Bastard King of Thraxford Castle

By Panayiotis Lines & A. Lawlor
Leyline Press
Level ... 3?

Beware the Curse of Thraxford Castle my child. A Curse of rotted flesh borne from The Bastard King’s slaughter of his kin. As the dawn rises so do the dead, to danse macabre. Do not step within 1,000 paces of that accursed place lest ye suffer their fate.

This seven page adventure presents about eleven locations on the grounds/village of a small cursed keep as well as the eight or so rooms inside the keep as well. Decent descriptions and delightful situations combine to form exactly the sort of wonderful adventuring site you’d hope to find in a product this size.

I don’t know where to start! Let’s look at the second and third  sentences of the product. “From the horizon Thraxford Castle appears a ruin. Within 1,000 feet it begins to appear as it is. All currently within Thraxford Castle and it’s 1,000 foot perimeter are cursed, all who die or are present at dawn become cursed.” That’s pretty terrific, eh? No fucking around at all. You get that little marketing blurb from the product description, that is clearly some kind of old wives tale, and then the first sentence is just one line of BS explanation. Then that whole “appears as a ruin” thing. That’s what you want in an adventure! The entrance to the mythic underworld! This place is different. The rules are different. Prepare thyselves, players! And then that third sentence, which explains the curse. That’s it. No more. That’s all you need for it, really. Don’t die, don’t wait till dawn. It doesn’t belabor the point. It’s enough for the DM to run it and it explains what you’re about to find inside, a framing for whats to come. This adventure does a great job, over and over again, of  using just a few words to really get across the point of the concept at hand in few words. I might have stuck in “cock crows” instead of dawn, but, both work. This thing really does not fuck around, and it completely channels the way G1 just gives a short intro and then tells the story through the keys. After those first three sentences you get a short rumour table and then a note about the villagers (being undead) go about a mockery of their lives and interact with people mostly normally. And then the fucking keys start! G1 indeed! I’m not saying every fucking adventure can do things this way, sometimes you do need some context, but just about every one could learn a lesson from this one, and G1, about getting to the fucking point: the actual adventure. 

The map is a great little isometric thing, showing the village around the keep and some elevations. Nice terrain differences and good feature art to help the DM imagine the place. There’s a teeny tiny map of the keep and it’s eight rooms, proper, on the margin. I’m not the biggest fan of this size of map, but it works. BARELY. [old man grumble]

Let’s look at the description of a typical home in the village, shall we? “- An Undead family of 7 sit by a roaring hearth. The room is filled with acrid smoke. They pour a scuttle of dried human flesh upon the fire to stoke it, they seem to have harvested it from themselves.” Gah! That’s fucking freaky! Oh, how about this one then? “An Undead man sits upon a rocking chair cradling a swaddling bundle that occasionally lets out a gurgling noise. His body is covered in various bite mark” I’m cherry picking here, but those are fucking great. Terse and brings the horror of the situation tio light. No generic BS curses here; you’re feeling the impact of the thing. Those are from a table of six “rando huts” that you can roll on and are the highlights. A generic ghost or generic ghouls are also on the table, without the characteristic embellishment the adventure usually shows. 

The adventure has both a flair for a terse and evocative description as well as a penchant for presenting some kind of a situation. Yorrick the gate guard, easily fooled and beside a great bronze bell. A tongue nailed to the village palisade gate. The tongue being a part of the mayors body, which can be found scattered throughout the village; used in a stew and the torso as target practice. I wonder what happens when you reassemble it? And, guarding the drawbridge to the keep, proper, a wight in black armor, standing vigil. Nice tropey mctoperson there! The adventure hits and hits and hits in it’s little situations. Really nice job!

One final example. In a bedroom in the keep: “A small shrine to The Lord of Luminescence sits near a wash basin and mirror. The basin is full of blood. Staring into the mirror will materialise Agatha.” The basin/blood detail! And, Agatha, the banshee! Great way to bring her in! That’s what a fucking adventure should do! Just give the DM a little nudge 

You want some treasure? How about “1,380,000 cp, 55,003 sp, 65 ep, 2,017 gp, 13 pp.” Ha! The designer brought the noise on that one, eh? Mundane treasure is fine, if perhaps a little light, while magic treasure gives us “Saxon, a 1+ spear.” Not in any way living up to the standards of the rest of the adventure.

I really like this thing. DId I mention the undead botflys? BOTFLIES! Gross! 

Anyway, This is what you were looking for. When you are digging through adventure, browning, looking for something good, hoping to find that hidden gem. This is it. It does exactly what one would hope to find in a small digest adventure. THings like this are what made that format. While presented as an adventuring site (and it would be fine as that) I might drop it in as a cursed village a little off the beaten track and perhaps give the party a reason or two to go there throughout their lower level adventuring careers. This allows the introduction of the village over time and for the party, and DM, to revel in the place. Over time the larger situations are revealed and then, perhaps, the party does something about the bastard king and the curse? 

Really a great adventure for its size and its too bad its out of physical print.

This is $2 at DriveThru. There’s no real preview. But, also, it’s $2. Compare this to all of those $14 PDF”s of much longer products with FAR less content then this thing brings. 


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11 Responses to Bastard King of Thraxford Castle

  1. Greenspindle says:

    $3.78! Just saying. Maybe because of the very positive review, who knows.

  2. The Equinist says:

    If you liked this module, you might also like Horse Girl, another winner from Leyline Press, and whose author you should definitely Google up. If you buy the print edition, you will also receive a free Digital Edition (PDF) of Horse Girl, e-mailed to you on purchase. Wow!

  3. Anonymous says:

    Leyline Press. Where did I heard this before? Oh yeah, the ones that fired and didn’t credited an editor just because he worked before with people they didn’t liked and exposed it all on social media for social credits. Hard pass for me.

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