Halls of the Blood King
By Diogo Nogueira
With the rising of the Blood Moon, the accursed abode of the Blood King returns to this world. The lord of all vampires comes to claim the blood that is owed to him. His halls contain treasures and secrets that would make any ambitious adventurer abandon reason and caution to seek them out. Will you risk your soul for gold and glory in the Halls of the Blood King?
With OSE releasing all of its adventures today from the latest Kickstarter, I figured I would go ahead and start reviewing them and seeing if they are worth the purchase.
This adventure is a bit different from what I have seen so far from Old School Essentials. Halls of the Blood King is certainly not a “boot-it and loot-it” adventure. This adventure is a bit more subtle if you want to get everything out of it. This adventure will require the players to use their heads, sneak, and parley if they do not want to get slaughtered. I feel this has a lot of the great things about good Lamentations of the Flame Princess modules, without a lot of the troubling things that can sometimes appear in them. Overall, I like the adventure and it is well thought out and put together, but what were you expecting from OSE?
Halls of the Blood King is made for adventurers of 3rd – 5th level (though if the party is smaller you might be able to get away with slightly higher) in which they are venturing forth into the manor house of the Blood King. Who exactly is the Blood King? He is the first vampire ever that all other vampires come from. His manor house hops from dimension to dimension where he can inspect the local vampires and collect his blood tax. The book gives several quite dissimilar hooks to get the PCs involved in this plot, which is nice so that you can tailor it to your setting. Once on the grounds of the manor the PCs are thrust into a strange world with different factions vying for different goals. Most of the NPCs are in fact vampires and unless the party comes quite prepared to deal with them subterfuge and parley are the ways to go. The scenario also has a built-in time limit too because the manor house is continuing to hop from location to location and the PCs most likely do not want to get caught inside. This also means the party cannot take extended time or rest to recover spells, once they head inside, they basically have what they have.
The adventure is leaning a bit more towards the gonzo side as opposed to the classic medieval fantasy tropes. The setting reminds me more of the French Sun King’s court, then something out of Arthurian lore. The various vampires vary quite a bit in style and substance. These are not all your dark, brooding Vampire Hunter D clones, but one is a pile of red gel with eyeballs floating about. This might be amazing or terrible depending on your taste. The one thing I can say is the environment is evocative and never dull.
As for the book itself (I am reviewing the PDF) the layout is everything you expect from OSE. The layout is concise, yet detailed. The different locations on the make highlight the important descriptors of each location. There is a lovely map of the manor house and mini-maps are provided throughout highlighting the areas in which the players currently are exploring. The PDF comes with a Virtual Table Top map for use with the various VTT programs available nowadays. This is a nice little bonus that more companies need to include. The art in the book is amazing and strikingly different from much of the OSE materials thus far. There is something with the color pallet choice that seems both alluring, yet off in some way. I will provide some examples throughout this article.
This module is for the DM that wants something a bit different than the standard dungeon crawl. It can be easily slid into any campaign and the good thing is that it can exit just as easily. I think there will be a lot of newer DMs that really dig how different this journey can be and how nicely the book creates a mood. The adventure is designed for Old School Essentials, but can work with any OSR/D&D like game.
You should check this out if you have not already.
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