Thursday, February 19, 2015

The Fey Sisters' Fate

Some have suggested that I might have given short shrift to Goodman Games Fifth Edition Fantasy Adventures that I mentioned in a recent post. I say mentioned, because I really didn't review them. My purpose was to simply point out that they were not what I had expected or hoped for. They weren;t badly done. I even opined that this estimation may have been more about the nature of 5e that Goodman's design sensibilities. That and I have loved about 75% of the DCC d20 adventures I own and every one of the DCC RPG adventures which I have bought.

That being said allow me to take a minute today and tomorrow to properly review The Fey Sisters' Fate and Glitterdoom. First: Fey Sisters' Fate

Who's it For?

Fey Sisters' Fate is a wilderness adventure recommended for 4 to 6, 1st level characters. They also mention needing a balanced party with at least one fighter, one rogue, a cleric and at least one wizard. But a Ranger and a Druid might also be helpful and would find the adventure even more fun. Elves and or gnomes might be useful and possibly a halfling--but those are more for role playing purpose than needs in order to accomplish the adventures end game.

The Story ***

Without revealing any privileged information (i.e. spoilers), the general plotline is a clever little mystery of sorts involving fae races, and some nasty humanoids in a rather twisted combination of relationships. The story is rife with potential intrigue and sub-plots if on a somewhat small scale. The tale might even serve as a rather nice campaign starter. The end even has a prompt for a deeper more expansive hook if potential PCs choose to seek out the mysterious force behind the whole affair in the village of Burr Hollow and the Briarwood. The adventure is setting neutral enough to easily be dropped into any roughly medieval existing campaign.

The Art & Layout ***

By layout, I mean the physical presentation of the actual book itself. There are 22 pages total including the inside front and back covers. The interior art is not bad, but there isn't much of it. Four black and white pictures that are relatively old school--slight 2e AD&D feel. There is one black and white wilderness map on the inside back cover--nothing special, with three inset details of other important regions on the map. I personally don't like the style of the cover art, but it is nicely done. I think it was intended to appeal to the character driven focus of D&D Next, especially as has been highlighted in WoTC's recent fiction. 

The organization of the text and flow of the way the adventure is presented is very similar to recent WoTC products. Each "Area" of the adventure's sandbox is presented in sufficient detail and includes roleplaying as well as environmental possibilities. Within each area the authors highlight a particular "Quest" that can be, or should be, accomplished when the characters enter or pass through the given area. This model is similar to the WoTC product The Hoard of the Dragon Queen and I think fits the current "mold" of 5e products--sort of an open storyline structure. In this way Goodman, who was not in charge of design but layout according to the credits, deserves some credit in making Fifth Edition Fantasy "fit" the Next design theme. Regardless of whether I "like it", he deserves props for this.

Playability ***

I will admit I have not played this adventure. I might though. I would probably hack it for a more preferred ruleset, which could be easily done, another nice crux of 5e design. Having read through it, however, I would say the story is rather playable. Sandboxy without being too open;  in general the kind of wilderness adventure I prefer. There are 17 areas overall in the adventure and should be easily accomplished in one or two nights of gameplay. The monstering (my word for peopling, or stocking, the adventure with monsters) seems nicely balanced and could be easily adjusted for smaller or larger parties. There are also plenty of opportunities for roleplay that can be highlighted if a DM should so desire, and a moderate amount of tactically interesting combat. 

Neat Newness ***1/2

The adventure contains some nice new ideas. I suppose one of the main creatures used in the tale could be called a new spin on an old theme and could be transformed into a nice Lovecraftian theme if a GM was so disposed. There is also a kind of interesting take on a beefy foe that makes it "accessible" to first level characters. Three new magic items are included, two of which I really like and fit the previously stated 5e magic design goal of making magic items unique. A DM could easily riff off of these new toys and make them adventure seeds in and of themselves. Three new spells are also included to keep things fresh. A new background is included complete with new feature and characteristics for those who fancy the 5e character design ethos. In all, nice additions to give players neat newness to have fun with, especially for such a short adventure. 

Total Review 

So I'd have to give The Fey Sisters' Fate a solid three and maybe even 3 and 1/2 stars out of 5. Not bad, not bad at all. Not necessarily my cup of tea in presentation but certainly solid enough to stand a little old school retooling and use in my own AD&D campaign.