The Book of Lost Spells is now available in PDF! (The print copy will follow in a month or so).
This completes the series of books that Necromancer Games/Frog God Games put up for kickstarter last year.
Go have a look!
There’s more I will probably say about it in the future, but for now… it’s out!
The first adventure from WanderLOST Adventures, The Storm Keep, presents a keep that is currently being plagued by a number of elemental manifestations. The wizard who lived there is lost, and his apprentices are trapped inside.
It’s a nice little adventure, which shouldn’t take much more than a session to play through. There are eight areas to explore, all of which get a good amount of detail. Random elemental effects add a bit of chaos to encounters, and the adventure gives a good mix of role-playing, combat and exploration. Balance-wise, it’s fairly good, although the final encounter could be entirely too difficult. Challenge Rating of 5 for a 3rd-level party? Bit problematic, although there are tricks that allow a smart party to avoid the full danger of this encounter. In fact, it might not be that difficult, but the text is a little unclear in this section on how to run it. Do you need to fight the Big Bad directly? Or are his powers limited?
The adventure is nicely formatted and is quite attractive in appearance, despite not using art save for the maps. The maps are simple, computer-generated affairs, and their greatest sin is not using a numeric key to link to the descriptions of the rooms. Although it’s generally not needed due to the simple design of the keep, there are a couple of times when it would make the layout clearer.
The adventure presumes use of the D&D Basic rules, and provides stat-blocks and descriptions for a number of original monsters and magic items.
Overall, it’s a nice adventure, albeit with a few issues that you should be able to overcome.
Dan Hass’s seventh adventure, The Poison Works, sees the adventurers finally making their way into the territory of the Red Blades. As is typical with these adventures, the formatting is poor, the maps are adequate, it would be nice to see better editing, but there are some good encounter ideas.
The formatting problems really hit the first encounter, which explains the details of the PC’s mission. The result is not good, and takes a lot of reading and re-reading to understand what exactly needs to be conveyed to the players. A few spelling and grammatical mistakes don’t help matters. It really doesn’t help that the text seems to indicate that the goal of the mission is for the party to abduct a town! In fact, the town is named after someone who lives there, but it is anything but clear from the text.
Most of the adventure is taken up with the travel to a Red Blade settlement, which does not make for inspiring adventuring. Being unable to rest whilst travelling was interesting the first time I saw it, but it got boring very fast.
The destination of the PCs, the orc town, is described in a moderate amount of detail, although there are a number of flaws in its presentation. Many of the problems come down to the idiosyncratic formatting of the adventure, which does a really good job of obscuring important details.
I’m not particularly pleased with this adventure; it’s poorly constructed and would require a significant amount of work from the DM to run it. The title of the adventure promises a lot that it just doesn’t deliver.
A Little Bit of Thievery is a short adventure for first-level characters in which the characters are hired to steal a magical object (a silver raven figurine) that is being displayed at a noble’s party. The adventure describes the grounds of the manor, its inhabitants, and a number of potential options for the players.
The adventure doesn’t presume the characters will go it in a particular fashion. It instead offers suggestions to the DM as to what the NPCs will do in reaction to various PCs. It’s not a particularly complicated adventure, but it covers most of the basics a DM would need, and it has some nice touches.
The adventure ends with suggestions as to what might happen next; in particular, the noble from whom the item was stolen from is unlikely to be happy, and may well be able to track down the PCs!
Production values are good, although some of the art is decidedly amateur. Overall, it’s a nice little adventure, albeit short.
Adventures in High Wold is a 9-page adventure and sourcebook for a small town by Corey Ryan Walden. It’s attractively presented, and is designed to be used with any fantasy RPG. This means that it lacks any statistics past terms like “1st level fighter”. It wouldn’t be hard to adapt it for use, but it does require some work on the part of the DM.
The town of High Wold was once prosperous, but due to the policies of its corrupt mayor is no longer so, and many of its buildings are now dilapidated. The adventure describes fourteen areas in the town. Some of them have hooks for further adventures, and the appendix has additional adventure ideas.
In an attempt to keep the adventure generic, the author has moved a lot of specific information, such as NPC names and motivations, into areas of text offset from the main descriptions. I don’t think this is necessary: I’m far more interested in these ideas than in the more generic descriptions of people and places.
There are some nice ideas in Adventures in High Wold, and some of the adventure ideas are really good. However, due to the DM needing to design most of the adventures, what you’re actually getting is a town with a couple of encounters and some potential for expansion. It looks good and reads nicely, though.
The sixth part of Dan Hass’s Dimgaard series, And the Dwarf Thane Slept, finds the party hired to acquire and transport a supply of gems so that the clerics of the land can cast raise dead again (they’ve run out!). Persuading the dwarves to help is likely to be easy, as their Thane has recently died and the clerics can raise him! This is an unusual hook, to say the least, and it quickly brings the group into the land of the dwarves, where the usual violent politics soon intrude.
The bulk of the adventure details travelling back home with the dwarf’s body, all the while with the various humanoids and bandits that live in the area causing trouble.
As with most of these adventures, it’s a fairly linear adventure. Despite being a 26-page adventure, this feels really short, although the party is likely to be challenged by the ambushes and attacks that occur on the road. There’s a modicum of role-playing, but it isn’t really a great exploration adventure: you’re likely to see most of what it offers without trying too hard.
It’s fascinating to compare the structure of this adventure to the original, site-based adventures. This is a long way from them, although – in a lot of ways – it’s the other side of the coin. Fixed encounters occurring along a time-line? The comparison to fixed encounters at set locations is an interesting one.
Although a competent enough adventure, I’m not feeling that this is the best of the Dimgaard series; at this point, I’m very familiar with the structure of the adventures, and I’m wanting something a little more involved and with more divergence of possible activities. There’s good material here, and it’s interesting to see how the Red Blade War develops. There’s enough here to keep players interested.
The fifth adventure by Dan Hass (and the second in the Red Blade War series), And the Goblin Boss Wailed, has the characters dealing with a displaced goblin tribe, the Horned Skull. Written for 1-8 characters of level 2, the adventure is 25 pages long and is a significant amount of work. It is also available as part of a package that includes all four initial adventures in the Red Blade War.
The adventure takes up where And the Elf Prince Wept ended, with the characters in the elven lands. A plague has broken out in the human villages, and the elves have prepared a package of medicines to send to their neighbours. However, the prince doesn’t want to expose his subjects to the plague. Now, if only there were a band of adventurers that would take the job…
This is a much more ambitious adventure than the previous adventures in the series. The players are hit by a number of ethical challenges, and must juggle fighting the disease and dealing with the goblins. The plague also brings out the worst in humankind, and although it isn’t a major theme of the adventure, having to deal with the gap between the powerful and the poor makes for more interesting decisions by the players.
Although there are only nine encounters in the adventure, the encounters have a lot of detail in them (and might be split out into several encounters in another product). The adventure requires a lot of the DM, as there is the possibility of some intense role-playing. Most of the adventure can be handled without combat, although violence is an ever-present threat. The adventure really reads well and looks very entertaining.
The stat-block for the goblin boss, which includes lair actions, shows excellent innovation.
The quality of these adventures has been increasing. The maps and layout are better and the encounters are getting more interesting and more detailed. The editing is not always perfect, but it doesn’t detract from the ambition of what is on the page. And the Goblin Boss Wailed is a strong addition to the Dimgaard series.