Penny Dreadful One Shot: Recruitment Drive (Through the Breach/Malifaux)
Publisher: Wyrd Miniatures
Page Count: 29
Release Date: 07/01/2015
Get it here: DriveThruRPG.com
Although my primary skirmish choice is the Batman Miniature Game, I’ve picked up a few Malifaux pieces here and there just for the sculpts. I have three War Wabbits, a Pygapult and Nicodem, Avatar of Decay. However, with the announcement of the two player starter kit that will release in August, I’ve decided to preorder that, as well as start on a Gremlins warband (mainly for painting, but if I like the game, I’ll have something to play it with). The starter set is roughly two months away though, so I decided to familiarize myself with the game via Through the Breach, the RPG compliment to Malifaux. Both take place in the same world and use a lot of the same characters, it’s just one is a skirmish game and the other is an RPG. Ashe will be reviewing The Fated Almanac and The Fatemaster’s Almanac at some point this summer, but I decided to review my first adventure experience for Through the Breach – Recruitment Drive.
Recruitment Drive is a PDF only adventure that can be used as a one-shot (it’s in the name of the product after all) or the start of an ongoing campaign. The adventure comes with a set of pre-generated characters so you can try out the game under the guidance of an experienced GM, even if you haven’t fully read the rulebooks or taken a look at character creation. The pre-gens also make the Penny Dreadful One Shot adventures a fine choice for tournament/convention play. In many ways, they are the Through the Breach equivalent of Shadowrun Missions. Five bucks for a full colour, nigh thirty page PDF adventure is reasonably priced, and the art contained inside showcases just how unique Wyrd Miniatures’ creations are. Most of the art is reused from the miniature boxes and previously published books, but it is what it is.
I should point out that Recruitment Drive is not going to marvel you or make you proclaim this the greatest adventure ever. It’s not. It’s a fun way to test the water to see if Through the Breach is a tabletop RPG you want to invest in, but nothing more. Only half the pages are devoted to the adventure proper (pages 4-17) with the rest going to NPCs and the pre-generated characters. So Recruitment Drive is a fairly short adventure. It shouldn’t take more than two hours to play – three if you are teaching the game to some newcomers. Because of this, some of you might balk at the $5 price tag, but I’d say it is worth it.
Recruitment Drive consists of four Scenes, all revolving around relative newcomers to Malifaux. All the PCs are at the Southgate train station for their own reasons. None of the characters know each other or have any sort of connection, but give it time. Each character is waiting for the train arrive for their own personal reasons, be it an object, person or assorted something else. As the train starts to arrive, it is attacked by iron zombies. Think Hit Mark II’s from Mage: The Ascension or some other steampunk pneumatic cyborg undead. That’s an iron zombie. Anyway, the zombies attack the train and the PCs have to try and protect themselves, as well as others in the train and at the station. After the scuffle dies down, a second group of zombies have absconded with people and objects from the train. Coincidentally, they are all reasons the PCs were waiting on. Because each PC needs the help of the person now kidnapped from the train, it’s up to them to band together and save their MacGuffins from the undead menace that absconded with them in the first place. This means a trip through the sewers and an eventual showdown with the remaining zombies.
It’s worth noting that Scene IV of Recruitment Drive varies greatly based on how you do in Scene III. There are four different versions of the scene that can occur. The scene you get is based on the amount of in-game time it takes you to navigate the sewers of Malifaux. If you did a good job, combat can be avoided completely. If you did a bad job and got lost along the way, expect to see a pretty intense combat scene – one where the PCs may find themselves in a TPK (Total Party Kill) and even wind up as undead servitors themselves. I really liked how dynamic the last scene was. I just wish it wasn’t purely luck based. I’d have rather seen Scene IV decided through role-playing than roll-playing, but it’s rare you see a pre-published adventure like this provide multiple potential climaxes. Sure, it could have been done better, but I’m still quite happy with what is here.
Overall, my first real taste of Malifaux was a fun one, and I can’t wait to pick up the other Penny Dreadful adventures for Through the Breach. Experiencing Recruitment Drive convinced me I made the right choice in preordering the upcoming two player deck and a few more Gremlins to flesh out my War Wabbits and Pigapults. For those of you discovering Malifaux and/or Through the Breach for the first time through this review, you might want to pick up the University of Transmortis pack from Wyrd Miniatures, as it contains four Iron Zombies. It would be perfect to use with this adventure. You don’t HAVE to have miniatures for Through the Breach though. Remember, it’s the tabletop RPG game, and Malifaux is the miniature skirmish game. Still, they’d be fun to use as a visual explanation of what the characters are doing battle with.
Recruitment Drive is well worth picking up if you’re looking for an intro Through the Breach adventure. Make sure someone has the core rulebooks though, or much of the adventure will read like gobblygook to you.