*Originally published at the British Fantasy Society
As the sun sets over Thraxford Castle, the population carries on with their lives like nothing is amiss. The only catch is that everyone within a thousand feet of the castle is trapped within the confines of a powerful curse. Not for the faint of heart, Bastard King of Thraxford Castle by Leyline Press, publisher of Shadows of Mogg, is an adventure for mature OSR fans. Players will send their characters into a gruesome castle populated by citizens that appear doomed to die and rise again over and over.
Everything about this quest is saturated with the “old-school” spirit of role playing games. According to the website, the module takes inspiration from real life history, specific modules from D&D, i.e. The Lichway by Albie Fiore, and cult horror films. All of these things permeate the adults only quest from start to finish. Fans of throwback gaming will really appreciate this one and they really nailed the aesthetic and tone.
Unfortunately, the Bastard King appears to still be building the castle, so to speak. It’s missing a bunch of key elements such as a clear objective, rewards, NPC/foe stat block for more than a couple of random encounters, what level is it for, and so on. During the first read-through I’d thought it was a setting to be dropped into a campaign, but the website lists the product as an ‘adventure’ available through the publisher’s Patreon account. There are a lot of questions that need to be answered, and in its current state Bastard King of Thraxford looks incomplete. The potential for this adventure is high, but it isn’t yet realized because there are many holes in it. From its inspiration to the material that has already been elaborated upon, this quest has a fantastic grim and gritty atmosphere. When it’s complete, this could be a great module, but until then Bastard King of Thraxford Castle is just a pretty cool work-in-progress.