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Friday 18 February 2022

Friday Fantasy: The Scourge of Olfindour

The Scourge of Olfindour 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 Fifth Level and is intended to be played in a single session, either as a one-shot or as part of an ongoing campaign. Like the earlier Lock-in at the Blind Raven it involves a strange night of gothic horror and mystery in a tavern on one dark nightThe emphasis in the scenario is on interaction, roleplaying, and combat—primarily the latter. As with other titles in series from Critical Kit, this is easy to drop into an ongoing campaign.

The Scourge of Olfindour begins with the Player Characters on the road to Olfindour, a recently established hamlet on the border of the vast expanse of frozen land to the north known as Whiteweather. Deciding to stop for the night, they find the hamlet strangely deserted, a barricade roughly built across its single street, its houses boarded up, and the only signs of life to be found at its tavern, the Oakenhurst. They are quickly ushered inside and the door barred. With a beer in hand, the Player Characters are told that the hamlet has recently been subject to number of strange attacks and abductions, and that the fifty or so wary survivors have taken to holing up in the tavern for protection each night. Unfortunately, it proves not to be the refuge that the inhabitants of Olfindour had hoped it would be.

When Anders, one of the missing inhabitants comes knocking at the door of the tavern, plaintively begging to be let in, his father, Wulf, joyfully does—only for his joy to be undone as Anders transforms into a werewolf and bites his father! Amidst screams of terror and shouts of horror, the inhabitants of Olfindour panic and the whole of the tavern erupts into chaos. When the fight is over, the werewolf Anders is likely to be dead, but Wulf is gone, nowhere to be seen, although there is a trail of blood which can be easily followed. In fact, there is a trail of blood which can be easily followed whichever route the Player Characters decide to take, and the trail leads underground to a confrontation with the leader of the pack of werewolves and perhaps a solution to the threat facing Olfindour...

The Scourge of Olfindour has two potential problems. One is the letting of Wulf go to the door to let his son, Anders, into the Oakenhurst. The players may complain of a lack of agency, that their characters were unable to prevent this. Against this is the fact that without it happening, the plot to the scenario cannot progress. The other is that the finale to the scenario is underwritten and exactly what happens when the villain defeated is not presented. Ideally, the Dungeon Master should give some thought as to what happens when the villain is defeated what this looks like.

The werewolves in The Scourge of Olfindour differ from the standard take upon this type of Lyncanthrope. Primarily, they are not bound by the waxing and the waning of the Moon, but are driven by more primal urges. Otherwise, they are only affected by magical or silvered weapons, their bite transmits the curse, and so on. Full stats for these werewolves, their pack leader and their winter wolf allies are provided in the scenario. The Scourge of Olfindour is a horror scenario, but not as mild as that of Lock-in at the Blind Raven. Its horror is much more physical, much more bloody, which is reflected in the combative nature of the scenario and the threat the Player Characters will face.

Physically, The Scourge of Olfindour is decently presented, everything is easy to grasp, and the single map in the scenario is easy to use. The Scourge of Olfindour is an easy scenario to use and an easy scenario to use in any number of settings, for example Ravenloft also for Dungeons & Dragons, Fifth Edition. It could be adapted to other settings or roleplaying games with elements of horror, for example, Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay and Symbaroum would work for either.

The Scourge of Olfindour is designed to be played in a single session and would make for a decent interlude of combat and horror and mystery between longer adventures. The Dungeon Master will find it easy to adjust the nature of the horror up or down, depending upon the maturity of the Player Characters, making the encounters with the werewolves less or more bloody. If the Dungeon Master wants something brutal and bloody to run in between longer scenarios as the Player Characters make their way to colder climes, then The Scourge of Olfindour fits the bill.

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