Night of The Masks (system neutral)
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, in the instance of a few, a general notion of their alignment, age, gender, race and class + levels. These referenced names do include the terms “wizard” instead of “magic-user”, just to note that for the purists among my readers.
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…not quite. You see, I can’t complain about an absence of things accounting for interaction with rules and magic in this system neutral iteration, but I can’t help but feel that addressing, at least in some form or another, the etiquette of magics and magic items would have elevated this supplement even in this iteration.
Editing and formatting are very good, I noticed no serious formal hiccups or rules-language issues; this being system-neutral, there are no real rules here, just rough frames of reference. 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.
And yes, this is, by far, the best of the three versions, because it is system neutral and not burdened to the same extent with the necessity to account for player characters with expanded capabilities. And yet, my central point remains even in this iteration: The lack of rules or acknowledgement of the magical capabilities of the party does hurt this supplement.
The hard thing in roleplaying was never to pull off a mundane masquerade, it was pulling off a masquerade in a magical world. Now, if you’re playing a rather gritty game with few magics anyways, then this’ll be an excellent investment for you. If not, then you may end up bemoaning the same things I did.
While, for me as a person, this is closer to a 4 than a 5, I have to account for other tastes and my in dubio pro reo policy; hence will round up from my final verdict of 4.5 stars.
You can get this masquerade here on OBS!
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