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Saturday, 23 April 2016

Kaves of Karshoon II

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 plus the 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 sixteenth adventure is The Gorgon’s Tears.

The Gorgon’s Tears is written by Cam Banks, co-author of various titles including the Cortex Classic System Role Playing Game, the Leverage: The Roleplaying Game, and the Marvel Heroic Roleplaying Basic Game. It is the fifth adventure written for characters who have entered the Expert Path, that is of Third Level or higher, and comes as an eight page, 19.36 MB PDF. It is designed as a standalone adventure, but can also be run as a sequel to Beware the Tides of Karshoon, being set in the same city of Gateway. It is also designed to serve as a bridge for characters moving from the Expert Path to the Master Path, that is of Seventh Level or higher. So ideally it should be run for characters of Sixth or Seventh Level. By the end of the adventure, the characters will have either prevented or allowed the return of an ancient evil—and if the latter, then they might even be working for it!

As the scenario opens, word has reached Gateway of the Orc uprising to the south and of the assassination of the Emperor—and the city is in uproar. Certain factions in Gateway advocate separation from Empire’s provincial government and foment civil unrest, inciting mobs to riot and protest. Leading these protests is the wealthy and decadent Gogenthaler Clan, but whilst the clan campaigns for Karshoon’s ‘independence’, something else stalks its members for reasons of its own. It is amidst one of these protests that the player characters find themselves when the scenario opens. By the time the riot is over, they will likely have an offer of employment—from one side or another—and have been presented with a grisly mystery. It is this mystery that lies at the heart of The Gorgon’s Tears

The likelihood is that solving the mystery in The Gorgon’s Tears will involve violence and combat—violence and combat upon the part of the player characters. Yet the scenario does not have to and there is the scope for this too. The scenario’s antagonists are not necessarily hostile towards the player characters and are even prepared to negotiate with them. This is refreshing after the focus in so many of the scenarios for Shadow of the Demon Lord having been on combat and it leaves several of the other scenarios available for the RPG slightly wanting as roleplaying experiences… The scenario almost begs to be expanded and to last longer than the simple one or two sessions that it offers.

The Gorgon’s Tears is a good scenario for Shadow of the Demon Lord, involving a decent mix of mystery, combat, and social interaction. The latter, the social interaction, is the adventure’s most interesting feature, but unfortunately, it is slightly underplayed. Perhaps though, there is scope here for the Game Master—perhaps even Schwalb Entertainment and the author?—to expand The Gorgon’s Tears into the fuller, more interesting, and more rounded scenario it deserves to be.