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The Sea Witch (3.0)
Publisher: Wizards of the Coast
by Megan R. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 05/18/2016 07:55:31

Time to deal with a pirate... a notorious one (of course) called Black Molly whose crew of ogres and other neferious degenerates has a reputation for cruelty and who has now captured a pivotal lighthouse serving a populated and heavily-travelled coastline with the aim of extorting a large payment to keep the light lit so preventing seafarers from crashing onto the rocks!

Likely to make a good side-trek adventure (unless you have a particularly nautical twist to your campaign) three hooks are provided, any one of which ought to get the party involved. Further developments, if you require them, can be drawn from what Black Molly is really up to and investigations of underwater caverns and wrecks... provided the party doesn't object to getting wet.

An area map and plan of the lighthouse are both provided (originally published in the Map-a-Week series on the Wizards of the Coast website), and there's a detailed description of the lighthouse and what is to be found there. This of course includes members of Black Molly's crew and the pirate captain herself. It appears that the crew's sole reaction to intruders will be to fight them, and while no other option is explicitly given for Black Molly, given the detail provided on an item she is looking for coupled with the total absence of any clues for the party to find about it, you may wish to have her attempt to enter into conversation so you can at least have the party share a potentially interesting tale, particularly if you plan to develop the adventure further.

With a nicely-developed lighthouse, potential for further adventure and, well, PIRATES, what is there not to like?



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
The Sea Witch (3.0)
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The Crumbling Hall of the Frost Giant Jarl (3.0)
Publisher: Wizards of the Coast
by Megan R. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 05/18/2016 07:51:02

The basic premise of this adventure is that some frost giants - who normally eke out a precarious existance as bandits high in the mountains - are having ideas above their station, harking back to long-ago days when they were a force to be reckoned with in the area. There's a bit more detail regarding who's involved and their intentions in the background notes for the DM, of course, but the fact that they are getting a bit frisky is pretty much common knowledge.

A few hooks are provided to help you get the party interested, but it's left to you to decide where their lair - this crumbling hall - might be, with a suggestion that you might make finding it part of the adventure, involving research of old records as well as exploration in hostile conditions.

The actual contents of this module start with the crumbling hall itself. It's based on September 2001 offerings in the Map-a-Week feature on the Wizards of the Coast website, with the relevant portion being reproduced here (although the original link in the PDF still works at the time of writing). It's a pretty straight-forward delve with some nice touches, but just about every creature encountered is going to fight, no questions asked. There are a few surprises, though...

A chilly challenge with nice detail and one unique creature that could prove... interesting, especially if it gets loose.



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
The Crumbling Hall of the Frost Giant Jarl (3.0)
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House of the Harpies (3.0)
Publisher: Wizards of the Coast
by Megan R. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 05/13/2016 08:08:48

This adventures involves a group of thieves who thought they were ever so smart in having a base outside of the city on which they prey - the city guards are not concerned about what happens outside the city walls, and the thieves do not trouble anyone other than city-dwellers so nobody around the amazing tree-house they've constructed is interested in them either. Only they have now been ousted by some harpies...

The obvious mission is to evict the harpies: whether or not the party is happy about the thieves moving back in depends on their outlook (or who is paying them!). The hooks provided to get them involved include, interestingly, a couple which are completely inaccurate but will get them to the right place, as well as more obvious things like the party rogue being approached for assistance.

The city is left unspecified so you can run this adventure anywhere you have a city with a forest nearby capable of supporting the tree house. The plan provided (again originally from the Map-a-Week feature on the Wizards of the Coast website) shows an evergreen tree, but it's not important to the structure of the tree house so if the most suitable forest is deciduous, a tree of appropriate size from there will do fine. (Or perhaps you are not enough of a botanist to care...) Be that as it may, the actual habitable portions of the tree house - and the mess the harpies have created - is well-described and should prove an entertaining 'inverted delve' for the party, with assorted harpies to fight as they, understandably, do not wish to be evicted.

