Blood on the Trail – Jeff C. Stevens
This publication is for 1st-3rd level characters and is a short, introductory adventure.
The thing I like most about Blood on the Trail is the nostalgic story line at its core. Right from the start there are convincing (and humorous) NPCs that engage the reader such as Bale, a gnome shopkeep. This character hopes to find some help discovering a group of missing adventurers to whom he rented horses.
At the beginning there is plentiful opportunity for imaginative roleplay, something I think is key to an introductory adventure. Bale is a highly comical character which should help ease the inevitable awkwardness of a new party. Not only this, but the premise for the adventure is perfect. The players have a chance to be heroes; find some missing persons and collect a reward. Simple yet brilliant.
Progressing through the adventure, the characters face fitting encounters which compliment the story. They are attacked several times by numerous wild animals in the forest, and whilst such encounters are straightforward, the players have opportunities to interact with them in a way which is not just slaughter. What an important lesson to learn!
Without giving away any spoilers, the first goblins the characters meet are hilarious. In relatively little text space you get a real feel for these characters and how to depict them. They also provide a believable way to move the adventure along.
The final battle is brilliant for a number of reasons. Firstly, it gives the adventurers what they were promised; the opportunity to be heroes. Their goals are right there before them and their foes are clear. Secondly, it comes with 3 different difficulty levels, something that is often left up to DMs to calculate for themselves (I’m very guilty of this). Finally, there is enough dynamism to make the combat interesting, but not so much as to make it confusing to run.
I should also mention that the artwork, provided by Daniel Walthall, is superb. The maps especially are brilliant. They are not complicated and give great flavour. The internal artwork and front cover entirely compliment the content of the adventure which adds to its professional appearance.
To summarise, a perfect adventure for new players and DMs. Easy to follow, great storyline and amusing NPCs. What more could you want?!
Daniel (the artist);