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Death in Freeport

Reviewed by Clifford Hammerschmidt, Copyright© 2000

Edited by Suzanne Campbell for The Guild Companion

 

Warning: This review may contain information that could spoil the adventure for players who have not yet been through the Death in Freeport module. For the lawful evil players out there, be careful not to let the DM know that you know the things revealed in this review before you should know them in play.

Death in Freeport is a 32 page module for D&D 3rd Edition published by Green Ronin Publishing under the Open Game License. [ISBN: 0- 9701048-0-4]

I recently had a chance to DM the Death in Freeport module and thought I might share my impressions of it for the benefit of other DM's who are considering buying it. My overall impression of the module after my first read-through ranked it around 7/10. After DMing the module for three sessions my overall rating for the printed material dropped to 4/10, for reasons that will become clear shortly.

The book is broken into sections (but lacks a table of contents and an index) as follows: Introduction (~6 pages), Adventure Synopsis (~1 page), Part One: Baiting the Hook (~2 pages), Part Two: A Promising Line of Inquiry (~5 pages), Part Three: The Truth Sinks In (~7.5 pages), and Aftermath (~1 page). All of which is followed by an Appendix (~5 pages).

The Introduction provides a detailed history of the city and the region it is in. In this history a strange society of snakelike people ruled the region several thousands of years ago until they became corrupted by an evil god and disappeared.

The Adventure Synopsis provides a very brief overview of how the players should proceed through the adventure, assuming the players pick up on the right clues and do the right things and not get distracted by hooks for the follow-up module.

Part I: Baiting the Hook is fairly weak. The characters are attacked on the docks. A guy looking for help with a problem sees the characters beat off their attackers and thinks they might be willing to help him in exchange for money. A hook of this nature basically relies on the characters being greedy. This would work for some groups of players. The group that I was DMing, however, didn't care so much about money. Thankfully the "job" (finding a missing person) was motive enough, although it was quite clear they were only doing it because it was the intended path of the module, not because their characters go around looking for every missing person. My group of players actually killed several of the attackers, leading them to wonder if there was any form of law enforcement in the city at all. Verisimilitude was definitely not maintained.

Part II: A Promising Line of Inquiry is slightly better. I found that there were enough clues provided that a competent set of characters could actually figure out what happened to the missing person and determine who was responsible for his disappearance. The reason this section is only slightly better has to do with what else was provided. The players in my group basically felt that some of the described aspects of the setting (namely a known pirate ship being in port) were very unrealistic. Again, verisimilitude takes a hit.

Part III: The Truth Sinks In gets back to more standard D&D style of play. The characters make their way to the "bad guys" underground complex, the entrance to which is hidden in a very overdone way. (I won't say exactly how, but I can tell you my players actually laughed out loud as soon as they heard the room description...) In the complex there are some things to fight, and the realization the bad guy isn't all that he seems. The missing person is also found here; the module has him alive (with a reasonable explanation for why he wasn't just killed and left in an alleyway). This section works better than the rest since it falls into the standard dungeon-crawl style of play that most D&D players are used to.

The Aftermath closes out the story and leads the characters on to the next module.

The two biggest problems I had with the adventure were the next adventure hook and the gray text sections (those that the DM is supposed to read to the players). The next adventure hook requires very good timing on the DM's part as it could easily be mistaken by the players as a clue for the current adventure, leading them away from the module's path. I elected to ignore the hook completely. The gray text sections were written as if the author felt he was talking to novice players that would need a lot of help finding their way. I ended up condensing and rewriting most of the gray text to convey only what the characters saw and not what they should discern.

As I stated at the beginning of this review, my first impression was fairly good. After playing the module for several hours with my experienced players and gauging their reaction to the material, my opinion of the module dropped some. I would not suggest this module for experienced DM's with players that have a long history of role-playing experience to draw on. The module could work well for younger DM's and/or novice players that are not as concerned about maintaining verisimilitude within their game as the setting for the module is quite interesting.

Editor's Note:

Death in Freeport, is written by Chris Pramas, and is produced and distributed by Green Ronin Publishing. Their contact details are as follows:
Green Ronin Publishing
Web: http://www.greenronin.com

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