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Comments on The Oil Trail

Seeing as the norm of these comments so far, unfortunately, seems to be errors and clarifications, I thought I’d single out what I’ve found in relation to The Oil Trail. Have to add, though, that I’m overall pretty happy with the game despite agreeing with a lot of others in hoping that we will see some corrections in the final printed product.

Needless to say, there will be spoilers if you’re not a GM.

In any case:

Overall: The scenario/mini-campaign is compact, and introduces the game’s and setting’s concepts slightly over time in a feasible manner. If a bit railroady, that’s fine as an intro to everything. It is, however, rather light on details and cues. This is not necessarily a bad thing, but newer GMs might struggle a bit with giving life to all the scenes and characters. It is a double-edged sword with having an introduction scenario tie the characters to a specific culture, though, as it puts unnecessary restraints on new players and new characters, and might defeat the purpose of having the scenario be a starting point. It is easily modified for intermediate or veteran GMs, but adds another struggle to new GMs. But despite this, it is a nice foray into Dunwall as player characters.

I’ll address any errors and possible inconsistencies I found per section below:

Introduction

  • Timeline: The year 1827 is a good year for a long-running Dunwall-campaign going on into the plague years and first game with seasoned characters and ample opportunities for off-time. But it’s very far off from the height of the Morleyan Insurrection, which peaked in 1801-02. It’s a confusing and strange reference to events, even if unrest has happened since, some closer more definite event should be mentioned or better ties into the war presented in addition the questions.

  • Characters: There’s 15 years since the conclusion of the major events of the Insurrection. Most characters are by default somewhat old. More of an inconvenience than an inconsistency. Similarly, forcing Morleyan characters may not necessarily be that productive long-term, as mentioned above. Of other things, in particular relation to the players, the scenario fails to explain how the characters receive their starting equipment (this is important to players!)

  • Campaign/Group Truth: This is a VERY good feature, and it should be detailed more in the GM section. In this section in particular, it should be clearer if it replaces or adds to the personal character truths (and if in addition, if it adds 5 xp or not)

I: Voice of the Voiceless

Scene 1:

  • Again, very vague references to the timeline and insurrection. Why are the characters captured after this long? The Coldridge Dockyards Confinement Center box is worded so that it is clear that the prison has stood for a while (meaning the year is probably correct), but the speech in the read-aloud-text on p. 278 is worded differently.

  • Grim Prospects is without a timeframe.

Scene 2:

  • The named NPC inmates lacks any notable physical descriptions (good helper for new GMs or anyone, actually)
  • “Why are people being so careful with that particular organ?” (p. 280): Scene lacks any prompt to actually trigger this question.

Scene 3:

  • Key-stealing plan (which concludes in Scene 4) lacks a prompt to steal the keys AND the bladders in the same operation.

Scene 4:

  • Key-stealing plan (cont.) assumes, as said above, more than is actually asked of the characters in the same operation. Failing that, clear information on what happens if the operation is split over several nights, lacks.

Scene 5:

  • Explosion: “Those who duck (with the exception of the player character that’s inside the whale)” doesn’t specify what happens to the character that’s in the whale. Presumably (at least from a player standpoint), the whale and those within explodes.

II: War Within a Breath

Scene 1:

  • Marika also lacks any physical description. I know these are easy to make yourself, but it helps a lot in setting scenes, mood and helping new GMs. Her description yet again speaks of war, adding to the timeline inconsistency

Scene 2:

  • Last sentence of the Rundown-text has a typo: “Mikael offers asks them for help.”
  • About the Bottle Street Gang and Hatters (p 287): Vague info, and for the BSG somewhat inconsistent with the write-up on p. 146 (Despite that being for the plague years). Is the BSG Morleyans, or are these Morleyans? Thomas Reynard adds confusion to this if he fought against the Morleyans. Needs clarification.
  • The Truths once again lacks a timeframe. Are they permanent?
  • Mikael’s speech (p 288): End of the first speech paragraph: What war? More timeline inconsistencies/confusion. In the second speech paragraph he even says the war is over [at home], but explains it’s not over for the workers here. This is not an inconsistency, but it is confusing in the light of the inconsistencies.
  • Typo in second speech paragraph: “… I told Clarissa about the escape…” Should likely be “Clarissa told me about the escape.” ?
  • Blue bold text (p 288): Reference to giving the players chaos. Should it not be adding to the chaos pool that’s the correct term?

Scene 3:

  • (p 289) Talk Boldly/Cleverly task: Should it be specified that there’s a check for each gang?
  • For the Bottle Street Gang: First bullet point: Typo in second sentence. A “t” is missing from “three”.

