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B9: Curse of the Full Moon

B9 – Curse of the Full Moon

b9

This module is 60 pages long, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial/ToC, 1 page SRD, elaving us with 57 pages of content, so let’s check this out!

This being an adventure-review, the following contains SPOILERS. Potential players may wish to jump to the conclusion.

All right, still here? The PCs, via several different hooks, are coming to the town of Rooknest, a peaceful, isolated town – in which all hell is about to break loose due to an ancient, nefarious plan coming to fruition. More than a decade agao, a wicked hag called Harriot was starting to dread the approach of her final years and her biological clock started ticking its malevolent hum. Being a hag, her only means of reproduction did not fit particularly well with her utterly wicked character and so the weird dreams she had, were quickly heeded: Whispers and dreams spoke of a despicable rite worthy of a hag, including the consumption of the father of the creature to be spawned. True to the formula of fairy-tales, the first two mates were consumed and deemed unfit, granting the hag nevertheless the power to add capabilities of the consumed to the child she conceived from the third father – a child destined to become a hellween, a hybrid werewolf whose very presence is a bane on the land, thinning the boundaries between material and spirit world. What the entity, whose vile whispers spurred the hag onwards didn’t account for is a fraction of maternal instinct, a glimmer of true love between the hag and the wicked werewolf that conceived the child – to give her doomed daughter a chance at a life she could never provide, old Harriot dropped her in the nearby town, sulking back into her swampy domain.

She has been waiting and watching ever since, while the almost forgotten, wicked fertility goddess waited in the wings for her chosen champion to come of full age. When the poor girl turned into a full-blown hellween, she crashed from the temple and fled town, managing not to kill anyone while being guarded by her ghostly father. The curse of her existence and the dark goddesses vile whispers have taken root in Rooknest, though and will keep the PCs rather busy:

The local drunk insists that the “big wolf” is real and while asking him, the PCs will be surprised to see that among the xenophobic, tight-mouthed villagers, some disguised zombies have started drinking in the tavern and gathering outside, making the erupting combat a first glimpse at what’s wrong. The overall module is organized very much like a sandbox of tragedies – from here on, multiple ways are provided for the PCs to conduct their investigation and several stories await their discovery:

There is for example the gravedigger, who, urged by the dark goddesses’ whispers, killed his wife who was unable to bear him children – her ghost now haunts his perpetually gravedigging shovel and laying her to rest may point the PCs towards another component of the puzzle – Harriot has killed the mayor of the town and his family and now shadows the PCs, disguised as him, while the mayor’s revenant is trying to escape his barred mausoleum. Putting said undead to rest and hunting down Harriot is one way to the climax, but just one:

The secretive monks who are researching the transformation of one of their children also know bits and pieces about what is up with the “big wolf”, as does the local smith – if they can get either talking and save the monks from animated suits of armor (which are called skeletons in the text – minor oversight since they use modified skeleton-stats). The local bakery is now haunted by an attic whisperer of a recently-deceased child and throughout the village, the PCs may encounter weird fetishes constructed by an ancient crone, an erstwhile priestess of the wicked goddess that seeks to protect her home.

Via all these small tragedies and encounters, the PCs may pierce together the truth and when they finally slay Harriot, the climax should prove to be interesting: From her blood, a portal to the demiplane-temple of the dark goddess arises and inside, they have the chance to save the sould of the hellween if they soemhow manage to negotiate with her father, not fall to the onslaught of summoned dretches and finally, vanquish the dread exploding-pumpkin-throwing avatar of the goddess that seeks to claim what is “hers”.

The pdf also includes 3 maps and their player-friendly versions.

 

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting, while not bad, are also not perfect – I noticed multiple occasions of jumbled letters, aforementioned minor discrepancy regarding the skeletons etc. Nothing serious, mind you, but enough to slightly detract from the module. Layout adheres to AaW’s 2-column standard and the module comes in 2 versions, one of whihc is backgroundless and printer-friendly. The b/w-artworks are neat, especially the one of the BbEG. The cartography is excellent, as we’ve come to expect by now from AaW. The module comes with herolab-support, though as per the writing of this review, the file has not yet been made available.

