Inside Pulse 12

Tabletop Review: Bad Moon Rising (Iron Kingdoms)

Bad Moon Rising (Iron Kingdoms)
Publisher: Privateer Press
Cost: $9.99
Page Count: 75
Release Date: 06/30/2015
Get it Here: DriveThruRPG.com

Privateer Press’ products are extremely hit or miss for me. I can’t stand Warmachines or Hordes, but that’s mainly due to the mechanics, the fact I find the models unaesthetically pleasing and that the culture behind the game is EXTREMELY negative and not something I would want to be associated with. That said, I love the fluff behind the game and I really enjoy the fiction, with pieces like Murder in Corvis (soon to be a boardgame!) and Blood in the Water. I don’t enjoy the core Iron Kingdoms RPG, but I really like the Unleashed version, especially the introductory kit, as it’s a fun little self-contained piece. So for me, it seems like every time I agree to review something from Privateer Press, I have a 50-50 chance or enjoying it or really disliking it. Unfortunately, Bad Moon Rising is in the latter camp. It’s a highly overpriced, derivative adventure that lacks any semblance of originality. I’ve played the exact same story in adventures for Chill, Ravenloft, Call of Cthulhu and probably even Accursed. It is the most generic and overdone horror adventure plot ever, just with Iron Kingdoms jargon and mechanics thrown in. It’s really disappointing to see the lack of effort put into this, and if I had actually paid ten dollars for this instead of getting it as a review copy, I’d be ANGRY rather than just disappointed that this piece was approved for purchase by the general public.

Basically, Bad Moon Rising is your typical “trapped with a werewolf” adventure. Of course, since this is Iron Kingdoms, it is a Warpwolf, which for most of you, the only difference is going to be in the naming convention. The PC will have to spend several days (in-game) trying to figure out who the Warpwolf is and stop them before they kill again. After a certain amount of days, the Warpwold succeeds, and the fort the characters are trapped in will fall. The adventure really is that cut and dry. Yes, if you’ve played a horror RPG, you’ve almost certainly played this adventure before. Hell, you can go to Kickstarter and find numerous versions of this story in the Werewolf-clone card/beer and pretzel game variants that pop up constantly over there. After only a few minutes with Bad Moon Rising, you can tell just how phoned in this adventure is. Hell, even the name of this piece has been used by everyone from CCR to adventures for Judge Dredd and Shadowrun. You would think Privateer Press would have at least changed the name to something more original. Instead, this merely serves to show how little thought and effort was actually put into this adventure. It’s shameful really. It’s the third Ginger Snaps movie almost cut and paste into the Iron Kingdoms mechanics.

No adventure is all bad and, truth be told, the worst part of this adventure is the lack of originality, creativity and effort put into the piece. Taken on its own, Bad Moon Rising is a fairly serviceable piece that you can make work if your players have little to no experience with horror RPGs and/or werewolf movie tropes. The adventure is long (quantity over quality) and there is a lot of depth given to the NPCs and locations. The adventure is also equal parts roll-playing and role-playing, which is nice. Hack and Slash fans get their fifteen minutes, but so do the people who want a more investigative/talking heads adventure. A good GM can try and make the piece come to life, but I’d advise some heavy rewriting, as it’s very dry and dull the way it is written. Insert a Ben Stein joke here. A little more time in production or with rewrites and Bad Moon Rising could have been a decent homage to garou clichés. I also really like the art in this piece. It’s the best part of the adventure. It’s too bad the maps shown throughout the piece aren’t full size so you could print them off and use with your Privateer Press miniatures. They’re very nicely detailed and would make the adventure far more fun than it is. Of course, the adventure is already crazy overpriced ($10 for a PDF adventure?) so Cthulhu knows how much more PP would have tried jacking up the MSRP of this if they had done that. There are lots of ways Bad Moon Rising could have been improved had there been a modicum of effort put into it. You can tell that by the little things that actually do “pop” in this piece, like the art.

So yes, Bad Moon Rising is not all that bad. I can’t recommend it to anyone due to the paint by numbers level of this piece, coupled with the cost Privateer Press is actually charging for it. It’s as if they wanted to make people angry with how little thought went into this adventure (or respect for the Iron Kingdoms audience). It’s a very long, dull drawn out adventure that you’ve seen, read, played or watched a half dozen times before – each of which was more than likely better than Bad Moon Rising. Pieces like this are what keep me from regularly investing in Privateer Press’ products, because they are either really good or really bad. I will say that Bad Moon Rising is not typical of Iron Kingdoms. It’s not as good as Unleashed, which came out this year, but the regular Iron Kingdoms tabletop RPG is not usually “rehash someone else’s story and hope no one notices.” In fact, this is the first time I can remember it being so. Still, the lack of quality, from writing to QA on down to editorial with Bad Moon Rising was so deplorable, it’s enough to make me very afraid of how bad The Undercity is going to turn out. Of course, I was considering pre-ordering that game, only because I loved the story by Richard Lee Byers it is based on, but that’s really not enough to sink money into something that may be as disappointing as Bad Moon Rising.