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Ghoul Keep and the Ghoul Lands
by erik f. t. t. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 10/24/2012 18:59:19
Ghoul Keep and the Ghoul Lands isn't your typical fantasy setting. To my eyes, it feels like a darker Ravenloft.

Actually, darker might not be the right word. Grittier. It's a grittier Ravenloft.

I think it's obvious from the title that undead play a major role in this setting. They are the movers and the shakers. Humans are often the local rulers. Demihumans are extremely rare, and would only be part of adventuring parties - they would not usually intermingle with the locals. Which makes for an interesting quirk to the setting, as non-human PCs are definitely going to be sen as outcasts and not trusted by the locals.

Adventuring parties themselves need to be sponsored by, or comprised of nobles. Depending on their composition and on whose lands they are dungeon raiding, they have to give from 25% to 50% of their loot to their sponsors. As an aside, this isn't an economy based on coinage but barter, so you will often have the reverse of a normal gaming situation - instead of converting valuables to coin, the players will be seeking to convert coin into valuables. They can also get special writs of wealth issued in exchange for their new found loot (at a cost of course)

This is an extremely comprehensive setting, with nicely mapped out cities and towns, with each having enough to run a session or two in each based on the location descriptions. There are a lot of hooks to feed your players. This is very much a sandbox styled campaign setting, which is both its boon and it's curse.

As I see it, native born adventurers become "part of the system", not just by necessity to be licensed to adventure but also because they undergo the Ritual of Cleansing, which marks them and allows them to roam freely at night without fear of the undead. So, if the party is okay with adventuring in undead lands and probably running missions for undead masters at some point, all is well. If they expect to be heroes in the traditional sense, I feel the setting is stacked against them. (they are seen by the populace as heroes, but I don't see their actions necessarily being directed to "heroic acts")

It's a shame, as I really like the setting itself. It has a huge amount of roleplay potential, I just wish there was some "fighting the evil powers from within". Sure, there are some adventure seeds as such, but most of the ones that would put the heroes against the powers that be assume they are outsiders that have found (or been kidnapped) the hidden realm. Which means if they are higher level, much of the setting would be a cake walk, or low level, and the nights would just get them killed.

Maybe I wish it had more of a Midnight "rebellious" undercurrent running with it.

Still, as the author himself states near the beginning: "The Ghoul Lands setting presented in this book may not be suitable for every group, campaign, or style of play. The Labyrinth Lord is encouraged to mine these pages for any NPCs, Factions, New Monsters, New Magic Items, or story ideas that can be ported over to his own game. In addition, the awesome maps of Ghoul Keep and the various settlements, towns, and cities of Makaar Mor provided by Tim Hartin of Paratime Design can be easily restocked and reused to better fit your game world. Enjoy!"

In my opinion, Ghoul Keep is certainly worth it for the sheer "lootability" of it's contents. It's parts are just that good.

Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Ghoul Keep and the Ghoul Lands
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OSR Bonus Cards: Fantasy Deck #1
by William W. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 03/05/2012 16:11:41
A neat addition to most any RPG, these cards provide random bonuses to PCs, both generic and class-specific. Three different methods are provided for distributing/awarding the cards to players (and I've begun to cook up some others of my own that may work well, also).

The old-school style artwork is a nice touch - and while the instructions mention printing the cards onto cardstock and cutting them out, I think another workable alternative would be to print them onto sticker paper, then cut them out and affix them to a regular deck of playing cards.

This is a great little product that can add some fun variety to classic fantasy RPGs.

Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
OSR Bonus Cards: Fantasy Deck #1
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The Chronicles of Amherth
by erik f. t. t. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 12/05/2011 19:26:50
The Chronicles of Amherth is a campaign setting for Labyrinth Lord. The adventure Atarin's Delve is included as a part of the package.