This module is interesting in that it’s something we don’t get too often – a sandbox investigation with multiple ways to succeed. It’s also essentially a mix of almost ALL themes associated with horror-adventures – only vampires are missing. Zombies, ghosts, twisted undead, human tragedies, ancient rituals, a curse and an ancient, almost Shub-Niggurath-like entity -all is in here and makes sense. The amount of weirdness going on is one of the good things for the module, since it makes determining what this is all about harder for the PCs and they will actually have to WORK to understand what is going on and use their grey matter. Nice. On the other hand, the themes and respective encounters also make the module feel slightly cluttered with information – the component tragedies are interesting and would have made good investigations in their own right if there was more going on in town, if there were more places to visit and pieces of information to glean.  In fact, the one thing I’d consider a flaw of this module is that its final presentation, while good, is not up to its potential. This could be a massively awesome horror-themed megamodule  -with about 160 pages, investigations for all component-scenes, each contributing one piece of the big puzzle, this could have been one of the most fitting halloween-modules ever. As provided, it’s a very good sandbox-investigation with some cool scenes that you definitely won’t regret purchasing – especially if you’re willing to do some GM-work and enhance/complicate the component-scenes. Due to the minor glitches and the fact that this would have worked better in a larger scale or as a 2-parter, I’ll settle for a final verdict of 4 stars and a recommendation for GMs looking for some horror-themed bits and pieces to insert in their own modules or willing to expand the per se neat investigation.

 

Endzeitgeist out.

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C4: The Play’s the Thing

C4: The Play’s the Thing

c4

This module is 59 pages long, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 1 page ToC, 1 page SRD, leaving us with 56 pages of content, so let’s check this out!

This being an adventure-review, the following contains SPOILERS. Potential players may wish to jump to the conclusion.

All right, still here? Good! Naytella is a goddess of relaxed, pleasure-driven life and one of her adherents, a man named Teatteri is finally settling down, has managed to ingratiate himself within the town of Bankside. Unbeknownst to most, their secret allegiance to the goddess made them clash with conservative authorities before and in order to secure permission to create the theatre, they have allied themselves with doppelgangers seeking the goddesses capability to provide joy and revelry.

Said shapeshifters have since replaced parts of the council and flyers that are charmed do their part in securing the steady flow of audience members to the theatre – after all, the goal is to convert a whole town to the worship of Naytella! The powerful men and women of the town may act as hooks for the PCs and the doppelgangers as foils, presenting us with a concise depiction of their agendas, ways to use them etc., providing a nice framework to set up a complex, smart investigation before entering the (still) closed theatre, where a gamut of theater-themed, clever traps await enterprising PCs.

Before they can reach the cellar of the building, they will also have to best the first group of NPCs. First group? Yes! A total of 4 different NPC-groups are part of the module, each coming with essentially “party-sheets” that include all the necessary pieces of information to run the parties on one page – supremely comfortable for the DM – I approve!

Now the cellar and dungeon below are interesting and highly chaotic in theme, including skulls chanting a litany that confuses the listeners (without deadly effects – the results are hilarious, after all, the servants of Naytella are chaotic and not evil!). The tactics of the servants of Naytella mostly reflect that as well – if the PCs get beaten, it’s not necessarily their end. Now, when they find the intoxicated council alive and well, the PCs will have a tough decision at their hands – free the council? Join the adherents of Naytella? Help them escape the wrath of the citizenry? The options are there and the result up to your players.

It should be noted that the module also includes clothing-material golems as well as 4 pages of maps of the complex, both in a keyed and a keyless version.

The pdf also features the new companion of Naytella PrC, which grants d6, 6+Int skills per level, comes with a wide variety of potential means of entry, good ref and will-saves, 3/4 BAB-progression. The Companions gain the option to use multiple skills (like sleight of hand) at range, their cha-bonus to saves and even a sonic-based breath weapon and attribute boosts. They may also choose from 6 special abilities at 8th level. Solid PrC.

 

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting have already been done better by AaW – I noticed a couple of minor glitches like a zero for an o etc. – nothing too hampering, though. Layout adheres to the backgroundless 2-column standard and the module’s 4 maps in full color are neat indeed. The bookmarks are glitchy, though, missing the bookmarks for the first section of the module. Herolab files have not yet been added as per the writing of this review, but will be part of the deal as soon as they are done.

