This work opens with a detailed and convoluted background that sets the scene for what is to transpire during the course of the adventure... and which is all about things other than the actual task the characters are given, to seek out a vessel that has gone missing in transit, believed sunk, and particularly a young lady who was travelling aboard. Neat beginning for a tale that will grow in the telling.
Mission accepted, the first task is to hire a boat and visit the lost ship's point of departure to gather information. The characters will then be able to track its last voyage, and should have great fun exploring deserted islands and trackless swamps (with hostile wildlife and weather to contend with), and end with an interesting problem to solve... that could easily lead to a massive brawl.
The various individuals that the party will have to deal with are really brought to life, characters in their own right. Likewise there is comprehensive information about the locations they will visit, organisations and so on... including the perils of the swamp itself such as trench foot and a myrid of hostile critters that slither, swim and crawl through it. This information is placed in a comprehensive section before the adventure proper begins.
Whilst the adventure starts with the party being asked to look for a missing boat and its passengers, the assumption is made that they are already in the city of Cherrian's Rest, the home base of the company that owns the missing ship. This is clearly marked on the adventure map, which is amenable to being placed somewhere suitable on your campaign world if you don't intend to use the Adventureaweek one... but if you do, there is no indication as to where it might be located therein! (Well, if you have access to the website, you can see the Vast Swamp that appears in the adventure map on the master map of the campaign setting...) Anyway, once they have accepted, there are a few boats for them to choose from and information to gather before they set off through said swamp. There's a neat system of 'swamp points' to aid you in deciding just how much trouble they get into from the swamp itself (including weather, inhabitants and diseases) and from then on, it's very much up to them where they choose to go, with information provided on various notable locations within the swamp that you can use if they choose to go there.
Everything is presented clearly, with colour-coded notes for 'read aloud' text, specific die rolls that can be made and so on, as well as hyperlinks to additional information and stat blocks as required. The final scene is set in a large cavern, for which a map is provided. As well as providing the backdrop to the final showdown, it's quite a good - if that's the word - place to explore, with various traps to figure out and other events.
This adventure is quite a delight, with incidental events that add to the alternate reality - the swamp very much does NOT exist for the purpose of the adventure, it has lots of stuff going on that, whilst contributing to the overall story, have nothing to do with the party or their quest. That swamp exists, somewhere... The entire adventure, too, is delightfully free-form. Characters may explore as much of the swamp as they like, and the plot is open to pretty much any resolution they care to engineer. It's good not to have any 'right' outcome, the characters have real freedom of choice.
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Reviewed: 17 August 2012