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Bleeding Edge #1: Mansion of Shadows $6.95
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Bleeding Edge #1: Mansion of Shadows
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Bleeding Edge #1: Mansion of Shadows
Publisher: Green Ronin
by Chris G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 08/16/2006 00:00:00

Mansion of Shadows

Modules seem to be on a come back trail. There was a time when everyone seemed to be playing the same modules and there was a lot of fun talking to others that play the same game knowing that the modules were mostly common. These days with the industry spread so thin there can be two groups playing the same game but have little in common. Hopefully, the rebirth of modules will help reunite the community. Mansion of Shadow is the first in a new line of modules called Bleeding Edge Adventures. They are put out by Green Ronin and the first one is written by Robert Schwalb so there are high expectations from me on this module. The module comes as a PDF and in print. It is forty eight pages long with nice black and white pages. The art and cartography are well done. The lay out is also very well done and up to the Green Ronin standard. The module take place Kirsvald and an ancient family mansion that is the seat of power for the Stauten family. Dark arts though are going on as murder and revolt is close at hand. The module is a good amount of combat, mystery, role playing, and problem solving. The strength of the module though is in its versatility. There are very well written and precise side bars that inform the DM on what to do and how things play out if things do not work as planned. PCs have a habit to go against the grain and events can unfold that normally leave the DM a little confused and unprepared for where to take things. This module is much better equipped for that then most others I have seen. Robert Schwalb did an excellent job on that aspect. There is some dark magic going on and it can be seen as a little too dark for some people. Robert Schalb does tend to go with that darker fantasy feel though is is not near as dark as other modules he has written like Goodman Games Shadows in Freeport. The module is for low levels characters of first through third level. There are suggests for making the module tougher if need be. Another great thing in the module is the web support it is getting. There are conversions for True 20 and the Black Company Campaign Setting. The module also says there will be a web enhancement for Thieves World but I did not see that up yet. The Black Company one is very nicely done and a good twelve pages in length. Mansion of Shadows is a nice dark adventure. There is plenty of chances for players to kick butt and show off their skills. It has an option for using mass combat if the group wants to or using other options for the town revolt. There are a number of interesting things going on that should be able to keep the players interested and guessing as to what is going on. This is a very strong module that makes a good first example of what Green Ronin is capable of when they put their writers and resources to it.

<br><br> <b>LIKED</b>: The versatility and ease of use<br><br><b>QUALITY</b>: Excellent<br><br><b>VALUE</b>: Very Satisfied<br>



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Bleeding Edge #1: Mansion of Shadows
Publisher: Green Ronin
by J. T. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 08/14/2006 00:00:00

I recently ran this module, and I highly recommend it. It provided a great balance of role playing, problem-solving, combat, and sheer terror -- my players had a blast, and so did I. I'll be running this one again in the future for other groups.

My only quibble is that all of the NPCs given were statted for first level players. The module gives directions for scaling up, but I'd have been even happier with the product if alternate stats were provided for higher levels.<br><br><b>QUALITY</b>: Excellent<br><br><b>VALUE</b>: Very Satisfied<br>



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Bleeding Edge #1: Mansion of Shadows
Publisher: Green Ronin
by Nathan C. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 06/04/2006 00:00:00

So many adventures assume that the players have the time for it. Meaning that they create such a specific plot, that trying to import it into your current campaign world often comes across as a pointless sidequest, even when you put in your best effort to blend in campaign elements.

The Mansion of Shadows is Green Ronin?s attempt to provide a a flexible adventure that is easy on the DM. And for the most part they succeed. The adventure is a multipath adventure of intrigue and action. If your players enjoy a good tale, they will love how a chance encounter in a forest leads to an exciting climatic army vs. army combat.

For the Dungeon Master Both players and DMs will enjoy how well Green Ronin incorporated options for PCs. This is one of the first adventures I have read through that did not feel as if I was playing an 80s computer text game. The options allows your players to feel as if they are running through a home created adventure as opposed to a module. An adventure is always good when the players don?t realize they are being herded along a path.

The only complaint I had with the structure of the adventure is, given the approach that Green Ronin was taken, there may be a bit too much box text.

The Iron DM Though it contains quite a few familiar elements of other adventures, the unique approach provides some refreshing entertainment. With only a minimum amount of work, you can run this game without your players suspecting that its store bought.

Another element you will enjoy is how Green Ronin provides web enhancements and conversion charts to allow you to port this adventure for use in True 20 and the black Company. <br><br> <b>LIKED</b>: I am going to enjoy this Bleeding Edge product line. Green Ronin realizes that DMs want easier to import adventures and they are delivering.<br><br><b>DISLIKED</b>: I hate too much box text and theres a bit too much in this book. With all the box text how am I suppose to keep the illusion that this is one of my adventures...<br><br><b>QUALITY</b>: Very Good<br><br><b>VALUE</b>: Very Satisfied<br>



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Bleeding Edge #1: Mansion of Shadows
Publisher: Green Ronin
by Peter I. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 06/02/2006 00:00:00

Bleeding Edge #1: Mansion of Shadows is a 49 page d20 pdf adventure and the first in Green Ronin's new Bleeding Edge line of adventures. The Bleeding Edge line of adventures is designed for the modern player, and aims to offer good story, flexibility, self-contained scenarios and easy drop-and-play material for any campaign setting. Mansion of Shadows is Green Ronin's first d20 adventure since the last of the Freeport Trilogy. Judging by this adventure, it's definitely good to see Green Ronin back, and I'm already looking forward to next installment, Beyond the Towers, coming in the summer.

