[Raging Swan Press] EZG reviews Five Nights at the Scythe (5e)


5th Edition (And Beyond)


An Endzeitgeist.com review

This installment of the Eventures-series clocks in at 13 pages, 1 page front cover, 2 pages of advertisement, 1 page editorial/ToC, 1 page SRD, 1 page back cover, leaving us with 7 pages of content, so let’s take a look!

As usual for eventures, the focus in this supplement is not combat or regular dungeon exploration, but instead a more social setting; after all, not all adventuring needs to be done with blades a-gleaming and spells a-burning, right? It’s an event-adventure—an eventure. Anyhow, as such, this eventure is best-suited for the low-level regions, and is nominally situated within the Duchy of Ashlar, the region in which most current Raging Swan Press supplements are situated.

To be more precise, the eponymous Scythe is a dingy hovel of a tavern situated in the Low City district of Languard, which is itself lavishly-detailed in the City Backdrop: Languard and the Languard Locations-series; if you do own these supplements, the tavern does gain some seriously nice context, but if you don’t, fret not, for the tavern is easy enough to integrate into most cities. It should be noted that the Scythe is full mapped in gorgeous b/w with a proper grid; the map is actually mostly player-friendly, with the exception of a single indicator that can be considered to be a SPOILER. I tried using this in FGU, and there is enough space around the indicator to make it “vanish” until found by drawing the walls differently, but a version of the map sans the indicator would have been appreciated nonetheless. The map is pretty detailed and comes with a grid, so functionality is definitely provided.

Speaking of functionality: We do get values for food and drink, as well as a rundown of staff and regulars at the very beginning, and the place pointed out on a detailed map of the district of Languard, so you have a nice introductory cheat-sheet from the get-go.

Now, it should be noted that the tavern holds a secret, which, unlike the things encountered in most eventures, may well spark conflict; the NPCs referenced throughout, including this section, note in 5e default-NPC statblocks to reference, so regarding combat functionality, you’ll be better off than in PFRPG.

Now, the actual eventure follows a similar formula as the inaugural installment of the series, in that you use the first night the first time the PCs visit, the second night the second time they visit, etc.; for that first visit, there are 4 solid hooks provided, and we do get not one, but two lists with 6 minor events and 6 whispers and rumors each (so 12 per category) to add additional local color to the tavern. As in PFRPG, we don’t get any DCs to learn those.

Very helpful: Each night is grouped into a variety of events, typically around 3, sometimes more, sometimes less—these include dealing with arguing couples, rowdy drinkers, visitors from the feared Wrecks, bards performing (including larger crowds), beggars, performers…and, as hinted at before, a subplot focusing on a secret. None of these events are monumental, but they do an excellent job grounding the proceedings in between adventures, though e.g. brawls and guard interventions may well happen.

The absence of hard rules in the 5e version is less problematic than in PFRPG, courtesy of the default NPC stats providing a framework, but it’d have been nice to see barroom brawl rules – either as a mini-game, or by referencing Kobold Press’ take on that concept as a creature – it’s on the SRD, after all.

Beyond its content, the supplement also provides a couple of suggestions for further adventures.

Conclusion:
Editing and formatting are very good, I noticed no serious formal hiccups or rules-language issues; not that there’d be much in the ways of rules herein. Layout adheres to Raging Swan Press’ elegant two-column b/w-standard, and the pdf comes in two versions, one designed for the printer, and one made for screen-use. The pdf is fully bookmarked for your convenience. The map is mostly, but not entirely, player-friendly.

Creighton Broadhurst has a well-deserved reputation for excellence in his writing, and this supplement is a great reminder for that, as far as the fluff goes. When it comes to actual rules, this supplement is even more sparse than most Raging Swan Press offerings; but in 5e, this still works; not as smooth as it should (the aforementioned secret should be supported by some DCs…), but as a whole, this is much more ready for actual play than the PFRPG-iteration.

Now, personally, I think this works better than “Night of the Masks”, but it also is *almost* the system neutral version and doesn’t add system-relevant aspects that should be there. As such, my final verdict can’t exceed 4.5 stars, and I frankly can’t bring myself to round up.

Endzeitgeist out.

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