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A04: Forest for the Trees $6.99 $4.99
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A04: Forest for the Trees
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A04: Forest for the Trees
Publisher: AAW Games
by Megan R. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 07/30/2012 07:45:21

This adventure is set in Adventureaweek's beautifully-detailed campaign world, near places which characters who have played earlier adventures (particularly Champion's Rest, will already know. It would fit into a suitable locale in your own campaign world, but if you are enjoying this series of adventures, consider subscribing and get access to a wealth of campaign world resources as well.

The opening situation is simple. Local villagers have started a logging operation in West Wood, which is a much nicer place than the nearby Dark Wood - a place that you don't want to visit after dark, and you'd best stick to the path even during daylight hours. Anyway, something odd just happened. A wind out of nowhere, darkness in broad daylight and a whispering voice scaring loggers half-to-death as it warned them to get out before they drop dead one by one... They scarpered, and the village mayor asks the characters, brave adventurers that they are, to investigate. A couple of alternate hooks are provided if your characters do not get on with the local authorities, but both are of the 'please help' variety. Characters who are not the helpful sort are not catered for, I suggest you find a reason for them to be travelling the woods and hear the threatening voice for themselves.

The adventure proper starts with getting to the West Wood, no easy matter due to a heavy snowfall. The snow is not all that they will have to contend with either, but eventually they can reach the logging camp itself, where the scared loggers can explain what they have observed so far and point them in the right direction to begin their investigations. There's a good description, worth remembering for whenever you might need a logging camp in your game, never mind for now. The loggers are not only scared but pretty angry, and there is the opportunity for some role-playing here to ensure that they don't turn on the party! Eventually they should find their way to the location where the eerie voice was heard. This area has been subjected to extensive clearance, with the associated environmental damage, and if the party stays to look around they soon will hear the eerie voice for themselves. If they listen closely, they can track it to its source and have a chance to determine the nature of the problem... although addressing it will involve undertaking several quests and some delicate negotiations to bring matters to a happy conclusion.

The adventure makes quite a lot of assumptions about how the characters will react to what they discover, and the GM will have to be quick on his feet if they choose a different course of action. The quests are quite difficult and will require a delicate touch - groups who just wade into combat to achieve their ends are liable to come to grief! Even if they cooperate with the plotline, they end up having to make a decision that won't please everyone affected - the sort of choice that can lead to memorable role-play with players prepared to throw themselves into the spirit of the game. There is no right or wrong answer, there are just consequences whatever is decided.

Consider carefully if your players are suitable for this adventure, rather than the other way around. Those who like to think and who appreciate that there are sometimes no easy answers, will enjoy this adventure; while those whose characters are mercenary types in it for what they themselves can gain alone will find this frustrating (and maybe even more deadly without much of the reward that they seek). With the right party, however, you have scope to alter your entire campaign based on their choices, food for many a camp fire tale in the years to come!

[5 of 5 Stars!]
A04: Forest for the Trees
Publisher: AAW Games
by Thilo G. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 04/30/2012 03:56:32

This pdf is 30 pages long, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 1 page SRD, leaving a total of 27 pages of content, so let's check this out!

This being an adventure-review, the following contains SPOILERS. Potential players might wish to jump to the conclusion.

Still here? All right! After having braved the burial mound of the Loi'Tok in Champion's Rest, the PCs are recruited to take a look at a logger's camp - not in the deadly Dark Woods, btw., but in the more hospitable west wood. Unfortunately, though, the Klavekian logging enterprise there also has some problems - the loggers have been warned by eerie winds and now the PCs are to look into the matter. On their way across the snow-covered fields, the characters are harassed by a pixie and her harmless shenanigans (via a new spell, btw.) and potentially annoyed, they finally reach the logging camp, only to be accosted by rather hostile, grumpy, soaked and unfriendly loggers who want to take up their work again. Hopefully, the PCs can calm down the rather unpleasant men and then be on their way to find out what the scoop is all about - possibly with an unfriendly, cocky lumberjack as an added liability and complication. It should also be noted that a whole page of hand-drawings details logging equipment to help the players and DM envision the equipment. Neat!

At a clearing, the PCs get a good glimpse on the repercussions of the logging operation - the ceaseless logging has actually destroyed a swath of the forest and made a pond a place of death, inhabited by one last diseased scrag, now hungry due to lack of food and rather aggressive. The desolation of this place, contrasted with the abundant wildlife and beauty of other parts of the pdf makes for a great way to drive home that the issues between the factions here are not simple. The great Hamadryad, a huge tree flanked by 6 lesser fey-trees provides the PCs with an ultimatum: Leave the forest, take the loggers with them or die. If they complete 3 quests, she's willing to talk further to them. The first quest has the PCs travel to a local tribe of Kobolds to acquire pickled fish. Only, the kobolds are starving and have resorted to killing a man and have actually eaten him. Whether the PCs manage to find the fish-bones and save the bones of the dead townsman, with or without violence, they're off to the next place. In the pixie-village the PCs have to find, they are caught and tickle-tortured by the small benevolent fey, for they are losing their magical powers and don't know why. And finally, the PCs are supposed to find a brownie-village. Here, the module becomes downright depressing and provides a vision of desolation - the tiny village has been crushed by the logs and redirected flow of water to transport the lumber. Now, only 3 confused undead brownies remain, to potentially fight the PCs or be laid to rest and carried to the great hamadryad.

Upon their return, the negotiations are re-opened, but without the 6 lesser dryads at the ready. It is here that the PCs will have to make a weighty decision: Do they negotiate with the wood's guardian and get the lumber for the village and then have them evacuate the woods? Do they attack the guardian? There are also the lumberjack and a pixie as additional complicating factors to take into account...and then there's the fact that here, there are no right choices, only consequences for both this part of the world and the PCs. If they heed the ancient Hamadryad, they preserve the sanctity of the forest, but at the cost of unemployed loggers and a stifled growth of the Klavekian colony. If the PCs kill the guardian, they will have secured work and growth for the Klavekians, but the wood will slowly die and whither to give way to a desolate wasteland. And violence by the dryads, who stand ready to attack the camp and the angry lumberjacks who may have followed the PCs is also a real possibility. I love this non-linear climax with real consequences and without any clear-cut good and evil solutions and the option to come to a solution which in the long way, prove to be a good compromise for both factions.

Conclusion: Editing and formatting are good, though not perfect: There e.g. are instances of homophone errors here and there (fair/fare, for example). Layout adheres to a full color, two column standard and the artworks are ok. The pdf comes with extensive bookmarks, herolab support, but not a printer-friendly version. Generally, I did enjoy "Forest for the Trees" in that it takes a classic conflict of nature vs. civilization, shows how the conflict can influence those involved without pointing fingers and provides the PCs with a chance to make a real difference. While not per se a perfect adventure or a revolutionary one, I did enjoy reading this adventure - the writing is excellent. All in all, I did enjoy the adventure, though the price is a bit high for the page-count when compared to similar modules by other 3pps. If you like Rybalka, you'll love this first option to make a major decision and influence the future of the mini-setting and while I did very much enjoy this decision and the way in which the adventure handles its topics, I have to take into account that the module is light on art when compared to others, is not that long for the price and comes with rather sparse maps when compared to FGG, TPK Games or the Headless Hydra-modules. With the new, reduced price, I'll settle for a final verdict of 4 stars.

Endzeitgeist out.

[4 of 5 Stars!]
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