The Root of All Evil
The Root of All Evil Capsule Review by Anthony Roberson on 26/02/02
Style: 4 (Classy and well done)
Substance: 3 (Average)
An epic adventure for 1st-level Characters that is set in the Kingdoms of Kalamar.
Product: The Root of All Evil
Author: Andy Miller
Company/Publisher: Kenzer and Co.
Line: Kingdoms of Kalamar
Page count: 64
Year published: 2001
Comp copy?: yes
Capsule Review by Anthony Roberson on 26/02/02
Genre tags: Fantasy
I want to mention right up front that I picked up this module for free. Noah Kolman posted an announcement on RPG.net offering it and I sent him an e-mail requesting a copy. He promptly replied to my e-mail and shortly thereafter I had it in my hot little hands. Even though I didn't think the adventure was perfect, I will definitely check out other Kalamar products in the future. All because Noah and KenzerCo took a little time and expense to build good will with me.
The Root of All Evil is a third edition Dungeons & Dragons adventure designed for four to six 1st-level characters. Physically, the module is a 64-page perfect bound book with a color cover, black-and-white interior and a cover price of $12.99 (US).
An interesting thing to note about Root is that it is a "Dungeons & Dragons" adventure and not a "D20" adventure. Kenzer and Co. took the expense and trouble to actually license their products instead of just slapping a copy of the OGL/D20 license in the back. What this means to you the consumer is that Kalamar adventures and sourcebooks undergo some sort of review process at Wizards of the Coast. You will have to use your own judgement to decide if this results in a higher quality product.
Spoiler Alert: This review reveals details about the plot and protagonists of the adventure. Please stop reading now if you plan to play through it. Cheaters will be cursed to fail their saves.
A wizard named Veoden hires the PCs to bring him a quantity of mithral, which he hopes can be obtained from the crash site of a meteorite. Their first task involves a little grave robbing to obtain a map that gives the meteorite's location. The map leads the PCs to a crater where they encounter a tribe of goblins guarding the meteorite.
After the PCs deal with the goblins, they discover a small hut that is inhabited by a wizard named Arowain, who is being forced to create a magic item called a Coin of Power using mithral taken from the meteorite. Unfortunately, as the PCs are questioning him, an evil female wizard named Daresh attacks, killing Arowain and stealing the unfinished (and still quite hot) Coin that he was constructing.
The PCs learn from the dying Arowain that they must construct another Coin to defeat Daresh and the only other person who knows how to construct one is someone name Halaan. They return to Veoden with the news and he tells them to sail to the city of Zoa to seek out a Wizard named Geolain, who should be able to tell them where to find Halaan.
After several encounters at sea, the PCs reach Zoa and meet with Geolain. He has the information they seek, but will not release it unless they complete a task for him. He wants them to rescue some books before they are burned by a group of fanatics called The Sentinels of the True Way. After bashing the book burners and rescuing the books, the PC's are given a map to Halaan's last known location, the Reelio jungle far to the south.
At this point, the PCs book passage on a ship and head south for the Reelio jungle and the adventure's conclusion…
Opinions and Comments
There are some things that I really like about Root. An adventure for 1st-level characters that incorporates city, sea and even exotic jungle locations is pretty unique. The adventure itself is nicely laid out with useful sidebars, insets that show the ImageQUEST illustration that belongs with a particular encounter and even a glossary. The ImageQUEST illustrations are a throwback to classic modules like The Tomb of Horrors and a particularly cool addition.
Unfortunately, I don't like tightly plotted (read that linear) or multi-part adventures. Root is pretty linear and also the first part of a trilogy. The style almost reminds me of the quest system used in some MMORPGs where you are forced to go from NPC to NPC delivering items and watching little scripted events. The reason that I don't care for this style of adventure is that they require too much railroading on the part of the DM and too often dependency on the actions of NPCs. This means that I am forced to shepherd the players back on track when the wander away from the 'plot' and the players are forced into a passive role as they watch certain events unfold around them that are crucial to the 'plot'. This is frustrating for both parties.
I was also disappointed that some plot elements in Root are left unexplained. Why does Daresh ever grab the white-hot coin in the first place? Why do the PCs need to construct another coin to defeat her? Can't they just kill her the old-fashioned way?
This doesn't mean that I won't mine Root for useful stuff. The random encounter tables, both for the wilderness and for the city of Zoa, are interesting. The sea encounters are pretty nifty and can be plugged into any sea voyage the PCs take. I might even use the first part of the adventure as is after throwing out the plot with the Coin of Power. I'll just eliminate Arowain and Daresh. The goblins can still be guarding the meteorite because they consider it a gift from one of their gods or some such nonsense. Other elements like the castle in the Reelio jungle can be saved for another day.
Should You Buy It?
If you want an epic to kick off a campaign with and don't mind tightly plotted or multi-part adventures, you should give The Root of All Evil a look. If you are just looking for a dungeon to plug into your home campaign, however, you should search elsewhere. Also, if you want more information, you can check out the Kenzer and Co. website.