Many times it is the small little detail that separates a good adventure from an average one. It can be the combat and the details in the adventure, but most of the time it is in the set up or approach to the adventure. Outside of plot these details are really one of the few things that really separate adventures from each other. As I read through many adventures they do seem to blend together.
Betrayal at Shadewood Keep is an adventure by Vanishing Goblin Inc. This is their first product. It is a PDF that comes in a sixteen meg zip file. Inside there is the main PDF with art that is over twenty two megs in size. The full color cover is a bit under five megs and the print version of the module is a bit over five megs.
The art and cartography are well done. The maps are small and easy to use. They went with a lot of small maps that map out e3ncounters instead of larger maps that show a lot of encounters together. There are maps of a full keep and town here as well. They are easy to use and simple to look at. The layout is also good making things easy to read and the modules is well organized. It has no book marks though. The table of contents is okay, but book marks would really making flipping around on a computer screen a lot easier.
The module starts out simple enough. The group of adventurers gets a job to stop attacks by giants and ettins and ogres. There is a lot of combat in this adventure but most of it seems good for a party of eighth level characters that the module is designed for. There is a bit of a mystery that the players stumble onto and the adventure takes them first into the wilderness to defeat the giants, then to an old keep, and finally to the masterminds behind the plot. The keep can actually be the first part of the adventure oif the players choose to go that way even though everything at the beginning points them in the direction of the giants.
One nice thing the writer does it discussions what the results of certain divination spells will be and why. This is a great detail as divinations spells can be some of the harder parts of DMing. With what is going on the results make perfect sense although the players will not know that until they figure everything out. And that seems to be perfect for divinations.
There are some characters presented here that are given really good detail. A DM can easily use them in different ways then presented here and with a little creativity they can stick around a little longer. The adventure should be easy to drop into any campaign. This is one of the design features that is mentioned. There are some small editing problems like one place that says see page ?? where they obviously never went back and filled in the page number. I did not see any big editing problems though. There are stat blacks for all the creatures presented here.
The module is a nice adventure that offers the players some fun with fighting and a little with problem solving. The plot slowly unfolds in front of the players to get them to continue on the adventure, but there are no serious brain teasers that will stump the party.<br><br><b>QUALITY</b>: Acceptable<br><br><b>VALUE</b>: Satisfied<br>