Mansion of Shadows comes as a single pdf file, fully bookmarked but without a table of contents. The layout and editing is excellent, as are the mechanics and stats, and I dare say even flawless throughout. Artwork is good and there are a good number of pieces included in the product. Maps are very good as well, and clear, and it's easy to find any given location on the map. The maps are logical as well in their detail, and not just random elements thrown together in a nonsensical arrangement.

I really liked the organisation of this pdf and the way it is structured - each chapter provides a clear and logical goal or theme, and multiple sidebars offer useful additional information of the DM, particular with regard to handling various options or events that may not have been foreseen. As such it succeeds admirably at its goals of being both flexible and easy to use in any campaign setting.

From an adventure point of view, Mansion of Shadows delivers exactly what Green Ronin intended - a good story driven plot, lots of excitement, interesting encounters, and enough useful advice and information to run the adventure smoothly. The background story is dark and foreboding, and unlike many adventures, this one actually caters for those cases where the adventurers don't succeed at the adventure. A strong point of this adventure is that it allows for a wide variety of possible scenarios within a strong structural framework, should characters act or react differently than what the main adventure envisages.

To that end there are a number of different ways that this adventure can run, and a number of different ways in which it can end, making for a strong overall gaming experience where the decisions and actions of the players all have consequences that impact the eventual outcome of the adventure. On that same note, while the adventure can be run in different ways, it's possible that the adventure can be run quite quickly as well, all depending on the actions of the players. In that case, characters may miss out on some elements of the plot.

This adventure offers a number of elements that make it good - story and atmosphere, roleplaying opportunities, challenging (and potentially very deadly) encounters, mass combat, and a number of other game elements. The pdf draws from material from a number of other Green Ronin products, including the Book of Fiends and the Advanced Player's Manual, and includes elements from these into the game, such as the mass combat system, the cultist class, various monsters and more. As such it's quite an eclectic adventure for those not familiar with Green Ronin's other products.

The adventure achieves a good balance between roleplaying and combat. However, having said that, this adventure can be very deadly for 1st level adventurers that don't handle the different roleplaying or combat encounters carefully. The PCs are pitted against a number of strong and deadly villains in a short space of time, and will need to act carefully if they are to survive. Certain scenarios can be very deadly, and it's unlikely that the PCs can handle everything thrown at them by taking a heavy handed approach. This adventure requires craftiness and skill in the presence of very real and dangerous threats.

And speaking of threats, the adventure provides a number of different avenues for the PCs to learn of the nature of the threats and the villains they face. Perhaps not everything included in say, the DMs background, but as the adventure progresses the characters will learn in stages what is going on and what their involvement may be, should they choose it. Should they not, the entire area in which the adventure is situation is fully detailed as well, from locations to weather, making the surrounding areas useful as a seed for other adventures.

The adventure is divided into five chapters - each containing a certain section or element of the overall adventure. Depending on how the adventure runs, players may be required to run through some or all of the sections of the adventure. However they do it, it will make for an interesting and tough game. The two appendices provide all the stat blocks, largely due to the non-linear nature of the adventure making it impractical to constrain the stat blocks of active and moving villains to one area. In addition to all the stat blocks, the pdf provides a new template, new feat, as well as pregenerated characters.<br><br> <b>LIKED</b>: Mansion of Shadows is a very good adventure that combines strong elements of story, roleplaying and combat together in a well-structured adventure framework that offers excellent flexibility. The story is challenging and compelling, the roleplaying required skillful and often dangerous, and the combat sufficient but potentially deadly. I think this is a very good start to the Bleeding Edge line, and a strong adventure.<br><br><b>DISLIKED</b>: Perhaps not an adventure for inexperienced players or even DMs may not be able to cope with complex personalities and interactions, but that's more a comment than a negative. The adventure can be played through very quickly, perhaps ending in a less than satisfying experience for players since unless they are pro-active, they may not enjoy the adventure as much as it can be enjoyed. This is very much a player driven game within a DM driven framework, and the two need to work together to get the most enjoyment. The combat encounters can be very difficult, particularly the final encounter, and given that it may not be their first encounter for the day, it can be deadly.<br><br><b>QUALITY</b>: Very Good<br><br><b>VALUE</b>: Very Satisfied<br>



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Bleeding Edge #1: Mansion of Shadows
Publisher: Green Ronin
by Andrew B. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 05/31/2006 00:00:00

I have a lot of adventures sitting on my gaming shelf, gathering dust. Some I?ve run, others I intend to run, and others will probably never see any use at all. The problem with adventures is, unlike rules supplements, you really can?t use them for much other than, well, running an adventure.

