TO WALK THE DARK ROAD – Interview with author Michael Allen

cover1. Why should I read To Walk the Dark Road?

Who doesn’t want to feast on the history of lost armies and empires, seasoned with torture, curses and dark magic?


2. What makes To Walk the Dark Road unique?

I set out to design an adventure without a single stat block – all challenges straight out of the bestiaries. I usually enjoy adding class levels to monsters to beef them up and make them unique, so sifting through the monster books for just the right critter that fit the story was a lot of fun – and something different for me.


3. What neat stuff is in To Walk the Dark Road?

The adventure is fairly straightforward to run, but there are a number of twists and secrets for the players to discover. As well as surprising the players with these, there are some cool magic items and a good chunk of environmental challenges that will keep the adventurers on their toes.


bat4. Which part of To Walk the Dark Road was the most fun to design?

I enjoyed the magic items. Working their background into the tale made these items breathe a little bit more to me. I also like the fact that power also comes with a price, and any opportunity to provide players with trade-offs for power is one that should not be missed.


5. Is there a specific part of To Walk the Dark Road that you identify as your favorite?

My kids’ favorite is the part where a party member has to drive a steel stylus into their eyeball to access the magic therein. I think my favorite part is how many times they described that scene to their mom and grossed her out.


6. What kind of gameplay was the focus for To Walk the Dark Road

It is a wilderness trek that has the feel of a dungeon crawl. Not so much from an exploration standpoint but from the set up and pacing of the encounters. There are role-playing opportunities in some interesting places, but for the most part, you are trying to survive and accomplish your mission in a hostile land.


hag7. Did you have any inspiration for To Walk the Dark Road?

Two really. The first was the sack of Anglesey and destruction of the druid’s stronghold there by the Romans. The second is Celtic cauldron myths. The artifact in the adventure, The Tear of the Mother, is really a mythic cauldron in a different skin.


8. If any theme dominated To Walk the Dark Road, what would it be?

The subtitle says it all…A waking nightmare! Dreams, visions, and horrific events plague the PCs every step of the way. The monsters fit into this theme quite elegantly.


9. Are there any particularly interesting monsters or NPCs in To Walk the Dark Road?

I like them all of course – I really had a great time crafting the encounters around the monsters, and then the story line around the monsters. Each monster is there for a reason that backs up the history or environment of the tale. But if I had to pick a few, I like the set up of the very first encounter, the boss fight in the icy moors, and the encounter in the deep woods as the PCs approach their final destination. Your scrying spells will get no more information out of me on what those monsters are…you will have to walk the dark road yourself.


aquamonster10. What part of To Walk the Dark Road did your playtesters enjoy most?

They liked the ramping up of the intensity as the adventure progressed. My group is a pretty savvy Pathfinder rules group, and I was hoping they would not figure out the main boss until the end. They got bits and pieces of the mystery – identifying some of the abilities in play, but not the creature itself, so I think the way the adventure is written, it is possible for other judges to draw out the mystery like we were able to do in the playtest.


11. Is there a specific scenario in To Walk the Dark Road that is going to stick with me?

One of the magic items is very unique, and gives the judge a tool to reveal much of the back story of the adventure, which I think the players don’t always get to discover 100% in the course of play. Combined with other role-playing opportunities written into the adventure to reveal some background, a canny judge can satisfy both the combat oriented player and the story oriented player.


12. In one sentence, what can I expect from To Walk the Dark Road?

Expect an intensifying ride of combat and horror as the PCs wrestle with what risks they take, and moral choices they make for power and success.


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