Review of Adventure-a-Week.com & Crypt of the Sun Lord (free module!)

I'm exclusively a 4ther and even I'm tempted to subscribe. This site is gorgeous, and the production value alone is wonderful. Had this been 4e, I'd have subscribed in a heartbeat. I'm really routing for these guys!
 

Neuroglyph

First Post
So there’s a game designer, a fantasy illustrator, and a cartographer… and they open a virtual adventure shop…


Sort of sounds like the start of a bad gamers joke, doesn’t it? But it’s actually a reality. Tomorrow on the first of March, a new online “store” is beginning to offer its services to the OGL/3.5 and Pathfinder communities. It’s called Adventure-a-Week.com, and if I give you three guesses as to what they’re selling, the first two don’t count!


Behind Adventure-a-Week.com is Todd Gamble, Tim Tyler, and Jonathan Nelson, each of which brings a variety of talents to the table. Todd Gamble is the ENnie Award winning cartographer and illustrator who has worked on maps for Wizards of the Coast products, as well as for board games and model scenery. Tim Tyler is a comic book artist, having worked on such Indy comics as Razor, Faust, Dreadstar, Cuda, Blood Reign, Devil-Jack, Hades, Djustine and is currently writing an online graphic novel, ENGINE. Jonathan Nelson is a 25 year veteran of D&D, as well as the editor-in-chief of NerdTrek.com.



So just what is Adventure-a-Week all about and what does it have to offer the Pathfinder OGL/3.5 community?

Adventure-a-Week.com / Crypt of the Sun Lord

  • Designers: Todd Gamble and Jonathan Nelson
  • Illustrations: Tim Tyler
  • Year: 2012
  • Media: Online Service + Four Monthly Adventures + Subscription Perks
  • Price: $10.00 monthly subscription / $99.00 Annual Subscription
Adventure-a-Week.com is a new adventure subscription service providing weekly adventures for use with Pathfinder, OGL, and 3.5 systems. The adventures can be accessed and run straight from the website or can be downloaded into PDF format. In addition, the designers have created a campaign setting for use with the adventure modules, or they can be used in other settings as well. Subscribers will also have access to the Adventure-a-Week.com forums, as well as to blogs written by the designers. Content from the adventures will also be made available for use with Hero Labs character generators.


There are two levels of subscription service available, but the Annual Subscription offers a discounted rate ($8.25 per month), as well as special features not available to Monthly subscribers:

  • Every adventure on the site
  • Free PDF download option for all adventures
  • Adventurer’s Journal (side quests & maps)
  • Treasure Trove (new magical items)
  • Audio Soundboard (sound effects for your game)
  • Printables (high resolution images for download/printing)
  • Dungeon Tiles (professional dungeon tiles for combat)
  • Monsters (new and original monsters complete with full color illustrations)
  • AaW Campaign Setting – Maps, History, Culture
There are other features as well for Annual Subscribers – a complete list can be found in the FAQ on the website.


Overall, the Adventure-a-Week.com idea is fairly ambitious, and getting 4 adventures per month seems like a pretty sweet deal, although there is no telling how good those adventures will be. But the designers have a free 1st Level adventure available for examination called the Crypt of the Sun Lord, and it can be accessed here on the AaW site.


The First Taste is Free…


Crypt of the Sun Lord is a freebie adventure written for Pathfinder rules, although it can be easily modified for use with 3.5 as well. It’s designed for 4-6 first level adventurers, and is a nice solid dungeon delve into an ancient crypt, filled with undead, traps, and crazy goblin treasure hunters. There is also information in the module about the Adventure-a-Week campaign setting, which includes information about the Klavek Kingdom and the neighboring barbaric territory of Vikmordere.


The writing for the module is sharp and descriptive, and there is plenty of opportunities for both role-playing and combat encounters throughout. The module is easy to read through, and is very user friendly, with highlighted text blocks and nifty icons to inform the DM of skill checks, traps, combats, and where read-aloud text is to be used.


As you can well imagine, the maps and illustrations are totally top-notch as well, and it’s easy to recognize Todd Gambles’ handiwork in the cartography. In fact, I realized I had used Mr. Gample’s maps in the past, specifically from the old WotC Map-a-Week archives and from his work on the Forgotten Realms Campaign Guide.


Overall, I have to say I was quite impressed with Crypt of the Sun Lord, and if this is any indication of the quality of the adventures, then getting a subscription to AaW seems like a pretty good deal.

But wait, there’s more…


But one of the other features being offered by Adventure-a-Week.com is the chance to get published. Dungeon Masters can submit their own adventures to the site, and if chosen, will be put up for sale in the AaW store. But what makes this feature attractive is the fact that an adventure sold at the AaW Online store will have the artwork and cartography done by Todd Gamble and Tim Tyler!


Information about submitting adventures for sale can be found here on the site. It should be noted that the split is 60-40, but given the amount of work done by the AaW staff to make the module “come to life” as a professional product, there are many a DM that would likely consider that a very good deal!


Conclusions


I really think the creators of Adventure-a-Week.com have really come up with a very good idea for providing the Pathfinder and 3.5 community with some quality adventures, and at a fairly reasonable price as well. Even at the monthly subscription rate, paying $2.50 per module is a darned good price, and the other perks offered, particularly the downoadable content for use in Hero Labs, is really nifty.



