The Weeping Land: A 96 page booklet detailing the castle and the land
David "Jester" Gibson
In the original Black Box several Darklords got shafted for details.There was simply nothing written about them in the book or on any of theassociated material such as the Cards. Darklords like Sir TristenHiregaard or Duke Gundar were only given the briefest of descriptions andno stats. Others, like the lord of the tiny domain of Forlorn, were noteven given that much. Not even a name. And so it was, the third oldestdomain in the Core and the master of the land was a mystery. Until the Castle Forlorn boxed set.
Included in this 2nd Edition box are two poster maps, one adouble-sided, and three separate source books. The first book, TheWeeping Land, details the domain, Darklord, and the Castle Forlornitself. The second book is Eve of Sorrows, which is filled withmysteries, suggestions on running both the NPCs and the adventure, as wellas further information on the Castle. The final book is MelancholyMeetings that contains the various encounters of the adventure.
Judging the quality of adventures is a hard task, and reviewing themeven harder, as so much of the adventure depends on how it is played andhow well it runs. That is very heavily dependent on the players and theDungeon Master, either can easily make or break an adventure.Additionally, there is the usefulness of the adventure to people who willnot run the module for whatever reason to take into consideration. Afterall, half the point of adventures is to describe the land and detailenvironments that would not normally be featured in a Campaign Setting.
In the first respect Castle Forlorn comes off as a beast to run.The story is all but non-existent and the adventure is arranged in afree-form non-linear style. Adding to this is the Castle itself that isfull of challenging creatures and is randomly shifting through time. Thereis no set goal or task to accomplish although a couple are suggested.Running this boxed set seems like a daunting experience requiring muchbooking as to where (and when) players have been and what they have done.
Instead of a strict plot certain locations have associated events, some of which lead into others. An encounter near the lake may lead the players to another location elsewhere in the domain. The freedom is also nice as it allows the Dungeon Master to customize the motivations and allow the players to roam without being herded along a plot like cattle in armour and robes. It is nice when an adventure changes a domain or a Darklord as the players might feel they have shaped the demiplane or made a difference in some small way, but players seldom react as expected. Not every adventure can be an epic tale that reshapes and alters the landscape but some hard change would be nice.
Personally, the adventure screamed out for me to run, as it seemed like a lot of work but a lot of fun. The time travel element, while possibly troublesome and hard to manage, is such an interesting idea. So many of the castle’s mysteries and secrets depend on wandering though the various time periods and the dual nature of the lord makes for an evil surprise for the players. Watching my group flounder along or bounce between eras just seems like a laugh and it would probably be fun for them.
The majority of Castle Forlorn is really just a detail description of the land, the inhabitants, the castle and the history. The Weeping Land book is second only to the Ravenloft Gazetteer I for information and description of Forlorn, and much of what was written there was taken from this book. Additionally this book contains full and complete details on the Castle and is indispensable for anyone thinking of sending their players to face the Lord. This set is simply the definitive Forlorn in everything but game mechanics, and most of the monsters and situations can be easily updated. All the creatures featured, including Aggie, have been published in 3E. The ghosts would be significantly harder and time consuming to convert but far from impossible.
Outdated but still interesting. While not as fun a read as the Gazetteers or VanRichten’s Guides, the Castle Forlorn boxes set is a must have for anyone thinking of sending their players to Forlorn for a length of time. This product squeezed a surprising level of detail out of a tiny almost uninhabited domain and set my bar higher for judging the content of future adventures. But this is not for those who want to simply pick up a module and send their players through a story, thinking and planning are required.
Until next time, Four severed digits out of Five
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