The Golden Banner
By Thilo Graf
This adventure from Sneak Attack Press is 23 pages long, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 1 page advertisements and 1 page SRD, leaving 19 pages of content, so let’s check out this latest adventure by Sneak Attack press!
This being an adventure review, the following text contains SPOILERS. Potential players might want to jump to the conclusion.
The Golden banner is an urban investigation adventure set in a rather generic city and is thus easy to insert into a given campaign: The basic storyline is that once upon a time, a relic, the Golden Banner, was key in defending against a humanoid invasion. The banner was the key symbol for the 3 dominant religions involved in repulsing the invasion and was subsequently lost. The faiths were a good sun-goddess, a neutral god of war and a rather lawful evil entity called the Tyrant. A new age has begun and the banner was lost for quite some time, the Tyrants has been mostly eliminated from official history. However, his faithful haven’t forgotten and thus, bad omens accompany the resurfaced banner. Now in the hand of a rich philanthrope, he plans to bequeath the artefact to one of the two beliefs that lay claim to it, while the Tyrant’s followers want the banner and are willing to go to almost any lengths to realize their "rightful" claim to the relic.
Anticipating trouble, the rich man hires the PCs to uncover any conspiracies and defend the banner from any who would steal it. The problem is: The banquet is scheduled for the evening and time’s ticking. The list of retainers, priests and high-society people is long and the PCs might have to split to get their legwork done in time. Each of the character write-ups is located in one of three districts and tracking the time it takes to go from a) to b) as well as waiting for receptions will be essential and necessitate smart planning. Add to that a strike-force of Tyrant-worshippers and the PCs have a lot to uncover: From hallucinogenic mushrooms in the pheasant (the cook is being blackmailed), noble-born tyrant-sympathizers and the wall of silence around the involvement of the Tyrant in the banner’s history (and thus the identity of the assailants) make for a lot off juicy bits of information to uncover, which may actually lead the PCs to the hidden temple of the tyrant, which along-side the dinner itself, might constitute the climax of this investigation.
My only gripe with the adventure is the wimpy nature of the antagonists, who can’t hold a torch to lvl 6-7 PCs and the fact that the named NPC-foes are mechanically rather on the boring side.
Editing and formatting are ok, I noticed for example the amount of levels missing from some statblocks and other minor punctuation glitches. Layout adheres to a printer-friendly 2-column b/w-standard, the artwork is stock and the maps provided for all combat encounters are not pretty, but do their job. The pdf comes without bookmarks, but features two handouts -neat. The investigation per se is open-ended, PCs have multiple ways and degrees of success and the story per se and its presentation is concise and well-written. In fact, this adventure is a very good example of how I tend to run my less complicated investigations and features ideas galore and some intriguing detective work without slacking the pace and action-aspects too much.
If the glitches were not there, I’d gladly go full out on this cheap, well-written little adventure. Seeing, though, how crunch-wise the enemies are rather bland and taking into account the lack of bookmarks, I’ll settle for a final verdict of 4 stars instead. With a hearty recommendation to all of you out there: Add some cooler villains and you have a neat go-play investigation for a very low price.
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