The Great Mansion Heist

By Ben Gibson
Coldlight Press
OSE/5e/Pathfinder (Conversion Notes for stats, etc)
Levels 1-2

More than a mile away from the sweaty market town that bears his name, Merchant Lord Salmo spends most of his time in his formidable manse, luxuriating in wealth and style…wealth that nobody, not his slaves, nor his workmen, nor his rivals, would mind him losing…

This 22 page adventure uses four pages to describe a local lords manor house, framed as a raid to steal him blind. It covers the necessities nicely, with plenty of situations and possabilities. A little staid, perhaps, but it does a good job of being what it is.

You’re ripping this dude off and/or doing some murdering, as needs be. In town  we’ve got a short little table of rumors/hooks to get you going. A failed handless thief will tell you shit for an ale … that’s gotta be a great sight. Or the failed drunken steward offers a map, for vengeance. Or the dog handler talks treats or there’s a dude hiring new guards. Implied, in each of these little one sentence things, is more than enough information to get a DM going and inject flavour in to things. A failed handless thief? You betcha! A doggo lover? A KILLER doggo lover? Noice! One short little table, that could have been a throw-away in any other adventure, injects a major amount of flavour in to this one. And that’s the goal. The specificity. We don’t need details, we need specificity. 

The Logos map is fine. A basement two floors above and a little turret and widows walk thing. Clear enough, although, again, I might have made note of where there are generally servants located, for sound and light purposes. We do get a little table to handle patrolling guards and some general guidelines on how they handle sounds and react. 

This IS the heart of the adventure, those reaction notes. There is a small one page key for the twenty rooms, but that is noting mostly the existence, or not, of servants and anything worth looting. But the reactions are where this thing is at. The cook, who is kindly and sweet and “worn down by a lack of appreciation for her modest gifts as a cook” will try to talk you in to fleeing. The steward is proline to fumbling and ignores all strange noises, since he’s new to the mansion. The accountant barely registers threats. The dogs are lonely and respond well to kindness … and prone to bark at squirrels. There are notes on holidays and dinner parties, on food & wine delivery wagons and how the guards react when their lord is there (more cautious about blowing their horns) You can see how each and every one of these notes, and more, are ALL oriented towards actual play at the table. Everything here is laser focused on the party sneaking or bluffing their way in, and what then happens. And none of it is overblown. Jesus, the thing uses four pages, how can it go on at length? No, just enough. Just enough specificity to bring it to life for the DM to launch it as their own. And then it moves on. Just enough guidelines to run a holiday or dinner party, two or three sentences to do a vibe, and then it moves on. Focused man, just absolutely focused on the game at the table.

Let’s look at some descriptions!! “Dingy and dusty, with improvised table and chairs used by shirking guards” Great. The magicians bedroom smells of sulfur and ammonia. The upper gallery is well lit and cool with a gilded statue in a nook. 

Notably, there’s not an over formatted description here. The description and the game elements are just integrated together in to the description. This is, I think, my favorite description style. It’s hard to do, requiring focus and great writing skills, but produces a text that that feels natural and everything just fits together nice and smoothly. 

It’s the little details here, the specificity, that bring so much more to this. Just little off hand phrases. Like the no hands thing. Or the fact that the wine in the wine cellar is worth less “watered down due to servant and guard pilferage.” The shirking guards, the attention to the garden and the tree that can be climbed to leap to a tower roof. Extending this snarkiness to the pregens, we get a collector, reluctant muscle, and a couple of freelance murderers. Alright man! I dig it!

And, like all good adventures, you can piecemeal some treasure together, but the real hoard is going to take some good work to get. I could do better with the magic item descriptions, but, otherwise, a pretty good job in crafting an adventure for an evenings play! Maybe just a little less than what I prefer, but I’ll err on the side of checking this out.

This is Pay What You Want at DriveThru with a suggested price of $2. The preview is just a couple of pages but is essentially all of the actual parts of the adventure, so you can see what you are getting and how it focuses on on the reactions, etc.

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4 Responses to The Great Mansion Heist

  1. Greenspindle says:

    Well, that’s a “Buy it!”. Done and thanks a lot for the recommendation.

  2. Prince says:

    Ben Gibson has been delivering consistent quality since a few years ago and he keeps getting better and better. Look forward to The Cairn of Night!

  3. Reason says:

    Yeah interesting creator. Sometimes slightly below my thresh-hold for “too minimalist”, but also delivers great “bang for your buck” space/time wise with ideas worth expanding.

    Maybe this size of adventure is his sweet spot. If the ideas get bigger he seems to zoom out and offer less detail. Whilst retaining the zing of great ideas.

    I have Fall of Whitecliff and have it percolating to expand a campaign/campaign beginning from (or shift to whitecliff should pcs get captured/defeated in campaign opener). Whitecliff has huge scope but is _almost_ at the “too zoomed out” level.

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