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Saturday 19 March 2016

Indecent Exposure

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 twelfth adventure is The Measure of a Man.

The Measure of a Man  is the second adventure written for characters who have entered the Master Path, that is of Seventh Level or higher. It is written by Scott Fitzgerald Gray, a regular contributor to both Dragon and Dungeon magazines, and comes as a six page, 12.28 MB PDF. Physically, The Measure of a Man is decently presented and whilst the scenario is decently written, the GM will need to give it a very careful read through as the situation it sets up is adult in tone. Not just because it is a bloody horror scenario, but because it is also flagrantly misogynistic—arguably to a farcical degree—and its bloody horror does focus upon one single body part.

The scenario is setting neutral and can be placed in any relatively remote location. Wherever the location, it is the site of the Vault of Hope, a depository of knowledge, art, and culture built in the face of the growing influence of the Demon Lord as his arrival draws near. As the museum’s collection has grown, so has its reputation, making it attractive to both scholars and thieves. The former for its research possibilities, the latter for its riches, though the museum’s clockwork guardians are more than a match for would-be thieves.

As The Measure of a Man opens, the player characters are making their way to the Vault of Hope. Perhaps they need to visit it to conduct research, to deposit an important artefact , or even request the use of one, and this can be either for themselves, or behalf of a patron such as a sage or a noble. En route they are beset by a band of ridiculously attired cultists—and this in age of impending decline, dissolution, and doom when perhaps for many of the rich and the nobility, getting dressed up in ridiculous attire and living it up, seems the only thing to do. In fact the cultists are ridiculously unattired, but nevertheless fanatically keen on pressing their beliefs upon the party. The resulting bloodbath is ridiculously pointless… 

Unfortunately, things are only going to get worse, for once the party reaches the Vault of Hope, it finds the museum in disarray, its rooms and purpose suborned and twisted by sybaritic misogynists. The underground facilities are home to more dangerous threats than those cultists, including their leader, a camp creation more akin to a super villain of an underground comic. To say more would ruin the scenario.

The Measure of a Man is a dungeon-bash through and through, though one with adult themes and imagery. It is also somewhat silly. Now there is nothing wrong in that and there will be playing groups who will find this adventure to be fun. After all, how many adventures are there in which the primary enemies will literally be waving their members in the air? There is no doubt that this will make The Measure of a Man a more than memorable adventure, but its adult themes and silliness do mean that it might not be for the right reasons.

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