Review: Marked For Death

By Tom Scudder.

Okay, a few comments:

  1. These are definitely NOT linked/connectible adventures (I suppose you COULD connect them, but there'd be more connective tissue than Marked For Death material).
  2. The cover is MUCH better than for the main rulebook (although that isn't all that difficult -- the cover art on the main rulebook leaves something to be desired).
  3. The individual adventures break down into 2 different types: Introductory-type adventures, which start out in modern-junction Hong Kong and start with the players happening to be in the area where the opening shoot-em-up takes place, and adventures that start out in the Netherworld and assume that the players have already learned a little about the secret war and come into contact with some of the big NPCs.

A bit-by-bit review of the contents:

"Brinks" (by Bruce Baugh) and "Blood for the Master" (by Greg Stolze) are your basic shoot-em-up intro scenarios. "Brinks" is your basic gangster-related gunfest, while "Blood" involves (hopefully) an evil temple and a giant demon rampaging around downtown Hong Kong. Joe Bob says "check it out."

"Pai Lai" (Chris Pramas) starts out in the Netherworld, and requires that the characters know enough about the Secret War to know that the Architects are Bad People and Must Be Stopped at All Costs. There's a quick peek at 2056, a skirmish with Roscoe the Buro BK-97 Attack Helicopter (yeah, he's treated as a named character). The plot is somewhat more complicated than that of the first 2 scenarios.

"The Shape of Guilt" (John Tynes) is set up so that you can run bits and pieces of it over a long-term campaign, rather than all at once, and includes one of the best bits I've seen in a pre-packaged adventure, asking (after the first Act) "Do the Players Care?" and advising that the GM just drop it if they don't seem to. It's set in the Netherworld, and requires that the players have at least some familiarity with some aspects of it (the Prof and IKTV figure into the story in a big way).

"Shaolin Heartbreak" (Allen Varney) probably has the most complicated plot of all of them, for all that it's another of the "introductory" episodes. There's a romance subplot (something that doesn't do much for me -- I'd rather see this sort of thing come out as a byproduct of the game than as a part of a pre-written scenario) and a few other elements that seem a bit more scripted than I'd like. There is a confrontation in a fireworks factory which should get under your gun-toting (and flame-blast flinging) characters' skins, though.

Oh, and despite Robin's anti-battlemat screed in the FS rulebook, there are little maps of all the fight scenes.

Overall, I liked all the scenarios except for the last one (which just rubbed me the wrong way for some reason), and I think "Blood for the Master," in particular, is a good startup scenario for GMs looking for ways to hook players into the secret war &c.

Oh, and special kudos to John Tynes for writing a FS adventure that takes the emphasis off of combat. (Strange and heretical though that may seem).

Last modified: July 16, 1996; please send comments to