The Haunting of Soldragon Academy (PFRPG) PDF

****½ (based on 4 ratings)

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Not all residents of the City of Mages aspire to wizardry. The Soldragon Academy of Martial Training has provided a well-rounded warrior's education to the children of Mor Aldenn's elite for more than a generation. Recently, the boarding school has been experiencing strange and sinister events. The headmaster, Mertius Soldragon, needs help in protecting the children in his care and unraveling the nystery.

The Haunting of Soldragon Academy is a Pathfinder Roleplaying Game adventure designed for four to five 5th- to 6th-level characters. The adventure takes place in the Soldragon Academy of Mor Aldenn and the surrounding countryside. This adventure may be set in any wilderness city large enough to boast an elite boarding school.

This adventure is 26 pages long and written by Ron Lundeen. The Cover art was created by Jeremy McHugh and Gary Dupuis and Richard Chaplin did the interior art.

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****½ (based on 4 ratings)

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An interesting investigative style adventure

****( )

This is an adventure written for 4 to 5 - 5th to 6th level adventurers. I ran 9 - 4th level adventurers through this and it seemed fairly easy to adjust for this many players. There is a boxed note on how to scale the adventure for slightly higher or lower level characters, which is helpful. However it would have been nice if none of the boxed notes were white text on black background as that is hard on printers. The map and oblique view of the main school building were very well drawn. Art in this adventure was also very well done.

This adventure is in an investigative style set in a boarding school military-style academy. The investigative portion was well done and reminded me of some of the old Call of Cthulhu adventures I ran years ago. The story and character backgrounds are also very well done. There are many interesting NPCs and even a full but brief listing of every student in the school for those GMs who have players like mine who want to suspect EVERYBODY. Trust me, there were plenty of kids described that it even sated my players desire for detail.

When you have a large cast of non-player characters to run it becomes increasingly important to have the information that each NPC knows in a single location for the GM to reference. Numerous times I had to scroll through the entire pdf just trying to locate what information a particular NPC could divulge to a PC. The layout of the academy was also poorly done. Map key references on the maps had no corresponding notes in the descriptions. This made it very difficult to handle 9 players crawling all over the academy in different spots while I attempted to locate that bit in the paragraphs of text that told what the PCs would see in that particular room, what they had to search to find, and what would perhaps be discovered at a later time.

The lack of GM help in the layout made this a difficult adventure to run. Had I sufficient time to plan, I would have made a list for myself of each room and its contents (including the map key reference), each NPC with his or her knowledge and motivations, and each event with changes in the scene and other relevant information. However it sure does make it easier when the layout designer helps the GM by boxing in what the PCs will see when they enter a room or bolding bits of important text, and most importantly by adding bolded keys at the head of room descriptions that match the key on the map.

Minor Spoilers follow – You were warned.

Once the first portion is complete it is up to the GM to handle the players’ decisions. There is an outdoor “nature hike” portion that might be difficult to get all of the PCs on board with. The adventure as written assumes the PCs will all go. I have decided that my players are more like cats, of the large man-eating variety, than they are docile sheep. They won’t go where the adventure wants them to go if they see another way to investigate the goings on, or whatever their reasons might be. So be forewarned, players may try to jump the rails and the resourceful GM must have a plan or come up with one on the fly just in case. Now there is enough background and details on NPC motivations that I had no trouble deciding what to do with those PCs who didn’t want to attend the nature hike with the rest. This to me is a well written adventure, one that has enough information so that a GM doesn’t feel like they must have cattle prods in hand for when their PCs do try to jump, but can let the PCs do what they want.

Conclusions: The interesting story, investigative style and complex cast of NPCs made this a fun adventure to run. My players had a blast roleplaying and trying to figure out the mystery. The fun far outweighs the lack of support on the GM side. As long as a GM knows this in advance and has time to prepare and plan for solutions should his or her players hop the rails, the complaints expressed above become minor. I highly recommend this adventure for GMs who want something a little out of the ordinary. I am rating this at 4 of 5 stars.


Great unusual investigation adventure

*****

This adventure is 27 pages long, 1 page front/back cover, half a page editorial, 1 page SRD, leaving 24.5 pages of adventure, so let's check it out!

