The Stealer of Children
Author: Peter C. Spahn
Artist: Luigi Castellani (art) & Tim Hartin (maps)
Publisher: Small Niche Games
Page Count: 31
Binding: Saddle Staple
Available Formats: Softcover & PDF
Cost: Softcover – $4.95 & PDF – $4.95
Company Website: http://tinyurl.com/pzwjlkv
Yesterday, we wrapped up the second half of the Stealer of Children module from Small Niche Games. Collectively, we all had thoughts about the module and the setting in which is was placed. This is a follow-up to the original review, posted here, and is meant to add depth the original review.
As a whole, this is a sound module that was fun to run and the players had quite a few laughs. The laughs were namely akin to school boy humor and oh so funny! The setting, Leandras Row, is very detailed, but not overly so. It still allows for the Labyrinth Lord to get creative with this sandbox style setting. Yet it still provides enough substance to make the setting work right out of the box. Even though the module was sound, there are several things that could be tweaked or executed differently. I approached this module from a very low prep point of view and really could have used to a little more prep. There were times that I felt a little under prepared as the Labyrinth Lord, lesson learned on my part.
As a group and individually, we felt the module was a little more sandbox in style than it needed to be, but we all agreed that a detective themed adventure in any other style would have felt railroaded. I know, I know, an oxymoron, but it is what it is. One player suggested the story could have benefitted from a second, alternative, plot line that would bring players to the same conclusion point later on. When we all discussed this idea we, for the most part, agreed that this would have been a good option. As written, the story does have two paths the players can follow in which to get what they need to move on to the end game situation; though not quite two plots lines.
There were three technical issues we ran into that warrant mentioning for anyone interested in purchasing this module. The first, this is a relatively low XP module for being a first level adventure. As written, a group of 3-6 players (as suggested) will not level up though some may be close to being second level by the end of the module. The second, the module as written calls for the use of a spell, Comprehend Languages, which is not available to players who are only using the Labyrinth Lord Basic rules; you’ll need to include the rules or at least the spell list from the Advanced Edition Companion. it would have been nice had this pointed out in the module itself. Lastly, during the end game situation the creature (Grombel) hat must be contended with has a roar attack that requires a save vs breath weapon (for half damage) and we all agreed that this saving throw was far too deadly for first level characters. In fact, I rolled the 2d4 damage and rolled an 8, this killed two of the characters on the spot. I think we surmised that there was an 80% chance of failure because fo the save type (breath weapon). Had this been a save vs death roll, it would have been a more dramatic (come on, we like to save vs death!) and provided for slightly better odds for surviving the attack, even at half damage. it should be noted, the dice favored me on this day when they normally hate me!
I initially mused about the imbalance of the situation when dealing with the Grombel, but that is part of the unique nature of this particular module. It forces players to get creative and think outside the box. The imbalance, in my game, created a very deadly situation as mentioned above. So much so, that with 2/3rds of the party died, they never actually completed the adventure. In fact, the only surviving character ran from the town in a fit of madness.
Overall, this is a good module, especially if you want to use Leandras Row as a base of operations for future adventures. The detective style of adventure is not new in the world of fantasy gaming, but this module challenges some of the norms and provides for a fun and engaging session or two. Your mileage may vary, but well worth adding to the collection.