Make the primary antagonists Calistraeans or extremists of Cayden and this module will work perfectly in Golarion. The module’s antagonists for once not being evil is a cool change of pace, as it makes the PCs ponder their own moral choices and honestly, the sheets to track the NPC-groups are extremely useful to run what would otherwise be very complex encounters. Kudos for the good idea! The location in which it is set as well as the (potential, but mostly optional) investigative backdrop in the beginning adds also a nice touch. Stephen Yeardley has crafted a neat module indeed and overall, I did enjoy reading these pages. The amount of content provided is also appropriate and overall, the module is a fun, thankfully different romp. The issues with the glitches and bookmarks do keep me from rating this higher than my final verdict, though, which will clock in at a solid 4.5 stars, rounded down to 4 for the purpose of this platform.

 

Endzeitgeist out.

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B11: The Fall of House Rodow

Today I’ll take a look at a 1st level module,

B11 – The Fall of House Rodow

b11

This module is 40 pages long, 1 page front cover, 4 blank pages, 1 page editorial/ToC, 1 page SRD, 1 page advertisement, leaving us with 32 pages of content, so let’s take a look!

 

This being an adventure-review, the following contains SPOILERS. Potential players may wish to jump to the conclusion.

 

All right, still here?  House Rodow, a mercantile noble house has seen better days – bad investments had the family fortunes bleed out and the situation escalated – to the point where the family decided to once again summon the demon that made it possible for them to gain their prominence. The problem is, though, that a competing noble family got wind of this and sent off an agent to deal with the summoning, interrupt it and gather evidence. Unfortunately, said agent failed to specify the details of what was to happen to the Rodows.

 

Thus, the PCs, as soon as they arrive at Rostow Manor, they’ll see that a raging fire has recently burned the manor – exploring the house, which is in danger of collapsing, should yield some interesting hints – a lot of sample DCs make investigating what went down feasible. After the  Pcs have eliminated 4 wild dogs in the manor gardens, one Pinion Merino with his security, arrives in his carriage and hires the PCs to bring justice to the unknown perpetrators. Tracking the perpetrators into the wood, the PCs will have to deal with orcs before arriving at the home of the culprits – caves of a tribe of mites – where the PCs may also find out that the mites were coerced into the attack on the Rodows. The Mites are not stupid (though not particularly competent) and have among other things, a ballista ready to fire at the PCs…

 

Now if the PCs manage to defeat the mites, there will be an interesting map with a red x – the x denoting the secret location of the Rodow family’s crypt – which Pinion concedes and tells them about the trouble of the Rodow family. Exploring the tomb turns out to be rather tricky – the door is animated and quite some traps litter the locale. Sealed in the tomb, the players find 4 bandits, ready to thank the PCs for their release with death as well as the devil the Rodows dealt with. It turns out that the competing merchant family’s agent was behind the downfall of House Rodow – and the PCs have a choice to make: Support the slaughter of a house of devil-worshipping nobles or bringing justice to a not particularly bright agent of a corrupt house of merchants. However they decide, the PCs will have to bring one culprit to justice – or, well, just walk away.

 

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are good, though not perfect – I noticed some minor glitches and the 4 blank pages are slightly annoying when printing out the module. Layout adheres to AaW’s 2-column, parchment background-style and the pdf has no bookmarks, which is a mayor downside. The stock art is thematically fitting and the cartography of the two locations (but not the manor) is as awesome as I’ve come to expect from AaW.

Author Haakon Sullivan’s module is an interesting short 1st level module with some challenging encounters, interesting DCs and choices to make – while not reinventing the wheel or blowing me out of the water, it features a permeating sense of decadence and corruption, which is nice to see. That being said, I couldn’t help myself feeling like the minor formal issues combined with the lack of a truly inventive idea make this not reach the echelons of excellence. While solid, the story has been done before and honestly, I would have loved to see a haunt here, or at least a slightly more terrain-invested showdown. In the end, I thus feel justified in rating this 3.5 stars, rounded down to 3 due to, among aforementioned minor gripes, the glitches and the lack of a printer-friendly version.

 

Endzeitgeist out.