The Brain Gorger’s Appetite is an adventure by Alex Kammer for level 1-3 characters. Set in the mining town of Ockney’s Hold, it tells the story of a barony that has come under the sway of a drug-addled brain gorger.
The adventure begins with an investigation into why the Baron has begun acting so oddly of late, progresses to the manor of one of his counts, and ends in a mine where the adventurers must finally face the brain gorger. The concepts behind the adventure are fantastic – who doesn’t love to see a criminal syndicate employing a brain gorger who has become addicted to the drugs he’s trying to steal?
The adventure is generally well done, with some very nice touches. I like that the characters get to encounter members criminal syndicate sent to find out why their agent has gone rogue, and that the NPCs want to discover what’s going on rather than just proceeding to a fight. It’s a nice moment while it lasts. Unfortunately, it will likely still end up in a fight once the criminals discover the party aren’t really on their side.
The investigation itself has a few rough edges. I feel it relies a lot on the players rolling well on their Investigation checks or interrogating just the right NPC. There’s some redundancy of clues, but not quite enough for my taste. A bad roll at the wrong time eliminates a lot of options. There are times when the story is expected to proceed in one way, but the ingenuity of players is likely to find interesting ways of derailing the adventure. It’s not too problematic, but I’d likely make finding some clues automatic rather than requiring a good roll – that the players have decided to explore the right place is enough.
I’m not fond of the adventure’s opening encounter, which has the PCs attempting to gain jobs as caravan jobs. It’s there to demonstrate that the shipments of ore aren’t being sent out and link into the later parts of the adventure, but it’s a lot of text where the players don’t get to make choices. The adventure also displays the D&D world’s typical disregard for common sense. Take this: a group of inexperienced warriors try to get their first job as caravan guards. Of course, they’re sent undercover into the Baron’s household! Since they want to guard caravans, they must be equally good at investigation and spying!
This, of course, is also the problem with many, many other adventures. The juxtaposition just drew my attention in this instance.
The second half of the adventure is superior to the first half, as the player characters get to grips with where they should go, although a few tough fights lie in front of them. No one section of the adventure is overlong, which is a great relief: it moves through a number of scenes, providing variety and interest for the players.
A number of good black and white illustrations provide relief and illumination from the text, and the layout is good. The maps are particularly pleasing: very clear and well drawn.
The Brain Gorger’s Appetite is the first of a series of adventures, and although it finishes a portion of the story, certain plot threads, such as the Baron’s behaviour, are left unresolved at its end. Despite having a clunky beginning, the adventure gets better as it progresses, and is likely to entertain your players.