The pdf adheres to the two-column formatting standard. Editing is top-notch, I didn't notice any glitches or typos. The only strange decision of the formatting is that the front and back cover are on the same page, which is a pity as the cover image is nice. There are also some enumeration-dots missing on the last page. Once you check the file out, you notice something immediately: The layout is GORGEOUS. Apart from Green Ronin, I've seldom seen such an appealing, awesome layout: K. Axel Carlson did an outstanding job. The same goes for the ncie pieces of b/w-artwork - they are nice and professional, especially nice is the b/w-artwork of the academy one can show to the PCs. The 3 maps of the academy are also nice - the cartographer Butch Curry did a good job. The adventure is designed for 4 to 5 characters level 5-6 and includes information to scale it to 3rd or 7th level. While it is set in Headless Hydra's Mor Aldenn-setting, it can easily be transferred to just about any city that could house an elite boarding school.

That's about all I can say sans spoilers, so potential players beware and jump to the conclusion.
SPOILERS AHEAD.

Still here?
Ok.
This adventure is INTELLIGENT and detailed: The basic plotline is that one of the instructors of an elite-boarding school for noble children to be trained as fighters wants to stage a hostile take-over of the school. He does that via the help of a sorceress who is in fact, without his knowledge, a hag with her own agenda. Armed with the arcane knowledge, he digs up the remains of the one instructor that died in an accident (which has been hushed over and is more or less forgotten) and forces the spirit to haunt the academy to scare the pupils away, ruin the reputation of the school and open his own school. Note that he is not evil, though, and wishes for no-one to get hurt. The hag (part of a coven) has her own agenda and want to eat the children. The hauntings have already driven away several pupils when the PCs are approached by the headmaster.
After a cool, challenging and detailed investigation, the instructor fakes his death and the PCs hopefully find the missing remains of the instructor before facing a challenge like I've never seen before in an adventure: Going on a field-trip with a bunch of children. That's right, the PCs will have to look after a lot of children, defend them against a hill giant and, of course, thwart the plan of the hags, who will try to lure the children to their doom via illusions.
This is where the adventure COULD take a very dark turn indeed, although the adventure specifically advises against this, I wanted to mention that the imagery of the hag-encounter is worthy of authors like e.g. Richard Pett.
The adventure concludes with the PCs returning to the school and the final confrontation depending on the amount of information they unearthed.
The adventure features the instructors and 19 sample pupils with their own personalities and social dynamics.

Conclusion:
I really like good investigation adventures. Unfortunately, they tend to be few and far-between and this adventure is actually a prime example of a GOOD investigation adventure. There are several clues to unearth, more than one path towards victory, massive roleplaying encounters and a fine plethora of personalities. More interestingly, though, is the fact that I haven't ever read an adventure like this. Set in a boarding school, not mean-spirited at all but with this almost dream-like quality to transform into a nightmare. This adventure can be as mature or as funny as you wish and the author Ron Lundeen has done a terrific job of capturing a unique flair that has not been done thousands of times before. I highly recommend this adventure to any DM who wants to master an interesting investigation that he doesn't have to artificially complicate for the players to be a challenge. I recommend this to the hard-core ROLE-players out there. It's a great purchase and my only criticism is with the minor formatting glitches, resulting in a final verdict of 4.5 stars, rounded up to 5. Excellent job!


A nice investigation adventure.

****( )

The Haunting of Soldragon Academy by Headless Hydra Games

This product is 27 pages long. It starts with a cover, credits and background. (2 pages)

Introduction (3 pages)
This section gives information on scaling the adventure, what's going on, a overview summery, basically everything a GM would need to know before diving into the adventure.

Starting the Adventure (2 pages)
This section has a small RP section on how to get the PC's involved which I thought was cute and very clever. In short a small boy challenges one of the PC's to a dual with a loaf of bread. A man happens by to interrupt, he is the headmaster at Soldragon Academy and after talking to the PC's after the bread dual offers them a job.

Soldragon Academy (17 pages)
This is the meat of the adventure. There is 8 “encounters” some of them are combat, many are RP based and some are both. Basically there is something going on at the academy and the PC's are tasked to find out what it is before it drives all the students away. The adventure is part mystery, part investigation, part RP with plenty of combat. As the PC's start to figure things out, they will likely not once but twice, think they figure out what is going on, only to find out about more below the surface. This has a nice twist to the adventure and layers to be discovered. This is a very well written and interesting adventure.

Appendix (2 pages)
This section list the 19 students at the academy left. Name, gender, family and a paragraph or two about them. Since the PC's will likely end up talking to most of them but they are not key encounters so no stats are provided. The other NPC's are talked about in their relevant encounters.

