Night of the Masks
This installment of the Eventures-series clocks in at 13 pages, 1 page front cover, 2 pages of advertisement, 1 page editorial/ToC, 1 page SRD, 1 page back cover, leaving us with 7 pages of content, so let’s take a look!
In case you were wondering “Eventures” was not a typo; these little supplements depict events, adventures, if you will, that do not focus on combat or the like. Instead, we get detailed set-pieces that focus on a key concept and how to execute it in a rewarding manner. As such, the supplement does not note a level-recommendation, though I personally would situate it in the level 1-10-region of play. For high-level play, the grounded tone may seem a bit off. In fact, I recommend running this at lower levels; the lower, the better. I’ll get to the reason why below.
In this instance, we have, obviously, a masquerade, a truly fantastic experience if you ever have attended one, and as soon as travel becomes possible once more, I do encourage you to add attending a masquerade in Venice to your bucketlist.
In this instance of this eventure, though, the masquerade is assumed to take place in the lavishly-detailed city on Languard (which I, alongside the Languard Locations-series, heartily recommend) in the duchy of Ashlar, the region that many of the more recent supplements released by Raging Swan Press take place. While the scenario does involve some political ramifications for Ashlar, it is easy enough to strip of its subdued local color and adapt to your game.
Beyond a basic array of hooks presented for the party to attend the eponymous Night of Masks, we have a sidebar that explains, commedia dell’arte-style, the names and codified types of masks worn at the occasion, which did indeed bring a smile to my face. Similarly, a basic code of conduct is presented.
The night itself is structured in 4 phases, which should not constitute spoilers: First the guests arrive, then the nobility, then some politicking is done, and then we have the unmasking; much to my pleasant surprise the order of arriving nobility is presented in detail (that’s important, after all!), and 10 supplemental minor events allow the GM to spice up things easily and without much fuss. The supplement also includes a couple of rather nice more fleshed out events, which include nobles with uncommon tastes, mask-switcheroos and what may or may not be a case of poisoning. 9 specific guests of interest come with more detailed descriptions, including read-aloud text and a general notion of their alignment, age, gender, race and class + levels, but no actual stats are provided.
The manor-esque part of Castle Languard in which the masquerade takes place comes fully mapped by legendary Tommi Salama in b/w, and is awesome; the player-friendly, key-less version was, to my knowledge, made available to patreon supporters of Raging Swan Press. The pdf includes 8 brief sections providing slightly more details for individual locations, such as the balcony or hedge-labyrinth.
Beyond this cool locations and set-up, we also receive 5 hooks to build on the things introduced in this eventure.
…so, all cool and dandy? Well…no. This is, in effect, a system-neutral supplement that eschews doing what makes masquerades hard to run, and I’m pretty sure that this won’t survive contact with most groups. Night of the Masks commits one cardinal sin: It doesn’t account for magic or the rules of the game. So, poison-scenario. “Damn, I cast detect poison!” And there goes your political intrigue.
This issue is particularly egregious in Pathfinder, where we have an entire hardcover devoted to stuff like masks and intrigue. Maybe you’ve heard of it. It’s called Ultimate Intrigue. So no, no social combat stats or the like included, alas. And, you know, I can still kinda get behind that.
But we don’t even get DCs to identify people and see through disguises. And again, yeah, it’s kinda understandable that this isn’t the focus, when every key player is supposed to be easy to identify. But, well, once you insert a switcheroo plot, that sort of thing becomes relevant. In that way, this book pushes all the really hard work, accounting for magic, security measures, decorum, DCs, etc., on the Gm. And for me, that severely limits the appeal of this supplement.
Editing and formatting are very good, I noticed no serious formal hiccups or rules-language issues; the latter primarily due to the grating absence of these elements. Layout adheres to Raging Swan Press’ elegant two-column b/w-standard, and the pdf comes in two versions, one designed for the printer, and one made for screen-use. The pdf is fully bookmarked for your convenience. The player-friendly map is not included in the download.
Bart Wynants, with additional design by Kat Evans, does a fantastic job at setting the scene, and evoking the flavor of the masquerade. There is no doubt about that.
As a Pathfinder-supplement, though? Even as a rules-lite one, this does fall short, as it fails to account for even the most rudimentary stumbling stones that one can encounter when attempting to run such a scenario in the system. There is no nice way to say this: This is a non-conversion as far as I’m concerned, and I’d have as much work with this, as I’d have with any supplement depicting a masquerade ported from another system.
If you’re here for the flavor, you won’t be disappointed; if you want more, then this’ll leave you disappointed. My final verdict can’t exceed 3 stars.
You can get this supplement here on OBS!
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