Saturday, April 2, 2011

Review: Inn of Lost Heroes

Note:  Spoilers Ahead.

Adventurers check in, they don't check out.
Inn of Lost Heroes is an adventure module by Small Niche Games; it's $4.95 for the PDF and available at the usual suspects (I got mine at RPGNow) and comes in at 30 pages - for levels 3-5.  Small Niche Games uses a clean layout and I find these easy to run at the table.  It's flavored for Labyrinth Lord.

The adventure traps the player characters in a nightmare world that alternates between the Ash World (nightmarish) and the Burning World (really nightmarish).  It borrows ideas from the Silent Hill video game series, and certainly could be an homage wrapped up as a D&D adventure.  It hits on a lot of excellent horror tropes - if you've seen my Horror in D&D post, this adventure features a bit of body horror, loss of control, atmosphere and danger, and plenty of vicarious horror as terrible things happen to NPCs (first).

This is not structured like an old school site-based adventure.  The players are trapped in a haunted Inn with other guests;  much of the action is presented as scenes and will feature a lot of role playing as the DM takes on the roles of the other trapped people.  There are opportunities for the group to explore the inn and unravel the secrets, but this is not a dungeon crawl.

What I loved:  I like to blend some horror moments into D&D, and this adventure is explicitly horror.  I have a small background in improv theater and it's a fun change of pace to run adventures that feature  lots of NPC's and scenes; the approach reminds me of newer, scene based games like White Wolf's.

Issues:  My biggest issue with the adventure is how the story reaches resolution.  When moving to the climax of the story, the adventure takes an abrupt turn, and the story-based solution to escaping the ghost story is thrust on the party heavily (via a death scene monologue).  In this type of adventure, the twist really could have been foreshadowed a number of different ways and worked into the build up.

I'd rate this a 3 on the Beedometer.  It's much better than a home brew, breaks some interesting ground with the Silent Hill themes, but has a (correctable) flaw on the story side.  By way of endorsement, it was *definitely* located in my sandbox for my players to encounter, which is why I held off on a review.  They made other choices, and I'm comfortable dropping some spoilers now.

In terms of my treasure chart metrics, this weighs in at about 21,000gp in treasure, and 12 or so encounters (not counting wandering monsters).  Probably 1-2 nights of adventuring.