It ends with a OGL. (1 page)

Closing thoughts. I thought this was a very clever and very good low level adventure. It is in a neat location and has a nice mix of many elements, that should make every player happy. The writing was good, the layout was good, the art was pretty good, only black and white. It is pretty print friendly with the B&W art, no borders and plain black text on white. I did enjoy this adventure and plan to run it when I get a chance. Now with that said it is not all good, there was one thing that bugged me. With this being a PDF only there is not space limits. Yet for some reason there is no stat blocks provided. Which is a shame because had the stat blocks been included I would have likely given this a 5 star review. As it is with the lack of stat blocks I am giving it a 4 star review. Great adventure but you will need to make notes for the stat blocks. I should note there is a stat block given for the main villain but that’s it.


Fantastic work, as always.

*****

I have enjoyed Ron Lundeen's work for many years now, and this adventure is no exception. The story is well written, the encounters intuitive as a GM, and the whole product has a wonderful flow to it. While I have the PDF, I very much look forward to owning a physical copy if/when it comes available.



Available! Let us know what you think about the adventure!

Want to write a review of the Haunting? Drop me a line or two here: storyguide.axel@gmail.com

- Axel
Headless Hydra Games


Pathfinder Legends Subscriber

Ron Lundeen is one of the best non-professional writers I've had the privilege of working with. A former campaign administrator for the Living Greyhawk campaign, Ron is an excellent writer who comes up with unique challenges for characters in his adventures. You cannot go wrong with one of his adventures.


I just downloaded it. I have not read it yet but I noticed that both the front and rear covers are on the first page. Not very good if you want to print them. You should have them on separate pages.


Thanks for buying the Haunting of soldragon Academy! About the cover... it looks like this because it will soon be available as a softcover edition, however, I will look into adding a more user friendly cover/backcover to the pdf!

- Axel

Sovereign Court

Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

I'll be very interested when a softcover edition becomes available. Ron Lundeen has authored dozens of quality RPG adventures, many of which I've enjoyed playing over the last decade. I look forward to purchasing a published print copy of this one as soon it becomes available. GMH


Kudos to Mr. Lundeen and Headless Hydra Games for a well-written, well-edited and well-executed adventure.

Unlike most RPG products (even those from the major publishers), The Haunting of Soldragon Academy is mercifully free of typos, grammar and usage errors, and comma splices.

Yes, those may be trivial matters in the scheme of things, but when you are buying a work of imagination constructed (mostly) from and by the written word, fine craftsmanship stands out.

Dark Archive

Hopefully in the next couple or few weeks I will be able to pick this up.


Hmmm...is this a mystery/investigation-style adventure? Rather horrorish? I'm asking because a good investigation is hard to pull off and I'm willing to think about giving this a try...

Dark Archive

I picked it up but have not had time to read it and likely won't for a week or more.


I'm looking forward to your review then!

Dark Archive

Endzeitgeist wrote:
Hmmm...is this a mystery/investigation-style adventure? Rather horrorish? I'm asking because a good investigation is hard to pull off and I'm willing to think about giving this a try...

I have read the summery but not the adventure yet. So I can say this. It is a mystery investigation about a haunting at a school. I don't know how well it is done yet, but it sounds more mystery/investigation than horrorish in design.


I would definitely call this a good investigation adventure with a twist. Something is wrong at the Soldragon Academy, but while this is called the Haunting... the problem is not really the ghost... but rather the one who seeks to use it for his own gain! Oh, and there is yet another twist, because a third party is actually using the person who is trying to take over the Soldragon Academy!

The horror aspect is... not big, but there is a lot of mysteries to investigate! And then there are some rather fun moments... mostly for the GM though.


I would put this as more of a mystery/investigation adventure than a horror story. Thanks to all for the great feedback so far! Dark_Mistress, I find your reviews insightful and look forward to what you have to say about this work.

Thanks,

Ron Lundeen


For all of you who desires a cheap softcover version of this adventure, just follow the link below. It'll take you to RPGNow's POD service...

The Haunting of Soldragon Academy (softcover)

The softcover costs $12.99, and there is a softcover + pdf bundle available too!

- Axel

Dark Archive

Reviewed.


Dark_Mistress wrote:
Reviewed.

Thanks very much for your kind review, Dark_Mistress! You had a lot of very positive things to say, and your only star-docking peeve--lack of full stats instead of callouts to the Bestiary--is something that is very easy for me to correct in future publications. I'd love to hear your thoughts if you get around to running it.

Thanks!

Ron Lundeen

Dark Archive

WelbyBumpus wrote:
Dark_Mistress wrote:
Reviewed.

