Situated where the Fire River flows into the Sea of Fallen Stars, Ravens Bluff is a bustling port and trade center. Residents and frequent visitors to Ravens Bluff often boast that the city is the brightest spot on the Dragon Reach, but even the proudest citizen thinks twice about taking to the streets when the Veil, a thick, cold fog, rolls in.
The veil turns the city's vigorous docks into a gloomy den where only the brave, the stubborn, or the foolish go abroad. When the veil drops, neophyte adventurers join the Nightwatch, a special police force that sees to it that the fearless citizens who prowl through the Veil restrict themselves to licit business. A successful tour in the Nightwatch means wealth and recognition (those who fail quietly join the uncounted dead).
This module is specially designed to introduce novice characters to the rigors of adventuring.
LC3: "Night Watch in the The Living City" (1991), by Walter M. Baas & Kira Glass, is the third of the Living City supplements for the Forgotten Realms. It was published in March 1991.
About the Title. This was the only major Living City supplement to omit its name, Ravens Bluff. It's also got a somewhat confusing name: though the covers appear to read "Nightwatch in the Living City", the interior clearly states that the title is actually "Night Watch in the Living City".
Origins (I): The Shared World. Ravens Bluff, the Living City, was created as a shared world for RPGA members, with the results appearing in Polyhedron magazine and the first two "LC" adventures, LC1: "Gateway to Ravens Bluff, the Living City" (1989) and LC2: "Inside Ravens Bluff, the Living City" (1990). However, LC3: "Night Watch in the Living City" is something quite different. Instead of being a collection of tidbits by divers hands it's a singular adventure by just two authors!
Origins (II): The Tournaments. The shared world was only half the story of the Living City. Ravens Bluff was also the setting of a yearly Gen Con tournament, beginning with "Caravan" (1987) at Gen Con Con 20 (1987). The fourth of these adventures was none other than "Night Watch in the Living City" (1990), run at Gen Con '90, and now the newest "LC" publication.
However, "Night Watch" was not the first of the Living City tournaments to be published; that was "Counterfeit Dreams" (1989), the third tournament, which appeared in Polyhedron #50 (November 1989). It was followed just a month later by the second tournament, "At Last, Ravens Bluff" (1988), which was turned into a Greyhawk adventure called "The Road to Dyvers" for WG11: "Puppets" (1989).
"Night Watch" depends on the background from LC1: "Gateway to Ravens Bluff", returning to some of its characters and locales — which shows how to the two sides of Ravens Bluff, the shared world and the tournament play, worked together.
Adventure Tropes. By the early '90s, tournament D&D adventures had been around for 15 years, so it's intriguing to see how they'd changed in that time period. Right up front, "Night Watch" says that it's "designed to test the players' and the game master's knowledge, roleplaying, and ingenuity". Certainly, testing players was the goal of tournaments from the start. However, "Night Watch" offers its players a GMs a surprising amount of free choice, especially when compared to the early AD&D tournaments, which were all about carefully codifying the adventures and their results. "Night Watch" instead has plenty of opportunity for freeform roleplaying and even some chance for players to go off the rails of the episodic adventure — with advice if they do!
"Night Watch" also makes use of an occasionally seen D&D trope: joining an organization. The players become members of the guard of Ravens Bluff at the start of the adventure, and that tells them what to do in the actual play.
Exploring the Realms. Though primarily an adventure, "Night Watch" gives some nice details on the city guard and the law of Ravens Bluff.
About the Creators. Baas is a journalist and writer, the co-creator of the PBS series Spirit of Colorado. He and Glass also worked together on MC12: "Monstrous Compendium Dark Sun Appendix: Terrors of the Desert" (1992), while Baas contributed to a few other Dark Sun products in 1993-1994.
About the Product Historian
The history of this product was researched and written by Shannon Appelcline, the editor-in-chief of RPGnet and the author of Designers & Dragons - a history of the roleplaying industry told one company at a time. Please feel free to mail corrections, comments, and additions to email@example.com.