The Jackal's Revenge

A Walk Through the Planes – Part 83: The Jackal’s Revenge




We’re back at another one of those Prime-focused planar adventures in Dungeon, and as such much of what I said for 1999’s “Deep Trouble in Telthin” applies once again. Published in issue #95 of the magazine (November/December 2002), it’s the first adventure of the issue and, fortunately, not the one meant to tie in to the Book of Vile Darkness—that one’s “Porphyry House of Horrors,” which takes place in a brothel and is chock full of disgusting rape and torture. Sooo yeah, as much as I liked parts of the Book of Vile Darkness, on the other hand it led to things like that; edgelord adventures are a sick, sad affair. Anyhow, “The Jackal’s Redemption” unfortunately involves no actual jackals, and also quite possibly not so much redemption. That’s just the nickname of an idiot wizard who gets seduced by an erinyes, and as a result of her schemes his wizard tower is now phasing back and forth between the Prime where it was originally located and her lair on Gehenna. So yes, we’re taking a quick trip to the outer planes… but only in order to fix some issues on the Prime, meaning that there’s not much planar focus here and also that what’s visited on another plane is once again a small, capsule version of this reality cut off from the rest. As I said, it’s “Trouble” all over again. 

Written by Chad MacPhee & Greg Oppedisano, who I don’t recall seeing anywhere else so I think this was just a one-off adventure submission from them, “Redemption” is extremely linear and has a lot of read-out-loud backstory sections. If your players like that, then cool, but as such this feels more like exploring a video game dungeon than a tabletop RPG one. There isn’t much to actually do here except to move forward and read the next bit of lore explaining what’s going on with that blinking tower. And while theoretically there’s the mystery of that tower to explore, it’s obvious pretty much from the get-go that this wizard is being seduced by some sort of fiendish new wife (oh yeah, there’s that typical misogynistic trope too, yay…). I think the biggest revelation might be that she’s not a succubus but rather an erinyes who’s gone slightly rogue. Not that this really matters, as once players get to her lair in Gehenna they’re going to be smashing her up and freeing the imprisoned wizard and townsfolk from her clutches. That’s it. The adventure’s done, move along now there’s nothing else to see here. 

The adventure’s erinyes has clearly had a hard, hard life judging from her face. Be kind.

The only bit of real weirdness you’ll find in the module is that the erinyes in question’s entire evil plan revolves around xills, who you might remember from Planescape (or even before then) as those four-armed, demonic-looking creatures who procreate by murdering humanoids with implanted eggs. The thing is, they’re really an Ethereal creature who has absolutely nothing to do with devils. Why the erinyes is working with the xills is never explained, and in fact this became the biggest mystery for me when reading through the adventure. I kept waiting to see if this would tie together somehow to make some sort of sense and, well, it never did. That’s also much of why “Redemption” feels so much like a fan-made adventure and not a professional one. Throwing random monsters together as allies is very much the type of thing we’ve all done when dashing off an adventure at home because we just want to use a couple cool monster types in a dungeon and didn’t have enough time to think things through. Players will rarely ask questions about this sort of thing, as there’s no reason why they’d be aware that xills have nothing to do with fiends (they certainly look demonic enough), but reading through it as a DM with a lot of knowledge about the planes means that the entire central premise seems like nonsense. 


There isn’t that much more to “The Jackal’s Redemption” than that, and if you can’t tell, I don’t think this is a terrible adventure but it is rather basic and not really worth reading through. Most DM’s can come up with something of this sort on their own, and there’s very little to spur on your imagination, either. Even the artwork and cartography is dull-but-passable, which means it fits the adventure perfectly well but won’t make it any more memorable. If anything, third edition has really proven how difficult it is to make a good planar adventure, considering that we’ve had a grand total of one thus far.

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