Today I'll take a look at a 1st level module,
This module is 40 pages long, 1 page front cover, 4 blank pages, 1 page editorial/ToC, 1 page SRD, 1 page advertisement, leaving us with 32 pages of content, so let's take a look!
This being an adventure-review, the following contains SPOILERS. Potential players may wish to jump to the conclusion.
All right, still here? House Rodow, a mercantile noble house has seen better days - bad investments had the family fortunes bleed out and the situation escalated - to the point where the family decided to once again summon the demon that made it possible for them to gain their prominence. The problem is, though, that a competing noble family got wind of this and sent off an agent to deal with the summoning, interrupt it and gather evidence. Unfortunately, said agent failed to specify the details of what was to happen to the Rodows.
Thus, the PCs, as soon as they arrive at Rostow Manor, they'll see that a raging fire has recently burned the manor - exploring the house, which is in danger of collapsing, should yield some interesting hints - a lot of sample DCs make investigating what went down feasible. After the Pcs have eliminated 4 wild dogs in the manor gardens, one Pinion Merino with his security, arrives in his carriage and hires the PCs to bring justice to the unknown perpetrators. Tracking the perpetrators into the wood, the PCs will have to deal with orcs before arriving at the home of the culprits - caves of a tribe of mites - where the PCs may also find out that the mites were coerced into the attack on the Rodows. The Mites are not stupid (though not particularly competent) and have among other things, a ballista ready to fire at the PCs...
Now if the PCs manage to defeat the mites, there will be an interesting map with a red x - the x denoting the secret location of the Rodow family's crypt - which Pinion concedes and tells them about the trouble of the Rodow family. Exploring the tomb turns out to be rather tricky - the door is animated and quite some traps litter the locale. Sealed in the tomb, the players find 4 bandits, ready to thank the PCs for their release with death as well as the devil the Rodows dealt with. It turns out that the competing merchant family's agent was behind the downfall of House Rodow - and the PCs have a choice to make: Support the slaughter of a house of devil-worshipping nobles or bringing justice to a not particularly bright agent of a corrupt house of merchants. However they decide, the PCs will have to bring one culprit to justice - or, well, just walk away.
Editing and formatting are good, though not perfect - I noticed some minor glitches and the 4 blank pages are slightly annoying when printing out the module. Layout adheres to AaW's 2-column, parchment background-style and the pdf has no bookmarks, which is a mayor downside. The stock art is thematically fitting and the cartography of the two locations (but not the manor) is as awesome as I've come to expect from AaW.
Author Haakon Sullivan's module is an interesting short 1st level module with some challenging encounters, interesting DCs and choices to make - while not reinventing the wheel or blowing me out of the water, it features a permeating sense of decadence and corruption, which is nice to see. That being said, I couldn't help myself feeling like the minor formal issues combined with the lack of a truly inventive idea make this not reach the echelons of excellence. While solid, the story has been done before and honestly, I would have loved to see a haunt here, or at least a slightly more terrain-invested showdown. In the end, I thus feel justified in rating this 3.5 stars, rounded down to 3 due to, among aforementioned minor gripes, the glitches and the lack of a printer-friendly version.