Today I'm going to take a look at the first 2 offerings from AdventureaWeek.com's B-series of adventures, which are penned by guest authors as opposed to regular staff, starting with
This module is 38 pages long, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial/ToC, 1 page SRD and 1 page back cover, leaving 34 pages of content for this module, so let's check it out!
This being an adventure-review, the following contains SPOILERS. Potential players might want to jump to the conclusion.
All right, still here? Saben Behi, purveyor and scholar of magic, has turned to darker arts and managed to capture a worm-that-walks in his tower - a pathetic example of the ilk, but one nevertheless. Unfortunately for him, the thing has escaped with the help of the infernal master to which its soul is indebted and executed the captor. The PCs learn of the lapse in the sage's communication and now are expected to find out what has befallen the sage.
After two days in a desert, the PCs encounter an impossible oasis, a jungle-maze which not only houses the sage's tower, but which is also infested with stirges and seeks to disorient the PCs. It should be noted that the 3.5 and PFRPG-challenges in this section of the adventure are rather different from one another - nice if you want to run the module multiple times. The Ps might also find Saben's dead messenger and a note here, making clear for once and all that something went rather wrong here. The exploration of the sage's tower features, among others, vermin, an alchemical amoeba, a potentially helpful water mephit that can shed some light on what happened as well as a battle against an augur kyton and the worm-that-walks that proved to be the undoing of the mage. The pdf also includes a new pistol that never runs out of ammunition.
Editing and formatting are top-notch, I didn't notice any significant glitches. Layout is all new - full-color, streamlined, more professionally looking, concise, easy to read and rather beautiful - kudos for this revised layout - it makes reading the pdf more comfortable than the older AaW-releases. The pdf comes fully bookmarked and in 3 version - the full color version, a printer-friendly version that is full color, but without background and another printer-friendly version that eliminates the color from e.g. the read-aloud boxes as well -Commendable! The pdf also comes with full herolab-support. As I've come to expect from AaW, the cartography is beautiful and both the general location and the tower featured come in two versions - one DM-version and a player-friendly version of the map, which is awesome and should be standard! Kudos again! The pdf also comes with a note as a handout, again, nice. I did like this adventure, but it should be noted that it's among the shorter modules by AaW - the dual statblocks for 3.5 and PFRPG take up quite some space.
That being said, the writing of Michael McCarthy is solid and the module per se a nice exploration of a wizard's tower. The one thing I didn't wholly grasp was how the boss could overwhelm the creator of the tower - at its powerlevel, the boss is not particularly lethal for an archmage. I'm somewhat nitpicking here and I'm aware of that - the fact is, that while the module is solid and fun, it lacks a truly intriguing, unique component that sets it apart, something wholly and truly outstanding - like additional/unique hazards in the jungle, rules for the trip across the desert, something akin to the swamp-boat mini-game in "Wild Things" or a smart puzzle . Thus, I'll settle for a final verdict of "only" 4 stars.
This module is 47 pages long, 1page front cover, 1 page editorial/ToC, 1 page SRD, 1 page advertisement and 1 page back cover, leaving 42 pages of content so let's check this out!
This being an adventure-review, the following contains SPOILERS. Potential players might wish to jump to the conclusion.
After some detours to other places, we now return to the village of Rybalka and ona nice evening full of drink, the village is attacked by what is first thought to be Vikmordere, but turns out to be orcs. As soon as they've been driven off, a headcount reveals that people have been dragged off by slavers. The chase is on and the PCs may bluff the orcs of the raiding ship if they're smart and get quite a bit of information as well as the sense that something is wrong with them. Anyways, the trail leads to the Orc's island, where they have to brave dangers like lacedons and the protection and booby traps guarding the approach to the orcish settlement. Once there, the PCs have choices between stealth, direct approach (negotiation or combat) and even bluffing their way in.
And then, the module takes the noble savage-twist with Pomak, the chief, who seeks to atone for the tribe's sin of cowardice by offering his life. These orcs are apathetic and grieving and the village priest has advocated for the sacrifice of the villagers and the raid, for the orcs are terrorized by a group of ettins. In two days, the two-headed monsters return and while the PCs might leave the orcs to their fate, an excessive sidebar covers preparations for the arrival of the giants - from securing allies and creating supplies to improving the walls. The PCs and orcs can stand together against the ettin assault, taking on 4 (!!!) ettins and hopefully having used the time well. Once the ettins have been eliminated in a heroic struggle (including a potential coup d'état), the PCs are left with a mystery - the captives are nowhere to be found and the trail, for now, runs cold, but we'll return to that in a future module...
The pdf closes by the encounter index, providing all stats in 3.5 and PFRPG and comes with a full-page map of Rybalka as well as a map of the adventure-locations and a player-friendly version of latter map. The map of the orc's island deserves special praise - it's beautiful indeed.
Editing and formatting, while not absolutely perfect, are very good. I didn't notice any significant glitches. Layout adheres to AaW's new 2-column standard and is in full-color and nice. The artworks are mostly ones I've seen before. The pdf is fully bookmarked and comes with two alternate printer-friendly versions as well as herolab-support. This module is fun - not because of the rather regular beginning, but because of the fact that it essentially provides the option to use a variety of solutions for the problems and features a cool siege-like scenario in the end that can be truly fun. While I would have loved some sample encounters that could go wrong in the end (jamming ballista etc.), that's not enough to rate this module down. It is fun, provides incentives for not mindlessly butchering everything and provides an interesting glimpse at orcs beyond being evil creatures. Essentially, this module does almost the same plot as "Icecrag Monastery", but is better in just about every way. That being said, the finale could indeed use more "small" encounters of things the PCs might fix themselves and influence the final battle. If they had been included, this adventure would have been great - as written, we remain with a good adventure that falls slightly short of being great. My final verdict will thus be 4.5 stars, rounded down to 4 for the purpose of this platform.
Thanks for reading my ramblings, as always!