Revelry in Northgate


By Stephen J. Grodzicki
Low Fantasy Gaming
OGL/d20
Level 2?

Lady Hargraves, a prestigious noblewoman and infamous socialite, has a desperate mission for the party: her husband Lord Hargraves is on a drinking binge once again, and she wants him returned home, in one piece, ASAP.

This eleven page adventure has the party searching about town for a nobleman on a bender. A random street encounter table, a selection of a dozen bars, and a finale bar provide the setting. Labeled a “Framework”, I would instead say it embodies the spirit of old school design, in both it’s focus on the adventure at hand and, well, Framework design. And while I can admire the concept I can also say that I don’t think it succeeds. The bars are connected as well as they could be, the outcome seems a bit random, and the street encounters seem more like window dressing. And, for the record, I LUV city adventures.

Rereading the hook, which I supplied as the publishers adventure description up there in the first paragraph, perfectly orients you to the adventure. It’s terse and relatable and I, the DM, know what to expect.

What follows is about a page of additional background to expand on it, something akin to the “first encounter” with her ladyship. Laid out over multiple paragraphs it could have done with some bolding of certain lines to make them stand out. Things like “Hargrave’s carousings tend to involve punching out other lords, setting stables on fire, emptying his gold purse in some of the less reputable “dancing” houses …”, or perhaps the finders fee/reward and so on. It’s also a bit sparse on a personality for her ladyship, and give that most of a page is devoted to this section it seems like that should be included.

The street encounters take up a little over one page next. I like the idea but not the execution. The encounters here tend to window dressing. “Etched into the floor of this tiled courtyard is an awe inspiring landscape (preserved elven relic): a clifftop overlooking the sea, with a pterodactyl rider fending off a pair of giant dragonflies.” And? This reminds me of the Isle of the Unknown encounters, where stuff just shows up, without any potential energy. Almost all of the street encounters lack this sort of energy, and I don’t believe any of them is actually related to the adventure at hand. Hmmm, maybe one, a curfew suddenly being declared. Otherwise they seem too tangential to provide the DM anything to work with to springboard off of. They need just a little more and/or a rewording.

At some point in the night you have an encounter with the secret police/palace guards. I don’t see it leading to anything other than combat 80% of the time. And yet there are no consequences for killing them. That seems unusual. It’s also a bit strange that their background and history are included in the main text, clogging it up, instead of in an appendix. I like my text focused on the adventure at hand with background data in an appendix where I can easily ignore it while running at the table.

The pub crawl to find Hargrave is, essentially, random. Roll a d12. If you get a 12 you’re at the bar where he is. If you get a 10 you’re at a bar that has a real clue to his location. Everything else is either some small little action and/or rpg element or a dead end clue. I’m not morally opposed to this style (yet, anyway.) But I am highly suspicious. In D&D the destination is meaningless and it’s the journey that counts. This FEELS like the party has little control over their own fate in finding him. Perhaps I’m too gun shy because of all of the linear adventures I’ve reviewed. It SEEMs like the bar crawl should be an ok idea, but it looks an awful lot like this other stuff I’ve seen that really sucks …

In conjunction with this is a kind of timer. Your reward is based on her ladyship not being too embarrassed by her husbands drunken antics. For every hour the party takes the DM rolls on the drunken antics table. But, recall, finding him is almost entirely out of the players hands, random. I might instead marry the concept to something like Short Rests, or whatever is analogous in the system this is being run in. If you “waste time” then an antic happens, where waste time is rest, conduct a ritual, go seek healing, etc. That would put the outcomes a little more in the players hands. Now their decisions to get in to fights/avoid them (wasting HP resources that need healing, etc) impact the outcome.

I like the concept/style/design principals of these adventure frameworks, even if this one was not stellar, and may check out a few more. Although … I could swear I’ve seen one of these before somewhere.

This is $1 at DriveThru. The preview is only two pages long, with only one page of real content, the background page.
http://www.drivethrurpg.com/product/232395/Adventure-Framework-25-Revelry-in-Northgate

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8 Responses to Revelry in Northgate

  1. Anonymous says:

    Sounds like an interesting idea, but that the execution was lacking. Perhaps add modifiers to the d12 roll to find the right pub if the PCs do sensible things? And maybe +1 for every three pubs visited (or similar)?
    A quick search yields your reviews for “Halls of the Dwarf Lord” and “Tomb of Harutep” from the same series.

    • I was thinking the same thing with the modifiers. The party gains some clues? then get a +2 to the random roll in favor of the party finding the right pub. I think the hook idea is brilliant though. I love the idea behind the adventure and I think the idea of it can be thrown in anywhere as a great change of pace for players.

      • Karel M. says:

        OK! You guys (including Grodzicki) up and inspired me. I wrote an adventure about finding a buffoonish nobleman in Prague pubs- The Lost Lush: Extracting a Carousing Fool Before He Obliterates Peace, Prosperity & the Civic Beer Supply. I used your + 2 mechanic idea in a broad way.
        I’ll credit Grodzicki and show how to find his original. May I credit you, Edgewise and Bryce also?
        I’m thinking:
        “Also inspired by ideas devised in the all-weather comment pits at tenfootpole.org by Bryce Lynch (site reviewer), Edgewise (artifactsandrelics.blogspot.com), Aaron Fairbrook/The Merciless Merchants at RPGNow.com”
        How does that strike you?

  2. Edgewise says:

    I had the same reaction to this adventure. It’s not a railroad but it pretty much removes player agency. I could imagine good players coming up with some way to hone in on the NPC faster, but I could also imagine a lot of parties shrugging their way through the encounters. At worst, a poor GM would allow the players to think that their efforts were meaningful while continuing to roll for encounters, meaning a kind of reverse illusionism.

  3. Low Fantasy is a great game.

  4. You’ve read it and I haven’t, but this is a charming premise!

  5. Jeff says:

    “A pterodactyl rider fending off a pair of giant dragonflies”. I’m definitely going to steal that as an actual encounter somewhere along the line.

    And I like the idea of that sort of mural, as well, as a bit of foreshadowing. As a random piece of art, not so much.

  6. Blake Jarvis says:

    It’s described as a framework, and it is quite usable, but yeah Bryce has homed in on the lack of accountability/ agency in finding the guy. The fixes suggested here are very helpful. I’d introduced an absent “wastrel son in the capital ” of a rural Count to my PC’s without ever really fleshing the idea out as they never bit at it yet. This thing could easily tweak into this.

    The writer has a patreon where you can get his mini modules back catalogue + any new ones he writes for $1 a pop. I’ve used a couple of his, easy to tweak into your own campaign, “Izranaorae’s Tree” and “The Iron God Cometh” are probably my two favourites of his that I’ve run.

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