This adventure is designed with the novice GM in mind, and involves a series of unfortunate events in a mansion near the rural settlement of Gafolweed. It's intended for 3rd-level characters, ideally from the area. This mansion is the home of an adventurer called Marcellus Drake... an adventurer who has ensured his fame lasts by penning a series of autobiographical stories about his adventures.
The characters are brought into the story by an ingenious twist: the late adventurer's lawyer contacts them stating that they are his heirs, but to claim their inheritance they must solve the mystery of the adventurer's own murder!
With most adventures, this is where I'd make some comment about not everything being quite so straightforward, but in this one it is not a case of all is not what it seems - nothing is what it seems! The mansion is, needless to say, absolutely bursting with traps and other dangers, and the dungeon beneath is inspired by the stories of the adventurer's exploits.
The adventure begins in Gafolweed, where the legends around Marcellus Drake have become a cottage industry. Copies of the stories and related merchandise can be obtained here, and it is here that the party will be approached by the 'lawyer' informing them of their good fortune. Everything is well laid out with helpful hints and tips for the GM on how to run each encounter, even in the fairly loose and freeform early stages. Stat blocks for each encounter are clear and placed just where you need them. Good notes are given on playing each NPC as that individual is first presented, whilst descriptions - of people, places and things - paint vivid pictures. In addition there are neat "GM's Tips" that give additional advice on how to deal with various issues from concealing that an NPC is lying to keeping track of a horde of them.
The course of the adventure is quite free-form, with the characters able to wander around at will, interacting with the household staff and exploring the various parts of the mansion. Yet everything is laid out clearly so that the GM will be able to let the party have free rein while being able to respond appropriately. Ways of passing information on to the characters are suggested, including gleaning clues from knowledge of Drake's exploits (even if they have to speed-read the books - assuming they bought any - mid-dungeon!).
Several battlemaps (0one are good at them!), paper standees for the monsters and handouts are provided. The handouts are slightly marred by obtrusive product branding, but it is just about possible to cut around it if you prefer 'realistic' looking handouts.
This is a novel and well-resourced take on that old classic, the puzzle dungeon. It's coherent and logical, and should make for an entertaining game.Rating: [5 of 5 Stars!]