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The Manse on Murder Hill $1.99
Average Rating:4.4 / 5
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The Manse on Murder Hill
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The Manse on Murder Hill
Publisher: Taskboy Games
by Timothy B. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 06/18/2015 16:29:38

The Manse on Murder Hill is a Labyrinth Lord Adventure for character 1st to 3rd level written by Joe Johnston. The PDF is 50 pages which includes 2 title pages, 2 blanks and an OGL page. Full Disclosure: I received a copy of this pdf in exchange for a fair review.

Ok now that I have that out of the way I also want to add that this is also the exact kind of adventure I would have sought out. Especially these last few weeks. It is "Basic Era" so already I like that and it is a haunted (or so they say!) house. So pretty much I am sold and I have not even gotten past the cover yet.

The art includes work by Stuart Robertson, David Guyll (whom I have been enjoying a lot of his Dungeon World material of late) and Tim Hartin. I want to take a moment to talk about the art. IT is great and really helps set the mood. This module feels different than other "old-school" modules and it is a nice change of pace really. The art and overall feel of the module make this feel more like something you would play with Chill than Labyrinth Lord. Maybe Joe and his team could redo it for something like Cryptworld, Rotworld or Majus. Course the monsters would need to be changed to something else, but it still works.

The adventure itself is for 6-10 characters. I am not sure what the survival ratio is supposed to be, but that seems like a lot. I would rather reduce the party size a bit and have higher levels go. There is a lot going on here, so the larger numbers do work. I think one of the issues some Labyrinth Lords might face is a party "splitting up and searching for clues".

The feeling of this adventure is old school, but old-school+. Like I mentioned above there are modern sensibilities here. Yes, there is a great rumor table (which has a nice XP award system attached), but there is also a backstory to what is going on. The village of Little Flanders feels like something you would have found in a book from a red box, but there are other touches as well. Characters should feel free to search the village, but keeping in mind that a village is not a dungeon.

The titular Manse itself is not very big. It doesn't have to be really. The place has the requisite eerie feel to it and the table of random "illusions" (I would have called them "hauntings" or "phantasmagorias" but that is me) help. There are also some wandering monsters.

Truthfully I kept picturing #12 Grimmauld Place from the Harry Potter books when I was picturing the Manse. There is plenty of great descriptive detail, but anything more you can add while playing is great. Don't forget the smells and the little noises too.

The module progresses until the goal is discovered, the lost children.

The module is quite flexible. I could not help but think that I could change the monsters to Bogarts and Goblins and have a Faerie-lands sort of adventure. Change them to degenerate humans and suddenly we have a cult to break up. Change them to various types of undead and...well you get the idea.

It should be a perfect rainy-afternoon sort of adventure. Which also happens to be one of my favorite kinds of adventures.

Maybe it can go without saying, but I will say it anyway. This is a very flexible adventure and you can put it into just about any campaign world you want.

Now lets talk about the price. At $2.00 this is criminal steal. Seriously I have very recently paid twice as much for far less adventure than what I got here. This a great adventure.

[5 of 5 Stars!]
The Manse on Murder Hill
Publisher: Taskboy Games
by Eric F. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 06/15/2015 11:28:27