III: Ashes of the Fall

Scene 4:

  • For this scene, the lack of any overview maps specific to the scenario is starting to show, despite knowing the mansion is in the Water District. Additionally, no description or features of the mansion is provided. A collection of the mansion’s truths would be nice.
  • (p 296) Typo: “Tinker” in the “Tinker Quietly” prompt in the first paragraph is missing an R.
  • Voice 2: War timeline inconsistency. Again.

Scene 5

  • The Break In: Again, a summary of mansionTruths would be preferable even though they’re presented throughout the text.
  • The Break In: There’s no mentioning of figuring out where Greaves is, only how to get there, which doesn’t make sense. A couple of example checks could be helpful.
  • Stand Your Ground: The “March of the Oilbloods” track lacks any description of its use. In context, it is likely that the number of boxes is the number of patrols, but it isn’t specified.

IV: Sleep Now in the Fire

Scene 1

  • First bulletpoint: Typo: “What do the gangs believe reason why the City Watch stopped coming is?” is lacking a “the” before reason. It’s also contradictory to the third point. Should specify that the gangs are not being targeted, but the workers and Morleyan community is?

Scene 3

  • Fugue Feast text block: Strange choice of font.

Scene 5

  • As with the mansion, for new GM (or any GM) ease, this area should have a sketch suggestion included, not just a mention of making one.
  • The mentioned progression track should also be specified in some manner.
3 Likes

Thanks for this, it saves me a lot of work.
I agree that the whole book needs another thorough proofreading pass, and I haven’t even read the setting section.

What I really missed in Oil Trail was an explanation of why the Forged in Rebellion truth hinders the characters (“Everyone should roll Survive Boldly, though this time they’ll need two successes instead of one, thanks to the Forged in Rebellion truth”). To me it sounds like it should benefit any action the characters attempt together. Also, why “this time”? There was no previous Survive Boldly roll.

This would have been a great opportunity to present tracks, how they are set up and resolved. My guess is pretty much like clocks in Blades in the Dark but a proper example would have been nice.

So many clearly not proofread sections like
“The first ten days of the group’s stay will be spent in their cell, as they are fed a normal diet, expected to regain strength for the eleventh day.”
Next paragraph:
“During the first ten days of their imprisonment, the watch provides food so that the inmates recover their strength after the long journey. On the eleventh day…”

1 Like

Planning on starting this week, but the timeline inconsistency is driving me crazy.

Your breakdown is excellent, JoJ88.

In fact, it’s 25 YEARS after the Morley Insurrection, not 15, so the youngest I can imagine any character being is 35 (which would still be weird), with most pushing 50 or older.

The Errata and Edit Notes do not address any of these issues.
Additionally, to my understanding, the Hatters didn’t even arrive on the scene until 1829.

I’m just going to have to scrub all Insurrection and Morley references and replace with something else.

Thoughts?

1 Like

In the Dishonored lore there is mentioned smaller rebellions breaking out over the years before and after the insurrection. So I just did “The Morley Insurrection 25 years ago never ended for the Morlean people. Small rebellions have popped up since. Not a single one has succeeded, including yours. That’s what lead you here.”
The hatter issue i solved by making a new gang. Since the hatters don’t match the gang the campaign describes and the universe. So figured since they describe a new gang… Just make a new name and we good.

2 Likes

Hi everyone, European DM here o/

I was wondering one thing that seems a bit odd to me: what exactly is the “cold room” supposed to be?
Logic would dictate it is a place where one stores items that need to be at a lower temperature, which could fit the need to place the bladders there, but then the fact that there is a guard stationed there supposedly at all times, with a desk and a safe throws me off a bit…

Anyone able to help me understand what this “cold room” actually is?

Thanks in advance.

1 Like

I read it as there’s a Cold Room to keep the bladders from combusting, with a vestibule area where the guard is stationed.

Replying to this overall thread, I just started the Oil Trial for a kick-off for some newcomers to the world and most to the D20 system itself. I read through the opening sections and decided to substantially re-work it for my players.

First, I did not have everyone being from Morley, or even part of the insurrection. In the end, only one character was Forged in Rebellion, with the others being caught up in the insurrection (a last-gasp insurrection before resistance is crushed for all time), with the others being variably Dunwall gunrunners, an assassin sent by Dunwall and a Walter White-style drug lord on the lamb, all wrapped up in the events and taken prisoner.

In the confinement centre, I have added some named guard characters and more named NPCs to make the recovery days more interesting - a bully guard the players and bare knuckle box, etc. It seems like they’re already role playing it nicely - the wrongly imprisoned ones are trying to bargain their way out, while the Morleyan is scoping out possible escapes. I deliberately let the start of such adventures play out quite naturally before ushering the PCs down the pre-written escape plan, which I still think is a fun way to conclude act 1.

If anyone’s interested I’ll post more updates on campaign progress.

1 Like