DMs Guild Review – Red Jack: A Gothic Earth Adventure

Investigate a Jack the Ripper-style murder in late 19th century London in this level 1 Gothic Earth adventure.

A review copy of “Red Jack: A Gothic Earth Adventure” was provided by the publisher. Find more DMs Guild Reviews on my website and YouTube channel.

Support my work by using affiliate links for shopping and pledging via Patreon.

Designed by: M. T. Black

I’m familiar with Jack the Ripper but less so with the Gothic Earth RPG setting, which was apparently introduced to Advanced Dungeons & Dragons 2nd Edition in the mid 90s. Famous literary characters like Sherlock Holmes exist in this alternate period universe, as does magic and supernatural creatures.

Red Jack: A Gothic Earth Adventure” takes its major story cues and plot structure from a classic Holmes/Jack the Ripper murder mystery, distilled into a single D&D session for a new level 1 party.

The short, 10-page adventure takes place in late 19th century London. Another grisly murder has taken place, and Jack the Ripper is still at large. The PCs are summoned to the infamous home of Sherlock Holmes at 221B Baker Street, given the basic murder investigation notes, and sent off to do some sleuthing.

No plot hooks are provided, so hopefully everyone in the party is fully on board with a murder mystery that is almost entirely devoid of combat and puzzles. Instead the PCs spend the majority of the time talking to different NPCs and learning new bits of information, such as searching the victim’s room and finding the name of a local doctor, or talking to the police inspector about the nature of the body.

The doctor is the actionable piece of intel needed to move the story forward. The clinic is closed but asking around will lead them to the Doctor’s house, where a confrontation leads to the spirit of his deceased wife to manifest. Turns out she was responsible for the killings, having committed suicide out of a complicated, failing relationship with her husband, and was murdering his patients out of jealousy from beyond the grave.

It’s a decent twist that adds a nice supernatural flair to the murders, though the climax occurs way earlier and easier than I would have liked. The spirit of the wife manifests as a ghost, which could provide a very difficult boss battle for a group of level 1 PCs, although she’s given reduced HP.

The overall layout and presentation is starkly black and white, though I didn’t mind the lack of visual flair as it fits the theme of the adventure, particularly the black and white artwork. I also liked the handouts: a mini foldout map of the Whitechapel area, and a newspaper clipping about the latest murder.

The adventure includes four pre-made PCs (with backgrounds!), a nice boon since most parties probably don’t have Gothic Earth characters ready to go, as well as a table of period-appropriate names. I also appreciated the very easy to parse rules for dealing with sanity, magic, and firearms in the Gothic Earth setting, though none of that really comes into play in the context of this short, fairly straightforward investigation.

I enjoyed the classic literary themes and Gothic styles, but the plot and climax left me disappointed. It needed a few more twists and turns and at least one solid red herring to pin the blame on. A period piece murder mystery is a compelling hook for a D&D adventure, but this one-off doesn’t quite go far enough.

Pros:

  • Simple, easy rules to use sanity, magic, and firearms.
  • Four pre-gen characters to quickly jump into the action.
  • Player handouts for the Whitechapel area and a newspaper clipping.

Cons:

  • A little too short and simplistic for a Sherlock Holmes/Jack the Ripper murder mystery.

The Verdict: The Gothic Earth setting is intriguing, but By Condensing a murder mystery into a single short session, “Red Jack,” loses a bit of its thematic flair.

A review copy of “Red Jack: A Gothic Earth Adventure” was provided by the publisher. Find more DMs Guild Reviews on my website and YouTube channel.

Support my work by using affiliate links for shopping and pledging via Patreon.

Author: roguewatson

Freelance Writer

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