RPG author Jeff Gupton of Blackbyrne Publishing returns with his sequel to module BP-1 “The Hidden Current” with this latest entry, BP-2 “The Manor of Deceit“. With the success of the Pathfinder RPG version of “The Hidden Current”, Jeff is now releasing both 4e and PFRPG versions of each module as they come out so fans of either system will be able to continue their adventures in the “Dark Veil” campaign arc.
And what an adventure it is. In Jeff’s forward to this volume he talks about his introduction to Dungeons and Dragons in the early 80’s and one particular module which has continually inspired him. The classic module U1 “The Sinister Secret of Saltmarsh” is a favorite by many and “The Manor of Deceit” is Jeff’s homage to this great piece of adventure material. So let’s see how it stacks up to the classic.
For starters, this module follows the pattern of “The Hidden Current” in layout and GM aids. In the 72 page PDF you will find pages 37-72 dedicated to beautiful full-color printable map tiles that correspond to a specific encounter within the adventure itself. Some of these maps get pretty epic and I got excited just imagining my players rolling through them. Also from pages 32-36 you get another batch of extremely helpful encounter cheat sheets with stat blocks for all of the critters and npc’s in each of the encounters in the module. These are immeasurably helpful in my opinion and should be standard fare in any adventure module.
Now for the meat and potatoes of the module. The first 3 pages are given over to the cover, title, and foreward and a few pages scattered through the adventure text itself are occupied by full page pieces of art. For background Jeff introduces us to the city of Gull’s Port, a major urban center, 230 miles south of Boarland Falls (introduced in the first module). Along with some background and history we get write-ups for several major NPCs that will be interacted with during the adventure.
The adventure itself is an excellent balance of mystery, puzzles, investigation, discovery, and surprises. The encounters are all well-balanced and designed to intelligently fit in to their surroundings. There is a very diverse array of challenges including combat, puzzles, and roleplay so definitely something for everyone. The storyline is advanced somewhat, but there is no hurry since the group is still rather low level and getting their feet wet. Speaking of level, this is designed for a group of level 2 characters and will easily see them through to level 3. The adventure can definitely be scaled for higher level characters with only a little bit of tweaking to the encounters.
The artwork is a vast improvement versus the first module. Each piece contributes something to the work and are all very well done in my opinion. The NPC portraits in particular really convey a sense of the characters. One thing in particular that I really like is the use of the same style of cover. When modules are all in a series I really like it when they have matching cover layouts. Just makes me all tingly inside.
Overall this is another winner in my opinion. The adventure is a little more focused that the first module due to being in an urban as opposed to wilderness area. There is much potential presenter for the GM to see side-adventures throughout. If you are wanting to continue the “Dark Veil” campaign arc then this is a no brainer. If you are looking for a good urban adventure with a haunted house then I highly recommend that you check this one out. The module can easily plug into any campaign world and would make a great asset in any GM’s library.
Disclaimer: I won this pdf in a contest held by the publisher and as such it has been provided free of charge.