D&D General The thread where I review a ton of Ravenloft modules

TiQuinn

Registered User
That seems like a much better option, and certainly paints her in a much more favorable light to the party, instead of having to sacrifice a mount (assuming they have them anyway). Without the girl, it's unlikely they'll meet the Mom. The encounter with the mom has to be massaged a little bit as well, since a wizard could go see her specifically, perhaps, and without any means to heal her, she'll die without giving the clue to the remainder of the module.
I’ll bet you can just jettison the whole “she dies” thing. What would it really impact?
 

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Stormonu

Legend
The encounter with the mom has to be massaged a little bit as well, since a wizard could go see her specifically, perhaps, and without any means to heal her, she'll die without giving the clue to the remainder of the module.
Notes clutched in the dying/dead person's hands work wonders in these sorts of situations, though they're not as dramatic as "the dying breath".
 


der_kluge

Adventurer
I’ll bet you can just jettison the whole “she dies” thing. What would it really impact?
You could leave her alive, I suppose. It might actually be better in some way, because then you would probably care more for the daughter in that case, and might even agree to try and redeem her, if you decide that's even possible.

To do this, you'd end up making the Mom a quest-giver, basically. She'd request for you to enter the crypts, and find the rose. She'd do this herself, but lacks the martial prowess to deal with one vampire, let alone two of them (potentially). The roses aren't really required for this quest - they're just magical boons that make it much easier. One could even sneak into their house during the day and probably dispatch them fairly easy if they were clever enough. I think I'd be inclined to hire a wrecking crew to remove the roof of the house while they slept. A sufficient amount of unavoidable sunlight ought to do it.
 



Stormonu

Legend
Honestly, that might not be terrible, since there's like 4+ pages of backstory the PCs will never even learn.
I was being sarcastic, actually. It's why she gives a cryptic riddle instead of just blurting out what she actually needs. If the PCs could keep her alive they could ask a great many questions that would make their life a lot easier, I suspect. By killing her, the PCs have to "figure it out" for themselves (spoiler alert, it never happens that way).

Welcome to the 2E days of "never give the PCs an even break."
 

TiQuinn

Registered User
I was being sarcastic, actually. It's why she gives a cryptic riddle instead of just blurting out what she actually needs. If the PCs could keep her alive they could ask a great many questions that would make their life a lot easier, I suspect. By killing her, the PCs have to "figure it out" for themselves (spoiler alert, it never happens that way).

Welcome to the 2E days of "never give the PCs an even break."

At the end of the day, a few improvements can turn this into a moody little adventure against a pair of vampires without all the extra nonsense.
 

der_kluge

Adventurer
The House on the Edge of Midnight (Dungeon #76) ⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐ / ⭐⭐

This module, for 4th-6th level PCs, takes place on an unnamed island (referred to as simply “The Isle”). The premise here is simple – the PCs wash up on an unnamed, mostly abandoned island where, after scrambling ashore and up a cliff, discover a two-story manor house. There, they meet Dr. Blake Ramsey, a Frankenstein-like mad doctor who murdered his two sons and wife several years ago in a vain attempt at saving his daughter who died falling off the cliff.

Like “The Price of Revenge”, the editor for this module must have been high. It starts out with a backstory, and then immediately goes into the room-by-room layout of the manor house, and the boxed-text descriptions read as though the house is mostly abandoned. It is only after this section that we are presented with the order of events, where we learn that the Manor’s owner - Dr. Blake Ramsey, will greet them at the door should they knock.

This module is an absolute mess. The editor in me wants to die after reading this – that’s after I make my will save to resist rewriting the entire thing to be readable. The order of events here is massively confusing. The module’s structure doesn’t help here. In actuality, the basic flow of this is – PCs knock on the door, they are greeted by the doctor where cordial pleasantries are exchanged. It is assumed that the PCs arrive with a few NPC sailors – one of whom has beautiful blue elven eyes, that the doctor is interested in stealing.

