What Lies Beyond Reason #2: Ignorance is Bliss
The second part of the What Lies Beyond Reason AP clocks in at 57 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 1 page KS-thanks, 1 page ToC, 1 page SRD, 1 page back cover, leaving us with 51 pages of content, so let’s take a look!
Now, as always, we do receive pregens included in this adventure; furthermore, while intended for characters of 4th level, though scaling information for 5th level heroes are included – for more ideas regarding scaling/structure and sidetrek insertion, the great Campaign Guide has you covered there.
The module also takes off the shackles of the AP – it represents the first free-form module in the AP, in fact, we have an investigation on our hands (on that also may have the PCs meet more movers and shakers of the AP)…but more on that below!
This being an adventure-review, the following contains SPOILERS. Potential players should skip ahead to the conclusion.
All right, still here? Great! So, the PCs are walking down a street…and witness a catatonic man, potentially soon to fall victim to congregating psychic motes. After having dealt with the supernatural pests, the PCs will have a mystery on their hands…one that will lead them, sooner or later, to the Explorer’s Guild – and, unbeknown to them, in contact with one of the most powerful entities in the city, but that just as an aside. (And yes, I’m not being more specific here for a reason…) – it seems like someone is targeting explorers, namely a subsect of the guild devoted to hedonism. The investigation will also put the PCs in contact with the hospices, hinting at the healing capabilities of the city being…well…less than ideal.
It seems like “blanks” have been popping up and so, it is up to the PCs to investigate the strange occurrences. This would be as good a place as any to note a peculiarity of the module I at once love and wish it was even more pronounced: The antagonists take heed of the local talk and the more the PCs ask around during their legwork, the more attention they’ll attract…and the more deadly the final encounters will be: Very sneaky PCs may find almost no resistance, whereas PCs botching this section may well witness a seriously twisted array of traps.
Ultimately, the trail puts the PCs on the trail of the strange drug “Bliss” – and from here on out, the PCs may find addicts being drained by strange creatures – a chase ensues and the PCs get a chance to kill the creature…but who sent it? The being, none too smart, may spill the beans and it may partially lead to a curiously absent Luther Mendel of the Botanical Society (more on that in the optional module “The Gourd“, contained in the Campaign Guide) – but in the end, the trail leads to Damian, the kind alchemist the PCs met at the end of the prologue…which is a bit odd. After all, he didn’t feel evil, right? Well, his dangerous apprentices and a whole tower rigged to explode may beg to differ…and the finale pits the PCs against Damian, while Triast, commander of the Seekers crashes the party…and worse, a gigantic tentacle monster attacks from below, making the finale a free-for-all with two very powerful NPCs…and while none wants to really kill the PCs, that can be a bit problematic, particularly considering that Damian *needs* to escape and will do so in a kind of cutscene. That…can be somewhat problematic. Speaking of which: There is a broken brooch magic item here – I’d *STRONGLY* suggest GMs not handing it out – while its visuals are nice, its benefits are very potent
That being said, the mystery of the memory thieves is seemingly solved and Damian’s cryptic parting words, implying that the tentacle monster would be a reason why he can’t stop, hint at worse things afoot…and prompt the initial motivation for module #3…
Editing and formatting are generally very good, though the rules-language of e.g. the magic item isn’t perfect and minor hiccups like improperly-formatted traps can be found. Cases of e.g. what obviously should be fire damage lacking the “fire” type can also be found. Layout adheres to a 2-column full-color standard and is really, really nice. The copious amounts of full-color artwork make the module aesthetically-pleasing and the pdf comes with a second, more printer-friendly version. PURE AMAZING: The chase comes with a high-res side-view representation that you can slowly unveil AND the maps of the relevant places come with player-friendly versions as high-res jpgs – sans traps etc. BIG kudos there! The pdfs come fully bookmarked with nested bookmarks and the softcover is really nice, as always with Pyromaniac Press.
Micah Watt’s “Ignorance is Bliss” puts down the kiddie gloves. This investigation hints at the darker themes, makes the sidetreks in the Campaign Guide viable further routes of inquiry and finally provides some freedom, offering a wide variety of angles to pursue and options to consider. I *really* like how “asking around” and the actions of the PCs influence the module’s outcome; I love the chase…but at the same time, from a plot perspective, I think that it would have made sense to feature the two antagonists in the final encounter in module #1 as well – if the PCs have not played the prologue, they will have NO relationship with the BB-Not-so-evil-G. That is a pretty significant potential stumbling stone. Similarly, after establishing the importance of travel options in adventure #1, I would have loved to see that matter a bit more, but that may be me. Ultimately, this is a cool module and represents a transition in themes and does so rather well. My final verdict will clock in at 4.5 stars, rounded down to 4 for the purpose of this platform.
You can get this module here on OBS!