A4 – Usurpers of the Fell Axe

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

This is a rather generic city adventure. The various personalities are not fleshed out much, and there is a definite lack of subplots. The hooks provided are weak and the various NPC interactions are light as well. This is going to take some work to get some high-quality city play out of it.

There’s a city of about 200 souls. In it is a certain Baron who has come under the control of an evil cult/cabal. The players might want to do something about it. Or then again, maybe they don’t.

City adventures are tough. You need a lot of personality and subplots to make the place come alive, otherwise it’s just Yet Another City Hack Fest with the players treating your NPCs like target practice instead of real people. Cities are large and complex living things; I’m not sure I’ve EVER seen a good city supplement.

This module is in three parts. The first is the largest and describes the various locations within the city that may relate to the adventure hooks. The second section is a list of all of the NPC’s that were described in the first section, along with their motivations. The third section has stat blocks for all the NPC. Thus the second two sections are really only for reference, which I can fully appreciate. The NPCs could show up anywhere and having a generic location independent reference is a very good idea.

The city locations are not going to knock your socks off. A brief description of the barons keep. A couple of inns, A couple of guilds (silk & sheep), a marketplace, and so on. Only 12 places in all, including the Barons keep. There are a couple of mini-dungeons, lair-type, under the city that are connected to … The Sewers! Not only do the people of this fair town tolerate the presence of a sewer system, known to all as a universal breeding place for evil, but they are ignoring the members of the rat-catching guild complaining that the rats are all gone. As a potential town council member I want to recommend you not build sewers for your town AND you listen to your beggars and rat-catchers. It’s good insurance.

Lets talk hooks. “You’ve heard the Baron is unfair and the sheep guild is offering a reward for his head.” Seriously? “Find out why the silk guild is successful.” and “Just passing through when you get in a bar fight with the cult.” are little better. Maybe the party took part in A3 and found some clues that the evil base was working with people in town. Even that one is a kind of stretch. The “Whats in it for me?” factor is a little low on this one. “This is tonights adventure” might work as well. Seriously, the DMis going to have to put some work in to this to flesh out the city in a major way and get the players motivated to investigate.

The NPC’s are a little one-dimensional. They have some notes concerning the current plot, but not much else. There are some people that the players could use a co-conspirators to overthrow the Baron and start a coup, but it’s not clear how the PC’s are going to stumble upon this, especially in the short term. This sort of conspiracy/X-Files thing tends to work better from the sidelines, being revealed as subplot as the party does other things. Then, as they build trust and and come to know the city better they can explore the main plot. There’s just not enough detail in this product to do anything but the run the main plotline, everything else is going to have to come from the DM.

This is available on DriveThru.


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