Forest of Deceit

by Christopher Clark
Generic Fantasy Adventure
Levels 1-3

This is a little sandbox hex crawl in a wild forest on a scale not usually seen. The map is about six square miles with the individual hexes being 250 yards or so. This is quite a small scale but perhaps appropriate for beginning level characters. The frequency of wandering monsters is astounding: once every 100 yards something WILL show up. There’s about a 70% chance of encountering a game animal and a 30% chance of encountering a potentially hostile beasty. These are mostly animals as well, with a few excursions in to fantasy creature territory, such as Unicorns, Lycanthropes, Griffins, and Carnivorous Plants. There’s a distinct lack of humanoid creatures, which I prefer, and a handy dandy chart indicating how much food you can get from a game animal, how good it tastes, and how much its pelt is worth. This is a nice little aspect of play that is usually ignored and. as suggested by the module, provides a fine hook for getting the players involved as hunters/trappers looking to make their fortune.

The map only has about eight actual encounters. Again diverging from typical hex crawl behavior, each encounter generally takes from two to three pages. The encounters tend to be of the ongoing hook type. There’s a patrol on the roads that could give the party trouble if they are unknown, and a couple of trappers at a base camp for the party to interact with. There’s a spy lurking about with a pocket full of intrigues, as well as a group of Sasquatch who act as forest guardians. There are a couple of related cougar encounters, a demon haunted cave, and a dryad at her tree. Few if any of these encounters are straight up hacks. They can all potentially involve creative problem solving and social play by the characters in order to resolve the situations. My favorite is probably the Cave of Delights since it’s the most strange and fantasy-like, involving a she-demon frozen in rock and looking for release. The rest of the encounters tend toward the mundane and usual. Just how interesting can a cougar attack be? Enough to take up 2.5 pages of a module? Well … no. There’s a lot of … oh, let’s call it padding. Read aloud text, long stat blocks, and descriptions of things that don’t need descriptions. Clark is a good writer and his text is is clear but rather long. A guard patrol that takes up a page? This is mostly the usual fantasy trope. Yes, he includes a detail or two in each encounter that adds a bit, but probably not enough to justify things. They are probably best used as a kind of web of relationships, with the party gaining allies, neutral parties, and enemies that they encounter and work with or against as they explore the forest. If this wilderness area surrounded some other adventure, perhaps one that required a lot of travel or fetch quests in the region, then it would really reach its full potential, I suspect. The monsters are straight forward version of what we’ve all seen before but the mundane and magical treasures are much more interesting. Much of the mundane wealth is going to come from non-coin sources, such as pelts and the like, while the magical items tend to be a bit non-standard. This is because …

Lastly, I should comment that this module, like the other Edlritch Enterprises modules, use a generic stat system and is not based on any particular game. They provide a page to describe their stat system and then leave it up to you to convert them to your system. Power level of 5% equates roughly to 1HD and a defense of 50% equates to an AC0 (descending) or AC20 (ascending) at first level. Ive heard people complain and bitch but this is trivial to convert on the fly to any D&Dish system floating around.

This is available at DriveThru.

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