Written by Mark Wright
Directed by John Ainsworth
In which the adventurers travel to far-off Hook Mountain at the behest of Magnimar’s mayor to discover why nobody has heard from the rangers at Fort Rannick for a worryingly long time – and their worst fears are confirmed. Will they escape the ogre-infested region with their lives, save the nearby town of Turtleback Ferry from being wiped out and help avenge the slaughtered…?
When first published as a Pathfinder adventure module, The Hook Mountain Massacre received criticism from some quarters for its graphic descriptions of the ogres’ sadistic violence and sexual depravities. (The module’s author, Nicolas Logue, defended this as both an homage to The Texas Chainsaw Massacre and as a way to elevate ogres from the experience point fodder they’d become in many role-playing games over the years.)
Understandably, this audio steers well clear of the most explicit instances, while still conveying just enough of the noxious subject matter so that the adventurers’ encounters with the degenerate Graul clan is still the stuff of nightmares. (Mind you, some listeners might take exceptions to the ogre actors’ use of Deep Southern drawls as “shorthand” for ignorance and brutality.)
Whereas the first two Pathfinder installments have subverted expectations, much of The Hook Mountain Massacre is disappointingly straightforward. When the adventurers rescue two Fort Rannick survivors, they soon discover that the entity in charge of the ogres had inside help in breaching the fort’s defences. Gosh – who could this dastardly traitor possibly be?? And when a way of saving Turtleback Ferry from flood waters caused by magically augmented weather (at the cost of one’s own life) presents itself, which character could possibly be willing to give up his or her life to atone for his or her actions?? I wonder…
On a more positive note, by the end of this story – the halfway point of this audio series – we’re finally learning more of the bigger picture that Ezren has been piecing together, from the significance of the Sihedron Rune to the identity of the mastermind behind the attack on Sandpoint which started this saga. Hopefully after this somewhat pedestrian side trek, things will soon be back on track.
Verdict: Unfortunately, rather a wet slog for the story’s protagonists and its listeners alike. 6/10
John S. Hall