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

Thursday, 18 February 2016

Give it up for the Giant

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 eighth adventure is The Giant’s Tribute.

The Giant’s Tribute is the first adventure released for Shadow of the Demon Lord for characters who have entered the Master Path, that is of Seventh Level and above. It comes as a seven-page, 22.36 MB PDF. As it opens, it finds the adventurers on the Emperor’s Road between Sixton and Crossings in terrible weather and thus have decided to seek warmth and shelter in the nearby village of Rowanrest. When they arrive, the player characters find the village in disarray—its inn has been assaulted by a giant! In fact, the inn has been assaulted by Roog Muttonfist, a lazy brute of a creature who for the last ten years has been monthly demanding tribute from the villagers in the form of beer and sheep. This has proved to be a small price to pay to avoid having their houses knocked down and the likelihood of the giant feasting on them. The previous evening though, Roog changed his demands—he wants people, not sheep. The villagers, are of course, terrified, since they know that the giant might destroy the whole town and kill everyone if they refuse him.

So the question is, what caused Roog Muttonfist to change his appetite? This is the mystery at the heart of The Giant’s Tribute—and it is a good little mystery. Rowanrest is beset by terrible circumstances outside of its control and if the adventurers decide to investigate, their research efforts will take them to various locations surrounding the village. The majority of these efforts will lead to a fight, but there are also some quite nice roleplaying encounters too, notably with the inhabitants of another village. That said, thematically, The Giant’s Tribute does feel similar to the Novice Path scenario, The Apple of Her Eye. Here though, the villagers are definitely the innocent party. The scenario does end with a big stand up fight, one that is relatively complex, so the Game Master will need to prepare it with some care.

Physically, The Giant’s Tribute is well written and a straightforward affair. It requires another edit in places, but since it is a PDF, the likelihood is that this can be done with ease. The main issue is with the scenario’s cartography—or rather its single map. It is an attractive affair with an Old School, almost Tolkienesque feel to it. Unfortunately, some of the location names are hard to read and they do make the map hard to read and its locations difficult to find at a glance.

Perhaps though, The Giant’s Tribute might be seen as lacking the depth that an adventure for the Master Path might demand. Otherwise, The Giant’s Tribute is a decent, enjoyable adventure that offers a session or two’s worth of play.