By Greg Saunders Fire Ruby Designs Warlock! Beginners
The Vale is a wilderness on the fringes of the Kingdom where a number of factions,
from pilgrims to goblin clans, exist in an uneasy state of truce. Now someone has
shown up to claim a piece of its past, they’ll need adventurers to do it, and what they
will find risks upsetting the delicate balance.
This 76 digest page setting and adventure details a small valley, popular amongst pilgrims, with a lot of generalized hints of what could be going on and a brief ten page “heres something that could happen” adventure. It’s got a nice vibe, and the ideas of things that could be going on are good, but its far far too high level to be called an adventure and way too limited by the digest format to be a good setting.
It’s a valley. There’s a little town/village in it. There is a holy site nearby where pilgrims make their way to, and the people around here make some money off of them. There are goblin bands scattered about, really more like bands of humans bandits in the way they are handled. Protection rackets and opportunists. The town and locales around it have little quirks that make it feel alive and like a real place, and they all tend to be supplemented by a little tables of things that could be going on. Some Red Priests show up and want to go to the holy site for a pilgrimage. The locals are aghast at these heretics. Local priestess is looking for some compromise to keep the locals mollified and not hurt the pilgrim industry. That’s it. Or, “was that a man with the head of a fish that just disappeared into the water?” They are ideas, left open ended. And that’s ok, for something like this. I think they all could have been expanded upon just a bit more with some supporting information for each, to integrate better in to the valley, but, as a high level idea thing it’s fine. And there’s a sly little humor present throughout. One of the first tables is about weather. “Mud. Everywhere.” and “Snow, still snow. WIll it never end?” It does a good job of communicating a a great vibe with a few words. It reminds me a lot of the Dungeon Dozen in its ability to do that, and I don’t think there’s a higher compliment.
Still, the digest format limits this greatly. As a supplement to run the valley it’s going to be very hard to find the information you’re looking for to add local color. This is going to have to be an almost memorization job for the potential DM. You’re going to need to keep almost everything in your head because there’s both enough local color, and its hard enough to reference in a seventy page digest, that’s its going to be hard to work in well otherwise. Digest, for these longer settings, just doesn’t work. You need more page space and better formatting than “a normal paragraph page style” … which this uses. I’m sure there are exceptions, but those are not the rule.
The adventure included is quite high level also. Frank wants you to go find some artifacts/ of his legendary dad (of the aforementioned holy site) for a ceremony. He sends you to some ruins. In the ruins are a goblin outlaw band, who will talk to you. They’ll let you in the crypt if you go kill the leader of another band, the main one in the area. That guy, if talked to, will send some of his dudes to drive off the first band … but only if you go poison the holy sites water with some laxatives, for the lols. The crypt you gain access to, one way or another, has one room. And the entire adventure is really not handled in a much more complex ay than I just put here. It’s VERY high level notes and not much more than that. As an introduction to the politics of the bands and the valley, supported by the rest of the book, it might be fine, but in terms of supporting the DM running the adventure … well, no. And, it’s full of padding like “With the threat of Izmirelda neutralized (by force, spider-handling, or Ardak’s own goblins), the player characters can get to the back chamber of the crypt, clearly meant for someone important.” That is both a long sentence and a completely empty one for adventure content, saying nothing useful.
I’m disappointed in this. While the various little tables and “hook/rumors” give the impression of a lot going on, there’s not really any support for the DM beyond this. It does a good job of setting up a potential situation, at a very high level, and I can truly see that this could be a great place to adventure and home base in. But the formatting just makes it unusable as a reference book for play and there’s just not enough TO those hooks to support the DM. The entire thing feels like specificity at the level of a hex crawl … which is good for a hex crawl and less good for a regional setting or actual adventure.
This is $14 at DriveThru. The preview is ten pages and can give you an overview of the writing style, even if it the generalize background stuff. A few more mixed pages would have been better.
Still reviewing everything on my Wishlist. I should be done about the end of the next Long Count, where I will op all of my great scientists. In fact, I think have a couple of more of these Warlock! things on it … if I can find one by a different author I might try it.