The collector’s edition of Gibbous Moon clocks in at 37 pages, 1 page front cover, 2 pages of advertisement, 2 pages editorial/intro, 1 page ToC, 1 page foreword/author bios, 1 page of advice for using the adventure, 1 page advice for reading statblocks for novice DMs, 1 page back cover, leaving us with 27 pages of content, so let’s take a look!
After a page providing an introduction, we receive a new and rather well-drawn one-page illustration and then dive into what sets this edition apart from its previous iteration: Barlow. What is Barlow, you ask? Well, essentially, the module has been expanded to provide a full-blown village backdrop for your convenience – no longer is the default village considered to be an opaque place to drop the module into. Instead, what we have here amounts to a full-blown installment in Raging Swan press’ beloved series.
In case you are not familiar with my reviews of the series, this does mean that the town not only receives lavish cartography, but also a statblock, a market section for magical items, sample names and yes, dressing habits of the local populace. This also covers sites of interest and in this case, mroe sample statblocks for villagers. Law and Order and daily routine of the local populace are touched upon as well and PCs doing the legwork can unearth local village lore or dive deep into the box of tricks that does contain whispers and rumors which may or may not eb true and can be considered a great spray of local color/adventure hooks. Furthermore, a selection of short, local events helps you bring the picturesque village of Barlow to life – and alive it is: What started as an isolated druidic enclave has seen a recent influx of dwarves (originally rescued from redcaps), who brought with them a sense of modernity not known in the rustic place.
Now if you expect yet another nature vs. progress-struggle, breathe a sigh of relief – no, the dwarves are not the bad progress-guys here – they actually do submit to the village’s way of life and thus thankfully deviate from the stereotype. The conflict at the heart of this place is one of change versus tradition – and as we all know, change is inherently painful, but sticking to tradition may lead to stagnation – a kind of subtle leitmotif that is part of the whole module. Oh, and have I mentioned that there is an actual dryad in the center of the village? Alas, in the last couple of months, some cattle have gone missing and racial tensions rise, while a grumpy hermit at the wondrous local Clear Water has been less than cooperative.
Going above and beyond, we even get a mini-woodland dressing for the trek from the village to the hermitage…
Since this is an adventure I’m reviewing here, the following contains SPOILERS. Potential players may wish to jump to the conclusion.
All right, still here? The adventurers are led to the Clear Pool hermitage after unearthing some additional pieces of information via social skills etc. in Barlow. Once at the hermitage, they can find not only the grisly remains of sheep, but also encounter a savage dire boar. The hermitage, located in cliffs near a waterfall, is presented as series of natural caves with RSP’s trademark attention to detail being reflected in a table of carvings, carcasses to find etc. Speaking of grisly finds – in one of the caves, Viljo, lone survivor of his adventuring team, awaits – he was also sent to this place to recover saintly bones, but his companions have been slaughtered by the resident of this place, a man named Dunstan who subsequently made zombies out of Viljo’s former companions.
Dunstan, himself once an adventurer and necromancer, was infected with were-boar lycanthropy and is responsible for the cattle thefts – he stole the livestock to quench his lycanthropic hunger and prevent the beast inside from turning upon the local populace. The moral dilemmata in confronting Dunstan are evident. While the man has acted to keep innocents from harm, he has resorted to theft to do so. Moreover, he has slain Viljo’s comrades, animated them and infected the poor man with lycanthropy as well. He’s not evil (yet) though, and while he is a necromancer, he’s not one of the insane kind – so what do the PCs do? Kill him? Try to negotiate a deal between him and the village? Try to cure him? What is the right thing to do? This openness of the module is commendable and DCs to broker a non-violent solution, a cure for lycanthropy of his particular strain and multiple hooks for further adventuring are also included.
The pdf also provides 6 pregens for your convenience.
Editing and formatting are very good. Layout adheres to RSP’s concise and crisp standard and the pdf comes fully bookmarked and in two versions – one optimized for screen use and one to be printed out. Both files are small enough to not be a burden on mobile devices. The b/w-artworks and cartography are nice indeed.
So, the original Gibbous Moon was a solid, nice little sidetrek centered around a moral question and sporting a fun little dungeon with excruciating details. But it didn’t manage to capture me to the extent that most RSP modules do – why? Because it felt a bit color-less in comparison to other supplements by RSP. Well, the collector’s edition sweeps all of that away. We not only get a massive array of supplemental content, Creighton Broadhurst and Jacob W. Michaels deliver an utterly superior version with this module’s expanded edition. The more detailed context lends a new unique leitmotif and sense of gravitas to the module that any DM worth their salt can develop into a full-blown awesomeness of consequences. Can a certain individual be reintegrated into a society already on the verge of change? Exciting and awesome, with resonating themes that surpass what one would expect from a short module like this, the collector’s edition receives a final verdict of 5 stars + seal of approval. Even if you have the original, the village backdrop-installment added to the module still makes this a valid purchase.