Thursday, 25th March, 2010, 12:39 AM #1
Spellbinder (Lvl 16)
The Freeport Trilogy Five Year Anniversary Edition
I was recently asked by my friends to run a D&D campaign for a certain group since one of the players and a good friend of mine was moving away. They wanted D&D so I gave them Freeport. The campaign is still going on but the first thing I did and it took us about four months of gaming was the Freeport Trilogy. I have been wanting to run this since it came out in 2000 as Death in Freeport the first module published for 3e D&D. It was followed by Terror in Freeport and Madness in Freeport. These were all individual 32 page modules. In 2005 they were combined in the Freeport Trilogy with a lot of extra material and expanded to about 144 pages. This is what I ran and this is what I’m reviewing.
Freeport has quickly become the pirate setting of choice and while I used 3e rules one doesn’t have to. It still is thought of by many as a D&D product even though it came out with a great system less book called the Pirates Guide to Freeport. I used it to help fill out Freeport and make the city come more alive. The Trilogy does a pretty good job of that but I wanted more. There will be spoilers for the modules to follow.
The Freeport Trilogy involves the Player Characters in a plot that involves the rulers of the city of Freeport to summon forth a dark and evil god. It has many dark fantasy tones and themes in it with a very strong Call of Cthulhu vibe. I found it useful to have a background in that game but it is not needed. Death in Freeport starts with a press gang,; the PCs need to fight one off so they don’t get pressed into service on some ship. I found this to not be a good opening so instead of just used the plot of modules and who they involve to interest the PCs. I had them searching out Lucius who is missing and kidnapped by the evil cult that it as work. The Pcs are given some clues and once the DM reads through and sees how this all plays out it is easy to create better ones and not allow for chance and happenstance like in the module. One of the encounters in here is so the PCs can find a clue to continue. If the bad guys wouldn’t attack them they would remain hidden and that didn’t work for me. The Pcs if they play smart can get by with the few clues given and do not need to be handed obvious clues. My group was able to do this and thought of some good investigation routes that lead them were they needed to get to and save Lucius. This ends the first module.
One of the extra that is in the book are interludes in between the modules. The first one is Swagfest a silly named holiday but introduces an important NPCs in the city Captain Lydon. He plays no part in the adventures but if one has the other books one sees he eventually gets on the Captain’s Council and is a prominent NPCs. There is an assassin after him and the PCs spot her and save him. In our game she got away and become a major NPC after some wird turn of events but that’s not part of the module so not as important here. The interlude goes on to have a race that my PCs did not participate in so never encounter the Aranea. There are editing mistakes in the modules and this is one of them. It says see Appendix for Stats of the monster but they are not in this book. There are things like that occasionally through out the modules and they are a bit annoying but not a killer to the adventures.
The Second module is Terror in Freeport and is starts off with Egil, a friendly NPC they meet in the first part coming to them with more information on the bad guys. When I ran it I was surprised to not need this as my own players thought that the bad guy might have a residence elsewhere and went looking on their own. That’s the info Egil brings the PCs and I felt it worked much better with them thinking of it and not being handed to them. There are some fast paced encounters and a deadly trap waiting for the PCs. If the Dm can keep them on their toes and not get a chance to think and catch their breath it should work out pretty well. It can be a total party kill trap so be warned. I like that it had the appearance and potential to be really deadly and the PCs say that and really worked hard to escape from it. There is a side bar that investigating the Lighthouse, the place the climatic summoning will take place, yields nothing. The party did do this and it gave them a good chance to know ahead of time what the lighthouse was like for when they needed to attack it later. Another sidebar which I took full advantage of is using a NPC that is supposed to die and make him known well ahead of time to the PCs. I hooked him into the backgrounds of two PCs and they were surprised to see him there and they did save his life. I like this type of thing and it is good for an adventure to not just include it but to spend a full page telling us about the guy and ways to use him. There is plenty more opportunity for investigation and figuring out who is the bad guy. The module ends with a large battle at the Temple of Knowledge. After that I had the PCs on the front page of the Shipping News, the local newspaper. The module ends with a confession by an ally of people a serpent person but not one of the evil ones.
The second interlude was better than the first. It involved the captain of the guard chasing down a criminal who’s crime was stealing a woman from him. We did this one in a night and it had some funny parts and the PCs by this time really knew the city and the NPCs so took advantage of their knowledge and allies to figure out what was going on and to get the people that needed to leave out of Freeport and also not upset the Captain of the Guard.
The third module is really three diverse scenes that happens very quickly as when it begins doom is only a few days away. It begins with the Lighthouse Ball in which the PCs are being awarded by the Sealord with metals for their great actions. There is a lot of important NPCs here and great opportunity for role playing and intrigue. There are a few other things going on but I made lots more things to show the wide political maneuvers going on in the pirate city. This was a lot of fun and the players really enjoyed it. The next part is the closest to a dungeon crawl in the adventures. It really is not much of one and I liked that as few people give D&D adventures that are city based and don’t resort to just a underground dungeon of some type. The Pcs have to find a Pirates treasure for what they need lies beyond it in the same caverns. There is a pirate ghost and a thousand year old evil serpent man temple. This part though is very deadly as the undead in the temple are attribute and level draining and in the end to get the artifact the PCs need someone has to sacrifice Constitution points. I will admit to not liking that for the way my group is so I eliminated that cost. The artifact though is nicely described and powerful and has a potentially great cost with it if the PC the holds it fails some will saves. The third part is attacking the Lighthouse and saving the day. There are some powerful NPCs they have to fight that area few levels higher than the PCs so it could go badly. In my running of this by the time it was over everyone was out of spells and two of the five PCs were unconscious. It was a great end to a fun 4 months adventure.
The module also has ideas for further adventures, a new NPC class of the cultist, new feats and magical items, new monsters, and plenty of handouts. The handouts really help out the adventure and served the players well. It makes for good additional information to this adventure trilogy.
Overall this was a good set of adventures. I customized parts to fit my own campaign and players. There are some weak bits that I did not like but the overall plot is solid and the way it all unfolds for the players is well done. This is truly one of the classics for third edition D&D.
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