Thanks very much for your kind review, Dark_Mistress! You had a lot of very positive things to say, and your only star-docking peeve--lack of full stats instead of callouts to the Bestiary--is something that is very easy for me to correct in future publications. I'd love to hear your thoughts if you get around to running it.

Thanks!

Ron Lundeen

Well my group had a winter break for RL. I am going to be running the next game which right now is suppose to start not this Sat but next Sat. So hopefully we can get to it in a couple of months after that.


Guess I'll have to check this out once my finances permit it. ^^ Great review, as always, D_M! I hope I'll be able to post some reviews tomorrow.

Dark Archive

Endzeitgeist wrote:
Guess I'll have to check this out once my finances permit it. ^^ Great review, as always, D_M! I hope I'll be able to post some reviews tomorrow.

Hey I only have 2 more official reviews than you, are you trying to kill me trying to stay ahead? I guess I better get some reviews done tonight then to counter you new ones tomorrow.


Reviewed. Also posted the Review on Lou Agresta's RPG aggression blog and sent it to GMS magazine. Couldn't post the review on Enworld, they seem to have problems with their site.


OMG, that was my 200th review on Paizo!
O.o

Now I feel OCD. Very OCD. XD

I think I'll open a bottle of Ardbeg to celebrate. :)


Adventure Path Charter Subscriber; Pathfinder Campaign Setting, Card Game, Companion, Modules, Roleplaying Game, Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game, Tales Subscriber; Pathfinder Comics Subscriber
Endzeitgeist wrote:

OMG, that was my 200th review on Paizo!

O.o

Now I feel OCD. Very OCD. XD

I think I'll open a bottle of Ardbeg to celebrate. :)

Congrats! Celebrate. You deserve it!


Question for Endzeitgeist, Dark Mistress, and anyone else who has read and/or reviewed this module: how easy is this adventure to increase the difficulty?

I ask because I have a rather large and intelligent group of players who would overwhelm most adventures their level.

I love a good investigative adventure. These are rare in fantasy DnD style modules, and even more rarely done well.


Endzeitgeist wrote:
Reviewed. Also posted the Review on Lou Agresta's RPG aggression blog and sent it to GMS magazine. Couldn't post the review on Enworld, they seem to have problems with their site.

Thanks so much for the glowing review!


Dark Sasha wrote:

Question for Endzeitgeist, Dark Mistress, and anyone else who has read and/or reviewed this module: how easy is this adventure to increase the difficulty?

I ask because I have a rather large and intelligent group of players who would overwhelm most adventures their level.

I love a good investigative adventure. These are rare in fantasy DnD style modules, and even more rarely done well.

How much difficulty are you looking to add? The adventure includes a sidebar for scaling the difficulty up or down a few levels in each of the combat encounters.


@Dark Sascha:

It's incredibly easy to scale up the difficulty of the investigation.

How to:
You could for example exchange animal blood for regular one in one encounter, create a huge array of red herrings via all the NPCs, add subplots for students, more faked deaths (e.g. kidnappings or the antagonist's favorite students know about his plan and support him - the adventure lends itself extremely well to just about any complication you can muster and add to the mix.

With regards to combat - it's easy to make the encounter harder, however I think I should emphasize that this adventure is rather roleplaying focussed and that there are not too many combat situations. At least for me, that's a plus.


WelbyBumpus wrote:
Dark Sasha wrote:

Question for Endzeitgeist, Dark Mistress, and anyone else who has read and/or reviewed this module: how easy is this adventure to increase the difficulty?

I ask because I have a rather large and intelligent group of players who would overwhelm most adventures their level.

I love a good investigative adventure. These are rare in fantasy DnD style modules, and even more rarely done well.

How much difficulty are you looking to add? The adventure includes a sidebar for scaling the difficulty up or down a few levels in each of the combat encounters.

Good to know about the sidebar scaling. That sort of thing is rarely provided. It tells me that it shouldn't be hard to scale up at all.

To answer your question, I have 9 players who will likely be 5th level before I can send them through this adventure. So the difficulty needs to at least double, but not necessarily level-wise.


Endzeitgeist wrote:

@Dark Sascha:

It's incredibly easy to scale up the difficulty of the investigation.

** spoiler omitted **

Thanks End! That is what I was hoping. I think you sold this one for me.


I hear you! I'm DMing for a VERY smart group of 7 and always have to improvise complications. XD


Endzeitgeist wrote:
I hear you! I'm DMing for a VERY smart group of 7 and always have to improvise complications. XD

Intelligent players are the bane and the joy of DMing.


