Urban Adventures: The Road to Revolution #1—The Skullcrackers (OGL) PDF (based on
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Welcome to The Road to Revolution Campaign Arc: a series of adventures designed for use with the 3.5 version of the world’s most popular role-playing game. Set in the Great City, this epic campaign takes characters from their humble beginnings all the way to powerful adventurers upon whose actions the City will come to depend. The Campaign Arc contains six adventures in all, each written by the original authors of the Great City Campaign Setting. Arc adventures can be played individually or linked with others in the series to create a complete campaign.
The Skullcrackers is the first adventure of the series, written by John E. Ling Jr.
The lightless warehouse alleys of the Trades Ward fester like the sour, fly-covered belly of an old nag. When the streetlamps dim, the wood-planked warehouses seem to stagger with their own decrepit drunkenness, and what little pity the ward can muster comes from beggars too poor to split a copper or toughs who gather in vacant storerooms to wager coins and chickens upon their fists. Is it any wonder then, why it sparks such a romantic attraction to off-duty military officers? For here, there are no lingering eyes of justice, no harsh penalties or judgments other than what a man can dole out with his own muscle. In a minute, a man can prove himself a primal warrior, or fall to the dust and tribunal humiliation of his silent peers.
The Skullcrackers is a low-level urban adventure designed to introduce players to the Great City and is appropriate for four characters of 1st level.
The module features beautiful artwork by Eric Lofgren and Hugh Vogt.
Additional material about the Great City and the Trades Ward can be found in the following titles:
This product is 43 pages long. It starts with a cover, blank page, credits and ToC. (4 pages)
Next it moves into a adventure summery and overview. This is the first part of a six part adventure series that takes place in the Great City campaign setting, also by 0Onegames. The adventure is for 1st level characters and should take characters to 3rd level by the end. The over view of the adventure is a murder investigation, but there is a underlining greater story arc going on that involves the rest of the adventures in the series. (2 pages)
Chapter 1 – The Body (2 ½ pages)
This involves finding the body and getting involved in the investigation. It is not all social, but I won't spoil while.
Chapter 2 – Grang's Crematorium and Casket Shop (6 pages)
After the first part most of the rest of the adventure can be done in any order depending on the PC's actions. It is a very sand box style investigation. So this may not be their second encounter. This is about the PC's wanting to see the body to examine it.
Chapter 3 – You're in the Army Now (3 ½ pages)
This section is if the PC's talk to the military(the dead was a soldier) about their findings or the city watch. There is a follow up encounter afterward's as well.
Chapter 4 – Asking Around Town (2 ½ pages)
This is if the PC's ask around town about the goings on they have uncovered up to this point. Mostly a social encounter section.
Chapter 5 – The Sewers (5 pages)
This is where the investigation has pointed to a local gang and where they confront the gang about it. It involves having a mini dungeon crawl to learn vital information.
Chapter 6 – Residential Ward (2 pages)
Part of this section can happen at any time and part of it only after some of the previous parts have happened. The final set encounter will lead the investigation to the next part.
Chapter 7 – Smugglers Tunnels (4 ½ pages)
This part is another favor the PC's are asked to do for the information they need for the investigation. This is a mini dungeon crawl.
Chapter 8 – I Smell a Rat (4 pages)
This is the section where the PC's finally track down the killer and solve the case. I won't get into details even vague ones as it would ruin the mystery.
Appendix – New Creatures (2 pages)
1 new monster a cerebral bat. Full stat blocks and history for the new monster.
It closes with 1 page handout, OGL, 2 pages of ads and back cover. (5 pages)
Closing thoughts. I liked the adventure but then I like urban and mystery adventures. The artwork is good black and white line art. It has a nice mix of social encounters and combat ones. It is also a nice intro adventure for the Great City campaign setting as it introduces you to several area's around the city. For the most part the hooks to follow the investigation from section to section are good, certainly good enough with at most minor tweaks the DM can make sure they players are able to follow it. The only real weak spot in the adventure I saw was the first plot hook to get involved. It is a decent one and I think most PC's would bite, but I don't think all would with out a little nudging from the DM.
Other than that one little negative I think it is a well done urban mystery adventure. I am going to give this one a 4.5 star rating. It was very good but not great. Well worth picking up if you like urban or mystery adventures.
This is the first in a six-part campaign arc set in The Great City, already painstakingly mapped and described by 0one Games, and is written for beginning characters. Although it's never stated, the impression is that they are not native to the city, but may have been there for a while - long enough, at least, to be able to find their way around.
The adventure is set amidst a background of seething unrest and incipient rebellion. Events begin with a murder investigation, into the death by violence of a junior army officer.
