Screams at Sunset – Jeff C. Stevens
Jeff has not specified the character level for this adventure, but it is almost certainly aimed at 1st tier (1st-4th level) adventurers. It’s a neat little quest with some backstory that could take a session or two.
Screams at Sunset is and interesting adventure for a number of reasons. Firstly, I like that it has some backstory to it. It’s not just a tale of raiding goblins, there is a reason that the goblinoids are there, they stick to that reason, and all of their actions, both on and off screen, are based around that reason. I like this because it adds to the verisimilitude of the adventure, making it seem more than a low level XP grind.
Another reason I like the adventure is because it contains an original puzzle, which changes with the actions of the adventurers. This is quite hard to pull off, often requiring mounds of text, but Jeff does it here with some elegance.
Possibly my favourite element of this adventure, which may surprise you, is the militia encampment. Although there is no combat at all here, it still provides the characters with an opportunity to earn XP, as well as gain inspiration, an innovative use adopted by Jeff, one that I may implement myself in my home games! Not only does the camp have a variety of noncombat scenarios which directly reward players, but there are also some well created characters, with just enough information to give a feel of their personalities, but not so much as to bog down players with information.
There are only a few things I disliked about this adventure.
The first is that it doesn’t necessarily stick true to canon. Recently I have been binging on D&D podcasts, including DragonTalk, the official D&D podcast. At the start of this they have a ‘Lore You Should Know’ section, a recent one was on goblinoids. Because I often run monsters very true to form, it feels a little odd to me that hobgoblins would be answering to a bugbear, no matter how intriguing this particular Bugbear is! Also small things such as a hobgoblin using his sword to hack down a door seem a little odd. Hobgoblins typically are martial masters, and I seriously doubt one would disgrace his sword by using it to smash up a wooden board. Either way, this is really a personal issue rather than an issue with Jeff’s writing.
One thing I did notice with this adventure, and I’m sure Jeff will forgive me for pointing it out, is that it seems a little repetitive at times. Jeff takes great care in explaining what will happen in each room, before adding the players impression of what happens, and sometimes additional notes, such as how it relates to the rest of the rooms on that floor. While this information is vital, I can’t help but feel that it could be somewhat condensed, as there are times where I read about the same small room three times in a row!
Despite these minor flaws, I still believe this is another great, 5 star adventure from Jeff.
As with all of the previous adventures I have read from Jeff, Screams at Sunset is original, well thought out, and would be great to play. He weaves together mystery, dynamic combat, intriguing NPCs and engaging plots to create a cracking product!