Thanks for the review! I am really glad that you like this adventure, which we all worked really hard on.

About the cover... basically, I created this for print, which means that you cant include a cover in the pdf, so I had to later on add the cover to the pdf later on when I want to make it available as a pdf download. If this is the only real problem with the product, I think I can live with that! :)

Thanks again for taking the time to review this and sending your review to other sites!

- Axel

Dark Archive

Endzeitgeist wrote:

OMG, that was my 200th review on Paizo!

O.o

Now I feel OCD. Very OCD. XD

I think I'll open a bottle of Ardbeg to celebrate. :)

Only 200? WTF? slacker, I expect at least 500 before the Gencon.

Dark Archive

Dark Sasha wrote:

Question for Endzeitgeist, Dark Mistress, and anyone else who has read and/or reviewed this module: how easy is this adventure to increase the difficulty?

I ask because I have a rather large and intelligent group of players who would overwhelm most adventures their level.

I love a good investigative adventure. These are rare in fantasy DnD style modules, and even more rarely done well.

End covered it pretty well already. The only thing you have to watch out for by scaling it up. Is magic that can solve investigations easy, which is always a problem with a adventure like this.

Dark Archive

WelbyBumpus wrote:
Dark_Mistress wrote:
Reviewed.

Thanks very much for your kind review, Dark_Mistress! You had a lot of very positive things to say, and your only star-docking peeve--lack of full stats instead of callouts to the Bestiary--is something that is very easy for me to correct in future publications. I'd love to hear your thoughts if you get around to running it.

Thanks!

Ron Lundeen

Yeah after thinking about this for a bit I wanted to comment. In a print book where space is a issue I understand not having full stat blocks. But in a PDF where space is not a issue, there is no reason not to have them. But even in a print a couple of lines would be helpful and then a page number of where to find them.


Seconded, D_M. It would have been nice to at least get page numbers. That's another reason why I didnt give full 5 stars. But the adventure was too nice not to give it 4.5. :)

500 till Gencon? Waht do you pay? ;P


Well, according to the Compatibility License, we are not allowed to use page numbers when it comes to referencing Pathfinder books... as these may change with later printings.

- Axel


Sorry, I didn't know that as I never read the license. Good to know, though!


Reviewed.

My players liked your adventure, but I had to do a lot of winging it. They are nuts and kept splitting the party with the majority of them in the wrong spot when some things occured, to my great amusement. But then, I have 9 players, so no one died, only mostly dead.

Dark Archive

Brekkil wrote:

Well, according to the Compatibility License, we are not allowed to use page numbers when it comes to referencing Pathfinder books... as these may change with later printings.

- Axel

That sucks, but even just hp and then what book it is from would have helped.

Nice review Sasha.


Thanks for the review!

We did say where the monsters could be found, but we'll try to include hp with the next one.

And yeah, I am not sure why page numbers would be such a big problem, I mean, with a monster per page, there shouldn't be much of a difference even in future printings, unless they add more monsters to the bestiaries, which I doubt they'll do.

Speaking of the next one... Ron just handed in a very cool unsolicited adventure for Mor Aldenn! :)

- Axel


Dark Sasha wrote:
My players liked your adventure, but I had to do a lot of winging it. They are nuts and kept splitting the party with the majority of them in the wrong spot when some things occured, to my great amusement. But then, I have 9 players, so no one died, only mostly dead.

Nice review, Dark Sasha!

I'm glad you enjoyed the adventure and while I had similar experiences (splitting party etc.), I didn't really have a problem running it. It's not gp-play, granted, and I see where you're coming from, but for me it was a blast and I could put some nice elements in there.

All the best,
Endzeitgeist


Thanks D_M, End and Brekkil.

If you are interested in reading my party's game journal, here's the link to my blog: LINK

You'll find the Soldragon Academy portion under the Wednesday Night Society Journals and Magnimar and the Soldragon Academy. I am running the Rise of the Runelords AP, loosely. With 9 players I need to have lots of add-ons. The Soldragon Academy provided a perfect opportunity to do this. The player who's PC is the bard writes these journals. While I tried to edit them, I didn't catch everything so, for example, many names are misspelled.


Dark Sasha wrote:
Reviewed.

Thanks very much for this review!


The printing problem with the cover still has not been fixed. I hate to be rude but if you are going to sell a pdf it should be set up correctly for printing.

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