Greetings everyone. My name is Dave Gerard, known around the BFRPG community as DymondY2K. I will be writing a new column for the blog where I take a look at some of the adventures offered on our downloads site. I will be giving a quick overview of the module, how I fit it into my campaign setting and how it played. I will then give some pointers on the good and the bad as well as tweaks on how to run it.
To kick things off I will be reviewing Night of the Necromancer. It is one the adventures contained in the AA1 – Adventure Anthology One. It is written by Raymond L. Allen and is intended for character levels 3-5. It contains a straight dungeon adventure as well as some encounters that occur in the town and includes maps of both areas. There is no included random monster tables.
The characters arrive at the village of Stull and spend some time in the village before nightfall. While in town the party may learn that many families on the outlying farms have already packed their belongings and left due to the recent and seemingly
unstoppable advance of the undead. That evening they participate in defending the village from an attack of zombies that are originating from under the mausoleum of Bruk Stull, the founder of the village and the forefather of the lumbering operations in the area. This is a small dungeon where an “eco-necromancer,” Thaen Ygmay, has made his lair. The characters must enter this dungeon, defeat the necromancer and his foul undead, and destroy the Orbs of Necromancy that are allowing haen to create and control so many undead at once.
Setting the hook
I took the entire town of Stull and plopped it into a small corner next to the Bramblewoods to keep with the theme that it is a lumber town. The players had just finished up another adventure and were heading down a main thoroughfare so I begin to have them come across refugees heading east. I gave them the impression of bags and carts being packed in a hurry and a strange haunted look in their eyes. Once they questioned the refugees they found out about the undead stirring in the town of Stull. This was enough of a hook to get my players to change direction and head towards the town. I had the townspeople point them towards the mayor.
The play through
This is the first module I ran that had a few encounters with a sense of real urgency. I mean skeletons are attacking school children for gods sakes! I had to improvise their movement speed as they ran through the town to get to the school yard. It was frenetic and I could tell that the players were truly invested in saving those kids. Then as soon as they could catch a breath, another attack by zombies at the lumber mill. And the another at the Mayor’s house. And in the end it wasn’t all sunshine and rainbows, people died, setting the tone for the exploration of the mausoleum the next day. The dungeon crawl piece of the adventure has no surprises but is well done. The players definitely wanted some payback on the necromancer and his cleric side kick and got some when they found him. Sometimes adventurers seem to take all the right turns and they found the main villain the first day they were down there. They spent the next day backtracking through the dungeon to find the necromatic orbs and destroyed them after a tough encounter with some ghasts.
As I mentioned earlier this was the first module I ran with my group where there was a real sense of urgency to some of the encounters. This in turn made the players emotionally invested in this town and its people. This carried forward to them eagerly wanting to go into the crypt to find the person behind all of this. Sometimes things don’t go in the order they are supposed to so the party ended up killing the necromancer and the cleric before they even found out about the Orbs of Necromantic Power. But I used the encounter with the students of necromancy as way to convey that information to the players, with one of the students actually being helpful (Garrett). After the adventure and back in the town, Raymond did such a good job of painting the town as being run down that my players picked up on it and wanted to know why. This kicked off one of the coolest PC/NPC interactions I’ve ever been part of and created the first real story arc of my campaign. I had to change very little to get this to fit into my campaign. I think all I did was change the references to some of the Gods to those that exist in the world.
I really liked this adventure and think it would be a great one to run right around Halloween. Not just because of the undead, but because they just aren’t in the crypts, they are overrunning the town as well.