Today I'll take a look at AaW's latest classic play module,
This module is 27 pages long, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial/ToC, 1 page SRD, leaving us with a total of 24 pages of content, so let's check this out!
This being an adventure-review, the following contains SPOILERS. Potential players may wish to jump to the conclusion.
All right, still here? The Sufferhorn Orc clan, leaders of the Gorrok empire of Orcs (also having subjugated ogres, trolls etc.) is trying to expand the borders of their empire and unfortunately for all other races, they seem to be succeeding: The PCs are hired to take Mosshammer castle, which has fallen to the Boarhut tribe, themselves related to the Sufferhorns.
Now logic dictates that retaking a castle, even when manned by orcs, is not that simple and indeed, the approach of the PCs can be rather sandboxy, enabling them to e.g. take out a hunting group to thin the ranks, pass undead former human soldiers guarding the castle unharmed etc. Smart thinking is rewarded - a sidequest, for example, would have the PCs enter the former chapel of the castle to retrieve a relic - unfortunately, the chapel is now home to not one, but 4 dire boars. If the PCs have found a particular set of bottles and douse foes with the "pig sweat", they can actually have the creatures attack the doused foe exclusively - great way to reward smart thinking. Speaking of side-quests - a treasure map (provided as a hand-out - the second after a one-page rendition of the castle exterior) could lead the PCs to a place where they can unearth a treasure - provided they survive the journey.
But back to the castle: The orcs have truly created a monstrosity: A *drum roll* DEMON SHEEP! (which is actually undead) -hilarious and awesome and yet another way for stealthy characters to sow discord and sabotage their foes! To triumph truly, though, they'll have to vanquish chief Dolaken Boarhut and his sorcerous brother Harveken - once these two are done for, they castle will finally be back in non-green hands: But for how long?
Editing and formatting are very good, I didn't notice any significant glitches. Layout adheres to AaW's two-column standard and the module comes in two versions: One with a background and one rather printer-friendly one sans the background. The module is extensively bookmarked with nested bookmarks and comes with two nice player's handouts as well as a player-friendly map of the castle, which is nice to have.
At first, this module may seem simple and uninspired. Take back a castle from orcs. Yeah, ok. There's something about Sufferhorn, though, that makes it interesting and it's not only the nice sidequest, but rather it's the details and the obvious sandboxy intention of confronting the players with a situation and have them either try to grind through it or use their wits and guerrilla warfare to succeed. Smart PCs can avoid the worst battle in the module and even turn a significant potential asset of the orcs against them. If they're dumb, players could die, yes. But much like "Goblin Cave" (seriously, Goblin Cave?), this module is a solid challenge and a great introduction to the mindset and playstyle of the classics. Add the nice humor inherent in one creature that had me grin and we're in for a good module, though not one that can stand up to the stellar C1. Much rather, consider this a nice, short sojourn that will provide a fun time for you and your players without taxing them to their utmost limits or being too easy. In the end, it is a solid, good module that can be considered a good piece of writing. It is only due to the module's shortness that the final verdict will thus be 4 stars.