Of course, on the downside, there is no way to know if the site will be able to sustain a constant stream of quality adventures for the long term, so it is a bit of a gamble. But considering the quality of their first – and free! – offering, it Adventure-a-Week.com is definitely a service worth considering for Dungeon Masters out there looking for new content to add to their campaigns.


So until next review… I wish you Happy Gaming!
 
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Blackwarder

Adventurer
If it was 4e compatible I would have signed in a heart beat... But tbh, I don't think that they can capture the same feeling of the advantures in 4e.

Warder
 


ShinHakkaider

Adventurer
Is it really so hard to adapt adventures to 4e? The other way round is a breeze.

Yeah that's what I was wondering. One of the main things that a lot of the 4E people were saying early on was how easy it was to convert adventuress from ANY edition to 4E.

I mean I didn't agree with that statement at all but apparently there were alot of people doing it.
 


JohnRL

First Post
I won't say they borrowed my idea, but I will say that I've been having a go at something similar since December. Just google "Dungeon of the Month" and look for results in Kaelaross.blogspot.com. Mine's completely free, and the production values certainly show it....
 

Siberys

Adventurer
It's not that converting adventures is hard... it's just time consuming. For a lot of people, they use modules specifically to avoid spending a lot of prep time on the game, so something from another system isn't bad, but it's far from ideal.

As for the adventures... I'm inclined to either go whole-hog with an AP, or else develop my own campaign, maybe with the odd module as inspiration. I find a lot of the modules I've picked up over the years rarely get read, let alone played, so even with it being a good deal (and it certainly looks the part!), I'm not sure /I'd/ get a lot from it.
 

Lwaxy

Cute but dangerous
Actually, it goes pretty quick once you have generic stat blocks and just throw them on adversaries or NPCs when needed, or you just use a rule of thumbs method for stat blocks and wing the rest. Nothing ever has to be 100% accurate.

I have a shipload of adventures I want to try, plus my own ideas so yeah, right now I don't really need more of them although it is kinda tempting.
 

Blackwarder

Adventurer
What I meant to say is that it's not a metter of simply changing the states block to that of 4e, the entire infrastructure of 4e is different starting form the basic resource management method of HP all the way to spells, in order to do a 3e or PF advantures justice in 4e you need to rebuild the advantures from the ground up keeping the idea and plot of the original advantures but building it with 4e in mind.

At least that my take in things. And to be honest, from reading through the example module it's quite clear to me that this one is more focused on explorations and environment then combat and those are some things that in order to be relevant in 4e need some good amount of work.

Warder
 

SkredlitheOgre

Explorer
I'm one of the beta/playtesters and I can honestly say that was sucked me in was the world that Jonathan and Todd have build. It's different enough to be really cool without being so far out there that you don't know what you're doing. Something we as a group have tried to do is give the setting plenty of flavor.

Jonathan and Todd have been awesome to work with and have been great about accepting our submissions on pretty much anything, whether it's feedback on the adventures, creating Domains or Bloodlines, and even monsters and NPCs, so that part has been an absolute blast.

Hopefully everyone likes what they see and subscribes to the site.
 

Squire James

First Post
I've generally found it pretty easy to convert stuff from 3.5 to 4e... I did just that with several of the early Pathfinder adventure paths. The main trick is that you don't really convert the monsters... you convert the plot! The monsters are what is necessary to bring the plot about. Does the villain have a key for a hand? Perhaps he uses it to open other stuff than just that trapdoor... like someone's ribcage?

I guess it helps that I could use the offline Monster Builder to create a decent monster of any level from scratch in about 30 minutes, and I'm usually borrowing stats from some other critter to cut the time down to 10 minutes or so.
 

Lwaxy

Cute but dangerous
I'd look at the setting but it is only visible to subscribers so unfortunately I can't make up my mind about that ;)

But I also have a bunch of settings to play in I never managed to use at. Eventually I might get to this one though, the one map I saw in the example looks promising enough.
 

cvick@Aaw

First Post
Hey, I am Cory and I am also a tester for AaW. I just wanted to say that there are many great perks to the subscription. Some of the perks I find the most useful are the various monsters that are included with the site, the spells and domains and that epic soundboard. Honestly, for the price the GM and player have access to so much great material. As, a busy person I find that Aaw gives me everything I need and more! I never have to spend time looking for an adventure for my players with this site. I can keep my PC's interest with unique monsters and spells throughout the session making me one very happy GM.
 

Lwaxy

Cute but dangerous
It would be helpful to have a setting map/setting description up for preview though so people would know what they get. And maybe offer the option to upload whole settings - now that would be cool.

One of the better sites anyway. :cool:
 


KTFish7

First Post
For the matter of record, the freebie, Crypt of the Sun Lord has been drastically overhauled in its PDF format. The site originally was geared towards an online presence mainly, with the assumption that all adventures would be worked from the website. So, yes, there were some minor issues with the first PDF that have been addressed. I would recommend re-downloading it and taking a look to see what changes have been made, as well as returning to the site, as several areas have been opened for people to get a better look at what the site has to offer before they decide to subscribe.
 

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