This was the first time we played SotDL (been playing RPGs since 1979) and Dark Deeds in Last Hope (DDiLH) was the perfect choice for SotDL noobs like us. Not only because there is a lot of suggestions on how you might run things, but the adventure itself is very enjoyable and easy to run. Although the page count of DDiLH is a "whopping" (when compared with other SotDL published adventures) 15 pages! this is simply because it provides a lot of advice useful to both new players and new game masters. Within these pages you get:
- Art filled cover and adventure premise snippet.
- Suggestions how different ancestries fit into the community of Last Hope (the town where the adventure starts).
- List of equipment that PCs may find over the course of the adventure (in addition to rewards at specific locations).
- Six clues, each one handed to a PC based on their profession type.
- Optional Path Point System aimed at assisting which Novice path a player should choose at the end of the adventure based on the actions of their PC during the adventure.
- Suggestions for replacing PCs who die with randomly rolled townsfolk (names & professions) together with a “Local” (townsfolk) stat block.
- Rules for “creating” Last Hope where you drop dice on the supplied empty map of the town and buildings are assigned based on where the dice fall.
- Descriptions of the people/places of interest in town – A priest, temple (with cemetery), tavern, abandoned workshop, and constables’ office.
- Two of the main characters (and their stat blocks).
- Five pages of story dived into scenes with each scene containing suggestions on which scene to do next based on the players actions.
- The story itself was quite good and had some unexpected twist and turns. It’s also worth noting that the adventure isn’t as dark/horrific as some of the other SotDL adventures.
- The suggestions for what scene comes next were handy (even more so for novice GMs).
- The clue handouts were a nice touch – who doesn’t like a handout?
- The town creation rules were simple but added some Player/GM ownership and depth.
- Nothing really but if I had to pick on something some might say the scene descriptions are unnecessarily long (but given its usefulness to a novice GM I disagree) and given all up its 12 pages of adventure (including the cover) it’s still not a lot to read for one night of adventure.
- I also didn’t care for the Path Point System myself as it seemed extra book work for little gain but others might like having such decisions based on in game actions which is definitely in the spirit of SotDL.
In Play (Potential Spoilers)
We are a small group of three RPG players and with one player “on leave” for two weeks, the rest of us (two) decided to try SotDL having never played it before. That said we are quite familiar with d20 based systems (Basic D&D, AD&D, 3.0, 3.5, 4.0, 5E, and PF) and it was pleasing to find during play the rules were never an issue. I made my own 6 pages of “cheat sheets” which pretty much covered everything one would require in play without opening the rulebook just in case and that should indicate how simple the game is to run.
Given we had only 3 hours I had my friend roll up 4 Staring PCs, a dwarf acolyte, a human, a clockwork, and a goblin, beforehand. So already the acolyte and clockwork fitted into the story well.
Opening scene sees a panicking NPC running from the temple towards the players who grab him and manage to calm him down. The acolyte was immediately concerned for the priest so after some quick questioning sent the stranger on his way without escort to the tavern – whoops! They also failed to notice a bulge in his pants that certainly was no squirrel!
At the temple they took in the scene, discovered a relic was missing, and decided to split the party – yay! Two went towards the woods where they thought they saw some movement deeper in the trees. One stayed in the temple to read the priests letters. The fourth went to talk with the constable. All the while they wondered where the priest, Father Solomon, might be.
The goons in the prison cell were none too pleased to hear a description of their leader being sent to the tavern for a stiff drink as the fourth PC described the nights events to the constable. The PC made a mental note of their reaction but failed to notice the state of the cells lock. The party regrouped and went to see how the guy from the temple was fairing only to discover he was a no show at the tavern. “What the ?”
The party then decided to venture into the woods and came upon a woodman’s body, stripped of clothing. Pressing on they came upon a camp where the same woodsman, now apparently alive, ran from a tent straight towards then as an animated corpse stumbled towards him. The “What the?” moment here was really cool. Dispatching the corpse was not an issue and after questing the woodsman's double they realised they had a changeling on their hands.
They ignored her pleas to look for the mayor’s son (and her friend/lover) and took her back to town only to discover a jailbreak had occurred and a break in of a nearby house by the 4 goons was currently underway. They of course went to the occupant’s rescue and after a slightly protracted battle, where despite the acolyte’s crap armour not a single blow could a goon lay on him the goons were dispatched. Surely evidence of the New God ability to protect their own? The goons boss also tried to sneak up on the PCs goblin archer but failed and was quickly set upon in turn and died when he decided things weren’t looking good and tried to run.
With the goons and their leader dispatched and the relic recovered, they got the bad-tempered tavern owner to clean up the mess and returned to the camp in the woods. From here they followed another trail to a small clearing where the mayor’s son whimpered and spat at the “witch hunters” to stay back. A short fight broke out but the necromancer in the making soon surrendered just as three ‘goat’ headed Beastmen investigating the sounds of combat gate crashed the scene. Alas for them the PCs again quickly dispatched their new opponents and returned to town with mayor’s son in toe.
We easily wrapped up the adventure in the short time frame which given we had never played before was really cool. I was quite surprised not a single PC went down. My friend and I both really enjoyed the adventure and look forward to next week when we will try a Novice adventure. So that’s a thumb up from both of us for the adventure and another thumb for SotDL itself.