FAL Review: Death in Freeport

Death in Freeport is one of the earliest and most highly acclaimed d20 adventures. It is designed to fit PCs of first to third level, and written to accommodate a game master who is just getting started with leading the game. The adventure is a slim 32 page volume, well written with a clear and useful structure. The layout is clear and the pictures of slightly above average quality. All in all it is the text that makes this offering exciting, not the aesthetics.

DiF is probably best known for the fact that it launched the Freeport setting, an exciting pirate city which had solid support from Green Ronin for many years. Five pages are devoted to a general description of the city and its history. The plot involves the PCs in a mysterious disappearance and a conspiracy involving The Yellow Sign. Everything starts when they are hired to find a person, and they are soon set upon by furious orcs (who probably have very good reasons to bear a grudge against the PCs) as well as suspicious cultists.

The structure of DiF is strongly reminiscent of the classic Call of Cthulhu format involving plenty of investigation and questioning of different people who often have something to hide, as well as a mythical background that could be taken from Lovecraft’s mythos. The adventure is the first part of a trilogy but can be played separately if you are so inclined. The plot continues to unfold in Terror in Freeport and Madness in Freeport and the value of DiF is considerably enhanced if played as part one of the series.

When we played DiF we couldn’t really get into the atmosphere. The plot is very Cthulhuesque but the players were expecting a more standard D&D fare. This resulted in a mismatch of expectations, and the players didn’t really get involved in the story. I think it paradoxically would have worked better for us if it had been a Call of Cthulhu adventure, but as long as a game master is better prepared for this than I was, things should work fine. The only other reservation I have is that as five pages of 32 are devoted to describing Freeport, the adventure in itself feels a bit short.

I recommend Death in Freeport primarily to beginning game masters playing d20 and those who are looking for a change of pace from the ordinary dungeon crawling in D&D.