An Adventure Per Year: Clash of Wills (1997)

In my A Game Per Year project, my goal has been to read one roleplaying game corebook for every year they’ve been published. However, I soon started to feel that it was hard to decipher how the games were really meant to be played. For this reason, I decided to start a parallel project, An Adventure Per Year, to read one roleplaying adventure for each year they’ve been published.

The cover of Clash of Wills

Before anything else, I have to address the wordplay in the title of this Vampire: the Dark Ages scenario. Yes, it refers to both “strong-willed” and “last will and testament”.

A small-town lord lies dying and the characters are sent in by the Prince of London to make sure his fiefdom remains in the hands of the Ventrue and doesn’t fall into the clutches of the Toreador. Complicating matters is the fact that the lord’s son is now a vampire too, present at his death bed to make sure he won’t will his domain to the church in a last-ditch effort to save his soul.

The style of the scenario is luridly medieval, with innocent maidens who’s virtue is threatened by lecherous and violent men, monks belonging to an evil cult and peasants who take up vampire-hunting. Everything is painted with a broad brush, but perhaps that’s what you need to do in a 40-page scenario booklet.

Like the majority of the Anglo-American mainstream style scenarios I’ve read, here too the player characters are incidental outsiders in the drama. I keep butting my head into this design choice because when I run Vampire (or any other roleplaying game) the most obvious choice has always been to involve the player characters with the drama on a personal level.

Of course, the reason for this choice is to make it possible to plug any set of characters into the scenario. From this perspective, Clash of Wills is very much plug and play. As long as the characters have a patron they listen to, they can be thrown into the action.

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