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Reviews: Interludes - Brief Expeditions to Bluffside
 
by Joe G. Kushner


Interludes cover Interludes - Brief Expeditions to Bluffside
Written by Jeffrey Quinn
Published by Thunderhead Games
PDF Format
60 b & w pages
$5

Interludes is a d20 adventure that serves as introduction to the Bluffside: City on the Edge saga from Thunderhead Games. The plotline involves 2nd level characters trying to unravel a mystery. Along the way, the players will get to interact with the people of Kirkwood, battle and negotiate with goblins and their masters, and go head-to-head with a thieves guild in the climax.

After an adventure summary, which provides the GM set-up information and explains the adventure's layout, the adventure itself is broken up into three parts, followed by the appendixes.

The characters start off in Kirkwood, a locale that reminds me of the village of Hommlet from the original Temple of Elemental Evil. By including numerous NPCs with differing backgrounds, the GM can tailor Kirkwood to his players' taste so that if they prefer combat they can collect goblin ears, but if they prefer exploration they can work for Synthia, a cleric whose patron god, the Traveler, has many secrets to unfold.

The enormous potential for additional adventures in Bluffside becomes apparent during the quest. For example, there are two locations in The Holy Grove that are left blank for GMs to customize. In addition, the new prestige classes within lend themselves to wider use throughout a GM's campaign. Additionally, the Hammers, a guild introduced in the module, can play a greater role in the campaign after the adventure, as they are a large organization and the party barely touches on their true strength.

After the characters make themselves comfortable in town, Bluffside's Greyfox family suffers an attack where Samuel Greyfox is almost killed, and the rest of his family kidnapped. Hopefully the players are drawn into the chase. In their search, the players discover the Holy Grove, a place with several buildings, some of ancient and forgotten deities. This section of the adventure allows the players not only to engage in combat, but also to test their wits against a number of goblinoids. While it's unlikely that the players can overcome all their adversaries with strength alone, GMs should prepare some side notes on how to keep the players involved after this section if they insist on fighting.

If the players are able to come to some accord with the goblinoids, they'll discover that the Rakers have captured a half-orc. This is where things get a little more complicated. The half-orc is the one who's actually involved with the Greyfox kidnapping and is a member of the Hammers, a bandit guild native to Bluffside.

The final part of the adventure involves the players and their new allies, the rakers, going on the hunt for the kidnapped family once again. After a few false starts, such as an encounter with a Thorn Faerie, they'll become embroiled in massive melee, and hopefully win the day. The combat will largely depend on the party's tactics, as the opposition is formidable, but not impossible to overcome. Advice on running the bandits is provided, as is information on using the bandit leader, Tania, as an ongoing enemy.

An interesting note though, is that the Hammers have captured two high level individuals of some importance. Jezzica and Brandyn, two who have fallen prey to poor luck. This is another example of providing the GM with tools to expand the adventure as these individuals can act as mentors for the party. In addition, Jezzica is actually a Blood Guardian, a new prestige class, so may act as a mentor for a sorcerer or other arcane spellcaster who wishes to become a member of this prestige class.

That's Not All
Now the adventure itself takes up less than thirty pages. What is the rest of the book filled with then? It has a collection of new crunchy bits for almost all parts of the d20 system, including monsters, magic items, prestige classes, feats, and spells. The general d20 game material is collected in Appendix 1: New Stuff. This has the two feats, Armored Caster and Sixth Sense, the spells, and ends with the magical and extraordinary items.

The two spells have potential as useful compliments to a spellcaster's arsenal. The first is Agony of Deceit, which can inflict damage to the target if they lie while the spell is in effect. The second spell, Remove Exposure, eliminates the penalties of element exposure like frostbite, heatstroke, and other natural effects.

Appendix 2 provides background and game information for all the characters in the module broken up by area. Some of these characters, such as Brandyn and Jezzica Bergen, can serve as excellent patrons for future adventures.

Appendix 3 provides some quick notes on further adventures based on the module. There are several bonus adventures planned to appear on the Thunderhead Games website, scheduled for completion throughout the year, to augment this module. It remains to be seen if they will all be free, or if they will all require a password, as only one of them is marked as requiring a password now.

Appendix 4 introduces new monsters to the d20 system. The Rakers, a new goblinoid race, and their pets, the Rippers, provide lots of opposition for a low level party, while some of the other monsters are good for augmenting winter-based opposition.

Appendix 5 contains handouts that the GM can provide his players. In this case, the PDF advantage really shines as the GM can easily make multiple printings of this section.

Appendix Six has two new prestige classes, the Blood Guardian, a sorcerer based prestige class, and the Sisterhood of Mercy. I prefer the latter. I have a large amount of armored nuns from my Mordenheim Games and have always been looking for a way to incorporate a sisterhood of steel into the game.

Whether you choose the printed version of Interludes or the PDF version, there's good value here for the price. The module can serve as a mini-campaign in and of itself, or act as a springboard for the future releases Thunderhead Games has planned. Bluffside looks like it'll be an interesting place for a while to come.


 

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