5E Adventure Review: Banquet of the Damned

The town of Womford was made (somewhat) famous to my players by its tales of the “Womford Bat” in Princes of the Apocalypse. The bat, unfortunately, does not make an appearance in Banquet of the Damned, a new adventure by Benoit de Bernady, save in an appendix, but you do get two feuding bakers, a mysterious fire, and a demonic corruptor.

The early stages of this adventure are an investigation; the adventurers are hired by the local baron to find out who set the fire. The way this is handled is interesting: the actual perpetrator isn’t the villain of the piece (or one of their agents), but the heroes’ investigations lead to the perpetrator being uncovered! It’s an unusual technique that pays off. If the players fail to find the clues, there’s a rather nasty consequence for Womford, which then propels the heroes back onto the main storyline. Again, this is good design.

The adventure ends with potentially a pair of combats (and possibly an exorcism). In all, it should likely take one or two sessions to play through. There’s a good selection of encounters, and some excellent ideas within.

That said, it’s not all smooth sailing. The writing, while mostly good, has a few clumsy constructions or repetitions of phrases. One of the main characters, Mortimer Wormstooth, gets a set of contradictory motivations. (He’s bitter, a well-respected philanthropist, and a good man who let a bully define him).

My main problem with the adventure, which I recognise as primarily a stylistic one, is that that it’s a bit too easy to discover exactly what the adventurers are up against. These days, I prefer, when possible, to not tell the players the exact name of what they’re fighting, instead letting it define itself through its appearance and actions. The demonic antagonist is not one I’m familiar with. It’s a really spectacular design and the effects of its plots are really creepy. I’d rather the players reached the final encounter thinking they were up against a witch, and then discover the true nature of the threat. However, as I said, this is a stylistic preference; the adventure works as written.

Overall, Banquet of the Damned is a strong adventure, well worth investigating. I do suggest you ignore the advice about when to play the adventure. “You can play the adventure any time the PCs travel through the village of Womford during the autumn.” Place it anywhere you like; there’s nothing really stopping you. Waiting for the characters to visit Womford during the autumn? You may have to wait a while!

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