Review: Cakebread & Walton – Quintessence (Clockwork & Chivalry)

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Clockwork & Chivalry: Quintessence
Quintessence is a campaign module (Kingdom & Commonwealth Volume IV) for the English Civil War alternate history setting Clockwork & Chivalry (powered by RuneQuest II) published by Cakebread & Walton and written by Ken Walton and Peter Cakebread.
By Aaron T. Huss

Quintessence is the 4th module in the Kingdom & Commonwealth campaign series for Clockwork & Chivalry. However, the material is much more than that. The book is half sourcebook and half adventure combining to create a fantastic new product. The adventure takes your adventurers into a fantastical place within the English Civil War setting with all the source material thread throughout to provide future content and adventure information. Quintessence is truly a unique adventure that takes the Clockwork & Chivalry game (and setting) to a whole new level.


The adventure portion of Quintessence starts simple enough. The adventurers are given a task in which they need to track down some people, gather some information, reach the correct rendezvous points and ensure the story moves along as planned. Then the fun begins and things take an interesting twist. The center of the adventure is that the story moves from England to the moon (and that’s all I’ll say about the moon) and its current city-states. Much of this storyline revolves around the actual journey to the moon and the events that occur while on the moon.

Starting with the journey to the moon, the adventurers spend many months aboard the ship (see the cover), interacting with those on-board. While there is little need for combat, this period of the story is rife with role-playing encounters and investigative encounters (if desired). All sorts of stories can be told and the GM is able to run this journey for as many sessions as they wish. This is achieved by presenting them with a write-up of every single major character (and even some minor ones) aboard the ship and a handful of wandering encounters. However, the given material contains more than enough information to create mini-adventures during this journey and they are free to create conflict amongst the passengers. But as written, this portion of the adventure can be short, bringing the adventurers from England to the moon in a single session (or even less if desired) if the GM does not wish to make this an important part of the overall adventure.

Upon arriving at the moon, the adventurers come across a whole new, although somehow oddly familiar, world filled with city-states. The storyline only touches upon a few locations on the moon but allow for the GM to create much more. This is where the source material really comes into play. There are a series of events, as written, that move the storyline along and give the adventurers a set of great challenges. However, there is so much source material that a GM could keep the adventurers here for many gaming sessions doing all sorts of different tasks and coming across many new encounters. Upon completion of the events (as written), the adventurers make a retreat back to England and this part of the storyline ends.

One point of notable interest to GMs is that the adventure is written in a way that lots of events or encounters can be inserted into the storyline to create a variable game-play timeline. This gives GMs the freedom to make the adventure as short or long as they can imagine by adding as much material as the players desire.


Besides having a strong adventure and storyline, Quintessence is filled with a large amount of source material surrounding the moon, the city-states and the fifth element quintessence (and its associated magic). The source material is designed to allow the GM to expand upon the adventure content by adding as much detail as desired or using it to create mini-adventures or even mini-campaigns on the moon (or the journey to the moon). GMs would benefit from adding this to their Clockwork & Chivalry folder for future endeavors.

This source material is written from a 17th century perspective in how they viewed the moon and a journey to the moon.


Quintessence is not only a solidly written campaign module, but a wealth of source material for new campaign ideas and adventures bringing players back to the moon or placing them within the moon society. Not only would I recommend it to continue the campaign, but I recommend it as a stand-alone adventure and a source for new setting material. Plus I love how the source material is written in the perspective of “this is what people thought in the 17th century”.


Publication Quality: 7 out of 10
As much as I love the content, illustrations and the inclusion of sourcebook and adventure, the layout could use some revision in several spots throughout. While the overall flow and presentation of the content is good, the layout and actual placement are a bit tricky at times, causing unnecessary breaks within the content (or at least breaks that could be better placed). However, Quintessence contains some fantastic illustrations that include a map of the moon (with an overall look at the different city-states), head-shots that not only follow the wonderful standard throughout the Clockwork & Chivalry line but actually go one step further by bringing in more detail and awesome illustrations of key locations/items.

Mechanics: 10 out of 10
Because there is so much source material within Quintessence, I’m adding a Mechanics rating to the campaign module. One of the key things to remember about the source material presented throughout is how it reflects the theories and visions found throughout the applicable time period (the English Civil War). Man’s view of the moon, how to get there and what you will find are so fantasy in nature that they blend in perfectly with the alternate history aspect of the setting and the previous incorporation of alchemy and witchcraft. Add to this a huge amount of source material detailing the moon city-states and the quintessence element (the fifth element also known as aether) and you find yourself with a new campaign setting and wealth of role-playing opportunities. Maybe your adventurers will return to the moon someday…

Storyline: 10 out of 10
The storyline is absolutely fantastic! Besides the standard Kingdom & Commonwealth storyline (that follows the campaign throughout), there are multiple plot-points weaved throughout the adventure along with a plethora of adventure seeds in the source material (especially during the journey to the moon). One of the things that really makes the storyline so strong is the opportunity for internal and external conflict with the entire exploration group (not just the adventuring party). This makes for a high amount of role-playing opportunities and combat encounters that create a truly involved adventure, pleasing to many types of gaming groups.

Desire to Play: 10 out of 10
There are two reasons to desire playing Quintessence. The first is the continuation of the campaign while the second (and possibly the best reason) is the opportunity to adventure to the moon! As is, Quintessence could easily stand on its own as an adventure outside of the campaign, especially if you desire a campaign involving the trip to the moon, the time on the moon (as written) and possibly moving the written events out so that players can remain on the moon for a longer period of time. And with a combination of role-playing, investigation and combat, this adventure (as written) already contains much of what a diverse gaming group could look for. Extending the adventure to a mini-campaign is really just a bonus!

Overall: 9 out of 10
Quintessence is fantastic! It contains a great, involved storyline, lots of opportunities for different methods of game-play, and you get to play on the moon! When you dig into the mechanics surrounding the moon adventure, its not only interesting, but so fantastical that everything becomes that much more enjoyable because the possibilities are virtually endless!

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