03 April 2024

Review: Stirring the Hornet's Nest at Het Thamsya

tl:dr; evocative 25 room dungeon packed with factions, puzzles and threats set in a fantasy world centred on Southeast Asia.

This comes straight off the internet - I spotted Munkao had dropped this new adventure - Stirring the Hornet's Nest at Het Thamsya - and better yet was doing a launch sale and I'm not so proud to deny I slammed that 'Add to Cart' button as quick as I could. This is the launch adventure for the Kala Mandala setting - a meditating abbot in grave danger and needing rescue.
This is a good old zine - 15 pages that looks like I could be a 32 page booklet - with the clean layout style and wonderful drawings that have always characterised Munkao's works. What you get is a big site - 25 rooms - and an intriguing heist/rescue.

Within you have a few sections:
Intro - a two page spread
The original structure and its residents - eight double pages
The infested structure and its residents - four double pages
Consequences - a two page spread

The intro sets up some brief background and the hook, an authorised heist/rescue mission into an nested temple. This includes the parameters the temple automatons are working with so a cunning party can use those to their advantage.

Next we have the original structure - a nascent temple of an monk seeking enlightenment through automata. Those automata are currently wandering about and will need to be avoided to rescue said monk. The operating rules for the automata are a nice continuous puzzle for the players to solve. We get a double page of automata and how they work, a map of the temple, random encounter table and the twelve rooms remaining in the un-infested part. A cunning bunch could no doubt work their way past the automata or even bend them to their service for the next bit. There is a ticking time-bomb at the heart of this section that sits in plain sight but may not be noticed until it is too late which I find delightful.

The nested structure has a number of factions but also an increased chance of hostilities. The players will have to get cunning at this point if they have not been so far. We have a giant hornets nest, with the confused original hornets hanging about in poor morale and the half-hornet interlopers among the invaders as our two factions. The half hornets are appropriately gruesome with some delightfully grim art to illustrate just how horrid they are. There are quite a few things lying around that could serve to help the creative and at the core, the target of all the questing, the meditating temple master. While a few glimpses of further-ahead spots can be grabbed this section is pretty linear, the complexity provided by the interaction of the factions. This is a crowded section, blugeoning through it would be a brutal slog so wit would be helpful here.

Once all has been resolved there is a double page of consequences that lay out what the knock-on effects of various likely outcomes are. This is handy to have but at two pages does not over-stay its welcome.

Overall this is very neat - I like the approach to rooms, the well-judged mini-maps where required and the bonkers foes to deal with. I pretty much hit print and prepped it to take to a regular game night as soon as I read through it. Definitely looking forward to see what more comes out for this new Kala Mandala setting.


  1. Okay, you've got my attention. I wonder how it would play as an adjacent adventure to Reach of the Roach God (which I just played in at Garycon)?

    1. Interesting question - as each of the 'surface' parts of Reach of the Roach God should in theory lead you down to the depths - three different down-ramps - you could potentially stack Het Thamsya in front of any of them, then from there the Abbot points the party to either Spider Mountain Temple or City of Peace - in both cases "I begged for help from my colleagues (at either) but they never answered - I fear they have troubles of their own, please go see..." and then launch into Reach that way.