The Desire, Published by Nevermet Press
What is The Desire? It is a chimera made from the parts of many creatures – part adventure, part background material and part fiction. All the product of a unusual, collaborative writing process. Originally written without a specific game system in mind, the PDF edition has been updated for D&D 4e.
The central theme is The Desire, a scheming, powerful courtesan, madam and controller of the city’s prostitution. She ruthlessly uses men to enhance her own power and position and is a formidable foe for any party. Cleverly played, especially if slowly introduced, she is excellent as either a Boss Monster in her own right or a secondary NPC whose goals may or may not align with the party’s.
In the PDF ($9.95) there are four pages on The Desire herself and five on the city of Highcourt where she lives. There are also three single session encounters, fifteen pages on related organizations in and around the city, three pages of new magic items and a short story. Overall, the PDF is 53 pages long, well set out with generally good art work. The writing is good and it is well edited. A second PDF, formated for printing (i.e. black & white) is included. This is an excellent idea as the main PDF uses colour extensively on page borders and the like.
There are a few problems with this chimera of a module.
These mainly come down to the how it was written. Each author took the basic idea of The Desire and did their own thing with it. Some wrote encounters whilst others wrote background material. This gives the module a great variety of content but it also means that it lacks focus.
The three encounters are not linked and the character of The Desire seems inconsistent. In one, she hosting a ball, an aloof and powerful figure who does not get her hands dirty. Whilst in another she is personally luring the players into a trap and getting into combat. In a more conventionally written supplement, with a stronger editor dictating the content, the three encounters would be linked and more consistent.
Another minor quibble is with the maps. These are too full of colour and artistry and they are not as clear as they could be. This is particularly noticeable in the black & white print version where details can be hard to make out. [ Note: I’m particularly picky with maps and graphics so I may be being harsh. I generally think publishers concentrate too much on making maps pretty rather than making them quick and easy to use. ]
Overall though, this is a good supplement. The variety of the content and way it was written is not a weakness, it is only a difference. Not many people will pick-up this module and run the adventures and NPCs as they are written but this is not The Desire’s strength. This is a supplement for reading, not playing. It stimulates ideas and helps gives GMs some background and depth to their campaigns. At this, The Desire is an outstanding success.
The Desire is available from the Nevermet Press and PDF stores like RPG Now.