Hello everyone, welcome.
Last week I posted letting people know that I would be doing my bit to support community content in the gaming industry, in this specific case in the RPG part of the gaming industry, by doing reviews of community created content from the Storytellers Vault. The Curse Pole by Joshua Heath of High Level Games is the first such review. This review also contains an affiliate link, which means if you like the look of Joshua’s content and purchase it after following this link, I gain a small commission.
The Curse Pole is labelled as a one page Jumpstart Adventure for Vampire: The Dark Ages. The plot contained within the Jumpstart is quite straightforward. An elaborate Fairy Ring has appeared in the Domain of the local Vampire Lord, and (S)he needs someone to find out what it means and who put it there.
And that is it. Like I said, quite straightforward. I will now go ahead with my review, which I will try to do spoiler free, however please consider it is quite a short document and that has made review whilst staying spoiler free a bit more challenging than I was expecting.
This supplement has a number of Character Backgrounds and histories for the main NPCs of this adventure. However, it keeps them fairly general without naming them or giving too much away. It is also deliberately vague about certain plot elements of this adventure, which may put some folk off admittedly but is done with purpose that I shall elaborate on.
This adventure is intended to be usable in virtually any Vampire: The Dark Ages chronicle. Having read through, and then thought about how I would start a chronicle in the Dark Ages setting, I can see how I would easily fold this adventure into the ongoing plot. The NPCs can easily be added to just about any adventure, and if the Prince doesn’t quite fit then perhaps one of the court elders does?
The Good Stuff
This supplement was well presented and if it didn’t have Storytellers Vault on it, could probably pass muster as canonical content.
The plot surrounding, and the description of the Fairy Ring was really awesome.
The NPC Tzimisce Priestess had a very interesting creation and background story (though part of the description of her sire’s actions felt wrong to me – Tzimisce are horrendous creatures, usually, but they have some rules they don’t break and he did. It felt wrong. And it felt a bit unnecessary – the same effect could probably have been achieved by other means.)
This adventure can easily be incorporated into any chronicle with a bit of legwork by the Storyteller.
It is very cheap
The Stuff you need to decide for yourself
There were a couple of Tremere NPCs in this chronicle whose identity felt really vague. At least as individuals. I realise this is so a Storyteller can flesh them out to accommodate players, however the Tzimisce, whilst also fairly basic, felt more like a full character that could be adjusted to accommodate players.
The Prince felt a little bit under-powered (though you could always say that is a result of the Curse Pole…)
The Prince had a very interesting encounter in his mortal life that a Storyteller can do a lot with, but not without purchasing rule books for other Games in the World of Darkness (In this case, Changeling).
The Curse Pole is labelled as Jumpstart. When I recently reviewed Legacy of Lies I stated my opinion that the layout was quite difficult for an inexperienced storyteller, as it was quite vague too. I did suggest that this isn’t necessarily a bad thing as it allows the Storyteller agency over the story, but I did comment that I didn’t feel it was right to call it a Jumpstart – In my mind a Jumpstart adventure is ready to play without intervention. As with Legacy of Lies, The Curse Pole requires intervention. I don’t feel it is a jumpstart adventure, so much as it is a plop and play for a storyteller who has at least a few games under their belt. I don’t think that is a bad thing, but I do think it is a thing that you should be aware.
I am not currently running a Dark Ages game, but in the future I intend to and I will include this as I thought the idea was really good. I can easily flesh out the NPC Templates supplied to characters that make sense in my setting, and I think the players will have fun. Don’t go to this as your first adventure. Create your domain and your characters, keeping this in mind, run your own story start and then plop this plot in front of the players. I can think of numerous ways to get players involved, and once you’ve got your group established, I’m sure you can too. The Curse Pole is available on the Storytellers Vault by clicking the following link.