Supplement Review: Adventure Quarterly, Issue #3 from Rite Publishing

When I reviewed Adventure Quarterly, Issue #2, remember when I said that Rite Publishing was chugging along with terrific content? Guess what? They’re continuing the trend with Issue #3! That said, I have no clue how Steve Russell and all the folks at RP are juggling quite an array of products – with the great stuff set in Kaidan, Fantastic Maps, Colliseum Morpheuon, Pathways, the 101 series, and more… I’m beginning to think that everyone in the RPG industry has some serious insomnia!

Adventure Quarterly #3 - Rite PublishingSo what does this issue have in store? Three modules ponder deeper
questions of sentience, reality, and what to do with evil items, bringing a touch of philosophy to our fantasy worlds. Added to that is an article detailing some cool ways to dress up barrels, keys, and sconces; and an article on reasonable explanations for why an adventuring group might come together beyond “we were childhood friends” or “we met in a bar…” Though the modules are built for Pathfinder, there are ideas that could easily be used by any GM looking for solid adventure seeds, and the two articles would easily apply to just about any RPG system with very little work.

This issue’s PDF is 69 pages (62 pages of content), with a great full-color cover (from artist Juan Diego Dianderas) and plenty of cool interior art from the RP artist crew. The editorial from Robert Emerson sets the tone for all the adventures, discussing how our games sometimes “put forth ideas that ask all of us on either side of the screen to consider our pre-conceived paradigms and frames of reference.” Occasionally it’s good to shake things up and make folks think about the repercussions of their characters’ actions or ponder the philosophical undercurrents of certain plots and stories.

The first adventure for character levels 3 or 4 is “The Red Leaves Enigma” by Alex Putnam, which presents a bit of a murder mystery with a unique twist. I really enjoyed reading through this one and think it strongly encourages role-playing and critical thinking vs. strategy and combat. It’s not a traditional Scooby-Doo mystery, but offers several fun twists and turns that should challenge players to debate the very nature of sentience and the definition of life. Of course, if your group is like mine, they might just go in (proverbial) guns blazing and take care of the problem once and for all.

“Dream Harvest,” by Matt Banach and designed for 5th level PCs, has to be one of the most unique adventures I’ve read through in quite a while and my favorite in the issue. If you are a linear thinker, this one could throw you for a loop. I don’t want to spoil it and ruin the surprises, but beyond the creative quest itself I want to bring up a unique mechanic that I’d not seen before. In one scene, Banach has the GM set up the map with PCs in particular locations from the beginning. But to decide which PC goes where, he puts the PC with the highest Will save in one spot (for a good reason) and the PC with the highest Fortitude save goes in another. The rest of the PCs then fill out the positions. Very simple, but effective in giving the GM some guidance without going overboard. But if you’re a GM looking for a way to throw your players off their game for a bit, check this one out.

And “Sealing the Vault” by Michael Welham for four 13th-level PCs offers another cool idea. You know all those evil items that those good guys locked away long ago so no bad guys could get a hold of them and no good guys would be tainted by them? Well, there’s a problem… And guess what? You’re on cleanup duty! As far as challenges go, I think this module has some doozies. Nothing like battling a demon to save the world from releasing these items to the world Warehouse 13-style. And if you’re looking for some awesome weapons, items, and curses to mess up your PC’s day I bet you’ll find more than a few items to do that in these pages.

If you’re familiar with Creighton Broadhurst, you know his publishing company Raging Swan Press has released tons of great flavor-adding supplements for Pathfinder, encouraging you to dress everything up from  a simple door, zombie, or skeleton (and much more) for your games. Well, he’s continuing that path with “Miscellaneous Features” in this issue – offering cool ideas on how to dress up a barrel, key, or torch sconce. Why say “there are three barrels here” when you could say that and know what was in them, how the lid looks, how the inside looks, whether it’s leaky or not… Or letting the player know the key they hold has a bit of character itself – maybe it’s made of iron with “a long, spindly blade and boxy tooth design” – rather than being just a simple iron key. Or telling your PC that a particular wall sconce is more ornate, “designed to look like a griffon diving with its claws out-stretched.” Wouldn’t those descriptions be much more memorable?

And Steven Russell himself wrote the final article – “Getting Together and Staying Together” – in the issue. Far too often we as GMs resort to tried-and-true tactics to get our parties together initially. They live in the same village. Perhaps they go to the same bar. But wouldn’t it be better if they were the rookie class of a particular organization, thrown together for a particular purpose? Or they were slaves together and escaped one night in the chaos of a revolt? There are many better ways than “you walk into a bar” to start and adventure – and Russell has some options for you to ponder!

So in 60+ pages of content, you get all sorts of gaming goodness for your Pathfinder campaign or inspiration for whatever system is your current favorite. Adventure Quarterly, Issue #3 offers plenty of food for thought and adventure to help your campaign. Once again I’m left wondering what’s in store for us in Issue #4!

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