Neatly, the harpies are not treated en mass, there is a defined leader with her own plans and tactics, as well as other mature harpies and even some young ones - who still can make themselves unpleasant to intruders. A few brief notes on how to follow up the adventure, depending both on why the party got involved in the first place and the outcome, are included.

Overall it is a nice straightforward adventure which can slot neatly into any campaign when the party is in an appropriate location - perhaps you want to get them more involved in urban life, or maybe they are just passing through - and level, with scope for being treated as a side-trek or incorporated more closely into your plots.



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
House of the Harpies (3.0)
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The Secret of the Windswept Wall (3.0)
Publisher: Wizards of the Coast
by Megan R. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 05/11/2016 11:53:19

Oh dear! This adventure involves a crew of workmen building a wizard his tower who have been trapped by a cave-in... as International Rescue doesn't cover your campaign world, perhaps the party might like to help?

The adventure uses two maps originally published in 2001 as part of the Map-a-Week feature on the Wizards of the Coast website, but don't fret if you cannot find them, they are reproduced here. A sea-side village called Poisson is quite a-buzz - home of the workmen, they were excited by the wizard Sionaas choosing to settle in nearby mountains and now they are concerned about the fate of those he hired to build his tower. Several hooks are provided to get the party involved, most of which are designed to put them in the right place to hear the plea for help. There's some information to be gathered if the party choose to ask around (or have a handy bard who can access his knowledge), and a fair bit of background about the area in general - perhaps they have already been exploring the area when the messenger arrives.

Further background is provided for the DM about Sionaas and what he's up to... something that leads to his rather odd request, when the party arrives, that they use no magic in attempting a rescue! So this adventure will involve a lot of digging!

There's an intriguing mystery to investigate and some new critters (stats provided) to defeat, but most interesting is the wizard himself, who IF he chooses to trust the party (he really does like his secrets) may have some interesting tasks for them in the future... but that, of course, will be up to you to design. Providing a whole area to explore and a potential patron, this provides a lot for a DM hoping to build up a campaign in a fairly remote area, a good framework on which to build your own ideas!



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
The Secret of the Windswept Wall (3.0)
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Fang, Beak, and Claw (3.0)
Publisher: Wizards of the Coast
by Megan R. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 05/09/2016 08:10:19

Fancy dealing with a spot of eco-terrorism deep in the woods? This adventure seed (it's not really a full-blown adventure) provides a few hooks to get the party involved in investigating just why a group of loggers is having such a difficult time. Some background notes for the DM explain what is going on, and then it's time to head for the forest.

Although designed with Faerûn in mind, there isn't really anything to tie it to the Forgotten Realms, so you can set it in any suitable little-exploited woodlands in your own campaign world if you prefer.

There's some basic details of what had happened so far - you will probably want to embellish this a bit - and then the party is expected to track the perpetrators (hint: make sure there's someone around who can track!) to their base of operations. Then you get notes on those involved, including stat blocks and details of how they are likely to react when the party comes a-visiting.

The nice thing is that there is actually an option to talk to the perpetrators rather than fight them - although if your party prefers to let their swords do the talking that will work fine as well. It could prove an interesting way for them to establish their credentials in the area as people who will sort out problems... always a good way for adventurers to get work.



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Fang, Beak, and Claw (3.0)
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The Ministry of Winds (3.0)
Publisher: Wizards of the Coast
by Megan R. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 05/09/2016 07:43:54

This is an urban adventure concerning a strange building in the middle of town. Which town is up to you, although it does tie in quite well with Return to the Temple of Elemental Evil and if you have that you could use Hommlet. It will work well anywhere, though, as it is quite self-contained.

The background for the DM explains what is going on within this odd building and several hooks are provided to help you to persuade the party that paying it a visit would be a good idea. A few snippets of rumours and lore can be gathered by parties prepared to ask around a bit, or if they have a bard who might have heard something...

