Every Week It's Wibbley-Wobbley Timey-Wimey Pookie-Reviewery...

Friday, 29 January 2016

An Outpost of the Blind

Although there is no scenario in the rulebook for Shadow of the Demon Lord, the first RPG released by Schwalb Entertainment following a successful Kickstarter campaign, one of the excellent decisions upon the part of the designer has been to release support—and release it early—in the form of scenarios for the game. This way a gaming group can get playing quickly, even if they are just using the core rules presented in Victims of the Demon Lord: Starter Guide and an adventure. In addition, the publisher has also released Tales of the Demon Lord, a complete mini-campaign that takes a party of characters from Zero Level up to Eleventh Level. In the meantime, the sixth adventure is A Measure of Faith.

A Measure of Faith is the second adventure written for characters who have entered the Expert Path, that is of Third Level or higher. It is written by Steve Townshend, best known as the co-author and contributor to supplements such as the 13th Age Bestiary for Pelgrane Press’ 13th Age and Madness at Gardmore Abbey for Dungeons & Dragons, Fourth Edition and comes as a seven page, 9.89 MB PDF. Physically, A Measure of Faith is decently presented, though the cartography is not as the  good as the three dimensional map of The God Below. The writing is clear and simple, but the GM will need to give the scenario a careful read through as he will have to track the adventurers’ mental state as this will drive elements of A Measure of Faith. Both the GM and the players should be warned though, for this is a horrifying scenario in places... 

The adventure takes place in, around, and under Martyr’s Point, the first Crusader citadel, built to overlook the region known as Desolation and thus protect the lands of the Empire to the south. Whilst these the men have held the citadel and protected the Empire for centuries, there are those that have protected both the other men of the citadel and the Empire from a dark secret. For as holy a mission as the Crusaders have conducted in those years, the site of Martyr’s Point is far from holy. Beneath its profane ground is a fathomless subterranean abyss with the godlike power to warp reality to the shape of what people believe and fear. There are legends of an ancient bogeyman said to plague Martyr’s Point and the lands beyond and it is these legends that the abyss exacerbates to the point of making them real.

Fortunately, the Crusaders at Martyr’s Point are no fools and a secret order—the Circle of Six—has worked tirelessly down the centuries to bury both the abyss and all knowledge of it. Yet sinister rumours of this secret order have been powerful enough to attract the attention of the Inquisition of the Cult of the New God. As the Inquisitors carry out their holy investigation at Martyr’s Point, it is not a matter of what truths their interrogations reveal, but rather what horrors will be unleashed by their zeal and the efforts of the Circle of Six to hide a far darker truth than the Cult of the New God suspects. 

The scenario consists of three locations: the citadel of Martyr’s Point, the dungeons underneath it, and the village that clusters against the citadel’s walls. The village is slipping into chaos as the Inquisition seeks out cultists and a plague borne of belief drives the sufferers into cannibalism. The primary locations of the dungeons and the village are visceral, bloody places, redolent in insanity inducing sites and sights, and populated by men and women driven to desperate, sometimes craven acts by their beliefs. This is a nasty scenario which should culminate in the dungeons below the citadel, although how the player characters get there is largely up to them. They might be employed by the Inquisition to track down and recapture on the run members of the Circle of Six, be hired by the Circle of Six to stop the real threat underneath Martyr’s Point, or perhaps be persuaded to help the villagers of Martyr’s Point. There are rewards for giving help to each should the player characters survive.

Although A Measure of Faith is a bloody horror scenario, there is certain hamminess to it, much in the melodramatic style of the Hammer horror movies. Certainly the GM should play up the gothic melodrama underlying the piece as much the grand guignol, but without forgetting what really drives the scenario—the power of (misplaced) belief.