Game: The Gryphon’s Legacy
Publisher: Gaslight Press
Series: Sun and Scale: d20
Review Dated: 14th, January 2002
Reviewer’s Rating: 6/10 [ On the ball ]
Total Score: 6
Average Score: 6.00
The Gryphon’s Legacy is a mixed bag of bones. Gryphon’s an old spelling on Griffon apparently, well, duh. Gryphon’s Legacy is an adventure for beginning level characters but I would hesitate to recommend it to a fledgling Dungeon Master, there are a lot of places where the heroes could find themselves in deadly trouble and even more places where the re-occurring villains could be thwarted before they’ve had the chance to re-occur.
There are lots of good things to say about the adventure too but I would assume the risk of spoiler information from this point on.
Gryphon’s Legacy is the introductory adventure to Gasslight Press’ Sun & Scale campaign world. The scenario begins with a little history of the Sun Empire and I was reaching for my copy of Oriental Adventures straight away. There’s nothing wrong with that, though. If you, like me, have yet to find much time for the Legend of the Five Rings but you do have the urge to try something Oriental then Sun & Scale could very well be a plausible solution. The background and empire building premise of the game world did tempt me and I think campaigns like that have a better natural flow to high level characters (if you want to go there) than many other styles. I think the introduction is the best bit of the book, they do everything right. You’re told in no uncertain terms what the premise of the campaign is (reclaiming long lost lands) and I wish more games did that. You’re given a calendar, a set of coins and a quick synopsis of important deities… even though not all the deities happen to have a temple in the adventure.
Unfortunately the game then moves on to the standard scenario template of hobgoblin raiders who are have holed themselves away in a castle. Your band of heroes can encounter the hobgoblin boss within just a few acts where, if your players decide to fight, they’ll get minced. If the heroes don’t fight then a number of the defenceless villagers will get slaughtered, so there’s no auspicious start for the players. Although the concept of hobgoblins in a castle fails to win any points on originality the “Ghost Rider” twist is certainly something that the GM can push, it could be easy enough to convince your players (even experienced ones) that the raiders are more than just hobgoblins. In fact, the discovery that the raiders aren’t some horrid new undead could be one of the important “small victories” for the heroes at the start of the adventure.
The game works because the added Necromancer is more than just the token wizardry opponent. It was inevitable in a game with focus on crumbled empires that necromancers would be used, in Gryphon’s Legacy the character is introduced professionally and is the main link to Gasslight Press’ next scenario The Zombie Wood. The problem, as with the first appearance of the Hobgoblin boss, is that sly players might manage to kill her off. That will leave you to try and deal with the damage and I’m certain it’ll cause problems for the The Zombie Wood. The adventure text comes up with suggestions as to how to keep the necromancer alive during the initial encounters but for an introductory game I think it should have spent more time detailing possible changes to locations and future scenes should she die.
One of the supposed selling points of the adventure is the “Living Castle”. The living castle isn’t any new monster but the term used to describe a castle in which bad guys wander around in side it. The patrol of hobgoblins that watches the west tower during the morning might have moved to the east tower for the afternoon. That’s it. That’s all. I find it a far from ground breaking idea but I suppose it might be something that a newbie GM might not clue into without the nudge an Gryphon’s Legacy comes up with a fairly easy way to deal with it. I don’t really think the system is anything to brag about though. It is strange; the adventure has better success in dynamism in more subtle areas. If the players don’t murder off the dire badgers nested under one of the walls then they’re still around and can become more of a threat later. If they don’t deal correctly with a wounded kobold then he’ll come back with his mates. Each of these two examples are saved for possible future events.
The appendix at the back of the book gives you value for money. Your given the stats for the creatures and some of the NPCs the players might encounter and not just left with their page number reference with the monster manual. The maps in the book are good too, nicely drawn cartographic triumphs and not just print outs of computer rendered efforts. I found that rather too many of the grey background text boxes for sidebar information were just a little too many pages from where I would expect to find them.
My enthusiasm for future Sun and Scale adventures seems to be rather stronger than my enthusiasm for the Gryphon’s Legacy. However, if you’re an experienced GM and are looking for an easy way to terrorise your group of players at the start of your new campaign then I would certainly recommend flicking through the adventure if you can find it in your local store.