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

Monday, 21 March 2016

A Box of Delights

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 fourteenth adventure is Oblivion’s Edge.

Oblivion’s Edge  is the fourth adventure written for characters who have entered the Master Path, that is of Seventh Level or higher. It is written by Stephen Radney-MacFarland, the author of various supplements for Dungeons &
A Box of Dragons, Fourth Edition, as well as a regular contributor to Dungeon and Dragon magazines, and comes as a six page, 23.05 MB PDF. Physically, Oblivion’s Edge is decently presented.

The scenario is designed to mark the end of a campaign or at least, the end of a major chapter in a campaign. It brings the player characters perhaps the closest to the walls at which the Demon Lord rends in order to free him from his prison in the Void. The strain of his rending has caused the Void to bulge into our reality and this bulge stretches and weakens, coming ever closer to thinning the walls of reality and bursting. Although the peoples of the mortal world do not know it, they are in greater danger than ever before. Fortunately, there exists the means to remedy the threat, but this is fraught with dangers of its own. Members of the Esoteric Order of Kyth have prepared a ritual for a decade that will repair the porous walls of reality and sure up the walls against the coming of the Demon Lord. The decade-long ritual requires a relic sacred to the order, the Puzzle Box of Saint Barbatros, and somehow this is where the player characters come in.

The scenario starts with the Esoteric Order of Kyth asking the player characters to deliver the Puzzle Box of Saint Barbatros to Oblivion’s Edge, an ancient monastery standing on the edge of reality. How exactly the the monks come to hire the player characters is up to the Game Master to decide—and the scenario at least bold about this—but the likelihood is that by what is the now player characters’ seventh adventure, the probability is that they will have some connection with the Cult of the New God and these can be used to hook them into the adventure. Once they agree to the task, their problems are unfortunately, just starting. The player characters will have to traverse Umbra’s Path, a route through a landscape rent and warped by the Void. This is a relatively minor issue compared to their real problem—the Puzzle Box of Saint Barbatros. There is something aching to get out of the Puzzle Box, inveigling into the characters’ minds, pushing them to touch the Box, to solve the Puzzle, and...

Once the player characters reach Oblivion’s Edge, the scenario’s challenge switches from one of willpower to a series of escalating combat challenges as they various demons of increasing difficulty. Now there is nothing wrong with that, but it does feel somewhat disappointing given the creepy nature of the Puzzle Box of Saint Barbatros and the sanity inducing nudges it gives the characters as they journey to Oblivion’s Edge. Ultimately, it feels like an ‘end of level boss’ encounter and perhaps that is what it is.

Oblivion’s Edge is essentially one encounter with room for the Game Master to expand it slightly. It is a difficult encounter, it is a one note encounter, and by the standards of previous scenarios released for Shadow of the Demon Lord, a somewhat underwhelming encounter. Yet if you are looking to bring your Shadow of the Demon Lord campaign to a close, then Oblivion’s Edge is as good a place as any.