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Tuesday 6 December 2016

A Perfect Investigation

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 twenty-second adventure is One Perfect Moment.

One Perfect Moment is the third adventure written for characters who have entered their first or Novice Path, that is of First or Second Level. It is written by Colin McComb, who has contributed to settings as diverse as Birthright, Planescape, and Ravenloft. It comes as a ten page, 25.22 MB PDF. Physically, One Perfect Moment is decently presented with a nice piece of cartography and two good illustrations. The GM needs to give the scenario a careful read through, primarily to understand how its structure works, for One Perfect Moment is an investigative scenario played against the clock. Note that the scenario has been written using content from The Demon Lord’s Companion, but alternatives are provided the GM who does not have that supplement. Note also that the content of the scenario is of a mature nature and the second piece of artwork is definitely of a mature nature.

The setting for One Perfect Moment is the town of Granville, a small trading town astride a major route between two cities. (Ideally it should be located near the city of Set, but really it can be set anywhere.) Some weeks prior to the arrival of the player characters in the town, the Adepts of the Epiphany came to Granville. They promise enlightenment through ecstasy and pleasure, telling worshipers they would gain insight at moments of utter bliss. Whilst the Adepts of the Epiphany might be genuine in their intent and teachings, the branch that came to Granville is anything but! The player characters are are spending the night in the small trading town when first thing the following day, they are summoned to an audience with its leading citizen, Loria Cassenault. Her niece and heir, Fallon, has fallen in with the Adepts of the Epiphany and spends her time on spiritual matters rather than on learning the family business and preparing for her inheritance. Loria Cassenault wants the player characters to determine how much danger Fallon is in, to rescue her if necessary, and to protect her family, her family name, and thus her family fortune.

In investigating Fallon and the Adepts of the Epiphany, One Perfect Moment presents plenty of leads to follow. These include tracing agents previously employed by Loria Cassenault, asking around town about the Adepts of the Epiphany, talking to Fallon’s friends and Fallon herself, and so on. Each of these takes a certain amount of time and each comes with one or two complications that only add to the time taken to gather clues. Whilst it would be tempting to for the player characters to split up, this would be ill advised, since some of the complications do involve combat and having too few numbers might make such encounters just a little too challenging. The timed structure of the investigation and the various leads should suggest to the players and their characters that they are up against a deadline, but unless the player characters really mess around, they do have sufficient time to follow leads, gather clues, draw some kind of conclusion, and act before the deadline falls.

If there is a problem with the scenario, it is that whilst its conclusion does cover a variety of possible outcomes, it leaves the GM to fully work out the effects that all these outcomes will have on the town and populace of Granville. This perhaps could have been better developed and thus have provided a better means for the GM to better present the ramifications of the events in the town. Overall though, One Perfect Moment presents a good mix of roleplaying and investigative opportunities with a timing mechanism for the latter being simple and easy for the GM to keep track of.

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