I-10: Ravenloft II - The House on Gryphon Hill
Authors: Outline by Tracy & Laura Hickman; with those people credited for design team: David Cook, Jeff Grubb, Tracy & Laura Hickman, Harold Johnson and Douglas Niles
I got it when it came out (end of 1986) and DMed it during the Xmas vacations. I hated it.
Probably our expectations were too high, I don't know, but it seemed very ordinary and full of nonsensical parts, and without real links between them.
The random part of the scenario, the transpossession (with the Aparatus) and the 'read aloud' boxes were great ideas, but the end ('Awakening' with flash #1 to #4) was so railroading, and my players felt like they could not change a thing in it and that is frustrating: they felt I was reading them a story where they couldn't change a iota.
It made no sense to have all those monsters in Heather House's basement, while the happy family lived upstair! Nonsense also of the Strahd / alchemist duality. And what are Strahd and Azalin doing in Mordent, anyway ? This adventure should have been declared non canon!
However, many details on Mordent are found in it (cool maps of Heather House and its Mausoleum, the House on Gryphon Hills in 3d like for I-6, a very detailed map of Mordentshire, and interesting magical items) and one should get the free PDF version just for it.
2 on 5.
Summary: The Pcs are hypnotized by a Mesmerist and find themselves in Ravenloft's distant past where the Alchemist Strahd is struggling against the Creature Strahd while Azalin the Lich watches on. The Weathermay family is caught in the middle.
The House on Gryphon Hill really needed an update to celebrate it's anniversary since the game really is more responsible for Ravenloft's development than the classic module in many ways. The problem is that the adventure doesn't really make any sense sadly yet is absolutely ooozing with Ravenloft history truly. It also probably is what's responsible for an unfortunate trend that haunts RL in the fact that you can just do whatever the hell you like and brush it off with plot fiat.
Don't understand how it can be that bad? Let me explain the adventure...
Strahd Van Zharovich is a LG Alchemist who has created the Apparatus that he uses to cast aside the Beast from his personality while having memories and flashbacks of murdering everyone in the Castle, Tatyana, and so on and no real knowledge of who he was to begin with. This somehow is tied to Strahd himself (the Vampire) arriving, who is accompanied by a Lich and quickly enslaves a local werewolf tribe plus has a horrible collection of undead that they put underneath the House on Gryphon Hill that Strahd Alchemist just happens to be living in. The PCs enter the picture by being hypnotized and thus arriving there.
*checks the author* No, it was done by the Hickman's rather than David Lynch.
This is a seminal piece of Ravenloft history and it's a tragedy no ones bothered to figure out what the Hell is going on here. The irony is that the adventure is easily enough cleaned up if you just make some general assumptions about things that are explained away in the context of the story by removing the 'This is weird, let's inserted' and giving it a coherent narrative.
My simple changes were:
Almost the entire adventure is there but its coherent narrative is fixed.
The normal adventure I give 1 drop out of 5 while I ran the above for 5 out of 5.
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