Barrow of the Forgotten King
Written by Ed Stark
Published by Wizards of the Coast
64 black and white pages

Barrow of the Forgotten King is an adventure for 2nd level characters. Itís designed to be either stand alone or the first in a trilogy of adventures. Itís also one of the first full fledged adventures to fully utilize the tactical encounter methodology. It even provides a few recommended spots for players to advance levels so those 2nd level players should be about 4th level by the time the big bad comes around.

So letís hit the negative aspects first.
ē It doesnít go anywhere as a solo module. It definitely relies on the other parts to continue unless the GM is going to whip up some stuff to cap it off.

ē It suffers bad editing. Now most of itís not game effecting and most of it is minor but when I can spot it, itís bad. Iím a casual reader and having stuff pop out to me is a real bad sign. Still, itís a RPG product and I really donít expect any better.

ē Itís expensive. This is debatable but a black and white 64 page softcover book at $19.95? I believe WoTC is doing some preview books with full color and perfect bound spines for the same price at a larger page count.

ē It starts in a village. Iíve heard that one of the Ďsellingí points of 4e is that itís going to be a ĎPoints of Lightí setting. Why bother when they never left such a default assumption of powerful heroes wandering the earth in search of villages with problems to solve?

ē Default assumption of the playerís alignment and methodology. ďNo experience should be awarded for destroying either of the archons.Ē Thing like that donít need to be in an adventure that a GM may adopt for an evil campaign.

ē Needless advertising for the D&D minis. ďThe combat encounters in this adventure are designed for use with D&D miniatures.Ē Really? Whereís the check list of the miniatures Iíll need? Not included? Guess what? ITís not designed for it then.

ē Uses lots of non-core monsters without specific references to where they come from.

ē Very linear. Almost a rail road.

The whole tactical encounter methodology Iím a little unsure of. It takes up a lot of space. It doesnít provide full scale encounter maps. It requires a lot of page flipping.

On the other hand, it provides some good details and ideas about what the situation is, what the enemy is capable of and what can go down.

Great for starter GMs, great for groups that love lots of tactical combat, bad for GMs who hate flipping through the books or are of a more cinematic mind where the whole attacks of opportunity thing arenít really necessary.

Okay, but what about the positive aspects?

ē Avoids the typical goblin, dire rat, kobold monsters that plague low level adventures.

ē Puzzle that isnít just a trap check for the rogue. Itís got all sorts of nifty little bits for those who miss the old days of getting involved with the game by tapping on walls, looking around for clues, etcÖ

ē It has a legacy weapon. Now these arenít for everyone. These are items that gain power as the player advances but have some conditions that have to be met and have some drawbacks.

ē Itís open enough that the GM can do a lot of things with the ending instead of just relying on the next adventure.

Itís not the worst adventure Iíve seen and itís very serviceable. A couple of reads should provide any GM with enough information to know whatís going on and how to adopt it for best use.