YORKTON - Amid the varied games The Meeple Guild plays, roll playing games have long been a favoured genre.
Few game experiences can match creating a character and then as that character crawling through a dungeon seeking treasure and fighting baddies, all largely using only your imagination and a handful of dice.
It’s only a stone’s throw of playing cops and robbers as a kid, and maybe therein lies the lasting allure of RPGs like the classic Dungeons & Dragons.
While the lustre of D&D has tarnished for this writer with the release of the homogenized – everybody can do everything – 5th edition, when new material is released it still warrants a look.
But, what if you overlay something new with a connection to Sherlock Holmes? Well, I am a Holmesian and Sherlockian if you prefer with book shelves bowing under the weight of literally dozens of Holmes pastiches, so D&D and Holmes coming together immediately seemed like a delectable treat.
That brings us to The Mystery of the Cursed Statuette. It is designed for a group of three to five 4th-level characters, but includes scaleable encounters to suit any level from one-to-20, which is a nice feature in that it is highly flexible with a little Dungeon Master effort.
But, most intriguing is that it is a mystery adventure inspired by the famous detective Sherlock Holmes and can be used in any campaign or as a side-quest.
From the website; “in the dead of the night, a burglary takes place at the Halls of Lore in Winterhold, and a small porcelain figurine is stolen.
“Since the town’s guard is busy with a series of kidnappings, Sergeant Aramina Thornberry is looking for a group of private detectives who can help her solve the crime.
“However, the investigation soon turns into a deadly chase. Before it is over, the characters will come across a cursed statuette, secret societies – and a dangerous primordial demon.
“Can you solve the case before more blood is spilled on Winterhold’s foggy streets?”
At this point if you are a Holmes fan and RPGer just go buy this one. You really can’t go wrong because as a player you can go as ‘Sherlock’ as you want once into the game.
The Mystery of the Cursed Statuette is the creation of Tove and Erik Jorgensen.
The duo explained, via email, “We've always written adventures for D&D, and when we found some on Kickstarter back in 2019, we thought we should launch a project to see if there was interest as that'd give us a chance to commission artwork.
“After running our first Kickstarter, we thought we'd try to expand into mystery adventures as we're huge fans of mysteries in general, be they adventures, books, or films.”
In this case they built on a love of Holmes.
“Tove in particular is a great fan of the Sherlock Holmes novels, so the ambition was to draw on the atmosphere in those novels and try to write a D&D adventure in the same vein, with a similar feel and based on a complex mystery,” said Erik.
The result is what he suggested is “a tangled mystery with lots of NPCs, (non-player characters), to interview and investigate.
The players will need to look for clues, see through lies, and piece together information that point to the plots that's taking place in the shadows.”
In that regard the book has depth.
“It's a layered mystery that goes far beyond simply ticking boxes and checking the right location for clues,” they wrote.
“Instead, some of the leads are hidden in missing or misleading details, and there are also a few red herrings to watch out for.”
But, what does this offer others don’t?
“Well, there's a ton of great third-party adventures out there, so that's hard to say, but we've aimed to write a mystery that's probably a notch more difficult than many others, and we also take care to make our NPCs intriguing and fleshed-out,” they noted.
And then there’s ‘the cipher’.
“While the adventure is straightforwardly 5E-rules based, there are a few instances where the characters can find codes that can be deciphered, which will give them more in-depth information about NPCs and their agendas,” noted the designers.
Given the Holmesian connection it’s almost a case of giving this one a green light of approval unseen, but with the well-laid out hardcover in-hand, it just becomes easier.
Mysteries are not for all, and the RPG that simply wants to swing a sword at ogres, or cast fireballs at ice giants might not see the appeal here.
But if you want to follow a shady goblin down an alley off a thoroughfare a lot like Baker Street, well this is the one for you.