A fascinating concept, particularly for a convention game (its original audience) or for someone wanting to really start adventuring from scratch: this adventure is aimed at characters before they have gained any conventional class levels. The pregenerated characters are all local youngsters from Dundraville, the wilderness village around which the adventure is set, and they are called upon to help when a local ogre - who up til now has been content with regular bribes of food and drink - has started to demand gold, building materials and even people in tribute instead! When the villagers refused, the ogre grabbed a couple of them and ran off. If you do not want your characters based here, there are ideas for why such folks might be passing through; and scaling information if you do prefer to start with 1st-level characters.
The background to the story is well constructed, giving a wealth of detail on not only what is going on but why. Even if you are aiming for the 'hit monster, take treasure' approach that the Dungeon Crawl Classics product line prides itself on, it is nice to have this kind of coherence underpinning the adventure while if you and your players like to weave some role-playing into the combat the resources are to hand. From the DM's point of view, everything is neatly laid out - an encounter summary, a good list of rumours for those wanting to poke around Dundraville a bit before setting out for the ogre's lair and XP targets are clearly set so you know what to award without having to work it all out on the fly.
The adventure proper begins with the characters arriving at the ogre's cave - but as no adventure survives contact with the party, there are a couple of alternate ways in if they prefer not to take the obvious route. For each location, there's a 'read aloud' description along with a section called 'development' which explains to the DM what is going on in that location and what the likely reactions of any person or monster to a bunch of characters coming in will be. While any adventure benefits from pre-game study by the DM, this one is presented clearly enough that you ought to be able to cope if you do not have time for preparation. Difficulty checks, monster stats, everything is provided just when and where you need to refer to them.
Once the adventure is done - and even at points within it - a few ideas are provided for those who want to use this as the start of a campaign. Six pregenerated characters are also provided, but you will need to take the time to transfer the details onto character sheets before handing them out, as they are jumbled up rather than presented as one per page.
Overall, it is a cracking good low-level adventure, and would be suitable for players - not just characters - new to this adventuring lark!
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Reviewed: 2 September 2007