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Thread: In Search of Adventure
Sunday, 8th February, 2009, 09:04 PM #1
In Search of Adventure
Looking to game right now? “In Search of Adventure” is a collection of six low-level adventures well-suited for picking up and diving right in. You can literally pick up anyone of these short adventures, breeze through its background info in a few minutes while your players generate some level 1 characters, and be ready to go in no time. Save yourself a little more time by throwing one of the canned player hooks at your group and you’re neck-deep in adventure in minutes.
You do, of course, have to know what it is you’re looking for when picking up a published adventure off the store shelf. Granted some GMs are going to want depth, intricately-woven story lines, and continuity from one episode to the next. With some scaling and background work on the GMs part, it is somewhat feasible that all six of these adventures could be run as a series, probably taking the party through the entire heroic tier. It’s a stretch to say that any of the adventures laid out in this work are meant to be interrelated though, and the weakness of the product as a whole might be that even with scaling you’ll be doing a lot of prep work if you’re going to try to balance what is intended to be a 1st-4th level adventure for a complete party of characters that has already run through two or three of the other adventures in this compilation and attained higher levels. Reading through the adventures I found myself wondering if I’d ever be likely to run enough very low-level adventures with one group or a number of groups to actually use all six modules without significant work on my part to scale them for groups that have reached higher levels.
But those who will find this product most useful are those groups that don’t have a lot of time to do all that background work, and want a straightforward, combat-laden hack-and-slash romp through a modestly detailed environment. As stated above, canned hooks are provided to get you right in. There won’t be ton of role playing in any of the adventures. Player parties will pretty much be lured into site-based adventures where they’ll negotiate some traps before busting down doors and mixing it up in combat with the dungeon denizens that are simply meandering about waiting for heroes to deliver them to their doom.
With that said, I don’t want to understate the creativity that has gone into “In Search of Adventure.” The cover and interior art are surprisingly good. While some of the interior work is stock art meant to just fill white space, a fair number of the illustrations are inspired and add a great deal of value to the work. Further, while the hooks developed for each of the adventures are just about as basic as you can get (more than one of the adventures suggests the clichéd “bandits are attacking local caravans” hook, for example), the storylines are all unique and each offers some flare that keeps things interesting. None of them takes the easy or predictable route that many low-level adventures do. Clever use of buffed-up, low-level creatures that will pose an interesting challenge to players seems to be a hallmark of the work as a whole. And as with Goodman Games’ other products, like the “Dungeon Crawl Classics” line, you’re going to get a fair bit of new material and an appendix chock full of some good crunch (16 new monsters, about 5 truly new traps that aren’t just variations on what can already be found in the core rule books, and a few other goodies like customized rituals, diseases, and curses).
With “In Search of Adventure,” you’re also going to get a well-written and laid-out piece of work. The GM info that is there to get you started is brief but thorough in each piece. There’s an intuitive flow to the reading and flow of encounters. Maps and reproducible handouts are well-rendered, clear, and accurate.
The six adventures, briefly, are “King Dretch” in which a minor demon has come into some arcane power not typically harnessed by his kind; “Children of the Snake God” in which an evil priest seeks to resurrect an ancient evil; in “The Scorpion Queen” investigating a mysterious drought lures the characters to an ancient pyramid; “The Forbidden Crypt” pits characters against grave robbers plundering the tombs of the Death Kings; characters will stumble upon maze-like ruins in “Legacy of the Labyrinth” and unwittingly release a slumbering evil (side note on this adventure: the intricate maze the party is to explore in this work is quite hefty and poses a mapping and table-top dilemma that seems like it would be hard to overcome during actual gameplay); and in “Tides of Doom” the player characters are all that stand between their region and a “nascent cult” bent on bringing a literal tide of death to the land.
I actually play tested “King Dretch” and found it to have an interesting flare that caught my players off-guard. They were perplexed to find the ultimate challenge to be a seemingly mundane foe who, in actuality, was a very potent adversary. We enjoyed the varied and challenging combat encounters. It was a great intro to the 4E system for this group that had never played 4E before, allowing me to highlight some of the intricacies of the new edition (especially combat rules) and allowing them to use a fair range of their characters’ scope and potential. While not under-utilized, there are only a few uses of the “quest” system and “skill challenges” in this adventure and throughout the entire work, and little in the way of role playing opportunities. Be that as it may, those can be injected by GMs who are willing to spend a little time developing them.
The final word is that, if you’re looking to game now with little or no prep work, you’re interested in diving headlong into 4E’s combat system, and you want just enough flare to keep the game interesting, then you’re likely to find “In Search of Adventure” to be for you. Further, if you’re willing to do some work during the downtime between sessions, “In Search of Adventure” could potentially offer you an entire campaign’s worth of material, ready to take your players all the way through the heroic tier. Either way, you’ll appreciate the very-good-quality production values, easy-to-use layout and flow, extra crunch material offered throughout the adventures and in the book’s appendix, and the various authors’ creative takes on some familiar foes and adventure themes.What looks back through the glass?
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