This adventure is aimed at beginning PLAYERS as well as at first-level characters starting out on a adventuring career. Thus, as the author explains in his foreword, some of the encounters may seem a bit simplistic to more experienced role-players. It's also quite low on role-playing, presumably on the grounds that it's all that die-rolling stuff that's novel and needs practising - anyone can talk after all, even when imagining that they are someone else! There is a cut-down version of the usual Raging Swan 'masterclass' on the anatomy of an encounter along with notes on reading stat blocks, so I guess that it's expected that the GM will know what he is doing, even if his players are learning the game.
There's a map which shows the area in which the adventure takes place. Interestingly it is depicted as over the sea to the southwest of the Lonely Coast, Raging Swan's default setting. The overall concept of the adventure is that there is a valley that the locals won't go near, many believing it is haunted, and for some reason - perhaps sheer bravado, perhaps one of the hooks provided - the party decides to go there and take a look around. As the adventure begins in the town of Dulwich, there are opportunities to gather information before setting out for the five-mile journey to the south, partly through thick forest, to reach the valley. There is no direct path, they'll have to go cross-country. Some minor events are provided to enliven the trip, but a major brawl is unlikely...
Once there, the above-ground part of the adventure is sand-box in style with a list of locations which the party may investigate as they please, and a few encounters to throw in as the need arises to maintain interest. There's also an optional encounter to use if your players seem to like the role-playing aspects of the game - but be warned, if they go in looking for a fight things are likely to end badly for them.
The below-ground part of the adventure is provided by the three tombs situated in the valley. Two are sealed and appear undisturbed, the third is a creature's lair and actually seems to be a natural cave formation rather than a tomb. Each 'mini-delve' is well-constructed and coherent, with traps and monsters to deal with and items to loot... all the thrills of being an adventurer encapsulated!
Everything is quite open-ended, the party will be able to come and go as they please, but the whole gives the impression that life is going on as normal whatever they decide to do. For follow-up adventures, one suggestion is that the Shadowed Keep on the Borderlands adventure from the same publisher (and author!) could be located nearby. This is an excellent introduction to classic adventuring and should give new players a fair impression of a hobby that hopefully will give them years of fun.
Return to Shunned Valley of the Three Tombs page.
Reviewed: 14 April 2016