Reading through Taskboy game's The Manse on Murder Hill is like reading through an EC or precode horror comic but its done in such an entertaining style that you forget that your reading an old school rpg adventure. This is the type of plot that you want for a low level party of adventurers, something exciting gritty and entertaining for you as well as the players. This review and commentary is for the updated as well as expanded adventure on Rpgnow and Drivethrurpg The plot is like something lifted right out of a pulp magazine, 'Several children of Little Flanders have gone missing near an abandoned house of evil repute. A desperate town has begged your heroes to exorcise the house of evil spirits and rescue the children. Will you brave the dangers of the Manse on Murder Hill.' For a Labyrinth Lord adventure for levels 1-3 this product takes full advantage of every aspect of the dungeon adventure trope and has it twisted into a solid direction that actually follows a nicely handled plot with goals, treasures, and gives everything you need to play in a two dollar product that is worth the money. The artwork in the product as I've said in a past review of the product looks like it came out of a Hellboy comic and that's a good thing. The mood here is right in line with the swords and sorcery aspect of Little Flanders. You've got NPC's here that fit the local space, lore, rumors, and menace lurking around the corner. You've got places of interest, equipment, and high weirdness. Whist reading through this I was reminded of whiffs Robert E Howard's Solomon Kane, traces of Astonishing Swordsmen and Sorcerers of Hyperborea and bits of a low level Lamentations of the Flame Princess. The product oozes with atmosphere and weirdness in a low level sort of way that one generally doesn't see with products of this cost. There is a lot of quality here. The PC's might wander where they will but this adventure takes full advantage of a solidly done investigation with full rounds of dungeon and location crawling in three spots or more. There is lots happening in Flanders and its on the level of a Twin Peaks meets Solomon Kane kinda vibe. Even though this adventure could be used with any sword and sorcery system including OD&D. And yet this is a straight forward adventure with plenty of action happening below the surface as well as on top. This product reminds me of at at least several old school fantasy comic books from the 70's with traces of late two thousands game design sensibilities and that's a good thing. But make no mistake, one wrong move in this module and your adventurers are dead meat. The second thing that I love about this adventure are the maps, handouts, and attention to details that the author has done. There's something very pulpy reading through adventure and seeing these. Its like an invite into the world of the adventure. And this is where The Manse on Murder Hill shines, the drawing in factor of this adventure. For the Labyrinth Lord retro clone Manse on Murder Hill is a must. Seriously this is an essential adventure for the DM to have and its solidly done. But if PC's make mistakes your going to be dead meat. Scattered throughout this product are three or more campaign hooks that could see the DM fleshing out the events of Little Flanders. And to be honest while this adventure is designed and executed for Labyrinth Lord. I wasn't thinking of that game while reading it at all. I was looking thoughtfully over at my shelf and contemplating Lamentations of The Flame Princess or Astonishing Swordsmen and Sorcerers of Hyperborea for running this one . Now there are several reasons for this and number one is the fact that Little Flanders could easily be tucked into the peusdo historical realms of LoFP with little problem, making it a perfect little local starting place for adventurers of the freebooter type. For Astonishing Swordsmen and Sorcerers of Hyperborea, this is a nice and even low level starting adventure where you've got locations recovering from the Green Death and on its way back to the road of recovery but in dire need of adventurers. In point of fact I'd go so far as to say that besides the efforts of Corey Ryan Walden. Manse on Murder Hill is great starting adventure for low level PC's with enough action, excitement, and engagement for your PC's for a very long time to come. Now with enough bang for your buck for two dollars, I'd say that this adventure could be adapted for OSRIC, Fantastic Heroes and Witchery, and other advanced clones but this might require some juggling with the stats and adventure elements & materials within this product but I think its well worth it. In point of fact I'd go so far as to say that using this adventure you could take the location of Little Flanders and pop it right into a post apocalyptic isolated location and still have the action, flavor and adventure intact. To take this further with a little imagination you might have the adventure taken further afield into the Cthulhu Dark Ages rpg . But then again that might be going to far a field for a solidly done and well written game adventure. The best one's spark the imagination and get the players and DM thinking in just that sort of way. Five out of Five in my book! Eric Swords and Stitchery blog

[5 of 5 Stars!]
The Manse on Murder Hill
Publisher: Taskboy Games
by Shane W. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 06/13/2015 16:14:58

Everything about this module drips beautiful!
I am serious. It's amazing. The layout, artwork and the writing are top notch. From now on this is one of the modules I am going to go to when I'm designing my own. As usual, I am not going to give too many spoilers other than the above product description. The layout really caught my attention, it has its own feel, although its mostly B&W, the little splashes of the blue make me smile. It isn't the typical "old school" module look, but it does reference it a bit here and there (2 columns, B&W artwork, etc). Now onto the actual writing.

First off, I'll say this, there isn't one thing that +Joe Johnston didn't think of. There's great rumors (including false ones), everything is labelled well (all maps), there's player handouts, all the monsters & NPC's are stated out. (Labyrinth Lord Compatible BTW). There is political intrigue!

The one thing I quite liked was that the town does not really have much in the way of adventuring gear. This could be a interesting thing with some newb players that assume you can buy your bastard sword + 9 anywhere.

There is an air of creepiness within the module (I refer you to the title). There are shades of Lovecraft within the writing. A good GM will play up the creepiness of the mansion. Speaking of which there's some wonderful tables throughout the module that help to do just that.

Another thing that I quite like (and strive to do as well), is to create adventures that are open ended as far as specific campaign settings are concerned. Joe does just that. This adventure can easily be plopped into your existing campaign world with little to no fuss.

The adventure is labelled for a party of balanced 1st level characters with approx 6 -10 players. (I'd love to get 10 players - side note). Of course the author suggests that it is best to read thru the entire adventure first, and change/balance things the way you like.

Oh did I mention there's a few extra monsters? YUP! there's a few extra monsters.

(don't swear Shane).....

A fucking love this adventure. I can't wait to run it. Considering I am going to be playing a little 5e I may go ahead and convert it, its either that or I'm running it as a one off with basic rules from 81.

[5 of 5 Stars!]
The Manse on Murder Hill
Publisher: Taskboy Games
by Asaph L. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 10/06/2012 22:22:32

I found myself reading this entire adventure. Clear, concise and very intuitive in its flow. A few format issues and some grammatical errors' oh and the font too, barely takes away from this great 1st level adventure. Joe Johnson's style of writing is both traditional and modern, getting at the root of the move to "old school" where the adevnture was the product, was cheap and simple, and made sense. The big publishers could learn a thing or too about not getting lost in modules and ignoring the audience who's trying to put it all together. I could see Johnson's world, his people, his town; I didn't need artwork and fonts and borders and gloss and a companion World Guide to figure it out. That's why I love RPGNow, fifteen years ago I wouldn't have dreamed we could have so much access to material like this from all over the world. By the way, somebody please hire this Joe Johnson to make these, we RPG veterans have cash to spend on good product.

[4 of 5 Stars!]
Creator Reply:
Thanks for your kind words. I am working on the next module in the series, but I expect to produce a few 1 page adventures before then.
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