Of course the first trick is to get in. That done, there is plenty to see within both above and below ground... for what appears to be a simple if mysterious obelisk has an extensive basement to explore. Based on a map originally presented as part of the Map-a-Week series on the Wizards of the Coast website (but reproduced here), the various chambers are well-described although it's likely that every encounter will provoke a fight.

It provides an interesting interlude, but that's about it. If you decide to set it in a town the party is familiar with, a spot of foreshadowing might be appropriate - mention the obelisk in passing as they go about their business. Of course, if they are new in town again they might notice it even before they have occasion to visit.



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
The Ministry of Winds (3.0)
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The Tower of Deception (3.0)
Publisher: Wizards of the Coast
by Megan R. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 05/06/2016 08:08:09

History has long told tales of 'wreckers' who lure ships off course by placing false navigation beacons, and this adventure deals with something a bit similar. Inspired by a Todd Gamble map (presented as part of a 'Map-a-Week' project on the Wizards of the Coast website in the first few years of this century), it presents a tower to explore and strange evils to defeat.

There are two ways to get the party involved. Either they are approached by local merchants concerned about a 'ghostly tower' that has lured ships to their doom on the rocks or - and this is the novel one - you can grab them out of thin air when they are teleporting (of their own accord or for some other reason)... for the 'light' on the tower is actually a magical device designed to trap people who are teleporting! If you use this option, it's advised not to use it the first time they try teleporting. It's also a good way to get them to some completely different part of the campaign world - distance is no object to this device.

Depending on which option you choose the party either arrives by boat (crewed by some nervous sailors who promptly depart) or somewhere inside the tower. To handle this, there's a comprehensive level by level description of the tower and what can be encountered or found there, leaving you free to describe it as appropriate as the party explores. For a deserted tower there's a surprising lot going on there, with traps and monsters and more to keep the party entertained. The really tricky thing is that the tower is so designed that once you're inside, it is very difficult to get out again - thus the real adventure is to escape!

The adventure is inventive and well-resourced. Some ideas for follow-up adventures are provided, chiefly drawing on individuals met inside the tower. I particularly like the way it can be used as a regular adventure or to trap unwary characters, and the potential for turning a campaign on its head by sending the party to an entirely different part of your world - or even to a new one! - is something worth pondering!



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
The Tower of Deception (3.0)
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Manifesting: A Tale (3.0)
Publisher: Wizards of the Coast
by Megan R. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 05/05/2016 07:39:02

This adventure was originally released about the same time as the Psionics Handbook, and so provides an opportunity for a character who wishes to develop psionic powers to play out how he came to have them.

The background for the DM tells of how one Lord Prisius has a rather unusual castle with interesting architecture... and that his young daughter is the architect! Only one night the young lady vanished, and her father is offering a reward to anyone who can explain what's happened to her or, even better, bring her back. Enter the party... The background also explains what is really going on, of course.

The adventure involves a lot of interaction and investigation, meeting the various inhabitants of the castle and figuring out what has actually taken place. Once you have got the party involved, they may wander at will around the castle and surrounding lands. A series of encounters are provided, but they may be run in any order depending on what the party chooses to do and where they decide to go. The DM is provided with a list of 'Secrets' and it's made clear who knows what, role-playing will be needed to find out what each person knows - and if you wish to roll for NPC attitudes, their knowledge is differentiated as to what they are prepared to reveal depending on whether they are indifferent, friendly or helpful (along with the DC checks to get them there). A good map of the castle is provided too.

