Treat Ye’self: Trouble at Tresendar ManorDecember 14, 2018 Off By TK
Welcome back, adventurer! Last week we began a month long series called Treat Ye’self, reviewing independently produced supplements and adventures for Game Masters, starting with A GM’s Tarot Guide by Allie Bustion. This week, we’re investigating the disappearance of a construction crew in the ruins of Tresendar Manor with Kat Kruger and the D20 Dames.
So park your van on the curb and grab a flickering torch. Let’s solve a mystery! (Beware that SPOILERS abound below this line!)
The author’s notes state that this is a 1st level mini-adventure, set in the town of Phandalin (of Dungeons & Dragons Starter Set fame). Your intrepid party of adventurers have already dispatched the bandits and cleared out the Tresendar Manor crypts, and now they are being recruited to rescue members of the Banik Brothers’ Construction Company. It turns out kobolds were behind it the entire time and all of it was fueled by the greed of a half-orc merchant with a royal ancestry! Jinkies!
Right from the first glance at the cover by Jen Vaughn, I abandoned all expectations that this would be a typical mystery. The art is awash with warm, vibrant pinks, oranges, and purples—a typical moody whodunit, this is not. It evokes a very “groovy” Scooby Doo aesthetic that foreshadows the content of the adventure.
The layout is clean and professional, with roleplay guides provided for NPCs such as Sildar Hallwinter and Olf Undercroft. The reward offered for rescuing the gnomish construction workers is 50 gold per rescued gnome brother (five in total)—perfectly reasonable for a group of level 1 adventurers and will put them well on their way to purchasing their first sets of magical items or armor.
The manor itself includes a standard 5×5 square map, handdrawn by Meris Mullaley. It follows the whimsical, cartoonish style of the cover and stays on theme, complete with crypt and multiple hidden entrances that open up half of the level. There are many opportunities to search for loot and take treasure from enemies, including a replica of a legendary weapon and kits for alchemy and poison.
The traps provided are designed to slow adventurers. Some of them, such as the net trap that has been laced with poison, add additional complications that may hurt the adventurers without killing them outright (the poison is only 1d4 damage with a low DC of 10), a reminder that they are in dangerous enemy territory without unnecessarily punishing them for progress.
At the end of the journey, the party meets Olf Undercroft, a half-orc descendant of Uruth Ukrypt, who tore through Phandalin centuries previous. A ruthless bandit and merchant, Olf hired the kobolds that run rampant throughout the manor and kidnap the hapless gnomes. After the encounter, there are options to take him prisoner for a trial.
It is a short adventure, with narrative and encounters weighing in at roughly 7 pages. There is no art for the NPCs to pad out the packet, allowing the Dungeon Masters to shape their appearances as they desire and keeping printed pages to a minimum with only the necessary details, perfect for beginning Dungeon Masters who may feel overwhelmed with too many pages.
This was a fun romp for level 1 adventurers that could be easily calibrated to fit higher levels (perhaps up to 4 or 5). The theme was delightfully reminiscent of Scooby Doo, which was visible and coherent throughout the entirety of the quest, including the art. I loved that the packet is concise and succinct in its presentation and delivery, and that the adventure is one that can be summed up in just a few sentences, yet has enormous potential for building into a larger story.
If there were any complaint on my part, it would be that the villain is not terribly memorable compared to the zany kobold inventor, Sniv, and her terrifying Scorpion on a Stick! A lot about Olf is left up to the Dungeon Master’s discretion, which can feel a bit anticlimactic. My advice to newer DMs running this: don’t make Olf an optional topic of conversation. He needs to feature into the story early, so even if he doesn’t come up while speaking to Sildar, slip his name into some gossip around town. It’ll reduce the “who is that guy” factor and bring the Scooby Doo theme full circle!
My favorite part is that the adventure can be resolved without outright killing the villain and his servants—a rare treat in fantasy content! Pick up “Touble at Tresendar Manor” on DMs Guild here. It was well worth the purchase and, if this review doesn’t sway you, you can listen to the D20 Dames play through it and add their own twists!
That’s all for this week, adventurers! Next time, we’ll be continuing Treat Ye’self and taking a look at an adventure specifically for kids by Christopher Walz and illustrated by Emmet Byrne, the highly lauded “An Ogre and His Cake”.
About The Author
TK is a speculative fiction writer and part-time eldritch horror. They can be found as a cast member of The Demonplague, Unearthly Twilights, The Land Between Two Rivers, and Hell’s Belles on the Don’t Split the Podcast, WebDM, and Dungeons & Dragons networks, respectively. Their gothic and cosmic horror stories can be found at tkjwrites.com and very soon in print in a collaborative set of short stories and comics with artist Kayla Cline. TK themself can be found on Twitter @tkjoinsthefray.