The book opens with some Setting Assumptions which paint broad brushstrokes of background - a mediaeval/fantasy world in which a great empire has declined and fallen leaving a 'Dark Age' behind, with warring races destroying a lengthy time of peace and prosperity. Set against this backdrop, the adventure is designed as a possible campaign-starter, taking a party from 1st to 3rd level, or something that can be woven into your own plots or used stand-alone if preferred. The Adventure Background follows. Taking place in the settlement of Blackhorse, close to the city of Calhaven which has fallen to bandits, it involves a search for the innkeeper's son who has vanished.
The first part of the adventure introduces Blackhorse, before the action moves to Calhaven and the discovery that bandits are the least of the city's woes. Whilst the structure of the adventure is sound, you'll have to do quite a bit of work to flesh it all out - for a start, maps of Blackhorse, Calhaven and the surrounding area would come in useful; and it is not clear how a beginning character is to find enough to do to be third level by the end... perhaps using Blackhorse as a base for running a few other adventures before the party even goes to Calhaven (or at least, before they start hunting for the missing boy) might give them the necessary experience to deal with the Big Bad Guy at the climax of the adventure.
There are quite a few illustrations and a single floorplan - the Imperial Centre, which houses more than one wonder. Monster and NPC stat blocks and information is all at the end, along with random encounter tables for various stages of the adventure. The text, however, makes it plain who is where and what they are doing when the party encounters them and, of course, how they'll respond to the party's likely actions.
Overall, it's a promising start from a new publisher, and has considerable potential for futher development. It just feels a little more like an adventure outline than a full-blown adventure, fine if you enjoy adding flesh to the bones either before you run the game or on the fly... but the bones are sound, which make for a good beginning.
Return to The Bandits of Calhaven page.
Reviewed: 28 December 2016