Greetings again! I’m afraid I got caught up in a collision of Primeval Thule 5e deadlines and fell behind on my write-something-each-week resolution. The good news is that I seem to be mostly climbing on top of the pile again—I’ve got the 5e Primeval Thule Gamemaster’s Companion pretty much in hand, I’ve got Steve Winter’s Red Chains adventure for 5e Primeval Thule edited, and I’m digging in on my assignment for the Primeval Thule Player’s Companion. Plus, I think I’ve got two printers, one bindery, three freelance illustrators, and a freelance cartographer all pulling in the same direction, so things are slowly coming together. Finally, I tried out a change in the Ultimate Scheme play sequence last week that worked like a charm. It might be the change that takes Ultimate Scheme from being a good game to being a great game. We’ll be Kickstarting it after the holidays, aiming for a midsummer release in 2016. So get ready to get your sinister genius on!
For those of you living in the Cincinnati area, I’ll be out your way next week. I’m going to be a guest at AcadeCon, November 13th to 15th at Hueston Lodge. I’m going to run a couple of Thule games, run a couple of Ultimate Scheme games, and maybe even play a game or two if I can. I hope to see you there!
#28: Banshee of Loch Finnere
Next on my list is a little PDF adventure I wrote for the Accursed game from Melior Via: Banshee of Loch Finnere. This was something new for me on a couple of counts. First of all, it was the first thing I’d ever published outside of the TSR/WotC/Paizo family. Secondly, it was the first thing I’d written specifically for publication as a PDF. A number of things I worked on over the years were made available as PDFs after they were printed and distributed as physical products, but Banshee was intended for digital publication from the get-go. Finally, it was the first time I’d written for the Savage Worlds game system, one of the more successful and broadly published non-D&D RPGs out there.
My contribution to the Accursed setting came about because Melior Via happened to be Kickstarting their new game around the same time that me and my fellow Sasquatches were Kickstarting Primeval Thule (the first one, for Pathfinder, 4e, and 13th Age). I’ve known Ross Watson of Melior Via for many years, and when he reached out to ask about some cross-promotion for Thule and Accursed, I was happy to oblige. The Accursed guys offered to serve as a stretch goal for our Primeval Thule Kickstarter, and we offered to return the favor by supporting the Accursed game. As it turned out, John Dunn of Melior Via wound up writing our Night of the Yellow Moon adventure for Thule. I, in turn, wrote Banshee of Loch Finnere for John and Ross.
In case you haven’t heard about Accursed before, it’s a dark fantasy setting in which evil has essentially won. The world is in the hands of a small number of powerful and terrifying witches, each of whom rules her own dark domain carved out of the defeated nations of the old world. The “heroes” of the setting are actually monsters who have turned against their mistresses—vampires, zombies, golems (Frankenstein monsters), and so on. It’s a nicely done world, a little reminiscent of the old Ravenloft setting from TSR. I started my work by reading through the Accursed files, and trying to wrap my head around the idea of what would make a good adventure in the setting.
Reading through the book, the part of the setting that really caught my eye was Caer Kainen. It’s got a great Gaelic/Black Cauldron feel to it, and I found myself thinking of Scottish ghost stories. I hadn’t worked on a horror-based ghost-story adventure in quite a while (the closest would be Night of the Vampire, Part 6 of my blog series). The first thing you need to figure out about a ghost story is, of course, who’s the ghost? Why is he or she haunting the living? And why is it important to stop him or her?
A number of years ago, I read a good book on writing by Orson Scott Card, and I remembered a bit of advice from that book: In any given setting, who’s in the most pain? Who needs things to change the most? That’s a great choice for a villain, or a protagonist. I realized that the story of Caer Kainen’s fall began with a terrible betrayal. The heroic king was seduced by the witch known as the Morrigan, and abandoned his wife and children. Later on, when the witch drew him completely into his doom, he slaughtered his family with his own hands. As bad as it was for the kingdom that the heroic king was lured into evil, the most tragic part in this play belonged to the betrayed wife and mother of murdered children. That would be someone with a reason to be angry and miserable in death, but she came to blame the wrong people for her tragic fate. After all, a ghost that hated the right people for the right reasons wouldn’t need stopping, would she? For this to be a tale of horror and betrayal, Queen Aideen’s vengeance had to be focused on the wrong victims—in this case, her own family, Clan Finnoul.
More than that I won’t say, because if you do wind up playing through this adventure, you’ll want to be surprised by the twists and turns. As far as I can tell, Banshee of Loch Finnere was well received. Even if you don’t play Savage Worlds, I think it would be easy enough to pick it up and use it in your game system of choice.
Next Time: Something that quite a lot of people have played through in the last year or so: Lost Mine of Phandelver!