There is quite a good possibility of a fight at the very end of the adventure once the characters have figured out what is going on, but the rest depends on wits and role-playing rather than combat skills. The adventure will probably work best in a world where there is some but not much psionics, and it would be possible for the party - if astute - to figure things out even if none of them are gifted in that direction. However it would provide an excellent opportunity for a player who wants to develop his character's abilities in psionics to take the first steps as his gift slowly burgeons... talk it over out of character with your players in advance and if someone is interested in developing psionics, this adventure can provide the opportunity for his journey to begin.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Manifesting: A Tale (3.0)
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One Last Riddle (3.0)
Publisher: Wizards of the Coast
by Megan R. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 05/04/2016 08:18:27

This is a short and rather vague encounter-based adventure involving a dead sphinx... whose ghost persists in asking riddles! His motivation is that he wants his recent demise avenged, and he lures the party with promises about loot left in the last place that he slept.

The idea is that you have the ghostly sphinx accost the party as they are travelling - hence it's easy to slot in anywhere in whatever campaign world you are using. Even as a ghost, the sphinx is far too powerful for a party of the intended level, so this is a good adventure for groups who like to talk and think... or as a lesson to those who fight first and talk later if at all!

After meeting the ghostly sphinx, the party is directed to his lair - a bare cavern - and thence to those responsible for his demise, and those parties who want a fight can have one then, and again as they follow up to a nearby town (use one of your own, or there's the bare outline of one provided).

There's advice on how to run riddle-asking with suggestions about what checks could be made if nobody's good at riddles, and also about how to handle dealing with NPCs, in particular the use of checks to adjust attitude until the NPC is willing to talk or otherwise be helpful - useful to novice DMs (remember, this was originally release about six months after the rules...). There are no maps and minimal location descriptions (if you like such things you'll have to come up with your own), but there are stat blocks for those the party will encounter - even the sphinx although they aren't supposed to fight him. Some will, or you may want to use him again later.

It's a little thin, a step above a mere adventure seed, but with potential to make quite an interesting adventure if you work at it.



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
One Last Riddle (3.0)
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The Ghosts of Aniel (3.0)
Publisher: Wizards of the Coast
by Megan R. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 05/03/2016 09:30:38

It all started out with the best of intentions, I'm sure, but now the population of the elf village of Aniel is deserted and haunted... and it's up to the party to find out what's going on and how (if?) it can be sorted out. The background for the DM explains just what went awry and who was behind it, and there are a few basic hooks to get the party involved.

If you have the party travelling to Aniel through the forest (called Celadon, but any suitable forest in your own campaign world will suffice), remember that it's wild and dangerous, and to that end there's a table of random encounters that you can use; while there are four main encounters to run once they reach Aniel. That's it - the party will have to use their wits and what they can glean from their interactions with the ghostly inhabitants of Aniel to figure out what needs to be done to restore a state of normality. If the party has a way to make contact with the ghosts, they can explain the situation (as given in the background) so one of the main challenges is establishing meaningful contact.

There's little in the way of resources. You'll have to come up with your own plan of the village and one for the local wizard's house and anywhere else the party decides to explore. The main antagonist's details are provided (including full stat block and notes on how he will act), but that's about it.

The situation and backstory are interesting and have considerable potential, but this one feels more like an adventure seed than a full-blown scenario. You will need to put some preparatory work in to run it at its full potential. When it was a free download on the Wizards of the Coast website, that was fine, but you may wonder if even 99 cents ought to get you more - as it does with many of the other adventures in this series!



Rating:
[3 of 5 Stars!]
The Ghosts of Aniel (3.0)
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The Alchemist's Eyrie (3.0)
Publisher: Wizards of the Coast
by Megan R. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 05/02/2016 10:25:01

This is a brief adventure that ought to last but a single session. It's basically a delve, even if it involves a tower rather than an underground complex. The DM is provided with plenty of background as well as a synopsis and several potent hooks to get the party involved - if you are using this as part of a campaign, read it well before you intend to use it as there are several suggestions for foreshadowing, thus making it seem integral to your plot rather than a side-trip. However it will serve just fine as a side-trip or a one-off if that's what you need.

