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Abandon All Hope: Lords of the Dream Cages

Lords of the Dream Cages

The cataclysm that has befallen the prison ship Gehenna may have brought out the best in some (like, we hope, your characters) but for others it has given free reign to their most base and dark desires. This scenario tells of an encounter with some of these lost souls... and as a result should be approached with caution and an eye to the sensibilities of your players - true for any horror game, but particularly so when twisted perversion raises its ugly head. It's designed to be run as a stand-alone adventure, perhaps a side trip from your main plot arc.

We start by meeting the four key NPCs, a motley group who - like the characters - have survived the cataclysm of Perdition by banding together and establishing for themselves a safe haven. Safe for themselves, that is: those 'invited' to visit will have a different opinion, for these people have put some virtual reality chambers - similar to the 'holodeck' of Star Trek fame - to perverted and unpleasant uses.

The adventure depends on the characters choosing to answer a plea for help. If they ignore it, it would be possible to devise an alternate way to use the materials here, but nothing is suggested. Once they've agreed to help, there's a large complex - different from anything encountered before, and probably unfamiliar to most even pre-Perdition - to explore before they meet those main NPCs and the 'fun' begins. Everything in this exploration phase is described clearly and atmospherically, giving no hint of what lies further on. This descriptive phase comprises Chapter 1 of the scenario, and could be used if you decide to repurpose the complex, perhaps as a base for the characters, even if you decide not to delve into the unpleasantness that occurs here in the adventure itself.

Chapter 2 presents a transition, as the characters find out what is in store. The plot is linear at this point, and care must be taken to ensure that the characters feel railroaded but their players do not! And so, on to Chapter 3 when the fun and games begin. Here there are several 'settings' that characters will have to survive, but once they have realised the single way to crack them, it is reasonably straightforward, provided the dice cooperate - you may wish to rely more on your players' role-playing skills than the sometimes mechanical approach suggested. But if atmosphere and suspense are built up well - and you have the resources to do this provided clearly - these situations, although obviously artificial - should prove good and scary.

In some ways this is a brilliant adventure, given the setting in which it occurs. From the role-playing point of view it's far too linear, but with a good GM who has taken the time to understand it fully, and who works hard at atmosphere and suspense, it could make for a memorable game.

Return to Lords of the Dream Cages page.

Reviewed: 6 April 2011