Martin’s Fortune is a short horror quest for 2nd level characters. The module was published on DriveThruRPG by Adventurer’s Inn. The 14 page pdf consists of a front and back cover, a full art page, an OGL page, a page of handouts, a page of NPC stats, and 8 pages of adventure. The module can be bought with the Pay what you want formula, so you can check it out for free, and if you like it, return to purchase it.
There are three pieces of art in the module, 2 of them are character portraits which take up about 1/4th of a page while the other piece is a full page depiction of Lord Stieber in his tomb.
The art are black and white pencil sketches that are really nicely done. Especially the full page depiction of Lord Stieber will give the characters pause and might make them reconsider entering that tomb chamber. I would definitely recommend showing the players that art when they peer through the cell door into Lord Stieber’s room.
Not much to say here besides no maps are provided in this module. While the tomb/prison location is simple enough and you can quickly sketch it out based on the descriptions given in the text, I prefer the least amount of preparation time and would really like to have this provided in any module. During gameplay we ran into an issue with my sketch which I’ll address in the GM preparation section.
Look & Feel
The pdf in itself looks professional. The creators have decided to forego cover artwork for a more standardized look for all their modules. Both front and back page have been given a weathered look with the image of hinges and a lock on the cover. The cover page also clearly indicates that it’s a D&D 5E adventure module for low level play.
The pdf uses a 2-column layout with an illustrated letter starting off the main sections. The background is a very light gray with a texture that gives the impression that the text has been printed on thick paper.
If I have to nitpick something, there’s a strange ‘crease’ on the title page that interrupts the blood flowing from the letters. This same crease can be found above the page number banners. This is present in their other pdf modules as well so I’m guessing it’s there for a reason, just not sure what that is.
The module could really use another edit. I’m not a native English speaker but I could easily find typo’s and some odd sentence constructions.
Another thing I noticed is that at a certain point in the adventure, the creators talk about “taking 20” as an option which to my knowledge is not a D&D 5E mechanic.
There’s also a section that reads “Strength score of at least 16 is needed to open the door by a pull, any aid from the party is allowed if the requirement is not met.” I found this a bit odd as none of my player’s characters have a Strength score of 16. It also doesn’t really explain how any aid from the party would work mechanically in that case. I turned it into a Strength ability roll with DC 16 and used the advantage rule for aid. That made more sense to me but I feel an inexperienced GM might find this a bit confusing.
Martin’s Fortune Story
The party is hired by Martin Wesley, a merchant’s son, who has inherited the key to the tomb of Lord Amren Stieber and needs some muscle during his attempt to loot the tomb. Martin is a descendant of one of Lord Stieber’s servants and was given research into the Stieber family by his grandfather.
Lord Stieber faced a rebellion of the common folk, and tried to trick their leaders into signing a peace treaty. Unfortunately he was betrayed by some of his servants and ended up with his family and some soldiers in the prison he had built for the rebellion leaders.
It is very possible that the players don’t find out about all this backstory. Unless the players somehow talk/intimidate this out of Martin, they won’t know about the Lord’s history as Martin chooses not to reveal any of this information. The handouts are nice but even they don’t give the complete backstory. While I don’t feel it’s always necessary for players to understand everything about every story, especially in a campaign where unknown information could result in future plothooks. But if you run this adventure as a one-off, it would be advisable to have Martin be a bit more forthcoming with his knowledge.
This adventure module can be very atmospheric if you want and the creators provide quite a lot of suggestions on how to do that. I would suggest that you focus on a number of encounters (investigating the tower, Agin turning, finding the dead wolf and diseased undead, investigating the prison/finding Lord Stieber) and really ramp up the tension during those.
As the GM you might want to keep a number of things in mind if you plan to run Martin’s Fortune:
- As there’s no map provided, it would be useful to sketch one, even if you don’t use miniatures for play. Or you can simply use the one I provided in this review.
- You might want to have something prepared in case the players decide to transport the wounded Agin to a nearby village. This happened in the game I ran when the party determined that an untreated Agin wouldn’t make it to the next morning. This can provide some great moments when the players assume the adventure is over, return to the village, and find out that Agin has turned the priest that was taking care of him, and a number of other villagers into Diseased Undead as well. If they don’t return to the village, they can hear about some kind of undead outbreak a few days later and it could turn into another adventure.
- As mentioned in the story section, you might want Martin to be a bit more forthcoming with his history as there’s a chance the players may not learn anything about the backstory. My players didn’t dig into Martin’s story too much and at the end of the adventure didn’t really have a clue about the whole backstory.
- After reading the adventure, try to visualize a number of scenes in the story in which you can really add the horror elements. Then work towards those scenes by building up the tension slowly.
- The room descriptions talk about a few metal pipes in the ceiling. As the GM you need to decide if the prison part is located underneath the hunting lodge, or underground but not underneath the hunting lodge. This will be important when players investigate these pipes thinking it to be a trap. If the prison is beneath the hunting lodge, these pipes need to end up somewhere. I hadn’t taken that into account so I had to improvise when my players started investigating the pipes.
- If the players find out about the backstory somehow, be prepared to answer questions like:
- Why did nobody go looking for the Lord? Wouldn’t the king be interested in his disappearance? Or why did the rebels not use the fact that they imprisoned the Lord as a bargaining chip? They just lock him up, use his castle, and never look back or visit?
- How can the Lord kill a servant and not have that immediately noticed? There’s only a few rooms and only a few people in those few rooms. Yet everyone is happy about the meat that suddenly turned up? It’s very unlikely though that the players will figure out that part of the backstory (even with the handouts).
- How is all this linked to the wolves or the strange disease that turned Agin into an undead?
- If the Lord can somehow escape his cell (which I assume was locked), why can’t he also escape the dungeon?
Purchase Martin’s Fortune
Due to the Pay what you want formula, definitely download Martin’s Fortune and give it a read. You can always come back and support the creators with a purchase if you like the module.
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