Although the background does give some indication of the tower's location, the adventure proper starts with the party approaching it. This should make it relatively easy to find an appropriate place in your campaign world to situate it. As well as the current residents and assorted traps left by the original alchemist, one difficulty many characters may find is that the tower was built with dwarves in mind and there's not much headroom - unless of course you are a dwarf or a member of another short race.

It's a neat compact adventure with enough variety, what with the traps and the nature of the opposition, to lift it above a pure dungeon brawl and provide an entertaining session for you and your group.



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
The Alchemist's Eyrie (3.0)
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The Vessel of Stars (3.0)
Publisher: Wizards of the Coast
by Megan R. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 05/01/2016 10:16:55

It's an escort job. Take this young queen where she needs to go, that's it. OK, so it's a rather strange place she's going and the opposition are even wierder, but surely it's not too difficult... or is it?

The background for the DM lays out what is happening concisely but clearly, with the observation that although the party won't start the adventure knowing all this, they might do by the end if they pay attention to what's going on around them. There is also a comprehensive synopsis which covers what ought to happen where - because this adventure manages to combine a flight scenario with a site-based one. Basically the party (plus young queen) get chased to her destination, which they can then explore.

Several adventure hooks are provided to get the party involved. Rather neatly, you can use more than one to really get them ensnared! It all starts in a reasonably-sized coastal township called Horvath (or you can substitute an equivalent settlement in your own campaign world if you prefer). Once you've got the party interested, they can ask around for useful information before they set out. It seems the place has been plagued by strange creatures (and lights) in some nearby hills for about ten years now. This is, of course, where the party has to go...

Several maps are supplied. There's one of the general area (which can help you find a suitable location on your own campaign world if you don't just want to run it straight), and several maps of locations encountered during the adventure. Horvath gets some description but no actual map, but there's sufficient in the description to give an idea of its layout and you shouldn't need more than that.

Although what needs to be done is pretty straightforward, there's quite a loose feel about it with plenty of scope to run the trip as you choose, yet plenty of resources - encounters, wandering monsters, etc. - supplied to support you. The end should prove exciting - provided that the little queen is still alive, that is - and there are notes on how to continue, whether she manages to escape or not.

There's quite a lot packed into a few pages here, and it ought to give your group a good session or two adventuring... and includes a neat potential moral dilemma for those parties who like to think about the consequences of what they are doing.



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
The Vessel of Stars (3.0)
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Delta Green: Agent's Handbook
Publisher: Arc Dream Publishing
by Megan R. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 04/30/2016 12:58:50

Opening with an Overview, this is the players' book for the Delta Green RPG. The Overview is interesting, stating that it is a warning... that Delta Green is not about adventure and bug hunts and guns, but about fear. A fear that the things the characters deal with can end not just their lives but the very Earth itself. Once it's calmed down a bit, there's a more reasoned explanation of what Delta Green is and does: a covert operation hidden within the depths of the establishment, with a mission to investigate, contain, and conceal unnatural events. It's a strange organisation with no headquarters or bases, with most agents knowing only a few others and generally working a 'day job' when they are not off on a mission for Delta Green. Agents are recruited carefully and slowly, they need to be certain that they have the right people. There's a run-through of the common features of all the missions undertaken: suspense, horror, violence, moral dilemmas, secrets, mind-bending knowledge, and the personal and professional consequences of being a Delta Green agent. This opening chapter ends with an outline of how the game is played, primarily aimed at those not familiar with role-playing games.

Next, Agents contains all the information you need to create your character. The system is based on Chaosium's Basic Role Playing one with characters described by their Statistics (Strength, Dexterity, Constitution, Intelligence, Power and Charisma) which can be rolled or determined through a point-buy system. There are some Derived Attributes to work out, then you select a Profession and Skills before adding personal details including the character's bonds to important people (vital for hanging on to your sanity) as well as things like name, appearance, current job and so on. There's masses of detail to help you through the process. If you don't care for the Professions offered here (which provide your main Skills), there are notes on how to invent your own.

