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

Friday, 15 July 2016

Consumptively Consumptive

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 twentieth adventure is A Case of Consumption.

A Case of Consumption is written by David Noonan, best known as a co-author of titles such as Urban Arcana for d20 Modern and more recently of the Ultima Thule campaign setting from Sasquatch Game Studio. It is the seventh adventure written for characters who have entered the Expert Path, that is of Third Level or higher, and comes as six page, 12.75 MB PDF and presents a missing persons case that turns into an alimentary dungeon delve. It takes place in the town of Thorpe, just east of Crossings in the Northern Reach and although this location gives the adventure a passing link to the ‘Off the Rails’ adventure to be found in the campaign, Tales of the Demon Lord, the link is minor at best and A Case of Consumption could easily be located elsewhere.

The scenario begins when the player characters are summoned—though this may be at the point of a sword or two—to Castle Garnach, which overlooks the town. Lord Garnach has discovered that his three children are missing and he wants them found, which for the player characters means a job—and if successful—a sizable reward. Worse though, all three are all suffering from Consumption, so not only is time of the essence, there is the possibility that whoever has the children might also have caught it, and worse, in effecting a rescue, the player characters might come down with it themselves! There is some investigation involved in determining where the children have gone and who took them there, but the bulk of the scenario is an exploration of their destination.

Their destination then is a nearby cave complex on the shores of Mirror Lake. It is relatively short complex at just five locations, with each location being of a singular nature, all of it very much concerned with the themes suggested by the scenario’s title. To say more would give way the conceit at the heart of the scenario—and that is all too easy given the brevity of A Case of Consumption. This brevity also means that the success of the scenario will mostly depend upon what the players and their player characters bring to it rather than its plot. Overall, A Case of Consumption feels somewhat thin, even consumptive in the true meaning of the word.