Thursday, October 1, 2015

Mini Review: Staff of the Last Hill Chief

I intended to do a few reviews of various (typically free) resources I have scrounged up in the last couple of years, so I suppose I had better get to work...

So, to begin...

Download it here!
Staff of the Last Hill Chief was released by Glynn of Monkeyblood Design back in 2014.  The one-shot adventure is designed for low-level parties, with the conceit of eradicating an old tomb of orcs who are raiding in the area. Upon hopeful defeat of the orcs and their allies, further exploration will yield more mysteries and challenge.

Things I like about this module:

It is very generic in its design.  Instead of statting out particular monsters, treasure, or challenges, Glynn set up everything on a 1 to 5 scale, with all values being relative.  I particularly like this approach. While it may make for a bit more prep than pick-up-and-play, it provides an intuitive leveling.  Stronger party?  Buff up the '3 sword' critters to be an even match.  Likewise, curve the treasure or challenges to their equivalent values.  I'd like to see this, or a similar system, more in adventures classed as system-neutral.  Of course, this also assumes that fairly bog-standard monsters are used, although with a little creativity a custom monster or challenge could be built up.

General measurements and descriptors are listed by icons at the beginning of each area description - physical area, amount of light, smells, noises.

The dreaded 'box text' is avoided by 'first glance' and 'second glance' area descriptions, with notes for both a cursory and more in-depth investigation. I believe I've seen a similar approach in some other modules, and it works for me.

The meh:

By necessity of the adventure, it is a bit linear, with no real detours or alternate routes, hopefully setting up the players with a final encounter and challenge.  Pretty much once the PCs find their way, it's A to B to C and back to B.

All in all, this is a great generic one-shot that I'd carry along for an impromptu or pick-up game, especially due to its stat and challenge flexibility.

Update:  Thanks, Glynn, for reposting my review on G+.  The latest version of the adventure is up at DTRPG

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