So, what exactly do you get for your five bucks? In The Chronicles of Amerth, we get a setting based on (but greatly fleshing out) the Duchy of Valnwall that is included in the Labyrinth Lord core rulebook. I'd have to dig my LL book out to see just how close it hues to the original, but I suspect it's fairly close.

There's a twist on the magic using classes (that the GM is free to ignore) in that there is the addition of "Latent" magic. We are also given a chapter on Gods and Demi-Gods and another on the world history.

I like the use of a detailed Adventurer's Guild. It makes things a bit easier then using the usual tavern scene (not that I have anything against taverns) to give the PCs an adventure hook.

The Known World section details the continents of Amalor and Herth and the rest of the world. There is enough given to help the GM flesh out the world without block him into too much of a corner. Still, plenty (really - lots and lots) of plot hooks for each major location to make this the sandbox you want it to be.

Flora and Fauna gives us some useful flora for the PCs to use, or misuse. It also give us over 40 new monsters, which is a nice addition to the LL monster list.

Magical Treasures adds over 20 items to the LL's list of magic items.

We round things out with the continental maps.

Oh, and then there is the free adventure included in the mix.

Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
The Chronicles of Amherth
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Blood Moon Rising
by PAMPA P. A. J. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 07/17/2011 14:24:28
Excellent introductory adventure for characters 1 to 3rd level. A bit of wilderness, a small dungeons, lots of NPCs. There's nothing really original but it's a nice way to start a campaign.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Blood Moon Rising
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The Chronicles of Amherth
by Thomas B. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 07/06/2011 23:50:20
WHAT WORKS: I really like the Latents and the Arcane Bleed. Easily my favorite parts of the setting. Ample detail is provided to get your games rolling, while giving you more than enough room to stretch your creative legs. The callouts to the Small Niche adventures was a good thing as well, and I may have to check out those adventures tied to Amherth that aren't made by Small Niche, to see if they have the same "feel". There is MORE than ample value for $5, even if you left out Atarin's Delve.

WHAT DOESN'T WORK: Atarin's Delve is the weakest Small Niche adventure thus far, but a) I was never a fan of dungeon crawls and b) I really like what has come before. There is a section of the world on floating islands that seems a tad out of place given the "low magic, low level" approach to the setting. I would have liked trade dress similar to the adventures on the Amherth book itself. Just seems like its missing something without it.

CONCLUSION: Chronicles of Amherth never tries to reinvent the wheel, just put some tweaks on familiar D&D/Labyrinth Lord tropes. Small Niche Games provides a setting that not only accomodates their previous adventures, but room for most of your old school or retroclone adventures as well. In fact, I enjoy the adventures so much, that I plan (with the author's permission) to adapt them to Savage Worlds and post the conversion notes on my blog. Check it out if you like your fantasy a little darker and little lower level.

For my full review, please visit: http://mostunreadblogever.blogspot.com/2011/07/tommys-take-o-
n-chronicles-of-amherth.html

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
The Chronicles of Amherth
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Atarin's Delve
by Peter I. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 06/08/2011 07:07:40
Atarin's Delve is a short Labyrinth Lord adventure for 1st to 3rd level characters. In the adventure the characters are summoned to assist an archaeologist from excavating some caves, and assess the threat, if any, that the excavations might pose to the archaeological team. The adventure is a location-based dungeon crawl, although the ramification of the characters' actions have wider consequences as they get involved in the events of the adventure. Presentation of the product is fair, with some decent maps and artwork, and overall reminiscent in style of typical old-school adventures. Writing, editing and layout are all good, blending together to make a well-presented product.

