Thursday, October 28, 2010

Tommy's Take on The Inn of Lost Heroes

The Inn of Lost Heroes is the second adventure by Small Niche Games, written by Peter Spahn for Labyrinth Lord.

No, I haven't suddenly started playing Labyrinth Lord since I reviewed Blood Moon Rising. Like that review, I will be examining this adventure for utility with other RPGs, namely Savage Worlds and High Valor.

The Inn of Lost Heroes is a 38 pag PDF, bookmarked, and largely black and white. As it goes with adventures, please be prepared for spoilers, though I'll try to go light.


***BEGIN SPOILERS***









SERIOUSLY, GO AWAY IF YOU DON'T WANNA BE SPOILED








***LAST WARNING***



For those running a more traditional game, the adventure expects that you have a standard party spread with a fighter/dwarf, rogue/halfling, wizard/elf and cleric. The Inn of Heroes was a popular stopping off point for adventurers...and now it's cursed hellhole with a creepy, Silent Hill vibe after a silly fight between adventurers spilled out of control, killing most of the family that owned it and causing it to burn down.

Now it materializes on the anniversary of its destruction, hoping to entice adventurers to their doom.

The Inn has three "versions": The Living World Inn, the Ash World Inn and the Burning World Inn. Once it shifts into those other two, freakiness truly ensues and the adventurers cannot leave until they find a blessed medallion.

THE INN OF (LOST) HEROES

This is the description of the Inn as it appears in the Living World and Ash World. For instance, there is a sign above the mantle that says "The Inn of Heroes"...until the shift to the Ash World...where it becomes "The Inn of Lost Heroes", as "Lost" is burned into it.

There is some nice interplay between the worlds as the family dog Old Beast can be befriended in the Living World, and when he appears in the Ash World, he at least has the courtesy of killing anyone who befriended him last.

Throughout the Inn, in the Ash World, are passageways into the Chambers where the PCs get to gather the Medallion, each of which is helpfully heralded to the PCs by the talking corpses of adventurers.

We also get two maps of the Inn, one keyed for the GM and one for the PCs.

LIVING WORLD ENCOUNTERS

We get the classic adventuring set-up, complete with a mysterious, hooded stranger carrying an ominous warning for the PCs. There are several opportunities to recruit new NPCs to the party (especially if the PCs are lacking an area in the Fighter/Mage/Cleric/Thief dynamic)...there is also an unruly adventuring party, and this whole scenario is meant to repeat history from the night the Inn first burned down. The PCs can actually escape into the night (in which case you probably need something else to do for the evening) or they get trapped inside the burning inn...and things go crazy.

ASH WORLD ENCOUNTERS

Assuming they remain trapped, now the place is grey and ashy, ala Silent Hill. The other adventurers are here as well, and the PCs will certainly encounter them. The bulk of the adventure takes place in the Ash World as the PCs get clued in on the Medallion, which is hidden in four chambers, each requiring a Fighter or Thief or Mage or Cleric...but here is why there are so many NPCs, granting extra options to the players to recruit folks for the tasks, to fill in their gaps.

Everyone gets to fight The Burning Hag, a vicious recurring foe who focuses on NPCs in the first fight, taking out a few key NPCs just to rattle the rest.

Each of the four Chambers holding the shards is described...each with a challenged geared towards a character class, and each having a NASTY curse for the heroes when they succeed. In addition to the normal encounters, there are a series of random encounters specifically for the Ash World to help fill in this part, many of which can be used to bring the surviving NPCs back on board.

Once the heroes recover all four pieces of the Medallion, it sets up another go with the Burning Hag. Assuming the PCs succeed, they have a choice: Walk away or try to put this place to rest once and for all.

BURNING WORLD ENCOUNTERS

Assuming they stick around, they get to remain in the end as it burns fiercely...and they get to fight each other to the death.

Seriously.

Honestly, it's a pretty cool twist, essentially making the PCs their own boss fight, and not in the cheap "mirror foe" way.

The Last Man Standing has the opportunity to end it all and save everyone. In fact, that's the kicker: If the PCs go through with ALL of this, they can save everyone. If they cut and run, anyone that was lost is utterly doomed.

APPENDIX

The Appendix provides two magic items, one being the Medallion and the other beings crests that can protect adventurers from the worst of the effects in the adventurer.

Additionally, we get the Burning Hag, insane heroes trapped in the Ash World, heroes who have been burnt to death and are now a threat and creepy fungi.

THOUGHTS

It's a great, creepy adventure. I don't like it as much as I do Blood Moon Rising, if for no other reason than it's incredibly easy for the adventure to fall apart by the PCs just deciding to get out when the warning comes down in the taproom fight before the shift to the Ash World, rendering the whole thing moot, and Blood Moon Rising just had more overall utility, with the potential homebase for adventurers, long term adventure potential, etc...but The Inn of Lost Heroes still has a cool, creepy vibe ala Ravenloft.

I think Savage Worlds could do it admirably well...most of the frameworks for the classes are present in the game AND it is probably the best system I've seen for when you need to have NPCs in the party.

Still a very good adventure, and Pete Spahn is absolutely dead set on not railroading PCs, no matter what, which is pretty refreshing in published adventures.