DB1 – The Haunted Highlands

This is a Castles & Crusades adventure however it can be used with any pre-4E version of D&D.

This is a home-base setting with a couple of small plot seeds that have been expanded in to a few lair type encounters. The home base is well done however the plot seed encounters feel like tack-ons.

I really have absolutely no idea how to describe this product. This is my fifth rewrite, and I’m going with i, no matter the length. This module describes a small region of land. The local humanoids are in an uprising, led by a fearsome warlord searching for something called The Century of Skulls.  A local large town is under siege and half of it has already fallen. The region described is just beyond the town. This make the land, already wild and borderlandish, rotten with marauding humanoids, mercenaries, outlaws, and other unsavory types.

The home base is meant to be Dirty Bowdie’s Roadhouse. It’s about 35 miles away from the city under siege and is a small palisade with an inn, stable, and blacksmith. It’s houses all sorts of unsavory characters as they pass through and has a bad reputation in civilized lands. It has half a dozen or so colorful characters that reside there and run the place, as well as some more normal bar help. The NPC’s that are described are very well done. They come across as real people, with all their petty problems and issues. The roadhouse has a nice little section on food, drink, and entertainment, with six or so bar games being described, as well as bards, etc. It’s a pretty solid write-up of a roadhouse. It has a grittier feel then most fantasy inns and would probably make a fine base for the characters to come back to time and time again between forays in to the wild. It’s less weird and less bizarre than I generally like, but is a solid effort.

If the module had stopped there, or perhaps included a hex crawl aspect then this would be a great product. Instead we get a short little write-up of about five small adventuring sites that the party can stumble over. There are some old barrows carved in to a cave. I generally like barrows, but this one left me uninspired. Just some undead, a couple of bandits, and a potential opportunity to be branded grave robbers. There’s a small druidic circle with a couple of hill giants nearby. Megaliths and old tress are present, but neither are really presented as being very interesting. There’s a small bandit camp. It’s interesting because of the large pyramid of severed heads nearby, but otherwise is not particularly well done. Likewise the swamp hag and a tribe of crude humans. Every once in awhile there’s a flash of something interesting: the pyramid of heads, or the hag making her fences from human bones, The Century of Skulls, but for the most part it’s some pretty uninspiring writing. As it turns out, that’s not what I’m looking for. The regional map has no scale and the wandering monster chart is not very interesting. I like my wandered to be doing something while wandering about; hunting, looking for someone, etc. That’s the case for a few of these, but most are just presented as simply an entry on a table.

The roadhouse feels like an average write-up from one of the Citybook supplements. Well done but not stellar. The tack-ons lack the flavor I’m looking for in a supplement. Perhaps all will make more sense when I reach the next in this series?

This is available on DriveThru.


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