Bloody vikings...

Spelljammer module review

gaming modules rpg 5e scifi dnd

With the release of Spelljammer for D&D 5th Edition, I decided to break out the second AD&D Spelljammer module Skulls & Crossbows. I'm looking at it particularly with quick conversion in mind, but also for story and general usefulness. The fifth adventure in the book is called "Bloody vikings..."

Bloody [actual] vikings

This adventure gets the PCs back on the track of collecting bounties. Unfortunately, the setup is the same as everything else that's happened so far. Player characters happen to be sailing along in Wildspace when their quary comes to them. With bounty hunting this easy, I don't know why everybody isn't in the business. You don't have to follow clues or go to particular locations to investigate, you just go for a walk and your prey walks up to practically asking to be brought in.

Well, luckily Erik Bloodaxe doesn't ask to be brought to justice. In fact, he fights to the death, so that's something.

Fixing this adventure

As with all the encounters in the book so far, I think what this one needs is just a little pretense. The saving grace of this particular one is that Erik has a really rich backstory, and uncovering all that lore could be the avenue to hunting him down.

You could deliver the lore in whatever way is convenient, and in fact I think I'd probably let the players themselves write the premise. Whatever the players think is the first logical step to find information about Erik's location could reveal a great mystery around his history. Maybe players interview some people who've been attacked by, but escaped from, Erik. Surveillance footage—oh wait, this isn't that kind of space game. OK, some eye-witness sketches or descriptions of Erik's ship could suggest something of its origins. There could be a rumour, or even a pattern in what Erik has attacked lately, suggesting his next target.

The point is, there's some hefty lore about the origin of Erik, his crew and his ship, and of the encounter that's the most interesting component. (And I say "hefty" not to indicate that the lore is to my liking or disliking, just that it's big with lots of implications.) The fight is just another spelljammer fight. The value to this adventure is the lore, so find a way to impart it to your players.

Fire and ice

Next chapter is "Fire and ice."

Skulls & Crossbows cover copyright by Wizards of the Coast, used under the fan content policy.

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