Atarin's Delve is a short adventure straight out of the pages of Doctor Who. The characters are summoned to investigate some caves ripe for archaeological exploration, but naturally by the time they arrive things have taken a turn for the worse, and the PCs are thrown into the fray of strange events and dark cults right from the start. The monsters that form the core of the threat are fantastic and creepy, and creative LLs will have a lovely time scaring the living daylights out of the players. The whole atmosphere created in the adventure is very good, with the monsters neither here, nor there, but seemingly everywhere. The scenario offers plenty of opportunity for roleplaying with the various factions involved in the excavations, all the while trying to ascertain the nature of the threat and deal with a sinister foe with abilities far beyond the norm. I really liked the blend of roleplaying and combat in this adventure, and in particular the wonderful use of a location and the new monsters presented in the product. This is the kind of adventure that can be a real blast, and really haunt the PCs as they struggle to cope with things happening around them.

I was particularly pleased as well by how much the adventure has going for it in terms of continuation. By this I mean that there are plenty of wider consequences for the PCs actions in this adventure, and they may inadvertently start themselves off on a path to danger they may not be aware of at the time. The adventure is well constructed, with clever and detailed NPCs with opposing motivations that could lead to interesting conflict. Overall, an adventure that should be great fun to run for both players and LLs. Another good product from Small Niche Games. Taking adventure writing to another level.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Atarin's Delve
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Pyramid of the Dragon
by Thomas B. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 05/13/2011 18:38:42
WHAT WORKS: As with Blood Moon Rising, the author does a great job of believably putting lower level characters in a situation where they would seem to be completely out of their depth, but fit them into the situation in a completely believable way. The PCs aren't expected to kill a dragon...just whip its followers and deal with the dragon when it comes back in a few levels. As usual, there's plenty of material here for you $5.

WHAT DOESN'T WORK: If you're like me and not a Labyrinth Lord guy, this one isn't as easily adaptable as the author's previous two adventures to another system. Not saying it can't be done, mind you, there's just a wider variety of monsters and such that would need to be reworked.

CONCLUSION: Small Niche Games makes the kinds of adventures I would like to play (or run) if I still played (or ran) D&D. I don't know how that stacks up with the "old school" mentality of Labyrinth Lord, but I am continually pleased with both the concepts and executions of their adventures.

For my full review, please visit: http://mostunreadblogever.blogspot.com/2011/05/tommys-take-o-
n-pyramid-of-dragon.html

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Pyramid of the Dragon
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The Inn of Lost Heroes
by James S. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 03/02/2011 19:08:11
The follow-up to the well received Blood Moon Rising, The Inn of Lost Heroes places the party in a well realized location of horror and madness. As shown in his previous release, our author knows how to bring a "stage" to life with well thought out details and happenings and like his previous module, Mr. Spahn has created an adventure here, that's fun to read and one in which DM's will find much to appreciate. I do have some issues with the execution, as we will see.

The format is double columned and I only noticed one typo. The maps are serviceable and while there's a scale bar, I alway prefer graph-paper squares or hexes, which aren't given. No big deal, as the maps are of fairly small areas and we're not talking about a dungeon here. There are a few B&W illustrations, which are workmanlike but pleasant. I like the dog, in particular.

The adventure takes place at the Inn, which was once the kind of warm, pleasant refuge from cold, dank dungeons, which any adventurer would welcome. Cheery surroundings, good food and drink, other adventurers and the proprietor, an ex-adventurer himself and his family. When the party first encounters the Inn, this is indeed what they find. Of course, the Inn is actually a haunted location and all this warmth and light is going to twist into a nightmare in short order, as the Inn in the Living World changes into the Inn in the Ash World and finally, the Inn in the Burning World.

Once this happens, the characters will be trapped within the Inn, along with some NPC adventurers, doomed souls and the very angry spirit of Evelyn Mortigan, who formerly owned and ran the Inn with her family. The PC's must find a way to escape the ghost-world they're trapped in and if successful, they'll have a chance to free the souls of dead adventurers, trapped within the Inn.

The characters' task hinges upon the failed designs of a cleric, who is now trapped within the nightmarish Inn himself. They must find and restore the parts to a magical medallion, that will allow them to escape and has the potential to set things to rights, once and for all. The cleric flat-out tells the party what they're looking for and why.

