Saturday, June 16th is Free RPG Day ‘12
and with it comes a slew of new and interesting little releases. They can usually be divided between tasters for new games that will be released at Gen Con this forthcoming August and support for existing RPGs or pieces of gaming ephemera. In general, the tasters for the new, “hot” games are highly anticipated and on the day itself, in high demand, but come the day, it would be remiss of us to ignore the less-in-demand titles. Many of these it should be made clear, are worth your time and effort to make it to your friendly, local gaming store to get hold of a copy. One such title is In Search of Adventure
, published by Troll Lord Games for its Castles & Crusades
The origins of Castles & Crusades lie in Dungeons & Dragons, Third Edition, but whilst many elements are the same, much of its rules have been redesigned such that it has more the feel of Basic Dungeons & Dragons with a much simpler style of play. So much of the scenario In Search of Adventure will be familiar to most, in essence, if not always in the mechanic detail. That it is a scenario is a bit of a surprise, for in past years, the support for Free RPG Day for Castles & Crusades has been disappointingly similar – the Quick-Start Rules and very little adventure. Not this year though, for In Search of Adventure is all adventure with nary a set of rules in sight, Quick-Start or otherwise.
At its start, one of the heroes has inherited a note from his lately deceased uncle, and a cryptic note at that. One that promises treasure! Inheritance in hand, the hero assembles a party around him in the town of Garyton with promises of treasure, if not glory, and from there it is a matter of setting for its location somewhere near Goblin Rock. First they must discover the whereabouts of this Goblin Rock before setting out on the road. Once on their way, they will have encounters with cryptic Gnomes and silent men, be accosted by the tall – who are highwaymen, and accosted by the short – who not highway men! Each of these encounters is given in some detail and gives the opportunity for the Castle Keeper to roleplay his way around a few different NPCs as well as roll play.
The adventure itself involves not one, but two dungeons, though these are perhaps not as characterful as those encounters on the road trip. In fact, the second dungeon is little repetitive in places, and that after the effort taken to determine how exactly you gain entry. The fact is that this aspect of the adventure has the potential to be most frustrating for the players.
As entertaining an adventure as In Search of Adventure is, it does have a problem or three. The first is that in the introduction, it states that it is for starting characters of first level, but the sample characters – a Dwarf Fighter, an Elven Rogue, a Human Cleric, and a Human Wizard – are all fourth level, not first. The second is that the description of the first dungeon is placed in the middle of the second dungeon. This is easy to adjust to, but it is still disconcerting. The third is that the cryptic note inherited at the start of the adventure is actually located in the middle of the description of the second dungeon. Why this could not have been presented as a hand-out along with a map of the route to the dungeon is best left up to the publisher. It certainly could have been done, especially as the maps for the two dungeons are overly large considering what information that they have to convey.
Physically, In Search of Adventure is a plain book. There is almost nothing in terms of art and the maps are serviceable at least. The book does need an edit though, and that is in addition to the layout issues already highlighted.
Although not without its issues, it should be made clear that In Search of Adventure is an engaging and entertaining scenario. Perhaps though, it likely that the scenario’s NPCs will stick in the players’ minds, and they are certainly what any good Castle Keeper will want to bring to life.