DB4 – Dro Mandras: The Free West

This is a Castles & Crusades adventure, although it can easily be used with any pre-4E version of D&D.

This product describe the free half of a city under siege by rampaging hordes. As such it is an adventuring locale, rather than an adventure. A city under siege is an interesting setting, however the modules supporting cast lack the depth I’d like to see in a product like this.

Duke Doofus had finally decided to reunite a large section of divided kingdoms and gather his troops to sally forth and put the petty princes to the sword. Off he went with his forces in to nearby lands. And his own were then promptly invaded by rampaging humanoids. He hurried back to find a good portion of his lands in ruin and his capitol city half under humanoid control: everything on the east bank of the river belonged to the invaders. He bolstered his troops on the western half of the city and set out to make things right. Thus the product focuses on a city caught in a single moment of time. The returning army has stopped the invaders on the eastern shore and the Duke is is now maneuvering to start reclaiming his lands. Meanwhile, the western half of the city is in a state of half-siege while the eastern half is overrun. This product describes the western half the next in the series describes the captured east.

This sort of product has to thrive on the environment it creates. A city is just a collection of people & places and the product needs to brings them life in order to be a good one. This module provides some background on the Duke, Duchess, the Sheriff, and a few of the Duchesses bodyguards and hangers-on. It also touches on the court mage, the thieves guild leaders, and a spy. That’s not much to work with in a lively city game. We get a brief description of a few locales outside of the city, and then a run down of the various quarters within the free portion of the city. This typically involves a paragraph or so for each of the seven or eight locations/businesses that are described in each of the sections. This really isn’t much, although it does focus on inns, smiths, and garrison locations, as those are likely to be of interest to the players. Most of these locations involve some little hook or another: smugglers, people looking the other way, and so on. Prices are inflated everywhere, when you can get what you want. Refugees are everywhere, the thieves guild is running a racket with the upper crust of society, and no one knows what the mage is up to. Two small adventures are located in the back. One is a kidnapping that is typical of many city adventures. Lots of intrigue involvement with the upper classes. The second is a straight forward raid across the river with a group of allied barbarians in order to destroy siege equipment. The second is interesting because it uses the C&C mass combat rules.

This is a difficult type of product, in terms of detail and scoping it. It captures a moment in time, so too much detail and and it will be wasted as the siege of the city is lifted or succeeds. Too little detail and the city doesn’t really feel like a city; Colorful characters is what a city thrives on. This product probably provides enough information to run the city in this moment of time. I wish there had been a few more details on the refugees and so on, however it the scope is limited to the cross-river raids, the kidnapping, and a couple of a major plot lines detailed in the book then things will probably come out ok. I do appreciate TLG giving us something different, a city under siege, and also providing a way to work in mass-combat rules. Both of those concepts are generally few & far between in the gaming world. It’s going to take some major fleshing out and work by the DM to add the detail I generally like to see in a city.

This is available on DriveThru.


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