Today, we’re going to be looking at a module that I’ve been rather dying to play, The End of the Line.
The End of the Line is a 5e adventure with heavy Western themes and horror thrown into the mix. It’s designed as an adventure hook to get players from point A to Point B in a campaign without simply saying “You take a caravan to the next town over”.
It’s fairly easy to run and there are rules and small details that make it really fun for players and easy to set up for DMs.
Like all good adventure modules, our players start out at an inn or tavern. This one allows players to get familiar with the Western theme and the focus on the railroad journey.
It plays out like a simple choose-your-own-adventure with players being able to choose to help the stereotypical “good guys” or “bad guys”. They could also just completely ignore the other NPCs and simply get on the train thinking that it’s going to be a simple ride.
The author does a great job of setting the scene and there are actually a few interesting characters. They do mention that many of the names and settings are ambiguous on purpose to give the DM more freedom.
The train doesn’t necessarily need to be going to a Western theme, it can be adjusted for any setting. The main feature is that the train is one of the few ways that connects a remote region to the more developed areas of your world.
I really like the special train mechanic rules. If you’ve ever had to walk on a train, you know a quick curve or an inconsiderate passenger is going to be a problem. There are special rules to deal with movement and if you’re feeling a bit brave players can also climb on top of the train to move up and down the rail line. They also might get smacked by a tree branch going by or into a tunnel entrance, Daffy Duck style.
The train heist seems pretty straightforward until just after the bandits attack. Not to spoil what happens, but the party immediately finds themselves face-to-face with an undead/demonic horror. It proceeds to tear up the train and actually does some pretty horrific things while it’s running amok.
It’s a definite tone shift in the storyline and I really like it. It completely changes expectations and throws the players a curveball while still fitting within the fantasy/Western setting that they’re trying to create.
Finale & Verdict
I love the finale of this setting. It reminds me of the train in Final Fantasy 7. Depending upon the player’s actions they’ll be heroes or villains. It’s a really cool way to get a simple session in or introduce a new area to your players since by the end of the one-shot the players will be in a completely different area ready to explore and interact with a new setting.
My friends kept telling me to give this one a try and I’m glad I finally did. The Western theme normally isn’t my thing, but The end of the Line was incredibly well written and doesn’t necessarily need to be heavily western. I was more surprised by the horror elements thrown in.
The whole thing is just well thought out and I’m a fan. It’s definitely going to get used when I need to move my party to a new region or area.
- Nice mini-transition campaign.
- Can be altered to fit any setting.
- Well thought out with fun rules.
I really liked the thought that went into this. The choices players get are seemingly simple and presented as a good guy vs. a bad guy, but the “good guys” have horrifying monsters locked up in cages for some unknown purpose. It’s a nice touch and I can really see my players getting into the story of it.
There’s really not much I don’t like. This isn’t a full campaign and it doesn’t pretend to be. It’s just a nice little side jaunt that’s perfect for introducing players into a new area.