Investigative adventures, by their very nature, tend to the linear as the characters unravel a clue chain to lead them to the truth. To avoid it appearing too linear from a player perspective, once the first part - the discovery of a suspicious corpse - is over and the characters have got (by whatever means you choose) involved, the next three parts of the investigation can be run in any order as the characters visit the right places and talk to the right people; they'll end up at the final part of the plot anyway!
However, do not fear that this adventure is too cerebral for the majority of players, combat can occur around any corner... and will be necessary for the characters to complete their investigations.
The main phases of the investigation are well-written. Everyone featured has their own life to lead, building up an impressive alternate reality which will be of use after the adventure is over - should they survive, they'll still be there doing their own thing.
Overall, this is an excellent adventure in which a lot is going on, giving the characters a chance to become deeply embedded in the life of the city.
An excellent and uncommon start for the road to revolution arc.
This pdf is 43 pages long, 1 page front cover, 1 page blank inside front cover, 1 page editorial, 1 page ToC, 2 pages of advertisements, 1 page SRD and 1 page back cover, leaving 35 pages of adventure, so let's check it out!
Layout adheres to the clear and concise 0one-games-two-column-standard, the pdf is extensively bookmarked and comes with free color-versions of the handouts (and broadsides that are put up throughout the city) in a separate pdf and also has its own conversion notes to make the adventure compatible with PFRPG. Editing is good - I only noticed one glitch.
This being an adventure review, SPOILERS will continue to abound, so potential players please jump to the conclusion and stop reading NOW.
All right! The PCs stumble across the body of Malkan Abberbaugh, who was supposedly murdered by wild animals in a park - not everything is as it seems, though, and the PCs will hit a brick wall of bureaucratic red tape by the army, who wants to keep the death under wraps. After having the corpse taken away, the PCs can track it to Grang's Crematorium, where they'll be met with a rather uncooperative fellow. Why? Well, turns out ol' Grang has turned to cannibalism and enjoys his meals with a gourmet ghoul. Yep, you heard it. Cool, isn't it? We get a map for the crematorium and once the PCs have infiltrated the place and analyze the corpse, they'll notice that both druids and their animals definitely are innocent of the murder and will continue to army ward, where Marcus Galwatty, a sergeant tries to block them and intimidate them to keep away from the investigation.
A full blown bar brawl can also see the PCs accused of murder and arrested and after asking around town in this free play-style sandboxy setting, the PCs will have encountered the legendary alchemist Mafurin and his coat-with-tails-wearing Troll Werewolf-bodyguard Hulg. Via the street urchin Eddie Gin or some other means, the PCs will meet a guy called Grosh One-Ear, who claims that a member of the Dragon Claws-gang has murdered Abberbaugh. A member of said gang will contact the PCs and claim that rogue members are responsible. After a short mini-crawl in the sewers (with its own map), the PCs will again be contacted by the Dragon Claw, who points them towards to true culprits, a subsection of the army called Skullcrackers that dominate illegal fight clubs in the residential ward. In this climate of racial tensions, they will venture into smuggler's tunnels to find a lost piece of jewelry for a member of a crossroads club serving a shrine spirit. Should they survive their trek into the subterranean tunnels, tehy'll have their final clue, the identity of the killer. In a cinematic and highly unusual finale, the PCs go to the fight club and take out the deadly dwarven wererat rogue and his henchmen while bets are flung on the outcome and the crowd is cheering - in any way, a cool and rather uncommon finale.
This investigation is very interesting in the fact that it's not strictly linear and has several tools for the GM to keep it going in both the NPCs and the encounters. The adventure is fast-paced and has some cool, iconic backdrops and immediately sets a tone of mistrust and paranoia that will continue to spiral out of control during the course of the campaign arc. The NPCs and critters are sufficiently unique and cool and the adventure is uncommon enough to provide something different and thankfully humanoid-centric for the PCs to enjoy. The only weak point of the story is that the PCs should have a serious stake in the murder to not be disheartened by the red tape that is flung at them. My players would love that, but Some players might be annoyed. Diligence triumphs in the end, though, and the DM can always throw the PCs a bone with the plethora of NPCs integrated into the plot.
My final verdict will be 5 stars, a great adventure to kick off the road to revolution. Personally, I prefer "A Pound of Flesh", but you could always play that one after the Skullcrackers. :)
This first adventure delivers where other AP's have not-developing a singular setting and providing a base that will play all the way through the entire AP ( from the looks of this adventure.
One of my peeves with Shackled City etc. was the whole "heroes journey" concept, that took a lot away from the initial bonds of the PCs. The Skullcrackers promises lots of political intrigue, alliances and enemies, and treachery a plenty.There was one perticular ruse that had me cackling with glee.
There were some typos and some of the "random encounters" were not my cup of tea, but that's more a personal preference than anything else.
I look forward to running this as well as picking up the next adventure!