Thursday, June 18, 2015

Review: Manse on Murder Hill

The Manse on Murder Hill is a Labyrinth Lord Adventure for character 1st to 3rd level written by +Joe Johnston. The PDF is 50 pages which includes 2 title pages, 2 blanks and an OGL page.
Full Disclosure: I received a copy of this pdf in exchange for a fair review.

Ok now that I have that out of the way I also want to add that this is also the exact kind of adventure I would have sought out. Especially these last few weeks. It is "Basic Era" so already I like that and it is a haunted (or so they say!) house. So pretty much I am sold and I have not even gotten past the cover yet.

The art includes work by +Stuart Robertson+David Guyll (whom I have been enjoying a lot of his Dungeon World material of late) and +Tim Hartin. I want to take a moment to talk about the art. IT is great and really helps set the mood. This module feels different than other "old-school" modules and it is a nice change of pace really. The art and overall feel of the module make this feel more like something you would play with Chill than Labyrinth Lord.  Maybe Joe and his team could redo it for something like CryptworldRotworld or Majus. Course the monsters would need to be changed to something else, but it still works.

The adventure itself is for 6-10 characters.  I am not sure what the survival ratio is supposed to be, but that seems like a lot.  I would rather reduce the party size a bit and have higher levels go. There is a lot going on here, so the larger numbers do work.   I think one of the issues some Labyrinth Lords might face is a party "splitting up and searching for clues".

The feeling of this adventure is old school, but old-school+.  Like I mentioned above there are modern sensibilities here.   Yes, there is a great rumor table (which has a nice XP award system attached), but there is also a backstory to what is going on.  The village of Little Flanders feels like something you would have found in a book from a red box, but there are other touches as well.
Characters should feel free to search the village, but keeping in mind that a village is not a dungeon.

The titular Manse itself is not very big.  It doesn't have to be really.   The place has the requisite eerie feel to it and the table of random "illusions" (I would have called them "hauntings" or "phantasmagorias" but that is me) help.  There are also some wandering monsters.

Truthfully I kept picturing #12 Grimmauld Place from the Harry Potter books when I was picturing the Manse.  There is plenty of great descriptive detail, but anything more you can add while playing is great.  Don't forget the smells and the little noises too.

The module progresses until the goal is discovered, the lost children.

The module is quite flexible.  I could not help but think that I could change the monsters to Bogarts and Goblins and have a Faerie-lands sort of adventure.  Change them to degenerate humans and suddenly we have a cult to break up.  Change them to various types of undead and...well you get the idea.

It should be a perfect rainy-afternoon sort of adventure. Which also happens to be one of my favorite kinds of adventures.

Maybe it can go without saying, but I will say it anyway.  This is a very flexible adventure and you can put it into just about any campaign world you want.

Now lets talk about the price.  At $2.00 this is criminal steal. Seriously I have very recently paid twice as much for far less adventure than what I got here.  This a great adventure.

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