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Plague Lords played out

So I spent a few more hours playing Plague Lords of Ruel some more, this time mapping it out. I wish I liked it more, but I admit I’m somewhat disappointed.

The maps show that there’s not a lot of ground covered. Forest or caverns, either way is about 5 encounters before you land at the tower. Once you get into Mogaruith, there’s one fork that lasts 2 pages, until you get to two single-page “right or left” diversions again. I noticed in book 11 (Prisoners of Time) that the complexity and “epic-ness” wasn’t what it was in the earlier books.

Most of the choices are in lots of intricate decisions which cover little ground: defeating having defeated the sea dragon, another 15 pages of swimming and hiding from the Vazhag and rummaging through the druid’s pockets. It’s a lot of page-turning with little difference.

And the writing isn’t even that immersive, to really bring it together. It feels like generic tunnels (even in a forest), generic bad guys, and generic plot. A lot of game books pad space, and the “terrorists McGuffin” is wholly common, of course… but mediocrity is by definition not excellent. and the first several L.W. books were excellent.

And lastly, gameplay and balance.

This first book of the Grand Master series has the same problem that the Magnakai series had, of trying to balance a veteran character (+8 sword, weaponmastery, +6 from collected armor, persistent Curing, Lore Circles with their CS + Endurance bonuses) against a new character (plain sword with weaponmastery). I am highly dubious that a newly-generated character could win, even if you cheated and picked 9s during character generation.

  • Some of the required bad guys have a CS of 50, no joke. Assuming a natural 29 + 5 from weaponmastery, that puts Lone Wolf at -16 combat ratio.
  • Without the Sommerswerd you’ll take lots of damage in required encounters with magicians.

The overall balance is also out of wack, and is overly reliant on a few specific skills. Huntmastery is used repeatedly as a dexterity check. If you don’t have Psi-Screen you’re in for about 30 more points of damage from psychic creatures and vicious doors.

I could go on, but I hate to gripe endlessly, so I won’t. I’m gonna move on to book 14, and hope it’s better than the last 3 have been


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First published July 16, 2021. Last updated July 16, 2021.