The Waking of Willowby Hall (2021)

The Waking of Willowby Hall (2021), by Ben Milton with fantastic illustrations by Sam Mameli, is an extremely novel system agnostic adventure (though aimed at D&Dish systems).

The titular hall is a mansion of sinister reputation, long abandoned. It has become the refuge for three thieves who have stolen a golden egg-laying goose from a cloud giant named Tom (OK, Bonebreaker Tom, but still). The complication is that Tom, in pursuing the thieves, ripped the blessed bell out of the church of the nearby town to use as a flail. Every time he rings it, he wakes up more of the evil that was slumbering in the house.

The tricky bit is getting the PCs past the murderous giant and into the house, but once they are there, the hijinx are pure gold. Having to sneak around to avoid the giant is a great problem to begin with. Adding in the daft thieves — a cowardly fighter, a loyal rogue and a wizard named Apocalypse Ann — and the deeply chaotic goose would be enough, but the extra layer of the house’s evil (which ranges from traditionally deadly to amusing and endearing) brings the adventure to great heights. There is a lot to experience and it becomes a paradoxical thing: a funhouse dungeon that actually makes a kind of naturalistic sense.

There’s a time limit too — every time the bell rings, the evil of the house gets closer to being banished once and for all. That won’t go well for anyone still inside, so there’s plenty of impetus to find a way out.

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