Bloody Harvest – Playtest review with one DM (me) and one player controlling four PCs.
A neat little adventure that a party of four third level characters should have no trouble reaching its conclusion within three or so hours. The story itself was interesting, different from a run of the mill, and the player got quite into it which is a good sign. I was probably too easy on my player but he had no trouble getting through to the end.
With the 14 pages you get some nice consistent artwork, eight pages (two column format) that detail the adventure, a map of the warehouse where the bulk of the adventure takes place, a one page “bestiary” detailing the stats for three denizens in standard format (a spellcaster, goblin guards, and a unique beast), and one page of player handouts (six NPC descriptions used in the beginning “Cut Scene”). Given its free you might as well download it and review it yourself but I can highlight the following aspects:
The adventure introduces some unique mechanics that I quite liked. The first is a “Cut Scene” where the players learn some of the background story not by hearing it directly from the DM, but by acting it out using the NPCs involved. The second was a Suspense Level” mechanism that started at zero and could rise to five based on the time the PCs take to investigate each area and if they take actions that are likely to alert someone. The higher the suspense the harder for the PCs as events unfold. The third is a method to get all PCs involved in a search/investigation to take part, skilled or unskilled, rather than leaving it to the most skilled PC. The last was a “Heroic Inspiration” that saw the effects of a short rest just as the “Boss” battle commenced.
These “Unique Mechanics” are clearly highlighted in the text (using a green background colour) so the DM if necessary can quickly find what he is looking for. There are other highlighted text blocks (blue background) “Capturing the Feel” that describe what the authors were going for and how a DM may wish to describe or roleplay a scene. Experienced DMs may wish to ignore these completely but I found it useful to have such insight that fed my own ideas.
The excellent story which was very suitable for a one shot that left you wanting more;
The unique mechanics introduced, especially the Cut Scene at the beginning;
The clues left for the PCs to piece things together, although it’s possible for the PCs to go directly to the end (my player didn’t), I felt the clues were useful, realistic story wise, and added some humour (like a good TV show).
The balance of both the encounters and the pace, was spot on as the PCs were challenged but never overwhelmed.
- A couple of unique magical items that fitted into the story nicely and potentially in the future with the Legacy’s Wake Adventure Path.
(Bad seems too strong a word but here are some niggling elements you might whine about if you paid a lot of money – but you didn’t did you …)
In the beginning it encourages you to read the Travellers Guide to Skyfall on the MithrilPunk website but it isn’t there. I emailed them and they very quickly responded stating they hoped the website would be updated and they might add the Guide to the module. I hope they do as I now have a pdf copy of “Heroes of Skyfall” which contains the Guide and it does leave you with a good impression of Skyfall. So much so that I ordered the Legacy’s Wake Adventure Path from an online bookseller and said book happened to turn up yesterday.
There are some typos that normally don’t overly concern me but a couple of these threw me such that I wasn’t too sure of what I would present/describe to the PC until I read it a couple more times.
The description of the warehouse doesn’t quite match the map provided but the reply from one of the authors explained it was out of date and needed an update but there is no real impact. Just be aware and some forwarded planning/thinking would be a good idea so there is no pause in the action.
At the end the PC is betrayed. My player absolutely hated this. It obviously leads to future job opportunities if the PC “plays along” but I was a bit surprised by his savage reaction. It’s not a Bad thing at all really, just be aware a lot of PCs may not like how it ends. In my case the initial bad reaction led to future story possibilities – the player wants to return to Skyfall with the same PCs and seek revenge – so quite cool actually …
- A rough map of the ship where the final encounter takes place would have been nice.
What I as DM did wrong:
I told the PCs the background story – why they were here – then did the Cut Scene. I should have done the Cut Scene first and then told them why they were here.
In the module in mentions “Search and Investigation” skills can be used so I took that as Perception. Who doesn’t have Perception? The result was that every Investigation in the warehouse was a doddle using the “Unique Mechanism” rules as they rolled 4d20 in every attempt. I should have been harder on him and made it investigation skill only so they didn’t get all the clues so easily. Overall it didn’t matter (and they did actually miss one or two).
- OK we had one player and the Cut Scene is design for several players. So I made some adjustments that were OK but this would have been so much better with more players – at least three but four to six would have been ideal.
As I mentioned earlier, I was so impressed with the modules unique setting and features and then the “Heroes of Skyfall” content that I bought the Adventure Path “Legacy’s Wake”. Now I just need so time to digest that …
Bloody Harvest in my opinion is well worth your investment, at least a look if nothing else …