It has been a few days, and I originally inteded to write a review for another product of the "Das Schwarze Auge" line. Then I received my copy of "An fremden Gestaden" in the mail and I decided to go with this book instead.
"An fremden Gestaden" is something new in more way than one. For one the hardcover book of approximately 160 pages tries to adopt a new format, a format you might be familiar with from other games. This book is both adventure and regional description, something I have not seen in books of the DSA line before. And on the other hand the book introduces a new continent to the game: The mysterious southern continent of Uthuaria.
First off, let's have a look at the adventure part of the book. I don't want to go into too much detail about its content, so let me summarize that the heroes are supposed to partake or even lead a perilous expedition to a mysterious, far off land. Myth has it that there are cities of gold, strange creatures and possibly even the secret of eternal youth to be found.
The first part of the adventure focuses on organizing such an expedition for one of several possible employers. The players might be able to pick up a number of side quests at this stage as well. Some of them might even be conflicting. Organize ships, crews, gain the aid of special NPCs etc. The book provides tables and NPC descriptions for choices like that. And although some choices are suggested, both players and game master have a lot of leeway here.
The second big part is the actual journey. A long travel across a mostly unknown ocean. The chapter again offers tables for random events off all kinds and descriptions of locations that could be found during this journey. Again much is up to players and the game master. No fixed course is suggested and most encounters along the way are not fully detailed, as too much depends on the player's characters actions. Still the game master is provided with enough information to arrange a veritable odyssey for his players.
The third part, is about establishing a kind of beachhead on the new strange continent and exploring the surrounding land. All the while the players will have to face a slowly emerging mysterious threat. Sadly not much information is provided about establishing the colony. If a group of players wants to emphasize that, the game master will have to improvise. On the other hand this part provides a few interlinked modular plots taking place roughly at the same time. Once again much depends on how the players decide to approach things.
The last part of the book is dedicated to a short description of the new land, especially the cultures inhabiting it and rules needed to integrate them into play as characters. All the while the book still leaves many questions unanswered, which in my addition adds to the mysterious flair of this new and mysterious land.
As a conclusion I would like to say that this adventure is best for players that want to interact with the game world and game masters that are comfortable improvising based on their players input and the rudimentary background information provided. If you prefer adventures with a railroad straight plot and all details ironed out in advance this book might not be for you. Another little shortcoming are the spelling errors I stumbled across rather regularly. Especially as most of them seem to be silly word or letter substitution errors caused by spellchecking software. A big plus for the book is its interior art, the individual pieces are superb and their style matches throughout the book.
Generally speaking I am very pleased by the book and I do not regret buying the slightly more expensive hardcover version instead of the PDF version. Once again I'd like to ask you to let me know if you found this review helpfull or if you think I could have done better in one way or another.