Then The Game is a chapter which explains, in great detail, how to play the game, and use the abilities and skills that your character has to effect. The core system is percentage based, with the aim being to roll under the percentage you have in an applicable Statistic or Skill. It's advised that you only get the dice out if the task you wish to undertake is a difficult one, if the situation is unpredictable or when there are consequences to failure... dire ones, that is. There are lots of examples to show you how the system works, but it's pretty intuitive. One nice angle is the Luck Roll - a straight unmodified roll giving you a 50% chance of things going your way: use this when wondering if the car you just stole has a first-aid kit aboard as you need one, or if the neighbours are in when you are busy kicking a door down to break in... There's things like opposed tests and pursuits here as well.

Combat, however, gets a chapter to itself. This takes you through brawling in great detail, with all the options available - some of them optional - and how to make the most of the skills, equipment and situation that you have. There's a lot to absorb here, but it's worth reading so that when you do have to fight, you do so to best effect. It can get pretty lethal though - just like the real world - so pick your fights carefully. There's also things like protection, healing and other useful combat-related material here too, as well as other ways to harm or be harmed - poisons, environmental dangers, fire, falls and so on.

Next comes Sanity. In a game about horror and fear, it's quite easy to lose your marbles... so here are the rules for hanging on to your sanity, or losing it big style. All sorts of things can put a Delta Green Agent's sanity at risk, both the things that they see and experience, and the things they find that they have to do. There's a splendid selection of disorders that deranged minds might turn to, and a scant few notes on therapy that may, just may, aid in recovery.

The next chapter is Home. The brief respite of normal everyday life that anchors agents, reminds them of why they do what they do, reminds them of normal life. In this game, short scenes are used - normally between missions - to enable agents to touch base, but also to see how what they have done and seen affects that which they hold most dear. This is also when they can attend theraphy sessions, gain additional skills through training and study... or even face prosecution if the authorities have noticed what they've been up to! It's a neat way of incorporating an air of real life into the game, making things like boosting your skills a part of the game rather than book-keeping.

This is followed by Equipment and Vehicles. This deals with the gear that the agent needs (or would like to have). The expense is handled in an arbitrary manner without tracking every dollar spent. You only have to argue the case for access to high value or hard to obtain items, most of the time it's deemed that agents have access to the things that they need. It depends on the mission, the cover story and the item you want... and a lot is left to the Handler's discretion! There can be consequences for asking for something that the powers-that-be deem inappropriate to what they think you are doing, and there can be an after-action review in which awkward questions can be asked. Or you can try the black market... It's only then that we get down to the actual lists and applicable game mechanics for actual items. Again, it's a neat system which adds realism to the process without bogging it down in masses of accounting and record-keeping.

Next is an extensive chapter of Federal Agencies. All the alphabet soup agencies you've heard of and quite a few that, unless you are obsessive about US government agencies, you probably didn't know existed. It also includes the military, as well as law enforcement, intelligence, diplomats and public safety. The main idea here is that they are potential employers of record for our agents. Each agency is described with notes on whether or not their staff have powers of arrest, do they carry weapons as a matter of course, what funds are available to them and do they have access to more exotic items of equipment. Appropriate professions are listed for each one, and there are notes on how best to play a member of that agency. It's all quite fascinating, and gives a wide range of interesting backgrounds - I once played a Centers for Disease Control doctor, another time I was a CIA consultant and historian scampering around Afghanistan...

Finally, there's a series of appendices covering tradecraft (all those useful tricks of espionage or undercover work), a comprehensive glossary and some recommended reading. And a character sheet.

