Looking Over Book of Challenges: Dark Hunt


It's just cover art

Premise

A vampire hunting party sets their sights on the PCs.


Good

The idea of a group of supernatural monsters that shift through planes of existence to hunt living beings for pleasure is a great starting point.


Amidst the usual slew of mathemagical items, the vampires do have a few interesting items like boots of striding and springing or sleep arrows.


The advice for running multiple-opponent encounters is decent for GMs who aren’t experienced with that, though why it’s this far into the book instead of being front matter and why the example summary table has so much excess information on it are both mysteries.


Salvageable

The “Tactics” section gives a decent opening summary, but it gives up saying anything more other than a couple general statements to “phase back and forth […] to heighten confusion” and “try to keep the pressure on the PCs”. There ought to be some thought on how they’ll act beyond that, especially since the vampires’ intention is to pick an opportune moment for their surprise attack.


Bad

This is yet another encounter with no map, even though managing the areas of various creatures’ cone-shaped attacks is an important tactical point.


The second page has a random close-up drawing of what seems to be a scarred orc’s face. There is no indication of why it was included here.


There’s no apparent reason why Valencia wouldn’t use her potion of haste when Falessel is casting resist elements.


Repeating the rule for riders negating hits on their mounts is worthless.


The advice for scaling the challenge is just about either reducing the number of creatures or increasing their levels/HD.


Overall

This is rather similar to With a Little Help from My Friends in that it’s also not much more than a collection of stat blocks for the GM to turn into an actual encounter. There’s almost no information for roleplaying the creatures, and it’s presented as something that just happens independently from any greater context.


On the plus side, it is a more straightforward and flexible encounter in that it’s much less dependent on metagame conventions/expectations, so a wider variety of players could enjoy this one. The idea behind the encounter is also one that lends itself easily to greater context; who else has the hunting party attacked, and why have they staked out their current territory?


All in all, though, it’s still barely more than a starting point from making a roll on a random encounter table. It gives a little more than With a Little Help from My Friends, but anything notable that comes of it will still have to come from the GM.

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