Open-ended adventures are always a good thing, IMO. One of Silver Gryphon Games’ newest releases is just that, an alternate history sandbox adventure called Milecastle 42.
WHAT YOU SHOULD KNOW: This 27 page adventure costs $5 and is, in a nutshell, Romans versus Zombies. The PCs are stationed at a Milecastle, essentially a lighthouse which is part of a series of such houses 5 miles apart. The night before, Milecastle 42 signaled in desperation but now their light has gone out, so it’s up to the PCs to investigate. The PCs are given objectives and guidelines and then turned loose to investigate Milecastle 42 as they will. The outpost, of course, has been overran by zombies (this isn’t a complete surprise, as the Romans are living with the plague in this reality) and most of the zombies are capable of little more than pack mentality and animal cunning. That a more intelligent foe is directing them shouldn’t be a big surprise, but where the adventure really wins out is in the climax, which comes out of left field in an awesome way.
WHAT WORKS: The “Final Boss” is really kinda epic. The page numbering is all in roman numerals, which is a nice touch. I love a good, open sandbox adventure.
WHAT DOESN’T WORK: All the characters are going to be a bit “samey” by the nature of the game, as PCs are built off of a template that is customized.
CONCLUSION: A fun one shot or convention game, Milecastle 42 also allows for a few options for continuing the game depending on the success or failure of the PCs. I’m not a big fan of what amounts to pregens, even though I understand why they’re there, but as I don’t run a lot of one shots or convention games, I’m not really the target audience. If you’re not tired of zombies yet, or if you want them in a different milieu, then Milecastle 42 is well worth picking up, especially for its “OH CRAP” moment at the end of the adventure.