It's an excellent introduction to the game with loads of useful background to help you create and play an effective Delta Green agent. Good luck... you'll need it.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Delta Green: Agent's Handbook
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Murder in Baldur's Gate (5e)
Publisher: Wizards of the Coast
by Megan R. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 04/29/2016 08:08:07

This is a quite fascinating adventure, as it is far more of a sandbox than many although there's plenty going on to keep the characters busy - indeed they are likely to get swamped and prioritise what needs to be dealt with right now, and what can be done later if at all. You can run it with any Dungeons and Dragons ruleset from 3e to 5e, but it is designed with the aim of introducing - in character - the changes that transferring to D&D 5e would entail, being released prior to the launch of that ruleset.

You get a 32-page adventure guide, a 64-page setting book and a DM screen. The PDF version also includes additional material that was made available as free downloads to purchasers of the 'dead tree' version.

The Campaign Guide consists of a comprehensive gazetteer to the city of Baldur's Gate. Although the settlement has been mentioned in Forgotten Realms material for ages, here is the real low-down on the place, a good chance to really get to know it. With plentiful maps and illustrations and details on everything from municipal leaders to the best inns to frequent, its usefulness will last far beyond this adventure to anytime the party is in town. There are places to go, things to see and lots to do... and reading through it spawns plenty of ideas for adventure, particularly if your taste turns to urban plotliness (as mine does). Most of it is system-neutral so no matter which version of D&D you want to play, it will be a useful book to have to hand.

Turning attention to the adventure itself, Murder in Baldur's Gate, this teeming and prosperous city we have just read about is on the brink of breakdown. Part of this is due to inequality - the city is extremely stratified with the rich separated from the middle classes and them from those in real poverty - who are still expected to pay taxes although they don't get any of the services that the taxes are levied to fund! This is exacerbated by a spate of murders that herald attempts by the deity of assassins, Bhaal himself, to be resurrected with three villains competing to become his Chosen... and they do not care what happens to the city in the process. The delightful sting in the tail is that if the party chooses to solve the problem by removing those three rivals permanently, one of them will find Bhaal tapping on their shoulder instead!

Event piles upon event in dizzying complexity. The party won't see or be involved in everything, but it's likely that they will hear about the ones they don't witness - although how credible the reports are is open to question. The DM should study the material thoroughly in advance, after all it won't do for them to get swamped, that's the party's fate. Everything is laid out quite clearly, though, and there's a lot of flexibility to allow the DM to respond to the party's actions yet keep everything on track.

This adventure provides plenty of scope for interaction and intrigue, but violence is never far away so those looking for combat will not be disappointed. It's exciting and engrossing and gives low-level characters an unprecidented opportunity to be involved in momentous events. It all ends in buckets of blood, riots and possibly a big explosion: memorable in the extreme. For me it works well, I love urban intrigue and investigation - but it may be more of a struggle for those players who prefer a good dungeon crawl and conduct interactions at sword-point without the distraction of conversation!



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Murder in Baldur's Gate (5e)
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Qin: The Warring States free demo kit
Publisher: Cubicle 7 Entertainment Ltd.
by Megan R. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 04/25/2016 09:59:17

Originally released in advance of the actual game itself, this is a good opportunity to take a peek at this system before taking the plunge and purchasing a copy.

It starts with a brief introduction to the game and some atmospheric fiction before launching into The History of the Empire and The Warring States, which set the scene in an admirably concise style. There's a page on Magic in Qin, with the reminder that in the mystical China of this game, people regard magic as quite normal and not supernatural... it's just someone who knows how the universe works manipulating it.

Then it's on to game mechanics with an outline of how characters are described in game mechanical terms and an overiew of the rules. Finally, two completely developed characters are presented, complete with character sheets, and it is suggested that you try out the rules by having them brawl with one another.

That's it, quite short and sweet. The background material does give a whistle-stop tour of the setting, and could be used to explain to prospective players the world in which their characters would exist... but there's a lot more to this game than fighting so it's a shame that there is no short scenario to play through as an introduction: just saying 'Here's 2 characters, let them fight' doesn't really give a fair impression of what this mystical game is all about!



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Qin: The Warring States free demo kit
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