Pathfinder Legends: Review: Big Finish Audio #2: Rise of the Runelords – The Skinsaw Murders

skinsawmurdersthecover_cover_largeWritten by Cavan Scott, directed by John Ainsworth

In which scarecrows stalk the farmlands outside of Sandpoint in the dead of night and a wave of ritualistic murders has Sheriff Hemlock requesting the adventurers’ help once again. But where has Merisiel disappeared to…?

Now that the world building and character introductions have largely been dealt with in Burnt Offerings, the Pathfinder Legends line wastes little time in getting down to the business of telling stories, which The Skinsaw Murders does quite capably. A palpable sense of unease permeates the proceedings both for Merisiel (who, going out for a night’s walk to escape Valeros’s incessant bragging, finds herself helping a local farmer safely reach his niece’s farm) and for her three comrades, who quickly realise that the murders are the depraved work of one person – whose trail leads them to the abandoned Foxglove Manor.

The transition from horrific rural goings-on to crime scene investigation to hostage drama by way of a haunted house goes smoother than one might expect, and the lead actors inhabit their character with aplomb. In this instance, they’re capably supported by Duncan Wisbey’s accomplished voice work and a soundscape that sells its settings with conviction.

At the risk of sounding like a back-handed compliment, Wisbey’s contributions are so engrossing that once he’s no longer part of the proceedings, events lose their emotional and dramatic focus somewhat. Consequently, the final act of The Skinsaw Murders – a climactic showdown within a crumbling clock tower which ought to be the story’s showpiece – instead feels strangely tacked-on.

Also, it feels occasionally like certain role-playing game concepts – particularly those of a monstrous nature – are being simplified for an audience unfamiliar with such creatures and concepts, but if sacrificing game mechanics is the price to pay for an engaging story, then by all means the writers should continue doing so!

Verdict: A creepy concoction of sinister goings-on, memorably realised by all concerned. 7/10

John S. Hall

Click here to order The Skinshaw Murders from Big Finish

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