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Dark Conspiracy 1e: Hellsgate

Hellsgate

Opening with a 'supermarket tabloid' with a couple of weird headlines - two-headed mutant animals and alien invasions no less - the introduction soon explains (in somewhat less sensationalist terms) the background to what is actually going on and what needs to be investigated. Basically, a newly-launched communications satellite has gone wonky, and strange things have begun to happen in Mexico.

The Referee's Introduction goes into a bit more detail, as well as giving warning of a couple of devious plot twists that you will be springing on the party during the course of the adventure. There's some historical background linking in two separate groups of Dark Ones whose conflicting objectives merely add to the fun. The adventure synopsis describes how the whole thing kicks off with a mysterious stranger arriving on the doorstep in the middle of the night... followed by a more official approach from NASA seeking the party's help in their investigations. Accepting the offer at least makes getting to Mexico easy. Then it's just a matter of closing the odd dimensional gate and evading the notice of dire and ancient evil...

The first encounter - the mysterious stranger one - is supposed to involve just one party member, and various suggestions are made as to how to pull that off. Choose a player who is good at describing what his character has experienced, or let the rest of the players witness the encounter, as it definitely brings the weirder elements of this game out in force. During this encounter, an extraterrestial asks for help, or so it seems. Before the party has much time to reflect on this a NASA astronaut comes round to hire them to investigate just why that wonky satellite is beaming high-powered transmissions to Mexico, or at least, to find out what's going on in Mexico as a result. Some investigations follow, but soon the chance for action will present itself.

Starting in a run-down village, the party will be led - or taken - to Chichen Itza, a famous archaeological site that's now been taken over by dark minions, almost buried in darktek, and with assorted cultists who have (they think) resurrected ancient Mayan rituals hanging around. The map provided with the PDF really needs to be printed out and stuck together to make sense - I think it must have been provided as a poster in the original print version, but there's a lot to explore in the main pyramid in Chichen Itza, including a maze that draws on Mayan legends well. Eventually, the party ought to find a dimensional gate and will need to shut it down before worse befalls...

... and then they discover that's only the start of their problems!

This is a well-constructed and devious adventure that requires thinking as well as fighting to succeed. Like any investigation-heavy adventure, the party will need to pick up on certain things, but the way it is constructed makes it quite easy to lead them in the right direction without making it feel too much like railroading. It should prove a memorable episode in your group's adventures, one that is quite out of this world...

Return to Hellsgate page.

Reviewed: 16 October 2017