A Day Out at the Executions (5e)
The second of Raging Swan Press‘ eventures clocks in at 13 pages, 1 page front cover, 2 pages of advertisement, 1 page editorial, 1 page SRD, 1 page back cover, leaving us with 7 pages of content, so let’s take a look!
So, what is an eventure? Well, know how much or modern gaming is about tactics and combat? Now, I LOVE that, I really do. I enjoy brutal combats that are essentially numbers-puzzles. HOWEVER, this has become a very dominant paradigm, to the point where many modules consist solely of such challenges. But roleplaying is more. If you recall some truly remarkable sessions and things your players talk about, there’s a good chance that some NPCs and interactions are remembered fondly because they were NOT combat.
This is what an “eventure” is – a module or mini-event-booklet focusing on roleplaying, and NOT on combat. Okay, so what does this one offer? Well, if you’re a bit familiar with how medieval societies handled executions, you’ll know that they tended to gather quite a crowd – in many ways, the punitive systems back in that day generated a kind of spectacle. (For more insight on how executions were handled in the 16th century and the realities of the hangman’s job back then, I recommend checking out the diary of Meister Franz Schmidt of Nuremberg and/or Joel F. Harrington’s “The Faithful Executioner”– there are solid English books on that topic, and if you’re fluent in German, I’d recommend checking out the scans of his diary!)
But I digress – if you need hooks for your players, a couple of them are provided, and then, the supplement features an overview of justice in the Duchy of Ashlar – the brutal punishments are described, and while not reveling in the realities, the descriptions are all about, well, executions. With classics like sawing and the breaking wheel included. The module is situated in the lavishly-detailed city of Languard, namely the low city, (see City Backdrops: Languard and the Languard Locations-series) and as such explains the history of the Traitor’s Gate, but the eventure remains pretty easy to adapt to other environments. The Last Chance tavern, with rules-less notes on NPCs and prices provided alongside two hooks certainly sees some serious business.
Since an execution is an event, a lot of people will show up – as such, the eventure provides the fluff-centric write-ups for such NPCs and groups them by category: We get, for example, write-ups for 4 beggars, including cripples to a madwoman and a charlatan. The NPcs herein reference the default 5e-statblocks. Nice: One of these individuals also acts as a possible link to Shadowed Keep of the Borderlands. Street vendors and entertainers, as well as other townsfolk, are provided as well, and the section is supplemented by a list of 12 rumors, with proper DCs provided..
This basic set-up out of the way, we come to the day itself – the eventure structures the monthly execution day by time of day, beginning from dawn, with the show starting at noon – the criminals to be executed are all depicted in the same flavor-centric manner as before (read: no stats). From hardened criminals to those claiming innocence, there is a nice breadth here, with the afternoon going through the sequence of the executions. If the executions and potential for adventuring there didn’t suffice, you can also make use of the further adventuring section – one criminal’s daughter will have been made an orphan, for example, and what about entrepreneurs for execution-related components seeking a little extra coin? In short: One has to be a very poor GM indeed to not get some serious mileage out of this day at the executions.
Editing and formatting are very good on a formal and rules-language level. Layout adheres to Raging Swan Press’ elegant two-column b/w-standard, and the pdf sports nice b/w-artworks. The pdf comes fully bookmarked for your convenience, and in two versions – one optimized for the screen, and one for printing it.
Creighton Broadhurst’s day at the executions (additional design by Amber Underwood) is a cool eventure, but does have two minor weaknesses: For one, the lack of anything pertaining to DCs beyond the rumor-section and context, while probably intended, means that this is pretty system neutral in all but name; secondly, the execution’s scene per se has no map – just a small excerpt from Languard’s map, and that doesn’t show the details, like the place where things happen, stands, etc. – and since there’s a decent chance at one point that the characters try to save someone or prevent the like, this makes that component of the supplement slightly less useful than it could have been. As such, my final verdict will be 4.5 stars, rounded down: A good and flavorful offering, but one that requires a bit of GM-work.
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