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Friday 4 February 2022

Friday Fantasy: Lock-in at the Blind Raven

Lock-in at the Blind Raven is an adventure for Dungeons & Dragons, Fifth Edition. Published by Critical Kit, it is designed for a party of four to five Player Characters of Third Level and is intended to be played in a single session, either as a one-shot or as part of an ongoing campaign. It involves a strange night of gothic horror and mystery in a tavern on one dark night. The scenario may involve combat and interaction, but primarily emphasises investigation and exploration.

Lock-in at the Blind Raven begins with the Player Characters in Sercana, the grim and grimy industrial town best known for the boompowder which is dug out of the surrounding hills and refined in the boompowder factory. The smoke pouring from factory’s chimneys obscures the sun and covers the town in a layer of soot. The town is also home to a notorious gaol and smuggling is rife—primarily of boompowder to a neighbouring power, but also of escaped inmates from the gaol. Here the Player Characters are hired by Judge Solomon Lazaric, recently appointed justice after the untimely death of the previous incumbent. Only recently arrived in the town, he is staying at the Blind Raven Inn, not far out of town, and found a note slipped under the door of his room. The note promised that he would be murdered that very night! He wants to hire the Player Characters to wait in the room and ambush whomever plans to kill him.

Several suggestions are given as to why the Player Characters are in Sercana, including smuggling or picking over a scrapyard for artefacts, but either way, Judge Solomon Lazaric approaches them and offers an evening’s work. As soon as they reach the Blind Raven Inn, things begin to take a strange turn. The inn stands atop a hill amidst a graveyard; there is only the one member of staff, a surly Orc too busy to serve them instead of a bar full of unseen customers who seem to be drinking the cellar dry; a sense of being watched, and more… The lock-in of the title is not the traditional lock-in of being able to drink at the bar beyond opening hours, but of being locked in and trapped, of examining the puzzle they find themselves in, and searching for a way out…

Lock-in at the Blind Raven is a horror scenario, but a mild one. Perhaps too mild a horror scenario. The author advises the Dungeon Master to be aware of the players’ boundaries and if necessary, discuss the nature of the scenario with them, and also that the scenario’s horror elements can be dialed up (or down) as necessary. Yet what he does not do is advise the Dungeon Master on how to do either. It would have been useful if tips and advice had been included to help her in doing so.

Physically, Lock-in at the Blind Raven is decently presented, everything is easy to grasp, and it makes good use of Dyson Logos’ cartography. Lock-in at the Blind Raven is an easy scenario to use and an easy scenario to use in any number of settings, whether that be Ravenloft or the Iron Kingdoms of Privateer Press’ Iron Kingdoms: Requiem setting, both for Dungeons & Dragons, Fifth Edition. It could be adapted to other settings or roleplaying games, especially ones which mix elements of industrialisation with their fantasy or have elements of horror in their settings. For example, Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay and Symbaroum would work for either.

Lock-in at the Blind Raven is designed to be played in a single session and would make for a decent interlude of horror and mystery between longer adventures. Unless the players dislike horror or the Dungeon Master is running it for a younger group, its horror will be too mild for most players. The likelihood is that the Dungeon Master will need to dial this aspect of the adventure up and unfortunately there is no advice given to that end. Slightly creepy and a little bit weird at best, Lock-in at the Blind Raven has the potential to even more so, but will need the input of the Dungeon Master to really ramp it up.

1 comment:

  1. I am currently adapting this scenario as an early game primer for the players as i have taken the entirety of the Sercana location into my setting; I have however found that the whole thing has several mistakes that could have easily been corrected with some dilligent editing, along with incorrect room directions (it states a door in room G3 leads to G3 when it should lead to G5) and mixes up East and west; multiple times.