In both this and his previous module, the author takes strict steps to maintain the integrity of the sandbox and insure player agency. But giving them the wherewithal to work out what their choices are is also important and always preferable to having an NPC repeatedly show up and give them their formula for success. As a plot device, it feels a bit clumsy and I would prefer other methods of providing the characters the clues they need. But, there's a second bit of clerical exposition, which would be harder, but still possible to replace, given the nature of what the characters are going to be asked to perform.

The Inn and its inhabitants, the weird goings on, supernatural encounters and elements of horror are mostly well designed and come together nicely. The author gives the DM a lot of material to work with, with random encounters, keyed encounters and situation based ones. Like Blood Moon Rising, you're given a nice, varied, palette of material, with which to work. All in all, the author's approach gives the DM not only plenty of options, but elbow room and a DM who's into this kind of adventure will have a lot of fun. Also like Blood Moon Rising, the depth of the material means repeated readings will be required by the DM, as well as some note-taking. A plus, in my book.

Accomplishing their first objective will be a little tricky for the players, as individual party members may have to undergo some fairly stiff penalties in order to progress, though there are ways to avoid those.

If successful, they can choose to simply escape but may instead, try and put all those tortured souls to rest. Again, the helpful cleric tells them what they must do, which feels even more awkward this time, because this whole last bit feels so artificial.

It's revealed that ghostly Evelyn seeks a consort and the players must fight each other to the death, so one of them can prove their worth and get close enough to Evelyn to use the Medallion to defeat her once and for all. If the characters balk at this, our helpful cleric makes some intimations, meant to reassure the party that everything will work out for the best. Of course, if the characters go through with it, any PC's killed by their fellows find that once the dream is over, they are indeed allright.

As the author mentions, this gives the party a chance to have a battle-royal, without consequences and might indeed be a lot of fun. But the first thing needed here, is some foreshadowing. The whole "ghost seeking a mate" thing, tacked on suddenly at the end, rings rather false. Part of this is probably because there was no foundation laid for the reader of the module to expect this. When combined with the battle-royal idea and the cleric coming on stage to tell the party what to do, the whole set-up of this part feels more than a little contrived. Some excellent horror could be brought into play, by foreshadowing Evelyn's ghostly desires.

If you like the idea of a far-out, ghostly adventure, then I would recommend The Inn of Lost Heroes, but with the caveat that I would feel it necessary to make some changes. There's a lot of really good material here, which I would like to and probably will use, but I would want to smooth out those rough spots.

Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
The Inn of Lost Heroes
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Blood Moon Rising
by James S. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 03/02/2011 19:05:36
When I sat down down to read Blood Moon Rising, I wasn't really in the mood to read anything. I mention this, because within a few pages, Mr. Spahn had sucked me in and I was thoroughly enjoying myself. A singular accomplishment, as I'm very stubborn when it comes to being in a funk! But, as I read our author's depiction of the details of the Feast of St. Garan, its history, present day circumstances and current timeline, The DM was enticed to ignore his bad mood and get down to business! So, I quickly found myself dealing with a module that was both fun to read and got my DM juices flowing. That puts Blood Moon Rising into the recommend category, right there!

The action takes place in the village of Garanton and its surrounding area. It's the Feast of St. Garan, a five-day festival in honor of a local hero. Travelers, entertainers, vendors and all sorts of folk attend the Festival, including Fighters, seeking the blessing of the Saint. Of course, things aren't all as they seem and past events are coming back to haunt the happy little village and it's festival.

The module opens with the backstory and history of St. Garan, then gives an overview of the village and the area where the action will unfold. From there, the module gives a Timeline of the Festival. Both the planned festivities, like Parades and Honor Games, as well as other events, like murder and slaughtered cows. There's quite a bit going on, with plenty to see, do and experience. The five-day festival is quite eventful and I've barely scratched the surface, so as not to give away the whole module. True to Old School philosophy, the module presents the NPC's, events, locations and situations simply as they are, leaving it up to the Players to decide what to do about it!

