This adventure deserves 4 stars because it's going to be fun. It has a good setting and entertaining adversaries, as well as a detailed back-story that a DM can use to create whatever plot is not explicitly included in the text. The maps seem a little blocky, but they give enough of a mental picture to the DM so that she can adequately describe the setting. The enemies are well calibrated for 1st level.
Buy it. Play it. Pay the guy, he deserves it.
Anyone interested in reducing adventures to their component pieces to see what makes them work, read on from here.
This review is nit-picking on purpose. I am poking holes in this thing not because I think it's bad, but because that's what I wish people would do to my work. Bear in mind that I rate my own adventures at either 3 or 4 stars, and I try to be as tough on other people as I am on myself.
The good stuff:
- The back-story is detailed enough to give a DM something to work with, but not so detailed that it bogs down the reader. This is a surprisingly hard balance to strike.
- The mental image of hundreds of oozes slowly, inexorably dripping their way across the countryside in pursuit some beacon is horrifying. Imagine them drawing a straight line between themselves and the crytal, a line that passes through towns, livestock, orphanages, pets, and outhouses. Imagine being in possession of the crystal and knowing that 10,000 liters of corrosive slime was closing in on you every second. It's enough to give a guy nightmares.
- The setting is excellent. A house would be boring. A house under contruction give something to describe, and just enough difference from the expected to make it interesting. The connection to the character of the arrogant merchant just makes it better.
- Kobolds trashing a house is intrisically hilarious. Kobolds trashing the house of someone the PCs don't like is funnier.
- Total xp for every encounter is 1225. Xp for an adventuring day of 4 1st level PCs is 1200. The mass encounters (7 -15 kobolds at once) may throw this off a little, but it seems well calculated for a 1st level party.
- The notes on the actions of the Kobolds if they are alerted is a good addition. It rewards the PCs for good tactical decision making.
The bad stuff
- The town feels like a Final Fantasy town. General goods, magic items, healing, etc. There are a few intriguing elements (the brothel owner with political aspirations). but otherwise it feels artificial. This is going to be a place where the PCs spend a lot of time, especially if they play through the entire 5-adventure arc. The town needs more love. This is a tactical problem from a sales and marketing point of view, because the town is the first thing that readers see if they are looking at the preview.
Stuff that needs work
- The maps are different scales. Not usually a problem, but the software used to generate the maps makes the windows look much bigger in the overview than they are in the close up view. This could cause confusion.
- Rather than trying to work out which room causes kobolds to be alerted, it might be better to state that they are alerted by combat in an adjacent room, or giving them a perception check DC X based on how many rooms separate them from combat. Provide a general system and leave it up to the DM.
- Minor word choice issues: roads lead, they don't follow (pg 8), houses are divided, not broken (pg. 9) etc.
- Flavour text assumes that the PCs are not stealthy. Enemies are described as charging them by default. This is no problem for an experienced DM, but it might give a new one problems.
[4 of 5 Stars!]