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Today we’re taking a look at The Beast of Willow Lake, our free introductory adventure for Against the Darkmaster. We’ll try to keep this article as spoiler free as possible, since you’ve probably haven’t read or played the adventure yet. And while we’ll give the GM some tips about running and adapting the module, we believe that everyone at the table should cooperate to create a great gaming experience. So, if you’re a player, don’t be afraid and read ahead, we won’t spoil your surprise and you might find some useful insight about the premise of the game.

With Willow Lake we wanted to create something that felt immediately familiar.  The classic small, peaceful town that’s the beginning of many tales of adventure, like Emond’s Field or Shady Vale. A place where the PCs would feel welcomed and could see that their help matters. We obviously had many sources of inspiration, but in particular we looked at some of the classic MERP adventure modules, like Phantom of the Northern Marches, Woses of the Black Wood, and Ghosts of the Southern Anduin.
We remember those adventures fondly, and we really like how they managed to create a small but deep setting, with an interesting backstory and lots of things for the characters to do, in just a few pages.

We strived to create something similar, and we really hope that you’ll enjoy adventuring through the woods around Willow Lake. However, remember that this is your adventure, so don’t be afraid to throw away the parts you don’t like, or to change something to adapt the module to your playstyle, your campaign and/or your favourite setting.

As for the pregenerated characters, we mainly made them so that you could start playing right away, without having to worry too much about character creation or other details. Just gather your friends, let them pick their characters and jump into the adventure.

Another reason, was to provide an example on how Passions could be used to tie characters together and link them to the adventure and the starting situation. If you look at them, you’ll see that some characters are old friends, some are looking for someone or something, and others are just trying to prove themselves. In other words, they all got a reason to be in Willow Lake and a reason to stay together. That’s what Passions are for. They’re a quick way to show that your character isn’t just some random adventurer passing by. She’s someone who cares about what’s happening.

So, keep this in mind if you decide to use your own characters in the adventure and try to link at least one of their Passions to the situation. Have them be inhabitants of Willow Lake, coming back after a long trip abroad. Or maybe use their Allegiance to create ties with some of the local NPCs; or their Motivation to make them interested in solving the mystery surrounding the small town.

Thank you for reading, we hope you enjoyed the article, and let us know what you think about the adventure. We’d love to hear the tales from your gaming table, and to cheer with you for your Critical Strikes! And don’t hesitate to contact us if you find something odd, or if you run into any sort of problem running it.

Category: Designer Notes


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