Sunday, August 19, 2018

The Corruption of Pelursk

This mini-adventure is by the By Crom! author, Shel Kahn, so the first thing worth saying is it benefits from visual design and is beautifully illustrated and physically satisfying to own.

It is a classical fantasy roleplaying adventure with the premise being that you as a group are interested in acquiring some rare magical crystals and have journeyed to the only place that produces them.

Once there you discover that the town is in crisis as the crystals have ceased to appear where they are normally collected. The nearby island is a taboo place but it also seems connected to the problems with the crystals as a local has gone missing while investigating it.

Having presumably tricked their way onto the island the game then shifts to a clever hex-crawler with the island interior being the hex map and then you roll and place cutout hexes onto the map. As you move around the previous hexes are not fixed and therefore you may double back to find that the landscape has changed. The goal here is to get to the centre of the island which seems to be the centre of the magical energy that is linked both to the crystals and strange phenomena on the island itself.

The hex crawl is definitely the more interesting part of the scenario and is quite imaginative. I didn't want to pay the potential duty on the import but one version of the scenario came with a fabric map and hexes and that would have been a far superior way to play out the exploration.

Once the group reaches the centre of the island they discover the mystery of the crystals along with the fates of various villagers. There is a difficult moral choice to make that potentially transforms life in the village.

The scenario ends with the trip back from the island and the resolution of any plot threads that have developed.

The scenario is described quite abstractly so it should work for any D&D-influenced systems. The Drives idea from Into the Odd is used to explain the motivations and preferred course of actions of the various people and challenges in the scenario. This makes it pretty flexible to work around the goals of the scenario.

The biggest issue with the scenario is that the first part in the village doesn't really create enough of a dilemma in the conclusion. It's going to be to easy to see the villagers as jerks whose relationship to the crystals is unhealthy. There needs to be more sympathy for them if the player's decisions are to have weight and consequence at the end of the adventure.

Overall though I'm a fan and I'd be interested in seeing more from what is intended to be a range of pocket dungeons.