By Thilo Graf
The first in Raging Swan Press‘s new series of short side-trek modules, Gibbous Moon clocks in at 19 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page advertisement, 2 pages editorial, 1 page ToC/foreword,1 page advice on how to use an adventure, 1 page of advice on reading statblocks, 1 page SRD and 1 page back cover, leaving us with a total of 10 pages of content, so let’s check this out!
After a title-card page,we are introduced to the adventure and since it is an adventure I’m reviewing here, the following contains SPOILERS. Potential players may wish to jump to the conclusion.
All right, still here? p10 (saves) The adventure kicks off with a background story and two hooks – to retrieve bones from an hermitage and the other, to find the source of cattle-thefts. Either way, the adventurers are led to the Clear Pool hermitage after unearthing some additional pieces of information via social skills etc.. 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 the 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? The openness of the module, especially for its briefness, 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.
Editing and formatting are good, though not up to the almost blemish-less standard I’ve come to expect from Raging Swan – on page 10 there’s e.g. a line where “save” should read “saves”. 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 and I’d advise any Gm wishing to run this sidetrek to check out Raging Swan’s HP to download high-res jpegs of the dungeon as well as statblocks to use infected/uninfected version of the two NPCs as companions in future adventures – cool, though I don’t get why they are not part of the zip-file in the first place.
My direct frame of reference to compare this to is 0onegames’ extremely affordable series of short urban modules of the Sinking-series – at least in formal criteria. Content-wise, the focus of Raging Swan vs. 0onegames is so different in theme that comparing a weird urban fantasy setting with classic old-schoolish sidetreks just doesn’t work. In contrast to the Sinking, the ideas herein are not too imaginative. The basic plotline has been done before and mechanically, you will find nothing too exciting herein – but that’s also not at all what this is about: This module is about providing an affordable, easily inserted sidetrek and at this, its prime objective, it succeeds. This module makes for a nice insertion into your campaign and its web-enhancements ensure that a DM should be able to run this module on the fly, without any preparation. The variety of options on how to potentially resolve this sidetrek is what makes “Gibbous Moon” stand out and rise above what would be seen as rather mediocre. With all the options for future complications and resolutions, the adventure can actually be considered good – though when directly compared to the slightly longer and more expensive “Dark Waters Rising”, it falls a bit short of excellence. Thus, I’ll settle on a final verdict of 4.5 stars, rounded down to 4 for the purpose of this platform.
Gibbous Moon is available from:
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