new obstacles arise, moving them closer to their ultimate goal of finding one or perhaps more of the lost Seeing-stones.
The search for the palantíri (of which a total of seven are known to exist in Endor) begins after the Gondorian seer, Tarquillan, witnesses strange visions in Minas Tirith’s own Seeing-stone, which relate that one of the lost palantíri of the North has reappeared somewhere in the world. The characters are then summoned to the city for an audience with Tarquillan, who will tell all he knows about the palantíri and how the players can go about digging up clues in their search.
The presentation of material in Palantir Quest is lucid and allows even novice players to start playing at the first setting. So too are the descriptions of NPCs and sites vivid enough to make the GM’s job simpler than usual. For instance, as seen in modules from other fantasy systems like Dungeon & Dragons, Palantir Quest contains descriptions highlighted in gray text which may be read aloud to the players by the GM.
Adding to the playability of the module are extensive maps and floorplans — totaling no less than 57 in number — designed by the team of James A. Fallin, Jessica Ney, Daniel Cruger, Rick Britton, and Ellisa Mitchell. Portraits of some of the important NPCs and creatures to be found along the way were provided thanks to the artistry of Fallin, Kent Buries, Storn Cook, and David Martin.
The module is not without its limitations, however few. The authors admit that experienced gamers may find some of the adventure locations familiar since they are reproduced from previously released ICE modules. But such a potential problem can be overcome if the GM changes locations or details as needed, and in any case the inhabitants and events at all locales in Palantir Quest are totally unique. GMs may also find that inexperienced players will need to “keep their eyes on the prize” by not becoming too involved in sub-plots which can distract them from their ultimate goal of finding the lost palantíri. The module advises that some sort of official word from Minas Tirith may be required if players go too far astray.
Besides the many maps and illustrations, a full 33 pages of charts and tables and substantial source material are provided in the module for use with either the MERP, Rolemaster or LotR Adventure systems. Of note among the charts is a timeline of major events which keeps track of the actions of the PCs and others in the game, the timing of which will have a direct bearing on whether the PCs return to Minas Tirith with a palantír in hand or not.
Overall, ICE has done a very credible job with the module for a first try in the campaign environment. The adventure is exciting and well-paced and should appeal greatly to those gamers who enjoy playing beyond the scope of the usual Third Age setting.
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