Short Module Review: The Madhouse of Tasha’s Kiss (Remley Farr & Jeff C. Stevens): 5 Stars
The village resembles a ghost town. The streets are empty, yet garments hang on clotheslines, flapping gently with the breeze. Two malnourished horses are tied to a hitching post in front of a tavern. The wind picks up, causing shutters to slam against a small building, breaking the silence…
The Madhouse of Tasha’s Kiss is a (roughly) four-hour horror adventure for just about any party level, though it would seem to work most naturally for parties around levels 5 and 7. With a production that is mostly professional, disturbing encounters, and NPCs that will invade your dreams (nightmares), Tasha’s Kiss is a solid one-shot that all but the most squeamish should enjoy. Can the characters escape this pocket dimension alive…or better yet, sane?
Production. The layout is good: though at times there seems to be more empty space than needed, it is not over crowded and is easy to read. The maps, of excellent quality and style, are mostly at the beginning of the book. As a visual person, I really appreciate being able to visualize what I’m reading about without having to flip to the back of the book. The artwork seems to be custom made for the adventure and are sketched with very high skill. The writing is succinct and easy to read, though there are several words missing letters.
Encounters. The various encounters in Tasha’s Kiss are interesting, unique, and frankly slightly disturbing. Whether it’s preventing humans being made into pies, releasing captured souls, or dealing with a tentacled abomination, characters will have recourse to solving these problems with multiple routes. The authors are excellent at giving suggestions as to flexible solutions. These encounters are so engaging, your group is likely to refer to them (either in fondness or horror) in future sessions.
Environment. I have a high threshold for horror, but I would guess the environment for this adventure sits soundly in the “relatively scary psychological thriller” level of scariness. While settings like this always rely heavily on the ability of the Dungeon Master to convey environment and tone, Tasha’s Kiss provides an abundant amount of tools to do so. Madness mechanics, horrifying creatures, grotesque practices, and a quickly growing sense of dread should all make immersion easy. Expect your die-hard horror fans to have fun and your less avid players to be at least slightly disturbed.
It’s rare that I can’t pinpoint exactly what is “wrong” with an adventure. In Tasha’s Kiss there are no glaring issues I can suggest the authors fix. Perhaps it’s the few editing errors. Or maybe it’s the low DCs for succeeding against madness (DMs are given the tools to change this themselves). I could mention how there’s potentially triggering encounters and that horror may not be for every player, thus reducing appeal. But The Madhouse of Tasha’s Kiss is a gold best seller, so there’s obviously no lack of appeal.
What I must fall back on is that, while technically (nearly) perfect, and theoretically immersive, personally it engaged little emotion from me on a read through. It was excellent, but it didn’t make me think “I need to play this NOW.” Still, it is likely that when I run this it will evoke rather strong emotions from my players.
Congratulations Jeff C. Stevens and Remley Farr–you’ve stumped me.
The Madhouse of Tasha’s Kiss is a near perfect thriller adventure that undoubtedly deserves the 5 Stars I’m giving it. It is Highly Recommended for parties 3rd-10th level (though anything 1-15 will technically do) who enjoy the horror setting. In fact, the only people who shouldn’t play this are people with low threshold for horror environment, or who may be easily triggered by torture. Everyone else should pick it up (click the pic below or find it in our store):