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Wednesday, 22nd December, 2010, 10:26 PM #1
Defender (Lvl 8)
Review of From Here to There by Goodman Games
Adventure modules are a staple product of the D&D market, regardless of what version you play. And while some publishers are developing campaign arcs, and others are working on individual modules, Goodman Games has been brewing up a whole bunch of short adventures pack into a single anthology called From Here to There.
Drawing from some well-known writers and freelancers in the D&D and RPG communities, this anthology features a collection of stand-alone modules which can be used in almost any campaign, and can be used as “filler pieces” in-between adventures. And as the title suggests, these adventures share something in common – they can all take place along the road, as heroes travel… From Here to There!
From Here to There
- Authors: Chris Dias, Lee Hammock, Ken McCutchen, Phillipe-Antoine “CHATTYDM” Menard,
- Adrian Pommier, Aeryn Rudel, Colleen Simpson, Brandes Stoddard
- Editor: Shawn Merwin
- Illustrators: David Griffith (cover), Doug Kovacs, William McAusland, Hunter McFalls, Matt Morrow, Michael Wilson (interior)
- Publisher: Goodman Games
- Year: 2010
- Media: PDF (82 pages)
- Cost: $8.99 (Sale Priced for $6.02 at RPGNow.
From Here to There is an anthology of nine short adventures written for D&D 4E which are compatible with almost any campaign setting. Most of the adventures in From Here to There are designed for Characters of Level 2 through Level 6, although there are two Paragon Tier adventures for Characters of Level 12-13. These short modules are penned by some well-known D&D authors including Chris Dias (Amethyst RPG), Aeryn Rudel (Blackdirge’s Bestiaries), Ken McCutchen (Dungeon Crawl Classics), and Phillipe Menard (ChattyDM). There are over 50 new monsters and 5 new hazards/traps introduced in the adventure, along with maps, handouts, and an appendix of new monster descriptions.
The production quality of From Here to There is very good, with a straight-forward design and with the material for each adventure presented in a format easily usable by a Dungeon Master. The format for the PDF is a clean black-and-white layout which makes the book generally printer friendly. All the adventure encounters utilize new monsters (or variants of existing monsters) and the stat blocks are presented in standard formats, although not in the revised stat block format first introduced in Monster Manual 3. Three of the new monsters – the Hanging Tree, Juju Zombie, and Steelwing Hippogriff - are also presented with detailed “monster manual style” information in an appendix, to allow future use by Dungeon Masters in their own adventures and campaigns.
The maps and handouts are nicely designed, and as mentioned before, are in black-and-white format to make them easily printable from any printer. However, some of the maps do turn out quite dark when rendered without color, and might be a bit taxing on the ink or toner cartridge.
The artwork in From Here to There is really fresh and even stunning in some cases, and much of it appears to be designed from the adventures’ texts as opposed to being merely stock art. Many of the illustrations are quite evocative, and are definitely worth showing to the Players as the encounters progress. Overall, the art is quite good and really enhances the reading experience of From Here to There.
My one disappointment with the production quality was with the difficulty in navigating through the PDF. The adventures are not organized by any order I could find, and given the anthology style of the work, one would expect some sort of order by the adventure’s title, level, or author to make referencing a bit easier. While there is a table of contents in the beginning of From Here to There, the lack of a detailed bookmark structure in a PDF of this size is a bit cumbersome. Thankfully, there are bookmarks to the start of each adventure, but having additional bookmarks to each encounter would also have been very helpful. The editor did attempt to provide encounter reference information in a handy table at the start of each module, but the page numbers for each encounter are all incorrect, matching neither the PDF page nor the number at the bottom of each page.
