No Security: The Fall Without End
Publisher: Hebanon Games
Page Count: 20
Release Date: 01/28/2013
Get it Here: Hebanon Games
The Fall Without End is the fourth release from Hebanon Games. While all of their scenarios so far were originally penned for Chaosium’s Call of Cthulhu system, the actual releases Hebanon has been putting out have been systemless so that they can be used with everything from the origin material to more obscure systems like Don’t Look Back or Chill. Best of all, all of Hebanon Games’ releases have been free, so if you and your friends enjoy a good horror tabletop RPG adventure, there’s no reason not to hurry on over to their site and download these puppies. So far I’ve reviewed Bryson Springs, The Red Tower and Lover in the Ice. The Fall Without End, however, was the one I was most looking forward to, mainly because it was such a unique idea and I loved the podcast version Caleb and the crew over at Roleplaying Public Radio did.
Like all No Security scenarios, The Fall Without End is set in the 1930s, a time of depression and despair for the United States of America. This melancholy atmosphere is a perfect backdrop for horror roleplaying, not only because it is so gloomy to begin with, but because it ensures that players can’t say, shoot missiles at a Deep One or nuke a vampire. This particular adventure takes place on and around Mt. McKinley, the highest elevation in North America. Players are attempt to scale the north side of the mountain for riches and glory. It’s the government’s attempt to help take mind off America’s financial woes and give the average Joe a hero to look up to. Unfortunately there are two problems. The first is that the players have some local competition that want to get up to the summit first and the other is that the mountain has a gateway to a hideous nightmarish alternate reality populated by fiendish thingies that will attempt to devour anything they come in contact with. So you know, there are some complications to be had. Of course that still doesn’t take into account the treacherous nature of mountain climbing, especially one as dangerous as Mt. McKinley. All of these things combine to create a wonderful mood rife for picking off PCs one by one, be it by environmental hazard or alien monstrosity.
Of course, there aren’t too many adventures where all the action is based around climbing a mountain in hazardous conditions. So unlike previous Hebanon Games releases, the Keeper is really going to have to sit down and plan things out. They’re going to want to understand a little bit about mountain climbing. Why people do it, what is possible, slang and terminology. Things like that. The good news is that The Fall Without End contains a little primer to help Keepers understand how to best run the adventure and keep things grounded in the realm of reality. Well, aside from the terrible nameless horrors trying to eat the PCs that is. It’s also important that the players go in with a bit of understand on what they can or cannot do. If they don’t understand the relationships between a two man climbing team, the adventure can fall apart. So while The Fall Without End does require a bit of extra prep work by all involved, the end result is well worth it.
It’s also worth noting that The Fall Without End comes with a handy dandy flowchat which the Keeper will absolutely need to run this adventure properly. The choices that PCs can make are pretty open ended. After all, there are multiple ways to scale the mountain and different routes to take. As well, as people will be climbing in two man teams, the Keeper will more than likely need to be running two or three concurrent teams as they try to ascend the mountain. It’s a contest after all. My advice is to make liberal use of the flow chart and also mark on it where each team currently is. The one thing I do wish the scenario had was a little drawing of McKinley – one with locations marked for the Keeper and one for the players to see where they are and how much further they have to go. That would have been pretty cool. That said, this is a FREE adventure, so I doubt I’ll be complaining any time soon. What’s here is better than a lot of adventures with a price tag attached to them.
I do feel it is obvious that The Fall Without End was mean to be used with Call of Cthulhu rules and that perhaps it would work even better if it had been released as a product for the system it was originally intended for. Of course, I could be skewed by the fact I heard the podcast version first, and it coloured my reading of the adventure. Now NONE of this means the adventurer wouldn’t work with Savage Worlds, or World of Darkness rules. Far from it. Just that the adventure reads like it has been reverse engineered from Call of Cthulhu, which of course it has.
The Fall Without End is more akin to a horror film than the typical Call of Cthulhu adventure. After all, PCs will be dying at an extremely high rate, and you’ll be lucky to have even one survive the adventure. That’s okay, because this really is meant to be a one-shot affair. A dramatic one time occurrence if you will. I keep thinking of Carpenter’s The Thing is regards to The Fall Without End, but the plots are very different. What the two have in common are themes of isolation and environmental hazards prevents the protagonists from escaping their inevitable doom. There are many ways to end the scenario. Everyone dies on the mountain, someone survives to discover the origin of the creatures and wishes they had died horribly, or someone manages to get down the mountain and “win,” albeit they will most likely be physically and mentally ravaged by their experience, unable to return to a normal existence. Any of the above are awesome and will ensure that you and your friends will talk about The Fall Without End for some time to come.
Basically, The Fall Without End is one of the most unique and enjoyable adventures I’ve ever come across. How often do you run or play a mountain climbing scenario? The creatures are horrific and unique, something that can and will only work in this specific situation, making the adventure all the more memorable. Players are as likely to be devoured as they are go insane or be killed by the elements without any cultists of nefarious schemes by an Outer God anywhere in sight. I absolutely adore this thing and it’s an adventure I would love to run myself. It’s a bit of an undertaking for the Keeper, especially compared to most horror adventures, but the reward is well worth the investment. Most importantly, The Fall Without End, like ALL Hebanon Games releases is FREE, so anyone reading this has no excuse not to go download this, especially when it’s vastly superior to most of the horror scenarios one pays for these days. Just go download the thing already. Even if you never play it, you will have a blast reading it. I couldn’t tell you whether this or The Red Tower is my favorite release by Hebanon Games, but since all are free, I don’t have to. You can just go get them all. So do it NOW!