Some say the world is ending. At the muddy end of a fruitless harvest, famine and plague stalk the land. The armies of darkness gather on the horizon. And tonight is the night of a lunar eclipse, the time when the astrologers predict a world-devouring evil will be born. For one group of decadent aristocrats, there is clearly only one possible course of action: lock themselves inside a castle, throw a masquerade, get loaded, and dabble in black magic. For a group of desperate adventurers, the masquerade is a chance to set things right. But on a night like this, they may get more than they bargained for…
This is a twenty page one-shot social adventure set during a masquerade ball. While it uses 5e, it could easily be adapted to just about any setting or ruleset. It needs just one more good PUSH to get it out of the mediocrity gate and in to the Good category.
This is more of an outline of an adventure … which works quite well for a kind of open-ended social setting. You get a one-page summary list of about twenty NPC’s, with a quirk, a goal, and an opening line of dialog to set the scene. You get a one page map of the castle with about twenty rooms and just over a page of description for those twenty rooms. You get a short timeline, of four hours, with what happens at each of those four hourly marks. And then you get some pregens, each of which has a goal to accomplish. This is all presented in a pretty compact way.
Thus the adventure is very open ended. It’s the DM responding to the party members as they attempt to achieve their characters goals, while using the NPC and castle map resources, as well as the events, to spice up the adventure and respond.
The NPC resources provided are pretty good. FOr example, a guy in a goat mask has the opening line “Why, aren’t you pretty?”, who’s named Kazimir, is a courtier, and wants to climb the social/power ladder. It’s a terse set of qualities that you can use together riff off of to provide the flavor you need.
Likewise the room descriptions. Room six is a “Boudoir” with a two bullet point description: “Women’s’ rooms. Baroness Koranye and Marchioness Ungern drink wine and chat quietly while looking out the window. They have much to say. Intruders are welcomed.” -and, as a kind of dialog- “I had the strangest dream. There was this egg—this great egg, cold and white like marble, at the bottom of the black lake. And then it was here. Really here! I touched it—it was cold. So cold. The egg can touch you back—did you know that?” It has something going on that the party can interact with. It deals with the “intruders” aspect, and it has a little bit of dialog to give the DM the flavor of the encounter/conversation … that’s also relevant to the various party member goals.
It does have me questioning, though, some of the decisions made. First, the party doesn’t know each other. I’ve seen this be disastrous in many a con game, from time wasting, and bored players waiting their turn to conflict. (Intra-party conflict is a big nono in Bryce games. It’s one of my most important table rules: you need to work together.)
The pregens are also a little lacking in the motivation department. “Find your lover and get them out alive.” is one of them. I feel like there was something missing about “tell the DM who your lover is and how they went missing”, either as explicit instructions for the DM/player or as an embedded backstory for that PC. Most of the party is like that. A couple more words would have solved that.
Weather it works or not, as an adventure, I don’t know. A lot depends on the DM. A lot ALWAYS depends on the DM, in every adventure. This is so true that I explicitly ignore it in my adventures, concentrating on “helping the DM run it.” I FEEL like there’s just a little bit more missing from it. A little more in the way of events, conversation, NPC’s based around the party motivations. As is it feels a little TOO open ended.
This is free on DriveThru. The preview is four pages and shows you nothing at all of the adventure. Then again, it’s free.