By Thilo Graf
This module from Adventureaweek.com is 47 pages long, 1page front cover, 1 page editorial/ToC, 1 page SRD, 1 page advertisement and 1 page back cover, leaving 42 pages of content so let’s check this out!
This being an adventure-review, the following contains SPOILERS. Potential players might wish to jump to the conclusion.
After some detours to other places, we now return to the village of Rybalka and on a nice evening full of drink, the village is attacked by what is first thought to be Vikmordere, but turns out to be orcs. As soon as they’ve been driven off, a headcount reveals that people have been dragged off by slavers. The chase is on and the PCs may bluff the orcs of the raiding ship if they’re smart and get quite a bit of information as well as the sense that something is wrong with them. Anyways, the trail leads to the Orc’s island, where they have to brave dangers like lacedons and the protection and booby traps guarding the approach to the orcish settlement. Once there, the PCs have choices between stealth, direct approach (negotiation or combat) and even bluffing their way in.
And then, the module takes the noble savage-twist with Pomak, the chief, who seeks to atone for the tribe’s sin of cowardice by offering his life. These orcs are apathetic and grieving and the village priest has advocated for the sacrifice of the villagers and the raid, for the orcs are terrorized by a group of ettins. In two days, the two-headed monsters return and while the PCs might leave the orcs to their fate, an excessive sidebar covers preparations for the arrival of the giants – from securing allies and creating supplies to improving the walls. The PCs and orcs can stand together against the ettin assault, taking on 4 (!!!) ettins and hopefully having used the time well. Once the ettins have been eliminated in a heroic struggle (including a potential coup d’état), the PCs are left with a mystery – the captives are nowhere to be found and the trail, for now, runs cold, but we’ll return to that in a future module…
The pdf closes by the encounter index, providing all stats in 3.5 and PFRPG and comes with a full-page map of Rybalka as well as a map of the adventure-locations and a player-friendly version of latter map. The map of the orc’s island deserves special praise – it’s beautiful indeed.
Editing and formatting, while not absolutely perfect, are very good. I didn’t notice any significant glitches. Layout adheres to AaW’s new 2-column standard and is in full-colour and nice. The artworks are mostly ones I’ve seen before. The pdf is fully bookmarked and comes with two alternate printer-friendly versions as well as Herolab-support. This module is fun – not because of the rather regular beginning, but because of the fact that it essentially provides the option to use a variety of solutions for the problems and features a cool siege-like scenario in the end that can be truly fun. While I would have loved some sample encounters that could go wrong in the end (jamming ballista etc.), that’s not enough to rate this module down. It is fun, provides incentives for not mindlessly butchering everything and provides an interesting glimpse at orcs beyond being evil creatures. Essentially, this module does almost the same plot as “Icecrag Monastery”, but is better in just about every way. That being said, the finale could indeed use more “small” encounters of things the PCs might fix themselves and influence the final battle. If they had been included, this adventure would have been great – as written, we remain with a good adventure that falls slightly short of being great. My final verdict will thus be 4.5 stars, rounded down to 4 for the purpose of this platform.
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