Scarab of Death is an adventure for a party of 10th level characters, by Benoit de Bernardy.
The adventure takes place in the Raging Bull District in Waterdeep, of the Forgotten Realms, but it can easily be incorporated into any campaign. The characters come across a noble dying by having a scarab like creature burst from his chest. It appears that it’s a misplaced magic item whose owner now wants to investigate how someone could have visited his seemingly impenetrable vault. At this point it’s not just a matter of honor, but he’s also in danger from the father of the dead noble, who will want him dead.
The adventure is divided into three chapters. The first one sets the scene with the flashy death of the noble and introduces the “quest giver” who is actually a magic item auctioneer, and a really interesting NPC. If they accept, they will first have to make sure the noble’s father will not move against their employer.
The second chapter features the investigation part. The characters will have to interrogate a few NPCs and match the pieces together, in order to find out who the culprit is. The adventure is said to be hard to be broken by divination magic, and I believe that’s true. Divination magic will help support some of the players’ theories of what’s happening, but that’s all.
In the third chapter, the characters will be confronting the culprit whose identity has been revealed in the second chapter. They will have to delve into his mansion and fight it’s guardians. If things go as expected, this will be the only chapter featuring combat.
The adventure focuses on the pillars of exploration and social interaction. The characters will have to interact with NPCs, gather clues, and finally manage to find out who the culprit is. Combat is limited to the third chapter. That’s something refreshing, to be honest.
However, that’s also something you have to consider before running this adventure for your players. If they are in for the endless loop of killing and looting, this may not be the adventure for them.
The encounters featured in the third chapter seem well balanced. I don’t think they will pose a great challenge to the players, but the DM may have a good time if they make good use of the spellcaster, and villain of the story,
The cover of the adventure is beautiful. In the interior you will find a couple more art pieces depicting some of the NPCs. Their quality is the same with the cover. As for maps, there are three of them. The first one depicts the Raging Bull District and is very well drawn. The other two feature the two buildings the characters will spend most of their time in during this adventure. All three of them are colored and quite detailed.
The adventure contains a lot of extra content. Apart from the map of the Raging Bull District, we get some information about notable NPCs, notable places, and shops that can be found there.
Moreover, one of the things that shine in this adventure are the NPCs. They are very interesting and detailed, and they seem like they have been designed with reusability in mind. Some of them even come with possible plot hooks.
Another thing I found practical, but also funny, is that the auctioneer’s manor contains detailed information of the possible loot, in case the characters decide to rob the place. This doesn’t have to happen in this adventure so it could be a whole adventure on its own.
Moreover, there’s an extra document, accompanying the adventure, with the stat blocks of the monsters and NPCs that are used. By the way, there are a couple of new monsters, one of which is the Clone Golem. There are a few different versions of them based on the level of the party.
Finally, there are six new magic items. One of them is the Scarab of Death and it’s a really nasty one.
Overall, Scarab of Death is a really good adventures. It focuses on the pillars of exploration and social interaction, while trying to limit the use of the pillar of combat. This isn’t something easy to do but I believe this one manages to do it well. If you are interested in an adventure like this, I highly recommend checking this one out.
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