It?s for this reason that I love the PDF medium. I can store an awful lot of PDF adventures on a CD or hard drive, where they can then sit nearly invisible until I need them. When I?m ready to run the adventure, I print everything off, make notes in the margins, highlight important stats, and otherwise deface the adventure in ways I?d never dream of with a traditional book.

Mansion of Shadows marks Green Ronin?s return to d20 adventure publishing. This book is the first in their Bleeding Edge line, which has the stated goal of providing adventures with good story, ease of use, compelling encounters, and modern design. That?s a pretty tall order to fill, but Mansion of Shadows lives up to expectations.

The adventure itself is well designed. The author does a good job leading the PCs along the necessary path while still giving them choices (or, occasionally, the illusion of choices.) There are a number of helpful sidebars (cleverly labeled ?Off the Rails?) that give advice on how to keep the adventure moving in the right direction. I thought these were a nice touch, and I appreciated the insight they gave into the design and flow of the adventure.

Reading through this book, it?s clear that the author is trying to be as helpful as possible to the DM. In addition to the ?Off the Rails? sections, there are sidebars giving advice on tactics, notes on roleplaying and running various scenes, and other considerations. This sort of help, well not always needed in a well-written adventure, is certainly welcome when things don?t go as planned.

One of Mansion of Shadow?s strengths is the way it handles roleplaying scenes. For most NPC dialogue, the authors wisely avoid long-winded boxed text. Instead, the adventure describes the relevant NPC?s attitude and motivations, and then summarizes the key points he / or she is supposed to get across to the PCs. The DM is then free to roleplay and embellish as much as he and his group want. This furthers the story while leaving the level of roleplay firmly in the hands of the DM, where it belongs.

The plot of the adventure is clever, and at times rather dark. I liked the backstory, and the events are concluded in an exciting way that either wraps things up completely or leaves them wide open for future adventures, depending on the DM?s discretion. There were, however, a few plot points that didn?t quite flow as well as the rest of the adventure. For example, the dinner scene leaves things completely in the hands of the PCs, and it?s hard to predict how they?ll react. To his credit, the author realizes this, and gives plenty of advice for keeping things on track.

The problem, though, is that the NPCs in this scene are all horrifically and obviously evil, but in order to keep things from devolving into a bloodbath, the DM must play them as somewhat subtle. It?s not a difficult thing to do, but successfully running this scene involves downplaying the NPC descriptions in the book?which is a counterproductive design.

Another scene that might prove troublesome involves a potential combat with a mob of some 200 angry villagers. While most of the adventure is heavy with advice, we?re basically left on our own at this potentially game stopping moment. The presented solution is to run the combat using rules from Green Ronin?s Advanced Player?s Guide. If you don?t have that book, the author recommends running the battle as a narrative (i.e. just make stuff up) or running a small representative battle between the PCs and a smaller force. I think the latter of the these two options is the best, but I?d prefer that the book detail this representative battle for us, rather than just list some suggestions and leave the work up to the DM.

As something of an added bonus, Mansion of Shadows gives a lot of background information on the adventure?s setting. There is quite a bit of detail here, and an industrious DM could expand on it to run a number of adventures in and around the Kirsvald region. I was also pleased to see the inclusion of pregenerated PCs, something that makes even more sense in an adventure geared toward 1st ? 3rd level characters.

Also, a handful of rules that first appeared in other products play a part in the adventure. I thought these were well used, and it?s always nice to see an adventure utilize resources from the greater d20 community.<br><br> <b>LIKED</b>: Mansion of Shadows is a really good product. In some ways, it?s greater than the sum of its parts. There?s something about the way its written that makes it self-contained and very open-ended at the same time. Reading through it, I found myself planning for a ?Return to?? style adventure that could easily follow later in the campaign. There is lot of good information here, and the Bleeding Edge line promises good things for the d20 adventure market. I?ll be adding Mansion of Shadows to the ?plan to run? section of my bookshelf?er, hard drive.<br><br><b>DISLIKED</b>: The plot sequence was at times spotty, especially during the mass combat scene. I also found some of the darker elements of the plot a bit clich?d. Evil can walk a fine line between disturbing and cheesy, and I think that a few of the villains came close to being caricatures.

I also worry that the PCs might not get the opportunity to learn a lot of the background behind the Mansion and its dark inhabitants. As the DM, I was treated to the whole story, and I want my players to experience that as well. The way the adventure is written, it really falls on the players themselves to take the initiative to learn and explore. If they don?t, I think they?ll miss out on some the things that make this adventure so good.<br><br><b>QUALITY</b>: Very Good<br><br><b>VALUE</b>: Very Satisfied<br>



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
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