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Dungeons & Dragons: Black as the Brightest Flame

Black as the Brightest Flame

This is an intrigue-filled adventure based in the city of Geanavue in the Kingdoms of Kalamar setting. The conspiracy the characters have to unravel is embedded into the setting extremely well, making it come to life and assume a reality that makes the presence of stone giants and restless undead seem natural and part of the world rather than oddities inserted 'because it is a fantasy game.'

The well-designed and convoluted plot is set out clearly and should be easy for the DM to present. All the NPCs who turn up have a defined role to play and fit into the setting and the location in which they have found, busy about their own concerns and yet able to contribute (if asked or intimidated or bribed) to the on-going investigation.

Each location that is to be visited in the course of the enquiries is described well, and there are some clear maps of individual locations linked to the descriptions, although they are tucked away at the back of the book rather than located with the location details themselves. NPCs are listed in full in an appendix, but suffient details to run the actual interaction with the characters are provided along with the notes on where they are to be found.

One slight downside is that, although embedded in the chosen setting of Geanavue, there isn't a map of the town for reference when the characters are moving around it. Fortunately, the rich setting of this city is detailed in another book, Geanavue: Stones of Peace, and if you do have it, everything is cross-referenced to the appropriate page in this product. If you want to run the adventure 'as is' in Geanavue, it's getting towards necessary to get a copy. With a bit of work, you could probably transfer the adventure to another city that you have maps and details for, but as the entire adventure is wound around the background politics of Geanavue this isn't a course I'd recommend.

Some people may find the adventure a bit linear, and there are one or two points where a particular bit of information is going to be essential for the investigation to proceed any further, but there is plenty of scope for the inventive DM to ensure that the characters find out what they need to know even if they do not follow the prescribed route through the conspiracy.

Overall, it is a delight to find an adventure that makes such good use of invesigative skills and interaction - and for the more active, there are moments when quick wits and a ready sword (or spell) will be necessary to save the day.

As a bonus, there is an interesting variant class, the Watchman, designed to provide law enforcement for cities - most fantasy settings think fighters are the most suitable for this role, but they often lack the tact and investigative skills necessary to do much more than stop a brawl by knocking heads together. It is likely to see use mostly for your city-based NPCs, but there is scope for individual adventurers to use it as a basis for the very sort of character who would excel in this adventure, or even for a whole campaign based around law and order in a single city or across your campaign setting.

Return to Black as the Brightest Flame page.

Reviewed: 9 September 2006