Review: Sickness in Springdale

Sickness in Springdale is a great adventure.  It costs only $1.99.  Go buy it.

<pauses>

What, you’re still here?  Oh, I suppose you want some elaboration. I’ll try not to give away much of the plot.

Sickness in Springdale is a short D&D 4e adventure for 1st level characters by Tracy Hurley (aka Sarah Darkmagic) and published by Postmortem Studios and is available at RPGNow.com It’s the first of a series of “6-Pack Adventures” that are meant to be grab-and-go, whether for a one-shot D&D session, a demo or a convention.

It not only includes the adventure itself, but two battlemaps, tokens for all the monsters and player characters in the adventure, and six pregenerated characters, complete with backgrounds and a portrait.  Since it is a PDF, it is expected that you would print out the maps and tokens yourself.  However, the battlemaps are clean and while in color, it looks like they’d print out fine in black and white.  The tokens are also in black and white, so a color printer isn’t needed for those either.

The adventure features a rather nasty (but fortunately low level) disease much like tuberculosis, and the mission to get a cure for the village.  The disease features significantly in the adventure beyond just being an annoyance to the PCs.

One of my soapbox issues about 4e for the past year has been that 4e adventures just aren’t varied enough, compared to even what they were in 3e.  I also don’t really like how Skill Challenges are presented in most WotC adventures (although they’ve improved recently).  But most importantly, I want to see moral and ethical choices that matter being featured in adventures now, much like they are in Dragon Age.

Tracy does a bang up job with two skill challenges, one of which has a very interesting take on successes and failures.  The other features travel, but in an interesting fashion, and definitely follows the ‘success with complication’ method of failures.

Even the combat encounters will involve making some ethical choices (although in one case, I think the ‘choice’ is a bit obvious given the information that the PCs get before setting off).

If you don’t use this as a one-off, this adventure would do well as the first adventure of a campaign (or as a flashback). However, one of the decisions the PCs make would have more impact if you introduce the mem bers of one of the latter encounters before running this adventure.

I do have one criticism though.  The formatting for the monster stat blocks in the combat encounters could have been much more readable.  Instead of using the sword, arrow and other icons for indicating the various attacks, simple letters are used.  Unfortunately, this makes it a bit more difficult to pick out the attacks quickly.  In addition, the various sections of the statblock aren’t shaded, which again makes it a bit more diffcult to quickly pick out.

I’m not sure why the decision was made not to use a format similar to the adventures published by Wizards of the Coast or other third party publishers.  As far as I’m aware, the icons are available, and the shading using a light grey background alternating with white still would work when printing in black and white.

The bottom line though, is that this is an excellent adventure for $1.99, and it’s easily available.   It’s worth it just for the short adventure.  The extras are just gravy.

 

 


Part idiot. Part old man. All geek. I'm a 37-year old meteorologist. No, not one of those guys you see on TV, but someone who actually forecasts the weather. In my spare time (what I have with a toddler), I game. Mostly I run a D&D 4e game every two weeks, but also play Warhammer 40,000 and Warmachine. I'm a skeptic (not a cynic) and am interested in political topics. I can be followed on twitter @ArcaneSpringbrd


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About Arcane Springboard

I'm a 37-year old meteorologist. No, not one of those guys you see on TV, but someone who actually forecasts the weather. In my spare time (what I have with a toddler), I game. Mostly I run a D&D 4e game every two weeks, but also play Warhammer 40,000 and Warmachine. I'm a skeptic (not a cynic) and am interested in political topics. I can be followed on twitter @ArcaneSpringbrd
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