Review: The Trellborg Monstrosities – Savage Worlds Edition from Modiphius Entertainment
Lately, I’ve written more than a few words about The Trellborg Monstrosities from Chris Birch and the folks over at Modiphius Entertainment, a new, standalone adventure for their Achtung! Cthulhu World War II meets Lovecraft setting for Savage Worlds and Call of Cthulhu. The adventure module is based off of a novella of the same name from a Mr. John Houlihan who was gracious enough to spend some time giving me awesome answers to some questions I asked him. You should read that. But you should also read this, which is a review of the Savage Worlds edition of The Trellborg Monstrosities adventure module, which is based off of my read-through of a comp copy provided by the publisher.
The Trellborg Monstrosities contains a nice chunk of an introduction that really sets out the overall plot of the module. After reading through the intro I felt like I had a good grasp of the events leading up to The Trellborg Monstrosities. The short of it is this: A mad Axis scientist believes that he has found the means to unlock an ancient artifact of untold power. It is on your crack team to make sure that this does not happen. The module itself is fairly linear, and acknowledges itself as such. Thankfully, Modiphius largely avoided flavor text (although there are a couple of instances where there is planned text in the form of diaries and such) and have – instead – opted to provide the bullet points of information regarding each of the conversations and locations that the PCs come across. The adventure takes place over a five day period and each day has a number of suggested scenes (more in the early-going since there is more freedom to try and build the dread for the PCs through foreshadowing and teasing the terror to come). The Trellborg Monstrosities says that it closely follows Houlihan’s novella and this, in part, appears to show through with a couple of powerful NPCs, although they nicely acknowledge their effect on the storyline (one in particular) and suggest ways that you can remove them from play if you feel like they hurt player agency too much.
What The Trellborg Monstrosities is not is a two-fisted, run-and-gun style game. In fact, the module does not have all that much combat in it altogether. It seems that the majority of the story is the players exploring the world and seeing the plot unfold in front of them. In a Cthulhu-style game this, of course, makes perfect sense. You can’t build a sense of dread if the PCs are blasting everything in their way. Again, in a nice touch, there are a few extra, optional combat scenes if your players start to get twitchy, but you could largely play the adventure almost to the end without anyone getting in combat. The story, for me, is really great stuff. A nice mix of a slow build with a big climax at the end. There are a lot of ways that you could spin The Trellborg Monstrosities into part of a much larger campaign (and I’m sure the publisher hopes you do so with the release of additional adventures slated for later this year). My guess is that most groups will get through The Trellborg Monstrosities in one-to-two sessions, depending on the amount of roleplaying that the characters engage in, the number of optional scenes thrown in, and the length of said sessions, natch.
I really think The Trellborg Monstrosities looks like a great overall package. It is definitely well-produced and I found the story to be interesting. I could see some people raising issues with Mr. Seraph, the powerful NPC, but they do a nice job acknowledging his presence in the game and suggesting ways to work around him, as previously described. The Trellborg Monstrosities also includes all of the requisite stat blocks for the various enemies you will come across, a list of equipment, and pregen characters so you can get right to the gaming. You will need the base Savage Worlds rules to play, and The Trellborg Monstrosities Savage Worlds edition also uses rules from Realms of Cthulhu from Reality Blurs.
You can get John Houlihan’s novella, The Trellborg Monstrosities, for $2.99 from RPGNow right now. The adventure of the same name from Modiphius Entertainment is available for $11.99 for the Call of Cthulhu RPG and for Savage Worlds.