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Designer’s Spotlight: Damned Souls of Fenleist with Mike Myler

B16 1Why should someone check out the Damned Souls of Fenleist?

Do you remember Castlevania?

I do.

That was my original plan when I pitched this to and the follow through became so much more without abandoning that wonderful Eastern European feel and sense of horror. The only thing missing was vampires, but I promise there’s a solid equivalent for you at the end. If you want an adventure that rides the rails of traditional Western fantasy as hard as they’ll allow, this guy is for you.


What makes the Damned Souls of Fenleist different from other adventures?

For one thing, there’s a massive construction object in the center of the town. Secondly, the antagonists are a wonderful twist on the old animated trope we often get bogged down in with D&D and thirdly, it’s built and ready to go for 3.5 or Pathfinder, and what more, each version is quite different from its counterpart (props to Joshua Gullion for making that fit inside of 60 pages).

Did you put cool stuff in there?

Hell yes I did. Replicating shurikens, dervish boots and an I’m-Not-Undead charm, undead familiars for animated spellcasters, folding puzzles (yes, plural, as in three), maps by Todd Gamble, two dungeons (one of which is map-less) and plausible reasons for throwing everything and the kitchen sink at your players.  I reckon there’s some cool stuff in there, yes.


B16 2What was your favorite part of the adventure?

While I love the harrowing crossing of a narrow bridge (it really plays out well) ultimately my favorite part is the description for successfully completing the aforementioned folding puzzle correctly. Writing bizarre stuff is my forte (apparently) and I really blew it out of the water with that. Maybe, time willing, we can expand that whole crazy dimension into a proper adventure all its own.



Did you focus on Investigation, Encounters, Puzzles or Dungeons?

Honestly I focused on all of them. There are multiple threads of investigation for the PCs to follow, encounters with a panoply of creatures, that ridiculously cool puzzle and then two dungeons to delve into. In playtesting though, the investigations took the most time (you can read about why exactly that is over here.)


In one sentence, what can expect from this adventure?

The Damned Souls of Fenleist will truly test the mettle of your party’s courage and fortitude, leaving them with an insatiable desire to drive forward and learn what the hell is happening to this isolated and one-of-a-kind settlement throughout the wonderfully tinged horror that is this superb adventure module.

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Where the Records At?

During the first playtest of The Damned Souls of Fenleist the PCs took an entirely unexpected avenue of investigation and now it’s become a bit of a running joke in the group.

One of the playtesters practically lives “outside of the box”. This is the guy that spends valuable combat rounds pounding a piton into the surrounding landscape for a wild contraption and the next time (after the contraption failed to be set up in time), rather than doing something sensible, has managed to acquire adamantine pitons. Gully is very high on my list for people to test things for reasons like that.

13-5-20 ciudad gruaAfter arriving in the town only to be attacked by a truly strange assortment of creatures that literally appear from thin air, they learned of Fenleist’s woes from the surly constable and got into researching the curse. The first thing out of this player’s mouth was, “I’m going to search the town records.”

Me: “What?”

Gully: “The town records. There’s a town hall and a town council right? They must have records or something.”

In my head I’m kind of blown away. ~What? Town records? Are you serious? These people are mostly illiterate, don’t have running water, electricity or even steam engines, but you expect town records?~

Me: “Sure. Constable Vandersmythe nods thoughtfully and agrees to open up the town hall so you can investigate. It’s a reasonably sized stone structure right beside the jail and the Constabulatory and inside you find documentation about Fenleist. Give me an Intelligence check as you search through the sheafs of scrolls.”

115-At-the-bookshop-q75-1701x1772Rolls were made. If I recall correctly, somebody rolled pretty high.

Me: “Okay, you look through the records and a few things are quickly determined. The Kortez family is the most prominent bloodline here and the longest residents of the town, and apparently the first and only mayor was a halfling named Fizzlewik – the fellow that created the crane you used to drop lumber on that crab swarm. That was literally centuries ago.”


Gully: “Alright, alright. That’s not what I wanted to find though.”

Doug: “What about the temple? Let’s check there.”

They did and once again I was flabbergasted. I just decided that all the documentation there was financial and that no analysis of them yielded anything of great value, except that Harold Gorden had become a pretty crappy merchant over the past few years (that’s a sub-plot you can go read about here).


I tossed some more bait out there for the intended routes of investigation but they just would not bite. It was like flyfishing in a tempest. So they went to the Kortez Mansion after that and what did they do?

That’s right!

They looked for records.

None were to be found but while snooping about the residence, I finally got them to bite on the line and things took off from there. Until they were done slaughtering the legions of undead in the Kortez Graveyard anyway.

Me: “So allow me to understand. You are going to pull out and remove the coffins in this mausoleum, searching each and every one, to find what exactly?”

Gully: “Records! Maybe they kept a journal or diary or something and buried it there.”

Doug: “Should we be doing that? Aren’t you not supposed to do things like that?”

Mike: “That does not make any sense. At all.”

Gully: “Do I care? I open the coffins and search for records!”

Me: “Okay. You pry off the ancient stone lids and find skeletons inside. Many are dressed in costly livery and still have boots that might be worth some coin, but no, there are no records or journals of any kind inside. Because why would there be? Dude, seriously? Most of these people probably weren’t even literate!”

Gully: “Damn! I really thought I was going to find something that time!”

450b-Tottering-Under-the-Weight-of-Knowledge-q97-693x1252It’s become a running joke and now we tell Gully he’s got Records Sense +1 and Records Finding.


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