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Saturday Night Special 4: The Mires of Mourning (PFRPG)

***½( ) (based on 2 ratings)
FGGSNSPF04E

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Another of the Saturday Night Specials series. Adventurers are needed for a simple job: escort a catatonic prisoner of value to the Crown to a sanitarium where he can be safely held for treatment. What could be easier? But the sanitarium lies at the heart of the Creeping Mire, and it’s the rainy season. No patrols or contacts have been able to get through in weeks. What dangers await along the Swamp Road, and why don’t they want the prisoner to reach the sanitarium? And why does the sanitarium staff want the adventurers to place the prisoner in their care and leave as quickly as possible? What secrets are held within the mute man’s head that some would kill for…or worse?

"The Mires of Mourning" is a Frog God Games adventure for 4-6 characters of 6th level with versions for the Pathfinder Roleplaying Game. Set in the generic Frog God Games setting for easy portability into your favorite campaign world. Players must brave the treacherous Swamp Road through the Creeping Mire in order to reach the Mourninghaven Sanitorium. The dangers within that decrepit hospice may be more fearsome than the dreaded swamp itself.

Page Count: 24
Authors: Greg A. Vaughan and Kevin Wright

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Product Reviews (2)

Average product rating:

***½( ) (based on 2 ratings)

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Nice little adventure!

****( )

I've actually had this adventure for a little while now but finally sat down to read through it- so this review is based on a read-through, not an actual playtest.

Endzeitgeist gives an excellent synopsis in his review, so I won't repeat it and instead focus on what I liked and didn't like.

What I liked about the adventure is that while the main plot points are railroaded in, for the most part there is a sandbox nature to the locations and its up to the players how to proceed. For example, the sanitarium is detailed enough that the GM can easily react to a PC who decides to go off exploring. Another situation is that the PCs have a lot of latitude in approaching the fort in the swamp. These locations are detailed enough without any real constraints placed on the PCs actions.

The dungeon at the end is very atmospheric and cool, making excellent use of enemies and adding in some unique twists here and there to keep players on their toes. I was a bit reminded of the 1999 remake of The House on Haunted Hill reading this section (and I like that movie by the way, so it's a good thing!).

What could have been maybe better would have been to play up the sanitarium some more- maybe an investigation to discover the plot point that leads to the next part instead of the way it was done. The only downside to the final dungeon is it is very linear, one room to the next, without given the players options of where they want to go. Additionally, there is a lot of really cool and creepy back-story in regards to the denizens of the final dungeon but nothing that the PCs will ever learn which is disappointing because it's really good stuff.

Overall, this looked like it would be a fun module to play and I'm strongly considering incorporating it into a future Carrion Crown campaign. If I run it, I definitely want to give players a chance to learn more of the final dungeon's back-story.


An Endzeitgeist.com review

***( )( )

This module is 24 pages long, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 1 page ToC, 1 page SRD and 1 page advertisement, leaving us with 19 pages of content, so let's check it out!

This being an adventure-review, the following contains SPOILERS. Potential players may wish to jump to the conclusion.

All right, still here?

Morninghaven sanatorium, constructed in the heart of the Creeping Mire, founded by the church of Mitra and headed by the prestigious Osterklieg family had for some time had its reputation decline, even as a place to lock up the criminally insane. When Baronet Wilbane Osterklieg fell from favor, his presumed sizable fortune was never found. Now, for 30 years, the sanatorium has languished in the mire, sinking slowly closer towards the unfathomable depths of the swamp. The PCs are hired to escort one Haden Ward (an incognito provided by the state) to the sanatorium and the escort mission is anything but simple - from collapsed paths to giant mosquitoes and an assault by warriors from the swamp's bugbear-tribe, there are 3 planned encounters in addition to the random encounters-list included for the way to Mourninghaven.

At the sanatorium, the Curator Xavier Drusus and the bloodstained, masked orderlies are not particularly confidence-invoking. Unfortunately, a storm sees the PCs stranded at the sanatorium for the night (which is btw. fully mapped and described) and the night is interrupted by escaped madmen escaping from the cells and an assault from more bugbears and even a black dragon - in the chaos, the orderlies may even turn upon the PCs (they are not nice persons...). The badly wounded Drusus, with his dying breath, confesses that he was after the Osterklieg Legacy and that the catatonic madman they escorted was in fact Osterklieg's former lieutenant, a sadistic mercenary named Harden Crestingdrake. And he's gone.

The trail leads the PCs into the heart of the swamp, where in an old stockade the PCs get a chance to destroy the remnants of the bugbears and find out that there's a potion to let Haden regain his memory - as well as the location of the secret stash, which is in the Black Ward - now abandoned, it's where Osterklieg stashed incurable psychopaths. It is here that the module becomes full-blown horror in style, with Haden bugging the PCs with whispered rumors in a psychological war of attrition as they explore the partially sunk ward and battle twisted ghasts, an almost indestructible fungal creature that has evolved from Vidas Osterklieg, basidronds, a cool haunt and an allip. You get sample lines for the encounters and finally, the PCs will have to face off against Crestingdrake, now suffused by the darkness of the ward and turned into a bleeding horror.

The players may also find out about Osterklieg killing Mitran pilgrims as they find his stash and the bloodstorm spell sees an upgrade from the honorable Relics and Rituals-book.

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are top-notch, I didn't notice any glitches. Layout adheres to FGG's 2-column b/w-standard and the pieces of original b/w-artwork are awesome. The pdf comes fully bookmarked with nested bookmarks. The cartography per se is nice, but we don't get ANY key-less player-friendly maps, which is just not up to standard when compared to similar publications.

Author-duo Greg A. Vaughan and Kevin Wright has created an interesting module - the locations are iconic to the extreme and rather disturbing, conveying a profound sense of dread. By all accounts, I should love this module - "The Death of Dr. Rudolph Van Richten" is still my favorite module of all time and the locations are great. However, this module ahs major issues regarding pacing - essentially, it is very obvious in its railroading and hands the relevant information needed to progress to the players on a silver platter, without much required initiative on behalf of the players beyond "Kill X" - no research, no moodbuilding...and worse: No consequences.

The main location of the module is an unabashedly evil place that should have paladins etc. disgusted - so what if they DO want to do something about it? Not covered. Alternate ways of handling the whole thing? Not covered. The stockade feels completely cut-down and is perhaps one of the most useless locales I've seen in a given module for quite some time - its space should have been used to properly depict and flesh out another part of the story.

This is a sad module to review, since it DOES have all the makings of a great module and a DM with some work can make this work VERY well - as written, though, this somewhat falls behind and simply feels too short. At 19 pages, the module does not devote enough time to any of its locations to make them properly shine - instead, the PCs are shunted from location to location, stumble across hint (Go there!) upon hint (Now go there!)and end the module with a climactic encounter that is cool - but ultimately just the end of a very railroady sequence of events that lacks the gravitas the background story and exciting locales should have provided this module.

In the end, this module suffers greatly from its unnecessary brevity and its endeavor to cram too much content into the scarce few pages the module has - if it had developed one of the locations, any one really, better and cut another location or if it had 10+ more pages to develop its iconic locales, then this could have been 5 stars + seal of approval. As written, it falls painfully short of its own potential and hence, I'll settle for a final verdict of 3 stars.

Endzeitgeist out.





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