This pdf is 47 pages long, 1 page front cover, 1 page blank inside front cover, 1 page editorial/ToC, 1 page back cover, leaving 42 pages of content, so let's check this out!
This is an adventure to supplement the beginner's box and thus provides beginner's box-statblocks in the flow of the adventure. Being aimed at novice DMs and players alike, the adventure contains several tricks of the trade like red herrings, advice on how to run villagers etc. and is not too difficult on the PCs. That being said, the adventure does also contain optional additional content in the form of statblocks and advanced tactics and clues if you're willing to run it with the core-rules. Now that's out of the way, I'll have to warn you that this adventure review contains massive
SPOILERS. If you're a player who wants to participate in the adventure, please refrain from reading on.
Still here? Ok, you have been warned! The adventure begins in the tranquil frontier-town of Gafolweed, where, as legend has it, once a sage bested dread creatures, sphinx-manticore hybrids, in a riddle-contest and banished them after plucking a fang from each of the beast's mouths. The sage has long-since perished, but his mythical treasure lies unclaimed and now, one of the loggers has been mortally wounded. After a burial rite and options for the PCs to follow a red herring and socialize with the townsfolk, they are tasked to finding and killing the creature responsible. The events in the city are very much event-driven and focus on getting the PCs involved while rewarding clever thinking by providing minor additional clues. Seargant Ulbent accompanies them to the site of the ambush, where more clues await them. Some basic tracking provides a clue for the PCs where to go next and the sergeant sends them on their way, not without providing a neat full-color handout map of the area, though. If the PCs follow the red herring, they might encounter an interesting giant toad and further clues and remnants of days gone by before venturing into the Cobalt Chasm, a canyon that leads to the sage's now defunct home. On the way there, they'll be attacked not only by gnolls and other dangerous creatures, but also have their first encounter with the flying mythic menace: The creature has grown old and is at death's door, searching in vain for the secret of the longevity of the sage that once bested it.
Worse yet, on the half-way mark through the canyon, a small division of kobolds has taken to mining and blocks the chasm - in order to proceed through the wind-blasted terrain, the PCs will have to best the creatures in their own mini-dungeon. Here' I'd usually complain how these creatures lack interesting traps, but the strategies provided should be enough to challenge novice players and a trap is included, so I'll let that slip. Once the PCs have bested the kobolds and their leader, they can finally access the sage's former home, which turns out to be guarded by calcified, animate kobold-guardians. It is also here that PCs will be challenged by the smart tactics of their primary antagonist, who blasts them with hit-and run tactics and generally some tricky ideas - which is fine. No, really. Just because players are new to the game does not mean they're stupid and so wits go a long way in besting the by now hopefully wounded last of once so deadly sturgimates. If the PCs manage to find two items and solve a complex, but rather easy and logical riddle, they may even unearth the sage's treasure -who was in truth, once a silver dragon who altruistically changed his remains to silver. (And no, he's been altruistic and spent his hoard on behalf of good people - the rewards are plenty, though!) In his possession, the PCs may also identify the fang taken from their adversary and use it to curse the creature, gaining perhaps just the leverage they needed against their powerful foe. I did mention a puzzle, but not how well it is presented - a total of 4 beautiful handouts is devoted to bringing the whole thing to life, making for once brains and not brawns the true climax of this module.
Editing and formatting are good, though not stellar - I did notice several awkward wordings and some missing/incorrect usages of prepositions. Layout adheres to a beautiful 2-column, full color standard and each of the beginner's box-statblocks is headed by a miniature artwork. The full color original art deserves special mentioning for being of the highest tier quality and the same goes for the maps of the two mini-dungeons and the total of 8 pages devoted to full color battle maps. We also get a page of paper-pawns, which is a nice bonus.
Add to that the extensive amount of handouts and we get commendable support for a module. The pdf also features extensive bookmarks for your convenience. Running this adventure should not prove to be a daunting task for anyone, as its basic premise is simple - simple, but well-executed. The non-standard antagonist, the sense of antiquity and its repercussions and interactions with the present and the stellar pieces of artwork combine to create a sense of wonder and a fitting module for novices to our great hobby.
Even if you're an experienced roleplayer, this adventure offers you something via the antagonist and the puzzle to be solved. Which deserves special mention. We need more of these. Players don't always want to bash, almost everyone I know LOVES puzzles and slowly, they have been vanishing from many modules. It's time for a renaissance of brains over brawn and for me, the puzzle with its extensive handouts, is the true star and climax of this scenario. I do have something to complain about, though: the village gets no maps. Add to that the editing glitches, and I can't give this module the full 5 stars. Instead, for novices, I'll settle for a recommendation and 4 stars. Experienced players and DMs should detract a star, as the module per se is rather on the easy/simple side. Seeing the target audience for this, my final verdict will reflect the former.
[4 of 5 Stars!]