by Mario Barbati
for 0One Games
OSRIC
Levels 4-6


Two half-orcs and a noblewoman enter a bar. Straight away one of the grim half-orcs approaches you and says in perfect common: "Begging your pardon sir, my lady wishes to speak with you, would you be so kind as to follow me to her table?"

This is a brief investigatory adventure with a small dungeon attached. The party will hunt around for clues, enter the dungeon, and fight a group of thugs, all in a high fantasy fashion.

How much are you willing to suspend belief? Last night the wife and I broke out Baldurs Gate Dark Alliance 2 for the PS3. The two room tavern has a rat problem in the basement (UG!) and you go down to solve it. The basement cellar is approximately 8,456,432 times larger than the first floor. Ok, it's just an excuse to press the 'X' button and kill things. How about a town large enough to support an exotic bird importer but small enough that a fired servant has to leave town to find work? And with a dungeon under a house that has all the families wealth in the form a solid gold peacock statue inlaid with 10 diamonds worth $500,000 gp? This sort of high fantasy style is a real turn off for me. I'll take dirt farmers and fields of fairie dragons all day long however this sort of realism kills things for me. Once you try to be realistic you give me permission to poke holes and look for flaws. If you instead go PoMo, well, there's no way anyone can argue with that.

The party is hired by a noblewoman to figure out how to get at the legacy/treasure left by her recently dead husband in the family dungeon. It's guarded by traps and puzzles and he neglected to leave instructions. The idea is that the party will go to the dungeon, search around the house, go back to the dungeon, search around the house, go back to the dungeon and then get the treasure, the aforementioned gold peacock statue. Poking about the house likely reveals some clues as to how to get in to the dungeon and how to get at the treasure, as well as the fact that things are a bit off in the house. Then, of course, there's the family friend who eventually approaches the party to let them know that the noblewoman is an impostor The 14HD stone golem and 10HD fireball trap are NOT going to be the roughest part of the adventure for the party; it's going to be the ambush when they come out of the dungeon. The dungeon is small, only six rooms, but it is pretty deadly with the stone golem and fireball. That portion has a nice OSR feel overall; repeated excursions to the dungeon and some trap/encounter avoidance. At the end the party is almost certain to face an ambush by one or perhaps two groups of thugs. This could be a rough encounter if they also faced the golem and fireball on this dive.

It's high fantasy with some good role-playing opportunities in the manor house. There are some absurd portions of it, but just like that PS3 game, the fun will probably show through in the end. And unlike that PS3 game, this module is short enough that it won't overstay its welcome and become a grind. The many and varied NPC opportunities should ensure that.