This is a hex-crawl, on a much smaller scale, through an ancient forest with a small temple at the end. Most of the encounters have some sort of twist. It’s going to require some significant prep work prior to play, and lacks a bit in atmosphere, even though the encounters are all nicely done.
Long ago a woodland faun was corrupted. Defeated, he lay dormant until a certain adventurer removed the object that bound the faun. Now the party has been commissioned by the adventurer to return the object, a dagger, to the forest clearing where it was found, in order to remove the corruptive taint that follows the dagger.
This is primarily a wilderness adventure through a forest with a small temple at the end. The adventure map is about 25 hexes deep and 100 hexes long, each hex being 2 miles wide. The players have a blank player map and the DM has his map, which shows the various trails through the forest, encounter areas, and the density of the vegetation. The trails come in four type, primary, secondary, hidden and abandoned. Each type of trail has an associated value which determines how hard it is to find and to follow. The forest type, or density of the tree growth, determines the canopy, the visibility range, and the amount of daylight that penetrates the canopy. In addition each section of the forest has it’s own wandering monster chart. These are heavy on the Fey and fey-like creatures, as well as ‘normal’ animals, and quite a few come out of the Monster Manual 2. That book, plus the Wilderness adventure book, should come in handy. There’s a small chart, in “inches” to determine movement on a trail and through the forest; you’ll have to do the conversion on the fly since the map is in miles. That bugs the hell out of me, so much so that I put a chart on my homebrew DM screen. Pick one and use it. Yes, I know that’s the way it is in the books. I don’t care. Given the difficulty in find and staying on the trails the party is going to have a hard time making decent travel distances each day. This will be compounded by a couple of extra rules for wizards recovering spells, as well as certain spells not working. This is a Flavor Text gimp, rather than a mechanical gimp, so I’m more ok with it. Essentially, the forest spirit is evil and corrupt and certain animal spells, sleep, and illusion spells won’t work. That’s not really much of a gimp and does not not seem to be put in place to force the party to walk/encounter things.
The forest does not have set encounters. Each section has six potential encounter areas and three encounters for each section, so 50% of the encounter areas in a section will be empty. The various encounters are all … non-standard? We get Pixies and other fey troublemakers, as well as things like giant enraged porcupines and nymphs so beautiful that people can fall over dead looking at them. Giant catfish, forest guardians, and fungus freaks. Every single encounter seems to have some twist on it. This is a very very good thing indeed. The party will have NO idea what to expect and will be faced with some pretty interesting challenges to overcome. The temple in the middle of the forest has ten rooms in it, and a few encounters areas outside. Again, the vast majority of these have something interesting. Poison daggers, wizards, non-standard creatures, etc. It also has a ghost, magic jar, and other high-level challenges.
This is an interesting concept, essentially a hex crawl on a much smaller scale. It does seem to … lack a little focus? My guess is that most parties are going to crawl through the forest very slowly, because of the trail finding rules. This would mean a lot of wandering monster checks, and thus I would have expected more emphasis on the wanderers. I like to see my wanderers doing something, hunting, sleeping, etc, and this could have been added to punch this section up a bit. It’s going to take some prep work as well. The author notes, correctly, that wandering encounters should be planned out by the DM before the adventure is started so he’s prepared, especially since you need a MM2 and the stats are not included for the creatures. The text is not quite as terse as I prefer, but that’s probably because almost every single encounter has some kind of twist to it. Despite that, there’s not quite enough in the weird category for me. The magical item spread has a focus on infrequently used items, however they are still book items rather than unique ones. My primary worry in this one is that the party will get off trail, which seems easy to do, and get stuck in the forest, requiring a lot more of the blander wandering checks and few/little in the way of the planned encounters.