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Dungeons & Dragons 3.5: The Blackguard`s Revenge

The Blackguard's Revenge

Usually, paladins come to the rescue of ordinary folks beset by evil... but what happens when the paladins themselves come under attack? In this adventure, the party comes to THEIR rescue!

One of the key points in the DM notes (along with the usual overview, wandering monster list and scaling guidance) is mention that this adventure is not your regular delve with a dungeon (or other place) to explore. This is a dynamic setting with lots going on, and the party will have to figure out where they will be most effective - and avoid those places where overwhelming odds would, well, overwhelm them.

On to the detailed background, which explains how the current situation arose. Back in ancient times, four paladins established a 'cloister' to become a training centre and sanctuary for paladins, but in time their successors fell out with each other and eventually came to blows - an event known as the Saints' War which ended, as such things do, in tears. But that was long ago, and few details are remembered today... or were, until the undead remnants of the losing side come calling...

It all begins for the party at a trading post called Ambroshea Trades. Several ideas are provided to get them there, if not already interested in recent events at the paladin's establishment, which is called Ordocar. However, if you want to play out events that get them involved, that's up to you (although there's a brief appendix describing the settlement): the adventure itself begins as they approach the valley where Ordocar is located. Even from here it's obvious something is amiss, and as they approach they see that most of the compound has fallen under attack, and needless to say some of the attackers are still around!

Everything is described clearly. It must have been quite a nice place (if a bit chilly) before it was assaulted. Throughout, the place is stated to be dedicated to a 'God of Valour' leaving you free to substitute the name of a suitable deity from your campaign world, but if you do not have one in mind a sample god is described in a sidebar. Just about everywhere the party goes, however, there are stray undead wandering around, as well as overt signs of the battle that raged here only recently... unless, of course, the party manages to walk into the middle of where the fight continues, a last stand being made by the Orodcar paladins against their undead adversaries. Here you will have to get your head around mass battle tactics, best to have a plan for what the participants will be doing when the party arrives.

Reaching the climax of the adventure, however, relies on the party managing to establish a conversation with the leader of the surviving paladins who, once he has decided to trust them, explains his fears and enlists their help. Or of course they can blunder in on it by themselves... if they want to explore the catacombs of the order, that is. Here the undead are practising vile rites and desecrating the remains of paladins long gone. The rewards, at least the feel-good factor, of defeating these ancient evils and enabling the surviving paladins to begin restoring their home, are great. Success is assumed. Failure would likely result in the deaths of the entire party, anyway.

There are good points and bad points about this adventure. If you like undead, especially the level-draining sort, coupled with a good solid backstory and a well-detailed location, this should prove enjoyable. Loot is low, and most items of value really belong to the surviving paladins anyway. It isn't very clear how the party ever gets to hear the full detail of the backstory, good though it is, unless they are victorious and someone then explains it to them. If you're after a good brawl against hordes of undead with no question that they are the bad guys and the party the good guys, this is one to enjoy.

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Reviewed: 11 June 2018