The author INTENDS for this to go in a very specific order. In fact, it’s listed at the beginning of the module. Basically, the PCs crash on the shore, find the manor, meet the Dr., and he serves them dinner, where his homonculous spies on them. He then attempts to abduct the NPC (with the beautiful eyes), where he is thwarted and “slain” (he turns to vapor and moves into the shadows). Thereafter, the PCs scour the house, where they find Liza, his daughter, in the basement. There, they need to find an iron key to free her, which Dr. Ramsey has, and it turns to vapor when he does. Once they have the key, the ”nightstorm” begins (really, just bad weather) and they free Liza, who emerges, and after lightning strikes the house, setting it ablaze, Liza drags her father (Dr. Ramsey) into the blaze along with the ghostly siblings where they all die in the inferno. Afterwards, a statue of a griffon from the topiary garden emerges and offers to fly the PCs to Modentshire. Seriously.

I feel like this would make a decent novel, since the order of events is so very specific. Interestingly, the Dr. can’t be slain so easily. He literally has 4 hit points but turns into shadow stuff when he’s killed. He can’t leave the house. So, one very possible outcome here is that the PCs arrive, figure out fairly quickly the doctor is evil, slay him, loot the house, find the daughter, maybe slay the doctor a few more times, agree that rescuing the daughter is maybe not even worth the trouble, deal with some of the ghosts, decide to just “peace-out” on the house and leave. Of course, GMs are free to use the mists to prevent that from happening. That’s heavy-handed and lame. Though the doctor could decide to do that (he is the darklord here, after all), since he might still want the NPC’s blue eyes. You see, Liza has creepy green eyes, and he’s tried in vain to replace them.

Amazingly, apart from the griffon at the end, which is just baffling, this module isn’t terrible. The layout certainly is, and it’s very confusing. The Dr. can only die “if flames engulf his entire family at once”. Wow, that’s super specific. There's a lot of problems here. The first of which is that he’s living on a remote, mostly deserted island where he can practice medicine free from the “harsh structures and laws of the doctoral community”. But, he’s literally on an island. There’s a room in his house for servants, though there are none here anymore. How did he accomplish this, and who was he expecting to practice medicine on – the natives (which mostly serve as window dressing)? These are primitive natives with their own language that give the place a wide berth. But more curiously – how did this guy build an entire two-story house by himself, complete with furniture, and manage to feed his family at the same time? This guy isn’t a doctor, he’s a doomsday survivalist/farmer/rancher/Amish carpenter. I don’t think he’d have any time to practice medicine. To me, this story works better, not on a remote island with the obligatory shipwreck and unnecessary NPC sailors, but rather just outside of town somewhere, perhaps away from judgemental eyes. He would at least be able to maintain some semblance of connection to the town for supplies and whatnot.

I also think it would be far more interesting if the PCs had to decide what to do with Liza at the culmination of this. But given the unique way the PCs must kill Dr. Ramsey it does create some problems. He works best as a darklord (even if he does only have 4 hit points), otherwise you need to stat him out as something else entirely, which isn’t an insurmountable problem, it just requires some pre-planning. In the end, the level of effort to repair this might not be worth it. I feel like this module could work well as a one-shot you might run at a convention, since it seems like you could do all this in 4 hours or less, especially if you skip some of the superfluous stuff like scaling the cliffs to the manor house.

One of the random encounters on the island is a possible golem that escaped from Dr. Ramsey. To me, that’s a far better introduction. The PCs could find a wandering golem in the woods and track it back to this house. There, they could meet Dr. Ramsey. That would at least be a far more reasonable introduction to this quest.

Lastly, I’m not sure how to rate this, so I’m going to give it to. 4-stars if you choose to run this as a standalone convention game. In that context, this works well. All the heavy-handed and contrived stuff is perfectly reasonable, and the house-burning in a fire during a wild thunderstorm is a nice end to a 4-hour session. Putting this into a long-running campaign feels like a MUCH heavier lift, and while not impossible, would require a decent amount of rework to make it feel more seamless and integrated. Probably just 2-stars for that, since it doesn’t really work as well as-is for that purpose, in my opinion.
 

Voadam

Legend
I really appreciate you doing all the Dungeon adventures. I was big in buying and running 2e Ravenloft and have most of the modules and I am at least familiar with most but I only got one Dungeon issue with a Ravenloft adventure, the Ebonbane one. I mostly left Dungeon for one friend to be his exclusive stuff when he DMd while I ran my Ravenloft campaign when I was DMing.
 

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