There are also some random encounters and events for the Labyrinth Lord to throw in, as he sees fit. From there, encounters and adventuring sites outside the village are detailed and the characters may soon find themselves local heroes, or soon-to-be forgotten victims of the horrors which lay behind the history of St. Garan and his Feast. This is followed by a section on major NPC's and groups, such as a rival adventuring party which might be used to cause the PC's some consternation. Lastly, an appendix with new magic items and monsters, completes the module.

Blood Moon Rising packs a lot of detail into its 32 pages (34 with the covers) and the Labyrinth Lord will find everything he needs to bring The Festival to life and keep his players busy and entertained! From competing in the Honor Games, to forging friendships or rivalries. They'll probably find themselves sucked into what's going on behind the scenes, possibly unraveling forgotten secrets and putting an end to an ancient evil. There are a lot of little events and details, that can come into play, helping to bring the village, festival and NPC's to life.

Details on the village itself are kind of sparse and some of the locations on the area map aren't precisely indicated. The DM automatically filled in these details as he read, but someone new to running a game might fret a little. A time or two, an event or NPC were introduced in such a way as to raise some questions, until they were returned to and fully explicated in another section.

The text is two-column, clear and legible and an easy, well flowing read. I noticed no typos. The maps and interior art are a little smudgy, an artifact, I presume, of the software used to make the PDF.

The module advertises that it's a mix of Urban, Wilderness and Dungeon encounters, but I should probably mention that the Dungeons are two small areas, so don't expect a Dungeon Crawl.

Blood Moon Rising provides a well orchestrated Event for your PC's to attend and one which they should find quite memorable. It would serve as a great campaign kick-off, for a larger party at least. One encounter in particular will be rather hairy for 1st level characters.

Kudos to Mr. Spahn, for a well-made, thoroughly enjoyable adventure!

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Blood Moon Rising
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Pyramid of the Dragon
by James S. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 03/02/2011 19:03:33
Previously, I've reviewed Peter's The Inn of Lost Heroes and Blood Moon Rising. I thought highly of both and when Peter sent me a copy of Pyramid of the Dragon for review, I knew I was in for a treat! Peter's design approach meshes perfectly with my own DMing style of giving the players 100% agency while a busy, bustling world revolves around them. As in his previous offerings, in Pyramid of the Dragon, our author strives to give DM's everything necessary to pull off this sort of in-depth Sandbox play within the limitations of a module.

The adventure begins with the Characters witnessing a Red and Black Dragon fighting overhead, culminating in the fall of the Black. Investigating the corpse will draw them right into the adventure, but if they're feeling cautious, the author provides another opportunity for the Adventurers to become involved.

Years ago, I saw a forum signature which read "Meddle not in the affairs of Dragons, for you are Crunchy and Taste Good with Ketchup!" If the players become involved, they will indeed find themselves meddling in the affairs of Dragons! The two appearing at the beginning of the module were fighting over a powerful magical item and the Red is not the only Dragon still alive, who has an interest in the MacGuffin.

The adventure will have the players travelling through a dangerous swamp, then to an ancient, non-human city, where they'll have to deal with both current inhabitants and a visitor. The Pyramid referred to in the title hosts traps and monsters which are neatly arranged. It's short, as dungeons go, but well thought-out and I liked it. A visit to human civilization will most likely be called for, as well. The party will meet all sorts of interesting folk, like Snakes, Rot Grub, corpses, a rival NPC party and may indeed find themselves fighting their first Dragon!

