The introduction covers the history of both this adventure and the 'Fighting Fantasy' line as a whole. It explains how, rather than a solo gamebook, it's here being presented as an adventure for either a single 3rd-level character or a small group of 1st-level ones playing with a DM; and also introduces the 'Luck' rules used in all the adaptations of the 'Fighting Fantasy' books to the D20 ruleset. Four pregenerated 1st-level characters are included, but unfortunately you'll have to make do with the characters, maps, etc., contained herein: references to support material from the original publisher Myriador are now redundant as their website has gone and they haven't been transferred to the current publisher Greywood's site. The ones here are fine, however, so it shouldn't be a problem.
The Luck rules are quite interesting. Luck played quite a bit part in the original Fighting Fantasy books, and those wishing to recreate the experience can use these rules. Indeed, if you like them, they would transfer to your own D20 game. Luck operates like a seventh ability score, and should be generated using your chosen system. (The pregenerated characters are already provided with theirs, of course.) You can use Luck to alter any die roll, by making a Luck check before you make the roll and using the result as a modifier to it. There's one exception, if someone hits you in combat you can make a Luck check to reduce the damage that you sustain. Each time you do this, though, your Luck score is reduced by 1 temporarily, so use it wisely! You get them back like any other ability score loss, but there are points in the adventure where they can be earned, or the DM can choose to award for particular acts of daring and heroism. Quite a neat system, if you want to introduce the concept into your game... but if you find it an unnecessary complication, you can ignore it even while running this adventure.
The adventure proper begins with some historical background for the DM. Unless you're into relaying loads of historical material to the players, this is more for the DM's own edification, so that he knows the context. It could be useful for those who want to use this within a campaign, possibly as an opening adventure. A much more succinct introduction is provided for the characters, atmospheric and sweeping them straight into the adventure. This involves an initial visit to a sorcerer's tower, followed by much wandering around in a considerable forest. The text's littered with occasional typos, niggling but just leave the teacher's red pen behind as none of them make it hard to follow what's going on. It is quite a lively forest, with a goodly number of encounters - many nothing to do with the adventure, just giving a good feel of a real forest with a multitude of inhabitants who'd be doing much the same sort of things whether or not this particular party of adventurers happen to be wandering around!
Appendices list new monsters (nice to have some extra low-level ones!), magic items and spells, and provide information for those seeking to run a campaign rather than a one-off adventure.
It is a basic 'travel and encounter' adventure with just enough plot to give a purpose. However, the encounters come in a rather loosely-linked series and the impression is that the best way to find the items that the characters are looking for is to wander around seeking as many encounters as possible untill the items turn up! Sort of a dungeon-crawl only in a forest instead, and probably better used as a one-off unless you can see a way to develop things more fully to suit your campaign world or indeed start one off.
Return to Forest of Doom page.
Reviewed: 23 July 2009