The Rogues in Remballo module, published by Frog God Games, is an investigative adventure for characters from level 4-6. I've run it a few times, and this post represents my thoughts about the module and what it's like to run.
First of all, setting expectations is important. Rogues in Remballo is a city adventure. For some Dungeon Masters and players, that's exactly what you're looking for. You can play it up to feel like the Tower of the Elephant, with your Conan-like rogues darting from shadow to shadow, or you can take a Sherlock Holmes or Batman approach and have your players questioning locals, setting up surveillance, infiltrating the criminal lair, and so on. If you're looking for a linear dungeon delve or adventure-movie story, this isn't it.
Rogues in Remballo takes place mostly in a single cul-de-sac, so it's a self-contained adventure, and it's easy to drop it into any city setting. For that same reason, it also works well as a last-minute addition into a larger campaign. When your adventuring party is drawn to a big city, whether it's Magnimar, Baldur's Gate, or even Sigil, there's usually an opportunity to throw in a couple of side quests, either to pad out the game between major plot points or to distract players from the real villain for a while, or just to mix up the play style.
A good side quest in a big city, in fact, emphasizes the size and importance of a city. There's no better way to show that a city is vast and ultimately unknowable by demonstrating that it contains lots of stories unrelated to the campaign's main plot.
I used this module as the logical conclusion to an accidental side quest my players introduced to the campaign. They'd wandered into a temple on their way across town to the next campaign plot, and I needed something to happen in the temple. I decided the temple would be abandoned, hoping my players would move on to the regularly scheduled plot point. Instead, they doubled down and investigated why the temple was abandoned. I had a revenant attack them to buy myself some time, but they eventually defeated it and so as a reward I had them discover a priceless religious relic in a hidden compartment. Then they wanted to know more about the relic.
At this point, I recognized that my players weren't in the mood to get back on track just yet. They were asking me, whether any of us knew it or not, for a side quest. So the religious relic was fake, and led to a quest to find where these fakes were being manufactured, and so began Rogues in Remballo.
The macguffin of the adventure is drugs. I don't tend to address drugs in my games (I prefer a nice polite mix of religious fanatacism, fascist villains, and deadly violence), but the problem can be anything an established or random NPC needs suppressed.
Because mythology comes pretty naturally to me, I changed "drugs" to "counterfeit religious relics." You can easily change it to "forged letters" or "counterfeit coin" or whatever comes easiest to you, based on what fits in to your campaign world and plot line.
Although the main plot of the adventure takes place in one specific building within the cul-de-sac, there are lots of buildings players must investigate before they find the right one. Each of those buildings is beautifully developed with little stories of their own, and only some relate to the adventure. Both times I ran the adventure, I got the chance to develop a few of those stories into side (side) quests all their own. Even the buildings that didn't get developed beyond what was written provided fascinating exploration for players.
There's a slim chance that your players could stumble into the right building with no investigation. This is almost always a danger in an RPG, and most Dungeon Masters develop the skill of sensing when an adventure is or is not "done." If your players go directly to the building that contains all the answers, you could just let it happen. There's enough there to make for a fun single session of play, and then the module's over. No harm, no foul. But if you feel like the players secretly want more of an investigative challenge, then you can easily move the hot spot to another building in the cul-de-sac.
The title of the module is catchier than it is accurate. I had no rogues in either of the parties I ran this module for, and it was fine. I did give a particularly clumsy cleric a magic ring to boost his stealth rolls, but ultimately even that didn't end up being necessary. Like any good intrigue adventure, there are lots of diffrent approaches players can take to solve the problems they're presented with. They can infiltrate, they can use stealth, they can observe, they can use brute force, magic, persuation, intimidation, and whatever else they think up. This is one of those adventures that presents a situation and leaves it up to the players to craft a story around it.
Even if you don't normally run urban campaigns, Rogues in Remballo can be a nice change of pace from your usual adventure. This is a well-written module, with a strong core plot, and lots of potential for distraction and expansion.
Cover image by Frog God Games.