As in previous Small Niche modules, there's a very useful mix of planned and random events/encounters, with plenty of activity and the kind of attention to detail, which really helps bring everything to life! Our author excels at those little touches that add depth, verisimilitude and atmosphere to encounters and sites and as one DM to another, I really appreciate how Peter's mind works and his approach to adventure design.
The black dragon Narratch was gravely injured, but not quite dead when it crashed to earth. As night began to fall, a flock of stirges settled onto the dying dragon’s body and started feeding on its blood. The stirges feed until morning. If disturbed by excessive light or sound, they take to the air and attack.
Not content to give us a static, black-dragon corpse, Peter adds some life and dynamism to the Adventurers world. There's more Action within that one little scene as well, but I don't want to give away too much. Connections, tie-ins and interactions between the various elements of the adventure create a gestalt, providing the DM with a rich piece of material, with which to work.

The text is two columned. I didn't notice any typos, though there's a minor formatting issue in the last sentence of page 20, which doesn't effect legibility or comprehension in any way. The maps are rather simple, no frills affairs, but serviceable. Aside from the cover and page borders, there's no other art in the module, which is my only (minor) complaint. I'd like a little art strewn about the text.

As with Peter's earlier modules, close attention and repeated readings will be required of the DM. But, if you're willing to put some work into Pyramid of the Dragon, I think it will play out beautifully! Opportunities for further development are also present, as the Characters might find themselves becoming further embroiled in the "affairs of Dragons."

As usual with reviews, I could go further in-depth, but am loathe to do so, for fear of giving away the author's show. Buy this! I recommend it quite whole-heartily and will be printing-out my copy with an eye towards running Pyramid of the Dragon!

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Pyramid of the Dragon
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OSR Bonus Cards: Fantasy Deck #1
by Thomas B. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 11/06/2010 02:35:18
I...could see these not going over real well.

The OSR Bonus Cards are a deck of cards designed for D&D or any retroclone, designed to be doled out to the players and allow them to gain access to small bonuses. I've seen some old school purists go so far as to say that giving players stuff like that actually means the games are no longer even RPGs at that point...that being said, I think they're kinda cool.

The cards are mapped to the standard playing card decks, with Jokers being wildcards. Clubs belong to Fighters, Diamonds to Thieves, Hearts to Clerics and Spades to Magic-Users.

Fighter benefits include an extra attack, an automatic hit or an automatic parry.

Thieves can score an auto success on a thieving skill roll, double damage on a backstab and various bonuses to thieving skill rolls.

Clerics can get an auto success on turning the undead, a free Detect Good/Evil or doubling the range and duration of a spell.

Magic Users can memorize a bonus spell, an auto success on an Intelligence check or a free Detect Magic.

They're a nice product for under $2 and not art intensive, so it won't be a strain to print them out...plus, being mapped to a standard deck of playing cards, you don't even need to print them if you don't want to. Just draw the cards and check the chart.

Great stuff from Small Niche Games once more, but I'm not a grognard.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
OSR Bonus Cards: Fantasy Deck #1
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The Inn of Lost Heroes
by Thomas B. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 10/29/2010 17:28:34
The Good: Very creepy vibe, unlike anything I recall seeing for an old school-ish D&D type adventure, at least since Ravenloft. In fact, makes a great "Weekend in Hell" ala Ravenloft.

The Bad: Incredibly easy to get just completely derailed, moreso than most adventures.

For a full review, please visit my blog at: http://mostunreadblogever.blogspot.com/2010/10/tommys-take-o-
n-inn-of-lost-heroes.html

