Wanted: Dead or Alive
A Collection of Dastardly Criminals for Fifth Edition Dungeons & Dragons
by Adam Hancock, Anne Gregersen, Brittney Hay, Bryan Holmes, Justice Arman, Mark Staun Poulsen, Steve "Jaspor" Orr, and Vall Syrene
This was a really enjoyable read from start to finish. There are definitely fugitives in here that I am not going to use because they aren’t really my style but nonetheless, I enjoyed reading about them. There are overlaps for crimes, but every story and fugitive are unique. Also each criminal comes with a content warning, which I really liked. Safety tools being practiced in products is only ever a good thing.
Rumors are uncontrollable little things. They start as a whisper of some juicy tidbit that makes its way down to the tip of your tongue. Like a pestilence, rumors survive by spreading from host to host until entire settlements have accepted them as facts, changing the perception of its inhabitants forever. Unlike diseases, a rumor can never truly be cured; it feeds off of any attention given to it. When the nobleman steps up to vehemently deny his participation in demonic orgies, he only stokes the fires of gossip by drawing attention to it.
That’s what Amos is counting on.
I really loved Amos because of how much of a trickster he is. He is a master of disguise, most people aren’t quite sure what he looks like, and forgery which opens up a lot in terms of messing with your players. I don’t know about the rest of you dungeon masters, but I relish a good opportunity to mess with my players – in appropriate and fun ways of course.
Amos is perfect for that. His signature move is creating decoy posters not only for others but himself as well which is one of the reasons why people aren’t quite sure what he looks like. “His face is often obscured by wet, greasy hair, a scraggly beard, and a few lone teeth in an ever-grinning mouth.” This could be what he really looks like or it could be a ruse that’s up for you to decide. If he is used the right way, Amos could be the big reward for any games focusing on bounty hunting. He could be your player’s Moby Dick so to speak.
Captain Rodgers has assured me that we shall reach our target destination in just two days. The crew has shown admirable professionalism and diligence throughout our few months together, and I am thankful for their contribution to this extraordinary expedition of which I am lead explorer. Without them I could never have led us this far. Needless to say, once we disembark, they shall rely on my expertise on the critical matter of exploring the island and uncovering its secrets. I am going to finish the quest and find the treasure. It shall be the proudest moment of my life.
I’m gonna be real here. I liked Charlie because perfectly encapsulates the idea that not all criminals are equal. You’ve got criminal masterminds, crime king and queenpins, you’ve got sadistic killers and then you’ve got Charlie who is in this mess because he thought he was a natural born explorer like his father, Oswald Harker.
To keep it short, Charlie is bumbling fool. He thinks because his father was a great explorer that “gene” has been passed down to him when in reality he’s been riding on his father’s coattails never applying any of the lessons he could have learned from researching his father’s previous legendary expeditions.
Throwing Harker in front of your characters could be an opportunity to have them question the process in which bounties are created and completed. Sure Harker got a bunch of people killed but it wasn’t out of maliciousness or even any sort of criminal activity. He just wasn’t a good leader and curiosity got the best of him. Does that mean he actually belongs in jail? Is his capture and imprisonment just to satiate the ego and curiosity of the nobility? Should the players actual find him and turn him in? All great questions that Charlie Harker gives your players a chance to think about.
Everyone in the city knows about Dona Falone. In fact, most people could point out exactly where to find her, since her hideouts and gambling dens are open secrets. But good luck trying to get anyone to help you get to her. You see, Dona Falone has dirt on just about everyone. And those people she can’t blackmail are afraid of losing their livelihood, their lives, or the lives of their family. Even asking questions about Dona Falone earns you fearful glances and desperate shushing.
Alright hands down I think she is the BEST criminal in this book (that’s including the mind flayer which puppet masters undead – and I don’t know how many of y’all know this but I LOVE mind flayers) for two reasons. The first just look at her. If I saw her I wouldn’t expect her to be crime queenpin. It’s the ones you least suspect that get you and I love them for it.
The second reason is this line right here: As far as anyone can tell, Dona turned to a life of crime simply because she was good at it. A lot of the villains that I see, read, fight etc have some over the top reason for why they turned to crime, some tragic backstory but not Dona. She found something she was good at and ran with and it just happened to be crime. I really believe more villains like this breath fresh air into the stories we are telling with players.
Sometimes I feel like a broken record when it comes to the final thoughts because so far our of the fifteen reviews I have done - including this one - there hasn't been a single product I wouldn't recommend people buy. I'm happy to add this one to that list. No two criminals are alike and there's enough information for each of them to pull a session out of your ass if you haven't had time to plan or what have you. This is a valuable product for any dungeon master to have.