Domain of Dread: Graefmotte, The Font of ShadowsFrom Dragon Magazine #375
Author: Robert J. Schwalb
Illustrators: William O'Connor
Summary of content:
Article detailing the Shadowfell Domain of Graefmotte, and its darklord, Lord Durven Graef, a shadow-infused human.
Now unlike Sunderheart, the history of Graefmotte seems more thought-out and less forced, however danger signs appear at the final stage when Lord Durven Graef becomes the darklord. Put simply he just doesnít seem to deserve it. I mean yes, he is a traitor, but one through inaction and refusing the call to arms, and yes he does kill his son, but he does it by a single moment of blind rage in a accident. Iíve seen fan domains get shot to pieces for similar attempts. It just doesnít hold water, especially when he shows genuine remorse and literally tries to kill himself in combat the next night, it just seems wrong.
The next section after the history and the darklord, relates to the fate of Lord Graefís son: the Ghost of Graefmotte, which seems to have a bit of a flaw in it, in that every one knows who he is and that his father murdered him. I mean its hardly something Lord Graef would advertise, especially after he hid the deed from his people.
Next is the monsters that inhabit the land, which include undead Gnolls, cannibals and the undead fragments of an innocent soul. These I will get to later, instead pressing on to the domain itself. Now the domain itself lacks a map so it means that we only have the description to go off of and the picture at the beginning. So we are told that it is a pine wood valley locked on at least three sides by a mountain range called the Gloomcrag. (A horrible name for a mountain range, in any sensible culture. I mean, why not just call it something benign instead and surprise people with its dangers instead?) The forest itself is described as something dark and oppressive with lots of little hints as what to show PC, e.g. bone piles and bones dangling from tree etc.
The description of the actual town is nicely done, but a few flaws spoil it, such as the arbitrary decision that Lord Graef is suddenly a despot. Nowhere before this is it indicated, but suddenly he is. Why? I can only conclude because he is the darklord. Other flaws are the somewhat impractical idea that the villagers would not hunt more in the forest, farm, or have vegetable gardens and some live stock that they breed from. Even Paridon with more people, has managed to survive in such a fashion for longer than this single village without resorting to cannibalism, so the build up of starving people, cannibals and ghouls is really silly and does not real fit with the darklord. I mean, I would more expect extreme violent outbursts or acts of indifference in the face of trouble from the population to match the sins of the darklord rather than starvation and cannibalism.
Rating: 2 Blood Drops out of 5
Overall a slight improvement on the Sunderheart, but several flaws really let it down, and mean that it needs work before using it:
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