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
The Inn of Lost Heroes
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The Inn of Lost Heroes
by Peter I. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 10/14/2010 14:38:39
The Inn of Lost Heroes is one of the best adventures for Labyrinth Lord I've read in a while. It features all the classic elements of a great adventure - loads of atmosphere, plenty of action, roleplaying galore, the unexplained and unknown, and a perfect balance between all the aforementioned elements. In this adventure the heroes become involved in the dark, horror and unexplained events surrounding a well-known inn. As they get drawn deeper into the inn's twisted world, where rules are meant to be broken, they must look for a sliver of light that will release them from their nightmare. The Inn of Lost Heroes is suitable for 3 to 6 characters of levels 3 to 5, of which it is recommended that one of each class be present in the party. The presentation of this product is very good, although the maps are fairly average, and I wished the organisation had been a little bit better. There's an awful lot of referring to different sections backwards and forwards across the product, and things could've been improved by simply breaking various sections down a lot better. As is, it's sometimes hard to tell if you're in a new section or still busy with the old one. Artwork is fairly sparse, though good when present. I though the cover was fairly decent, and reminiscent of old-school adventure gaming.

I really enjoyed this adventure product. From the moment I started reading it I was hooked. This product oozes flavor and atmosphere, and will make a great horror or dark adventure for any GMs party and characters. On top of that it's ingenious in its handling of the various elements of the background and the plot, as well as the fabulous location that's presented in the product. The author and team create a really vivid and alive inn with some impressive flavor. I really appreciated the roleplaying opportunities involved in this adventure, although in places I thought it could be quite frantic for GMs to run as a result of the sheer number of NPCs. It might have been better, particularly in latter parts of the adventure, to keep some of the NPC numbers down, but even so their large numbers are handled very well mechanically. Novice GMs might struggle to effectively portray chaotic and frantic scenes with so many NPCs. Even reading it made it difficult to discern all the actions.

The adventure is full of action and activity, and can be quite breathless by the end of the adventure. There's a lot happening, and the adventure provides for more action than any GM really needs to include. I thought the concept and plot were very good, and the execution even better. I wasn't really a big fan of the parts of the adventure that were aimed at solo characters, but even so the reasoning behind this was clear and the outcome of these encounters will just add to the atmosphere and horror of what the characters are living through. Plenty of details are provided on all the NPCs (and GMs will really have to be on their toes when running this adventure), and each NPC has a clear purpose in the adventure. I thought some of the NPCs were very well handled, and the conclusion of the adventure, if run all the way to its natural end, is very satisfying, and indeed emotional. I can't recommend this adventure enough. It's a fantastic blend of breathless action, horror-flavored atmosphere and innovative opportunity. Great product.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Blood Moon Rising
by Thomas B. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 10/09/2010 00:56:25
Blood Moon Rising is the first adventure for Labyrinth Lord by Small Niche Games. I'm going to be approaching this from a little different tack: I don't play Labyrinth Lord or D&D or any of the retroclones. However, I do likes me some adventures, and good ideas can be stolen for other games.

***WARNING***

I try to go light in spoilers...BUT...it is impossible for me to leave them out completely. If you are going to be playing in this, do yourself a favor and go away.


Seriously.

***END WARNING***

Blood Moon Rising is set up as a "sandbox"/timeline type adventure for 3-6 characters of 1-3 level. Basically, the book gives you a town with NPCs and a backstory, and the timeline of events that will occur during their big festival celebrating an ancient warrior that they all revere.

From there, the PCs interact with whatever they will, until the whole thing is resolved. The action rises, as action tends to do, until the PCs should find it virtually impossible not to realize that something isn't right (in fact, there is a very nice hook on Day One to draw them deeper into events unless they are completely self absorbed).

I love adventures that give you freedom, and this one does from the beginning, not even making any assumptions about the reason the PCs are in the town, just giving you some excuses if you need the help.

The background section gives you the backstory of the village, which has mutated considerably until it has become a very...inaccurate...local legend.

The village of Garanton is pretty small, about 200 people, and utterly normal for the most part...except for the interesting little spring on the edge of town with strange healing properties...until the New Moon...then I wouldn't want to bathe in it.

The Feast of St. Garan is a five day festival celebrating this great warrior that liberated the land, and is presented in the book as a series of events in the manner and order that they will occur, should the PCs not interfere.

The fifth night of the festival is the Blood Moon, hence the name of the module.

