Monday, October 11, 2010

Tommy's Take on Blood Moon Rising

Blood Moon Rising is the first adventure for Labyrinth Lord by Small Niche Games. I'm going to be approaching this from a little different tack: I don't play Labyrinth Lord or D&D or any of the retroclones. However, I do likes me some adventures, and good ideas can be stolen for other games.

***WARNING***

I try to go light in spoilers...BUT...it is impossible for me to leave them out completely. If you are going to be playing in this, do yourself a favor and go away.


Seriously.

***END WARNING***

Blood Moon Rising is set up as a "sandbox"/timeline type adventure for 3-6 characters of 1-3 level. Basically, the book gives you a town with NPCs and a backstory, and the timeline of events that will occur during their big festival celebrating an ancient warrior that they all revere.

From there, the PCs interact with whatever they will, until the whole thing is resolved. The action rises, as action tends to do, until the PCs should find it virtually impossible not to realize that something isn't right (in fact, there is a very nice hook on Day One to draw them deeper into events unless they are completely self absorbed).

I love adventures that give you freedom, and this one does from the beginning, not even making any assumptions about the reason the PCs are in the town, just giving you some excuses if you need the help.

The background section gives you the backstory of the village, which has mutated considerably until it has become a very...inaccurate...local legend.

The village of Garanton is pretty small, about 200 people, and utterly normal for the most part...except for the interesting little spring on the edge of town with strange healing properties...until the New Moon...then I wouldn't want to bathe in it.

The Feast of St. Garan is a five day festival celebrating this great warrior that liberated the land, and is presented in the book as a series of events in the manner and order that they will occur, should the PCs not interfere.

The fifth night of the festival is the Blood Moon, hence the name of the module.

We are first presented with the normal order of events, followed by the major events from each day. Warrior types can compete in the Honor Games over the five day period, with the possibility of a title and a sweet, sweet magic item out of the deal. There is also the possibility of Honor Duels, which can be fought using non-lethal damage, to first blood or to the death, if a heated issue spirals out of control.

On Day One, the first Honor Game is held, which is a simple test of strength...but characters can discover some helpful clues about the true nature of the festival from the rocks.

A potential hook is also set in which a local artist asks the PCs to pose for a portrait...but he's fated to go missing overnight.

Day Two likely starts with news of a local farmer's cows being slaughtered and the PCs missing their appointment with the artist, because he's gone missing.

Day two also provides a Test of Nerve in the Honor Game, which has the potential to set the PCs on a collision course with an orc tribe that has become drawn to the area. Overnight, the a farmhouse is attacked by creepy demons (who killed the cattle the night before), further escalating tensions and making the mood somber.

The Day Three Test of Steed can provide slight financial benefit for a participant, but no plot-worthy extras like the first two days.

Day three also ratchets up the tension with the first human casualties, at least one of which is not what it seems.

Day four provides the opportunity for the PCs to uncover the truth about one of the attacks, as well as a possible battle that can turn them into instant heroes. However, the growing darkness over the events are driving people away now, before the end of the festival.

Finally, on Day Five, the Honor Games will conclude and - that night - a nasty group of demons attack the village. If the PCs have stuck around, they have a chance of driving off the demons...if not, the village is slaughtered.

It sounds simple enough, but there's plenty of action and excitement for a rookie party over a few sessions.

Twenty random encounters are also present, which include large, drunken women hitting on the PCs and not taking "No" for an answer, a young warrior being hazed, a fan club for one of the PCs, the possibility of scoring a very special mount and more.

Another series of encounters are present for those leaving the village, including the possibility of investigating the Tomb of St. Garan (and finding the good "saint" to be a sealed away undead Wight), as well as precisely what can happen if the PCs venture to the Demon Gate that is releasing the night demons on the village, and lays seeds for continuing adventures with much more powerful beasties trying to break through the gate (for when the PCs are higher level, of course).

The final resolution of the adventure is up the PCs, depending on what they did and how much exploration they indulged in, as they could uncover the truth about the area's history (effectively ending the annual festival), inadvertantly unleash an undead plague on the land to go with the demonic one, and allow an infernal beacon to draw all manner of evil to the area (if they don't destroy the Demon Gate).

All of the important (and semi-important) NPCs are given stats and summaries, and an appendix provided adds in a new spell (Lesser Charm Monster), as well as a pair of magic items (the Mantle and Sword of St. Garan) and two new monsters (the Night Demons and Demon Grubs).

My thoughts?

I will never run this as written...because AD&D/Labyrinth Lord/OSRIC/etc do not appeal to me.

HOWEVER...I would absolutely convert this to Savage Worlds or High Valor and use it as a potential launching point for a new campaign. For $4.95 you not only get a good sandbox adventure, you get a potential "home base" for PCs with a couple of plot hooks that could spawn into minicampaigns (or full blown epic conflicts in the case of the Demon Gate and what it's holding back) down the line.

Very cool stuff, and worth it even factoring in the necessary conversion work I'd have to do (not that High Valor or Savage Worlds would require a ton of work).

Great stuff...better than most of the modules I remember getting back in the day.