Short Module Review: Lamenting Lighthouse (Sven Truckenbrodt): 4.5 Stars
Explore a haunted lighthouse inspired by real life events featuring memorable villains and a beautifully constructed mini-sandbox adventure perfect for any nautical campaign.
The Lamenting Lighthouse is a four-hour adventure for 5th – 10th level characters by Sven Truckenbrodt is best used as a one-shot or as part of a campaign when characters are traveling via ship from one location to another. The adventure begins with the characters on a ship traveling to the Moonshae Isles through the Korin Archipelago, a shipping route that is notoriously dangerous to navigate. Normally, navigators benefit from the nearby Viledel Lighthouse relying on its constant operation for safe travel but for some mysterious reason the lighthouse has gone completely dark. The characters are sent to investigate the Viledel Lighthouse and restore its beacon so they may continue to safely travel to their destination.
The characters will soon learn that the remote lighthouse and its two small islands are home to the evil and twisted Dread Pirate Roberts (a fun nod to The Princess Bride no doubt) who has been split body and soul into a wight and a wraith locked into eternal conflict with one another. As characters explore the lighthouse and its small island, they discover that the Dread Pirate Roberts recently obtained the “Dread Orb of Orcus”, a powerfully evil magic item. The Dread Pirate and his ship crashed upon the lighthouse isle causing a chain of events that causes sea hags, pirate zombies, and a tale of madness to unfurl before the characters eyes.
Atmosphere: Truckenbrodt creates an ominous atmosphere from the opening scenes of this adventure, in fact the adventure itself is written in the style of a mystery/thriller short story which alone is worth the purchase price. The beautiful cover art by Victoriya Shamykina illustrates an abandoned lighthouse central to this adventure and immediately sets the tone of eeriness on the lighthouse island. Each detail of the lighthouse and its two small island it occupies is thoroughly detailed with concise precision, allowing the setting to come alive for characters who enjoy exploring and discovering tidbits of information. Small clues from diary notes and eerie signs such as humanoid bodies sprawled out on the island allow the characters to uncover the most interesting plot points of the adventure without relying on boxed text to convey the most important details of the story to them. Of special note, Truckenbrodt includes his real life inspirations for this adventure which serves as a treasure trove for dungeon masters to use as they please in this adventure or others of their own design.
NPCs: Each NPC feels alive and is easily playable by the dungeon master, given the use of well-known tropes while also maintaining a sense of uniqueness for each NPC the characters encounter. The most memorable NPCs you’ll encounter are the dual Dread Pirates Roberts wight and wraith, the hag Ol’ Sandy Seaslick, and the three lighthouse keepers through the disturbing tales written down in diary notes.
Format and Structure: This adventure uses the format and structure found in Adventurers League modules, although it is not an Adventurers League module itself. This facilitates ease of flow, reference, and structure, specifically the use of the “Pillars of Play” sidebars which provide tips to the dungeon master throughout the adventure. Each combat encounter comes with adjustments for the dungeon master to tailor to their groups average party level.
What Didn’t Work:
Minor editing issues: When I first received the adventure, I turned to the credits page and noticed Truckenbrodt edited his own work. This was a red flag for me as I am a firm believer that creators are not the best editors for their own work. Throughout the adventure there were minor grammatical errors and in one instance there was a half-written sentence that was abruptly cut off without completion. The majority of the adventure is well written and edited, I hope that as time goes on Truckenbrodt considers using an outside editor to enhance his work even more than he already does himself.
Diary Notes and Vulgar Language: Throughout the adventure characters obtain diary notes from locations around the lighthouse and island. These notes detail what occurred in the days leading up to the characters arrival. Overall these notes add immense atmosphere, however in some cases the notes open up with capitalized expletives that might catch some individuals off-guard especially since there is no telling if children might be at the game table. I’d recommend a content warning here and perhaps offer additional diary notes that replace the expletives for those who do not want to hand their players diary notes with this type of language.
Highly Recommended: The Lamenting Lighthouse rates a solid 4.5 stars and makes for a fantastic adventure for any nautical campaign or one-shot. The structure facilitates immediate use for dungeon masters and the details are concise to create a dreadful atmosphere without over explaining details to your players. While there are a few editing and issues of surprise expletives, they do not impact gameplay or the adventure itself in anyway. If you are looking for a horror/thriller adventure that is sure to delight your players look no further; purchase this stellar adventure today!
About the Author:
Anthony Joyce is an ENnie Nominated best-selling DM’s Guild author and creator of the highly acclaimed “Heir of Orcus” adventures series for the Dungeons and Dragons Adventurers League. He is a husband, father of three boys, and is an active duty U.S. Army Strategist with masters degrees in Political Science, Policy Management, and Higher Education Administration. Follow him on Twitter @Thrawn589 and check out his DM’s Guild work HERE.