by Michael Haskell
Freely distributed by Dragonsfoot
The forces of darkness threaten the natural splendour of Gib Rus. Do you have what it takes to save this idyllic corner of the world?
This is a four-part tournament module, without scoring, with some diversity of locations and encounter types that I found interesting. It’s a railroad, but then again it’s also a tournament module, so … yeah. I wouldn’t say it a good tournament module, nor is it a bad campaign module. It’s more like something you would pull out of your ass free-form (which isn’t a bad thing) with a couple of interesting parts.
Oh mighty wizard Synopsis, we call on thy wisdom! … because Bryce is running out of steam when it comes to these Dragonsfoot adventurers.
“Go to the druid forest. Go inside. Get the relics in the glade/tomb. Fight a big battle vs. the Big Bad.”
Aieeee! Aieee! The barbarian hordes of Hyperbole descend upon us! Aiieeee!
It takes seven pages to get to the adventure, three of which are read-aloud text. I know it’s a tournament module, but shouldn’t you give the party a chance to do something besides listen to soliloquy? Especially one that includes things like “Lord Dipshit questions each of you about your background and deeds and seems very impressed with your responses.” Hey, let’s contrast the intro with another product. How about … G1? I like G1. What was the intro there? One paragraph? “Mixed giants are raiding the lands. Make them stop and find out who’s behind it or we’ll behead you.” Hmmmm … one of the best modules of all time. Short intro. This module has one of the longest read-alouds ever … but it’s not the worst module Ive ever seen, once the read loud is gotten past. In fact, it’s not too bad. Not great, but not bad. Mostly because of a couple of areas near the end.
There are five encounters in the first section of the module, the journey to the wild druid forest, the Gib Rus. It has a pretty interesting, and very long, set piece that is interesting but is otherwise a pretty boring section. The players have been told that the druids in the Gib Rus forest/valley have gone nuts and to look in to it. The first section is the journey to the Gib Rus region, or rather, trying to find an entrance to the area. You see, the druids have surrounded it with a massive thrown wall. There are a couple of of troll encounters that can be had while scouting around the wall, as well as a deadly Giant Dragonfly encounter on a steep/narrow/deadly mountain trail, but the main attraction of this section is the encounter with a Hangman Tree. It’s a crazy detailed encounter, a little over two pages, so describe a hangman tree and a Shade that hangs out next to it. This is a decent little encounter that may not actually occur during play and that needs some SERIOUS editing to tighten it up. Two pages for an encounter that might not happen is just WAY too much. Anyway, that encounter is nice one as is the dragonflies trying to knock people off a treacherous trail.
Once in to the forest things get … not very interesting? There’s one encounter with some giants attacking druids, and perhaps some wandering encounters before/after it. Maybe. This part seems very disconnected from the rest. It’s meant to put the party in contact with the druids and to get the next part of their mission but it seems REALLY short for a 4hr tournament slot.
Part three is the exploration of a Good-aligned tomb. The ‘dungeon’ is fairly simple and contains mostly traps. There are two unicorns and a guardian naga protecting the relics. Despite the simple nature this part kind of worked for me. The keyed encounters are generally long, which I don’t like, but the place is different than many others. It’s a ‘good’ tomb and is very sylvan/elfish. I found it a refreshing change of pace. The unicorns are also perhaps the best examples of them being used that I’ve ever seen. It’s still rather simplistic but it does give you a sense of what the creatures are capable of and how they can be used. For once the LG creatures are not corrupt. Yeah!
The final part is a running battle with the leader of an evil army. He is leading a task force to the druids grove to wipe things out and grab the relics. The players have two or three opportunities to set up ambushes and whittle down his forces before facing off with the Death Knight. An actual Death Knight. Again, this section is done better than many like it in other modules. The death knight seems ‘more real’ and fights intelligently, along with his minions. It’s a nice little section, even if it is a complete railroad and more at home in 4e than 1e.
For a three-part tournament this would be a decent little module, especially if you added a scoring system. The first part is, unfortunately, the weakest, and the other two are not going to set any standards, but it’s still a decent little bit of workmanship. The tomb portion, in particular, might be well worth stealing for your home game.