Kids on Bikes – The House on Poplar Court
Author: Ryan Schoon
Publisher: Hunters Entertainment
Page Count: 22
Available Formats: PDF
PDF (DTRPG) – Pay What You Want
Nothing exciting ever happens in Hebron, Indiana. People come and go. Kids grow up and move away or stay and raise a family of their own. Yet, nothing really changes in Hebron. Most businesses in this sleepy little town have been here for decades. The local police department only has a few cops, and they have been there for what seems like forever. When the local kids are not at Hebron’s only arcade in the smoke-filled bowling alley, they ride their bikes around the sleepy town, making their own adventures like the spooky abandoned home at the end of the cul-de-sac on Poplar Court. Nothing exciting ever happens in Hebron…
Welcome to 1980s Hebron, Indiana, a boring sleepy little town for the children who live there. The House on Popular Court is an introductory adventure for Gamemasters new to the Kids on Bikes roleplaying game. Released in 2019 as part of that year’s Free RPG Day program and later released in digital format via DriveThruRPG. Gamemasters will need, at a minimum, the Kids on Bikes Quickstart Rules or any other version of the full rules. Everything else is provided, including pre-generated characters (teens) with this adventure.
If you’re not familiar with Kids on Bikes or have not read our previous review, Kids, Bikes, and Mysteries, Oh My! I would encourage you to do so, before reading any further. It will help give you a solid foundation of what the game is.
The adventure is set in 1985, and in true Kids on Bikes fashion, opens with an outline of the prominent people and places with whom the kids are likely to encounter. The outline provides enough details for the Gamemaster to incorporate these people and places into the unfolding story and explains why the kids may or may not want to interact with them.
As this is an introductory adventure, its three acts structure allows new Gamemasters to easily set the game’s pace. Act One opens with a meeting of the Investigations Club, to which all the player characters are active members. Theo, the founder (possibly a player or NPC), has decided the next investigation is the strange, abandoned house at the end of Poplar Court. Rumors are swirling about the house, its past, why it was abandoned, and other similar things. Recently, passersby have reported hearing a crying noise from within, perhaps that of a little girl. For this reason alone, Theo thinks it’s the perfect location to investigate. The kids proceed to investigate the house on Poplar Court. They will have to overcome a few challenges and perhaps a fright or two, but that’s why they’re here, right? To investigate! While at the house on Poplar Court, players will find the source of the noise recently reported by passersby, and they’ll have to come to grips with what they learn.
In Act Two, the adventure changes its focus to monster hunting. The group hunts several monsters in an attempt to live up to an ideal that Juniper, the powered character introduced in Act One, believes they’re destined to do. As they research and learn more about each monster, they will piece together what they need to do to track, defeat, or lure each back to the house on Poplar Court and capture it—fulfilling their destiny. As Act Two unfolds, not is all as it appears, and the kids will have to work hard and use their brains to succeed.
The adventure culminates in Act Three, when all the monsters have been neutralized in one way or another. I won’t spoil the ending, but suffice it to say, the story once again changes…
The pre-generated kids, all of which are teens, offer a nice balanced mix of skills and special abilities that come in handy during the adventure. Each teen’s background narrative gives reasons why they are members of the Investigations Club, which is their motivation for investigating the house on Poplar Court.
Act Two gives me the sense of an overdeveloped series of Scooby-Doo episodes with all the monster hunting. With the right group of players, this can be immensely fun. The ending, which I won’t spoil, feels a little like a “gotcha” moment, but it does have a purpose that is both humorous and serves to connect this adventure to the larger product line.
Overall, this is an interesting introductory scenario. It offers new Gamemasters and players a fun and ready-to-play entry point into the world of Kids on Bikes. Over the years, many of the Free RPG Day scenarios have been mediocre at best. The House on Poplar Court, in my opinion, shines a little brighter as it is well structured, has a decent storyline, and serves as an entry into the game—it is absolutely worth playing!
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