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.