Deep in the primeval forests, the gnolls are getting uppity and mounting raids far and wide. Run as written, this adventure places the characters as leading members of an orc tribe who have had enough and want to deal with the problem with the usual tact and diplomacy shown by your average orc... with an attack on the gnolls and whoever or whatever is leading them.
The adventure is presented in a clear and straightforward manner, which should prove easy for even an inexperienced GM to run, while there is scope for more practised groups to bring greater depth to the proceedings. Each location is well described, including the likely reactions of anyone there to the intrusion of a bunch of heavily-armed orcs. NPC/monster stats are summarised so that you don't need to go and find them in an appendix or in your Monster Manual mid-encounter, although naturally if you are unfamiliar with any particular creature it is wise to read up on them beforehand!
As the assumption is that the characters are orcs, and hence pretty evil in nature, there are little touches like a gnoll prisoner to 'question' (read torture) and a few hostages who can be killed out of hand or kept for ransom or slave labour as preferred. Some of the NPCs are even of the sort who are more conventional adventurers (human rangers out hunting orc warbands, for example) which could provide some amusing encounters from a different point of view. Given this approach, it is possibly best run as a one-off adventure rather than as part of a campaign; although it would not be too taxing to amend it for a more conventional party that wants to deal with the gnolls for higher motives than a territorial dispute.
For those willing to attempt playing an orc, there is an essay "Playing an Orc" which is well worth reading. People wishing to get even futher into the Orc character may benefit from reading Fury in the Wastelands: The Orcs of Tellene from Kenzer & Company, Mongoose Publishing's Slayer's Guide to Orcs or Savage Species from Wizards of the Coast, particularly if an whole campaign rather than an one-off adventure is being planned.
Overall, this is a solid and entertaining combat-oriented adventure with the interesting twist of playing an orc, a 'monster,' rather than a more conventional character.
Return to The Emerald Curse page.
Reviewed: 12 May 2007