This adventure occurs when the party, for whatever reason, arrive in an apparently abandoned trading post called Garland's Fork. It soon becomes apparent that it's been 'abandoned' because all the residents have been turned into black trees... and a quest to find out why, and can they be turned back, ensues. As one might guess from the title, much of this investigation will be conducted underground.
The underlying reason is quite straightforward, and the GM is also provided with wandering monster tables and a selection of ideas for how to persuade the party that they want to go to Garland's Fork in the first place (or at least, pass through it when wanting to go someplace else!).
Although most of the adventure is a classic delve, there is some poking around to do on the surface in and around Garland's Fork - and even a friendly dog! (However, despite being named Violet, the poor mutt is referred to as 'he' for the rest of the adventure!) Everything is described clearly, and there is plenty going on that doesn't depend on the party having turned up, always a good touch.
Once they do proceed underground, things start getting strange, warped even. The Sunless Garden itself is a huge cavern... and just wait until you meet the gardener! But of course there's a lot more going on than that, plenty of scope for exploration, combat and looting in a multi-level underground complex - part natural, part constructed - with several conflicting sets of residents, none of whom are particulary fond of wandering adventurers. Everything, everyone, however, is there for a purpose; even wandering monsters have good reason to be wandering where they are, er, wandering.
The whole thing hangs together well, with a slightly demented air which makes sense once you reach the creature behind it all. The entire underground area seems to go on and on, every time you think you're done, there's another bit. There's a fair bit of treasure to loot - if you can a) get it out and b) sell it without being arrested! - and some neat ideas for follow-up adventures. An excellent delve with a nature-based twist that should keep the whole group entertained for a few sessions.
Return to The Sunless Garden page.
Reviewed: 7 June 2018