Friday, April 14, 2023

More like Night of Dud, am I Right Fellas?

Classic? More like ass-ic... I'm sorry everyone

.About a year ago I decided I wanted to give the game Warlock! a go, because it seemed to combine my love of rules light systems with something very much like WFRP. I like WFRP a whole lot and even once ran the Nightwick Regulars through it for a while, but ultimately we decided the combat got to long for a game that mostly took place in a megadungeon full of mindless freaks that want to kill you. After reading up on Warlock!, I thought maybe it would be a system I could use for the World of Nightwick that wouldn't give me the same kind of headache.

I first tried running a Zzarchov dungeon I had played in before and remembered enjoying, but it turns out taking a dungeon meant for a system you've never run before and trying to run it with a different system you've never run before is too many variables. So I switched gears and decided to run the "classic" Warhammer adventure, Night of Blood. Warlock! played its part amiably, but the scenario less so.

Having run it, I am convinced that Night of Blood is a classic mostly because of the amazing Russ Nicholson art in the original. Admittedly, it could be the atmosphere of the adventure, which seems very good but is ultimately marred by the structural problems of the thing.

Night of Blood sees the characters travelling through the forests of the Empire on a dark and stormy night. I said it was Walpurgisnacht because A) it actually was Walpurgisnacht when I ran it* and B) While I know there is an Old World equivalent, I wanted to possibly say later the adventure had taken place in the World of Nightwick. The first encounter is possibly with a group of beastmen - which exist in some form in both the Old World and Nightwick - but it's also where the first problem is. The encounter only occurs if the players decide to stop when they hear the sounds of hunting beastmen. 

As it exists, the beastmen hunt is merely a trap for idiots. Which I guess is fine, but it's a lot of detail for something most groups I've played with would respond to with "ok we keep going." Other options include having the beastmen set up an ambush, which works especially well if the characters are in a coach or on a riverboat, but there's also not really a reason in the scenario to have it. Except to kill idiots.

This summarizes the entire problem with the adventure: it is written as though the characters will make the stupidest possible decision at every point. The characters will eventually arrive at a coaching inn where mutants have slain some of the guests and the proprietor and are preparing the rest for a summoning ritual. They are, in the meantime, poorly pretending to be the proprietor and guests. The adventure emphasizes at various points that these men are acting very suspicious, and that's all well and good. I do this kind of thing all the time. In fact, I have run several adventures where I lampshade the fact that the PCs are in this kind of horror movie situation and they know the guys are acting suspicious and the guys know they know but keep acting that way anyway out of decorum.

The problem is that the adventure then proceeds to describe what happens when they eat drugged food. Why any PC would eat the drugged food in this case is beyond me, assuming the GM has been following the instructions on how to run the NPCs. A smart party would know to fake eating it or some other action in order not to get drugged.

Now if the module provided anything to facilitate that kind of player action, this post wouldn't exist - or rather it might exist as "hey this adventure Night of Blood is really good you should play it. Great atmosphere!" But the amount of words spent describing the players getting drugged and then awakening as the cultists successfully summon the demon is very lengthy, and the part where they describe what the players can do to avoid this fate and how to make that an interesting session rather than just "they don't eat the food and try to leave" is nonexistent.

Admittedly my session wasn't boring, but everything I did was just my interpreting from the initial setup of the Hooded Man inn. I ended up relying on about 3 pages of a 9 page adventure. It's a neat setup, but the assumption about player activity means there's no actual guidance for what any players with two brain cells to rub together are going to actually do.

*I want to make this a yearly thing, and my preparing to run a game on this year's Walpurgisnacht is what reminded me of how mad I am at this adventure.


  1. Sounds bad and kind of railroady as well.

  2. I played it at GenghisCon here in Denver a few months back. Had never heard of it. Dude was running with with SotDL system. Was definitely railroad-et but fun enough for a Con adventure.