We are first presented with the normal order of events, followed by the major events from each day. Warrior types can compete in the Honor Games over the five day period, with the possibility of a title and a sweet, sweet magic item out of the deal. There is also the possibility of Honor Duels, which can be fought using non-lethal damage, to first blood or to the death, if a heated issue spirals out of control.

On Day One, the first Honor Game is held, which is a simple test of strength...but characters can discover some helpful clues about the true nature of the festival from the rocks.

A potential hook is also set in which a local artist asks the PCs to pose for a portrait...but he's fated to go missing overnight.

Day Two likely starts with news of a local farmer's cows being slaughtered and the PCs missing their appointment with the artist, because he's gone missing.

Day two also provides a Test of Nerve in the Honor Game, which has the potential to set the PCs on a collision course with an orc tribe that has become drawn to the area. Overnight, the a farmhouse is attacked by creepy demons (who killed the cattle the night before), further escalating tensions and making the mood somber.

The Day Three Test of Steed can provide slight financial benefit for a participant, but no plot-worthy extras like the first two days.

Day three also ratchets up the tension with the first human casualties, at least one of which is not what it seems.

Day four provides the opportunity for the PCs to uncover the truth about one of the attacks, as well as a possible battle that can turn them into instant heroes. However, the growing darkness over the events are driving people away now, before the end of the festival.

Finally, on Day Five, the Honor Games will conclude and - that night - a nasty group of demons attack the village. If the PCs have stuck around, they have a chance of driving off the demons...if not, the village is slaughtered.

It sounds simple enough, but there's plenty of action and excitement for a rookie party over a few sessions.

Twenty random encounters are also present, which include large, drunken women hitting on the PCs and not taking "No" for an answer, a young warrior being hazed, a fan club for one of the PCs, the possibility of scoring a very special mount and more.

Another series of encounters are present for those leaving the village, including the possibility of investigating the Tomb of St. Garan (and finding the good "saint" to be a sealed away undead Wight), as well as precisely what can happen if the PCs venture to the Demon Gate that is releasing the night demons on the village, and lays seeds for continuing adventures with much more powerful beasties trying to break through the gate (for when the PCs are higher level, of course).

The final resolution of the adventure is up the PCs, depending on what they did and how much exploration they indulged in, as they could uncover the truth about the area's history (effectively ending the annual festival), inadvertantly unleash an undead plague on the land to go with the demonic one, and allow an infernal beacon to draw all manner of evil to the area (if they don't destroy the Demon Gate).

All of the important (and semi-important) NPCs are given stats and summaries, and an appendix provided adds in a new spell (Lesser Charm Monster), as well as a pair of magic items (the Mantle and Sword of St. Garan) and two new monsters (the Night Demons and Demon Grubs).

My thoughts?

I will never run this as written...because AD&D/Labyrinth Lord/OSRIC/etc do not appeal to me.

HOWEVER...I would absolutely convert this to Savage Worlds or High Valor and use it as a potential launching point for a new campaign. For $4.95 you not only get a good sandbox adventure, you get a potential "home base" for PCs with a couple of plot hooks that could spawn into minicampaigns (or full blown epic conflicts in the case of the Demon Gate and what it's holding back) down the line.

Very cool stuff, and worth it even factoring in the necessary conversion work I'd have to do (not that High Valor or Savage Worlds would require a ton of work).

Great stuff...better than most of the modules I remember getting back in the day.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Blood Moon Rising
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Blood Moon Rising
by Cedric C. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 08/18/2010 22:46:16
Highly recommended. BMR is a "timelline" adventure, in which events will proceed during a village festival. The PCs must intervene before the climax. While the obligatory Fight at the End doesn't stand out, I was particularly impressed the village festival and colorful encounters therein. The adventure also goes into detail the history behind the festival itself. You can easily separate the festival portion of the adventure from the rest, and drop it into your own campaign. Great job!

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
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