Continuing in the epic style of earlier works in the series, this adventure sweeps the characters along on the trail of Gadrath the Immortal, first needing to find where his unconscious body lies (in a heavily-trapped deserted underground complex) and then through a war-torn land to probe the mysteries of how the king of the Svariji people is chosen and into the Realm of Dreams to rescue Gadrath's spirit.
It is a very detailed scenario, made up of six chapters. Each chapter has an outline of what is going on in that segment along with a series of 'Events' and 'Locations' - both designed to give the DM flexibility in how the game progresses. Events each have their own specific triggers, but can generally happen in any order as those triggers occur. Locations are, well, places that the characters might visit during the course of the chapter. Numerous sidebars provide additional information, and NPCs are described in full, not just their statistics but notes on their personality, motivations and intentions as well. You'll need to be thoroughly conversant with all that's going on to run the adventure well - there is a lot to keep track of!
Although provision is made for people who want to run it without having run the preceeding adventures, or who want to locate it somewhere other than Arthad (the world in which the whole series is set), so much of what is going on is wrapped up in the history and traditions of Arthad and what has gone before that it's not really recommended. Legends are being created here, after all.
The main drawbacks include the linear nature of the whole adventure. Despite the apparent flexibility of the Events and Locations presentation, the characters need to follow a precise path of clues and information and visit the necessary places in a broadly-correct sequence to have any chance of completing the adventure. One slip, one puzzle unsolved, one combat lost... and the whole thing comes to a grinding halt. To generate the correct epic feel, the DM will need the skill to steer the characters without letting them realise that it's happening, feeding them just the right amount of information to work out what they ought to be doing next without actually telling them.
One particularly fascinating feature is that puzzle-solving and valour in combat will not be enough for our heroes to succeed. To rescue Gadrath, they will have to lay their physical bodies down and venture into the strange and dangerous Realm of Dreams and do battle there using their wits and the spirits of intelligent weapons (which apparently also dream). The inhabitants of the Realm are by their nature transitory, appearing only when their real-world counterpart sleeps and dreams; and most of them keep themselves to themselves. Only a few people are able to break into someone else's dream or interact with another traveller here. The rules for this are well thought out and presented in a logical manner, while still keeping the essential 'otherness' of a visit to somewhere most people only go when asleep and rarely remember clearly.
Presentation is, as always, to 0one Games's usual high standard, with maps and handouts as well as some evocative line art of NPCs to be found along the way. Occasional weird turns of phrase or outright errors give away the fact that the author isn't writing in his native tongue, it would be worth getting a native English speaker to read through the final manuscript to catch these.
Many adventures promise an epic feel... this one (especially when combined with the earlier ones in the series) suceeds in delivering it.
Return to Warriors of Dream page.
Reviewed: 9 July 2005