From Here to There has a really solid theme to all the adventures presented in its pages: modules designed to be used as “filler” encounters when the Characters are en route to their next adventure. Although each adventure ranges from one to seven encounters, they are all fairly short duration works that can be used easily along the travel route from a civilized “point of light” on the way to some dungeon or evil temple. Here is a list of the adventure modules, by Character Party Level, as presented in From Here to There:
- Flying High (Level 2) by Colleen Simpson
- The Hunting Party (Level 2) by Brandes Stoddard
- The Crossing (Level 4) by Chris Dias
- When Madness Seeps Through (Level 5) by Phillipe-Antoine “ChattyDM” Menard
- The Hanging Tree (Level 5) by Lee Hammock
- Mystery at the Wandering Wineskin Inn (Level 5) by Ken McCutchen
- The Toll Station (Level 6) by Adrian Pommier
- The Quick and the Dead (Level 12) by Aeryn Rudel
- The Deadly Blue Yonder (Level 13) by Brandes Stoddard
Each of the adventures provides a summary, background information, and a section on “Getting the Players Involved”, all of which provide enough hooks to get a pack of heroes easily entangled in the module’s plotline. In a couple cases, such as in The Crossing, Flying High, and the Mystery at the Wandering Wineskin Inn for examples, the very nature of the adventure impinges upon the heroes activities and necessitates their involvement in the module’s story.
The editor of From Here to There also provides an encounter table detailing the Encounter Level, Encounter Type (Skill Challenge, Combat, Trap, Non-Challenge), and the map to be used to resolve the action. Scaling Information is also a handy feature provided in each adventure to allow DMs to present the encounters to stronger or weaker bands of heroes with only a few adjustments.
As would be expected from the notable authors presenting their modules in the From Here to There anthology, the writing is very sharp, and the plotlines are all quite engaging for most D&D gamers. The adventures range from typical heroic fare of witnessing evil-doers and charging in to the rescue (When Madness Seeps Through/The Deadly Blue Yonder) to more insidious plots involving strange occurrences which arise to threaten the adventurers (The Toll Station/The Crossing), and even a couple whodunit-style mysteries (The Hanging Tree/Mystery at the Wandering Wineskin Inn).
Most of the encounters in the adventures in the From Here to There anthology are nicely balanced, and should provide an enjoyable experience for most gaming groups. The skill challenges included in some of the modules showcase the diversity of the encounter type, and are important elements to the overall plot of the adventure. Many of the new monsters and variants introduced in From Here to There are arrayed with some exciting and challenging powers, and should provide some new surprises for Players of all skill ranges.
And many of the encounters found in From Here to There have considerable variance and appeal, ranging from straight-forward combats to far more nasty hazards to contend with. For instance, in When Madness Seeps Through, Characters will be faced with a room full of not only dangerous aberrations, but with traps that can immobilize and damage heroes if they stray to close. In the Paragon Tier adventure, The Deadly Blue Yonder, the very first encounter is designed for adventurers who own flying mounts and think they can sail aloft with impunity over the countryside. And I really liked the concept of Mystery at the Wandering Wineskin Inn, which features a “missing persons” case which stars the Character of the Player who is missing from that session of the D&D campaign!
Overall Grade: A-
Without a doubt, From Here to There by Goodman Games is a real treat for Dungeon Masters of all skill ranges. The anthology has a great mix of adventure types, and most can be adapted for almost any level of the Heroic Tier. The addition of the two Paragon Tier adventures is a nice touch, as there has been considerable discussion by the D&D 4E community on the lack of Paragon and Epic Tier support, and it is great to see publishers respond to that niche of play. Given the caliber of the adventures being presented here by some of the most respected freelance writers in the RPG community, From Here to There is definitely worth a prize spot on any Dungeon Master’s virtual bookshelf – or real one, if you happen to get the book in print version!
So until next review… I wish you Happy Gaming and Happy Holidays!
- Presentation: B+
- - Design: B+
- - Illustrations: A-
- Content: A-
- - Crunch: A-
- - Fluff: A-
- Value: A
Author’s Note: This Reviewer received a complimentary copy of the pre-release product in PDF format from which the review was written.
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