I seem to be doing a lot of reviews at the moment. The end of the 2018 and the start of 2019 saw a number of gaming companies release new products which I’m slowly but steadily working my way through.
The Devil of Murder Cliffs is an adventure for 4-6 players of levels 3-5 which has a distinctly Gothic theme. With the locations and the NPC names, this is an adventure which would fit perfectly into Curse of Strahd as a side quest, but would also work perfectly well in your own homebrew campaign.
The main location in the adventure is the curious Von Klarch Inn, part ruin and part fort which serves as an inn for adventurers travelling through the mountains of the North. The Inn bookmarks the adventure, beginning with it being attacked by the bandit warlord Krateis (the so called “Devil of Murder Cliffs”, while the characters are in residence.
The party is drawn into the conflict, defending the inn. When the dust settles, the management of the Inn requests that the party put an end to Krateis’s operation by locating his bandit camp and capturing him.
The party should then return to the Von Klarch Inn, triumphant. Except it isn’t as straightforward as that. Lady Elis Von Klarch, the owner of the Von Klarch Inn was in cahoots with Krateis all along providing unwitting victims for the bandits, except she isn’t in cahoots any more as trust has broken down between them. And Krateis isn’t the “Devil of Murder Cliffs”. Turns out that’s the spirit of a pit fiend called Aspdu. Then there’s also a Druid called Arcenaur who people sometimes think is the “Devil of Murder Cliffs”. Furthermore, Lady Elis Von Klach is trying to capture the spirit of Aspdu and trap it in the clone she is making in her laboratory. Confused yet?
That’s a big problem with this adventure for me. The plot is way too complex. The initial encounter points to a relatively simple set of circumstances with a clear agitator to be brought to heel. There’s a real risk that players won’t explore beyond that. From the experience of parties I’ve run games for, they are certainly not likely to be thinking of Pit-Fiend spirits to be trapped in Frankenstein Monster clones.
Confusion aside, the standard of presentation throughout the adventure is generally high. Maps are gorgeous and colourful although in some cases (the Von Klarch Inn for instance) there is little need for an in-depth map as most of the rooms contain nothing more than furnishings. Page layouts are clear and sensible with clear headings and room descriptions.
Stat blocks are presented for key NPCs at the back of the booklet, however any encounters with “grunts” generally refer the DM back to an appropriate reference in the Monster Manual with any changes to that standard monster bracketed in the text. Unfortunately, these aren’t always particularly easy to see which could make running some of these encounters a clunky experience
Overall, I couldn’t see myself running this adventure as the overall premise is a bit too confusing. It runs the risk of being too hit or miss, depending on whether the party figure out the complicated plot.
I am a 40 something DM/GM located in Scotland. In 2016, I rediscovered the joys of tabletop role-playing games. This blog documents my journey back into the fold.