Review: Old School Fantasy

This review covers the first three adventures in Reality Blurs’ Old School Fantasy series. They were up to nine last time I checked. As usual, I won’t give too much away about the scenarios.

A KEG FOR DRAGON

A 20-page module written by Sean Preston. The highlight for me was the adventure concept; goblins are attacking the village of Northpoint, and the nearby dragon isn’t helping as he is supposed to. The heroes are drawn into this problem and have to find out what’s going on, then fix the problem.

You get 8 pages of background, how to run the module, and statblocks for NPCs and encounters, followed by an adventure in 9 scenes. There are no maps, but you don’t really need them.

Rated 4 out of 5, mainly because I liked the story premise.

DARKNESS OVER KERYHK NHOR

A 24-page module by Sean Preston. 9 pages of background, GM advice and statblocks as before, then an adventure in 9 scenes. This one does have a map, of Keryhk Nhor.

The heroes learn that nearby Keryhk Nhor, an abandoned dwarven mine, has opened its doors for the first time in many years. A former inhabitant engages them to enter and clean out the current monster infestation so the dwarves can return. Even travelling to the mine is dangerous, with actual entry occurring quite late in the writeup.

Can you say “dungeon crawl”? I knew you could. As a dungeon, Keryhk Nhor is relatively small, with a dozen or so areas. A party could probably clean it out in one or two sessions of play, with perhaps another one or two used on travelling to the mine in the first place.

Rated 3 out of 5. It’s an old school dungeon crawl, it does the job for a reasonable price, but it’s not exceptional.

HUNGER OF THE IRON MAGE

A 20 page module by Dave Olson. 7 pages of background and statblocks, followed by a scenario in 9 scenes (I’m starting to see a pattern here).

The heroes are staying in a small dwarven town (near Keryhk Nhor) when it is attacked. After the attack, they are asked to visit a wizard who may be able to shed light on the reasons for the attack and the foe’s unusual battlecries. This leads them back into the old mine, where they can kill things and take their stuff in the traditional Old School manner.

This has a map key, but no map, so I dock it a point for that and rate it 2 out of 5. It’s easy enough to draw or recycle a map, but if you’re going to refer to it in the module, I want to see it there.

CONCLUSIONS

While these adventures are self-contained, the evolving setting material assumes that you play them in order, which is fair enough. They’re easy to drop into an existing campaign by changing a few names; I anticipate getting about 2-3 sessions of play out of each one.

In a typical Old School way, the setting evolves a piece at a time, the players (and GM) learning no more than they need for a given adventure. Each introduces a few classic monsters and snippets of easily-digestible background information.

As a group, I’d rate them average; overall, they deliver what I’d expect, with a few good points and a few bad.

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