A whole year of French culture and I still do not have an appreciation for abstract art. Of course I spent eight years in French classes and can barely order a steak at a Canadian restaurant. When it comes to abstract adventures, I obviously still have not acquired that appreciation.
Mini Adventure 2: Black Mist, by Dream Machine Productions, is an abstract adventure in the since that it does not follow a particular story or plot. Instead, it is a series of events that take place in the days following the outbreak of a deadly Plague. The plague is detailed as it ravages a town over a span of 30 days. Quite a bit of importance is put into what happens each of the 10 days, which was very enjoyable.
The concept behind a template type adventure is not new. A lot of DMs use adventures simply as templates. When I use an adventure in my actual campaign, I tend to strip away the plot anyway and replace it with my own, but having it prestripped gives me a rather vague feeling as I read through Black Mist. I think all the material is there for a solid adventure, but its scattered about, despite the excellent job of bookmarking, the placement of rules and events left me flipping around a lot. The layout itself could use some work as there is entirely too much whitespace and blank pages throughout the book. The book does a good job of detailing the days events, but there are other places in the book where they discuss a suggested rule or a suggested encounter that fits into an earlier event. For instance, there is a fire that happens between days 9 and 10, but the rules on fire are tucked away towards the end of the book. This makes for a ton of places that feel disjointed.
Its ashamed too because the material is very creative and provides a good sense of a dreadful plague. Though it would have been helpful to DMs if a model city was provided, the writers do a decent job of describing what the city needs to include.
For the Dungeon Master
The additional rules in the back give some solid instruction on how to use mobs, riots and fires in the game. I also liked the timeline of the events that was included.
The Iron Word
Mini Adventure 2: Black Mist has a lot of good ideas that make it up, its just a shame that the layout was not up to par. The lack of direction and a stable understanding of what should happening can be frustrating some, but for the DIY DM whom does not mind a tab bit of work, the style of this Mini Adventure can be quite helpful. Just remember that you are only getting three quarters of an adventure.
[3 of 5 Stars!]