Spoilers:You might get severely spoiled by this review. Consider yourself warned!
“Pleasure is often spoiled by describing it.” - Stendhal.
What is it and where do I find it:This is Module for Labyrinth Lord (LL), an OSR based on D&D B/X by Moldvay/Cook.
It is available on drivethrurpg.com as a pdf and as an A4 Print on Demand book (bundle possible)
Difficulty:Since I am not really fluent in LL stats, i’m not really able to say. But it looks easy enough, because no encounter has to be a combat situation. I suppose that it can be quite lethal for murder-hobos, but there is plenty of room for sleep and “avoid danger”-behaviour.
If I was gonna run it with 5E, I'd adjust the difficulty to my party during the conversion and re-creation of stat-blocks. A friend who has run the module with 5E argues that it works best with level 1 characters, though...
Kind of Module:This is a “timeline” module. Events happen, players can influence their outcome and bring the story forward or ignore everything and face the consequences. This not really linear and let’s a lot of place for the DM to improvise and add his own spice...
Motivation for the PCs to resolve the module:I think curiosity and friendship made in the village / at the fair will be the main reasons to go investigate what’s happening. Being a good-doer is helpful for this module.
Cartography:If you ask me, the cartography is the biggest misstep of this module. Not only do I find it ugly as a hag, I tend not to understand the lay of the land from it. The village map is okay-ish, because the village and the fair are mapped as expected, but the surroundings and the topography around the village is either missing or not readable on the map (is it a river, is it cliff, is it a hill, who knows?)
The dungeon called “The tomb of St Garan” is clear, to be fair, but since it’s only 3 rooms, how hard would it be? Still, I probably would recreate the maps from the text, which is, at the other end of the scope, very clear and descriptive.
Art:Apart from the cover, there is not a lot of art. We have a medieval sword fight illustration and an illustration of the night demons (who look very much like gargoyles). The Gargoyles illustration is also the cover and the medieval sword fight illustration is not referenced, leading me to believe that it’s extracted from a real medieval codex and is therefore in the public domain (and don’t get me wrong, I find this practise very good, but the academic asshole inside of me wants the reference). On the other hand, I don’t think that it needs more art: the text is descriptive enough to spark the imagination. This point is not something I’d give the module bad shit for. It’s not great art, sure, but it’s really unnecessary thanks to the text quality, so what’s the big deal? I’m content with what I got.
Twists:There is one big twist in this module: the Saint adored by the village was not the good guy they think, and is actually one of the main opponents of the module.
It’s central to the module, well done and fun. I really liked this part
My impressions:I really liked this module. Sure, there are small things I did not like, but mainly I found it really good and fun. Enough that I want to convert it to 5E and run it afterwards (which means creating a new group and explaining 5E to most of them, too, so it’s not a trivial task).
What I liked:
- The town and it’s description. I feel the size of it is perfect, and the annual fair is a good reason to bring any NPC you want to be there. Still, without adding anything to the village, I feel all I need is described.
- The religious aspect of Saint Garan, around whom the plot twist of the module revolves.
- The timeline of the “sandbox”. There is not a lot that must happen each day, so there is a lot of space and freedom for the DM to improvise around.
- The “random encounters” at the fair each are a wonderful scene worth playing
- The “tournament” is kept simple, but very enjoyable, and players love tournaments
- The NPCs are nice, not all antagonists, and not everyone of them too serious
- The antagonists and monsters of this module are well chosen and described
- The flair delivered by this module is really nice
What I disliked:
- The cartography, obviously
- The lack of relationships between NPCs (as ten foot pole also noted, making this obvious to me)
- The lack of details on the fair. It’s up to the DM to know what happens at such a fair and give it life.
- The name of the inn and its keeper, which means something like “shithead” in french (nothing really bad, but that’s the kind of name that can kill the mood of a whole game if you’re not attentive to changing it beforehand or you slip and use it in game)
What would I change before running the module:
- I would re-draw a few maps, at the least the map of the village and its neighbourhood to include the locations that are missing, like the quarry (which is far outside of the village, to be honest)
- I’d probably add a level to most NPCs and re-create their stats using a character class.
- Research medieval fair or steal ideas from modern “medieval fairs” to populate and recreate the flair of the fair (bad pun intended)
What adaptations would I make to run this module in DREAD’s World::
- I would rename St Garan to Saint Garaniel and make him an Elf (and his 2 brothers, too), and base the “misunderstanding” of his past not only on missing information but also translation errors
- For the shadow demons, I would use the stats of the dretch but with
- a Flying speed of 20 (instead of just speed 20)
- “Light Sensitivity” and “Shadow Stealth” of the Shadow Demon
- The “demon gate” would be opening on a shadow bridge leading to Ginnungagap (the Void Chasm between Niflheimr, the realm of primordial ice and cold, and Muspelheimr, the realm of primordial heat and fire) and carved with old-elvish runes (that no one knows how to read)
How would you rate the module?I'd give it 4.5 stars out of five.
It would need better cartography to reach the 5 Stars.
But, as it is, it’s definitely worth the 5$ asked for the pdf.
Would you recommend it?Yes, I would and I actually intend to run this module, once I get to modify as written above. I think I would not send the characters as level onem though, but for their 2nd/3rd adventure, sent by their patron to bring a donation to the monastery in exchange of the blessing of a weapon of the patron.
Disclaimer:The drivethru-links included in this article are affiliate-links.
One day, I will have a few dollars credit on Drivethru and I'll buy indie products with the price tag "Pay What You Want" (PWYW) that I have found very useful. So somehow this is supporting indie creation, right?
There is a very useful resource on drivethrurpg written by the Dndspeak community:
D100 Activities at the Faire
(you can find it also directly on their blog)