Author – B. Everett Dutton
Where to Buy – https://frogappreciator.itch.io/blood-knight-gaius
I am reviewing a vampire-based adventure today so, per the rules and regulations governing the Hack Writers of America (of which I am a proud, card-carrying member), I am legally required to make the following “jokes”. The Martial Cult of Blood Knight Gaius (Martial Cult) doesn’t suck. It was a bloody good time. The characters are odd, one might say a little batty. This life-and-death adventure featured high stakes. You can surely Count on this for a night of fun.
There. I did it. Obligation fulfilled, and now we can move on. Fangs for sticking with me so far.
OK seriously though.
Martial Cult is a low-level OSR adventure written for Knave and Basic/Expert D&D, though any OSR system could handle this with ease. The action takes place in and around a monastery populated by vampires doing their best to (mostly) resist their bloodlust. Once a month, however, these religious vampires take part in a sacrament, feasting on the blood they’ve gathered from visitors. Not just any visitors, mind you. Visitors that accepted their invitation to battle their vampire lord one-on-one in a fight to the death. If the living combatant is victorious, they can earn a sizeable amount of gold. If they lose, they get turned into people-shaped Capri Suns. Sure, they vampires are still murderous monsters…but monsters that value consent and fair play!
Whenever I read these shorter (20ish page) adventures, I find authors usually fall into one of two categories. Some designers treat their adventure like the draft of a fantasy epic, seeking to answer every last question players might have regardless of how unlikely/unimportant. Conversely, others provide so little that DMs have the opportunity/burden of creating nearly every relevant detail to bring the story to life. Happily, B. Everett Dutton, walks that narrow path between these pitfalls. DMs reading this book have all the essential information they need to run the adventure while still having enough space to make it their own.
Even if you have no intention of running this adventure as it is, Martial Cult is full of flavorful bits to
steal liberate for your other games. Don’t you want to have your players meet the brooding, 8 foot-tall, demon-controlling Matsunaga, First Disciple of Gaius? Of course you do! And don’t you want your players to discover the pocket-sized Book of Vampire Cantrips so they can learn things like how to disappear with a flourish of their cape or how to shift from lying down to fully upright without using their muscles, like a vampire rising from their coffin? Who wouldn’t!
If you need a spooky one-shot adventure for Halloween (or for your goth buddy’s birthday) or if you’re looking for another site of interest to drop into your existing campaign, go grab a copy of this absolute gem. I’m just picturing a group adventuring through Ravenloft and stumbling upon this place. There’s just so much potential here, I can’t imagine any DM worth their screen failing to run a memorable adventure with it.
DISCLAIMER: I do not know anyone involved with this game, nor did I receive anything for free in exchange for this review. Also, you ever think about how vampires are to horror movies what elves are to fantasy? I don’t exactly know how to explain it further but I am 100% correct in this.