What is it about open ended adventures that really makes them work well when they’re done right? Is it the fact that the railroad factor seems to fade into the background and offer less of a way to beat players over the head? Or is it the fact that there are multiple paths and the consequences of those paths offers possibilities beyond the pages of a particular module?
Honestly I think it’s a bit of both. And Midgard Adventures: Beyond the Ghostlight Reef from Kobold Press by designer Christina Stiles offers plenty of potential for GMs and players to explore without completely going off the rails. It’s a simple FedEx quest, right? Go to an island, grab a few books, and return them to the scholar who wants them. Sounds easy enough. But there’s always a catch…
Written for a group of 6th-level PCs and the Pathfinder Roleplaying Game, this 22-page adventure (17 pages of content) offers some straight up combat, some roleplaying, and a few key choices that will affect the outcome. The PCs could simply try to bulldoze their way through and kill everything in their path or negotiate to get what they want. Which way will they go? Only time will tell.
I really like the way the story and the module are constructed. It begins with a box offering some tips on scaling the adventure based on the number and level of the PCs going in, as well as some tips on playing the game in a convention setting. I’ve not seen the convention tips listed as clearly before and they offer some real specifics on what to add or remove to keep it challenging without making it overpowering. That’s a great addition I’d like to see in other modules as well. Scaling is one of those techniques that GMs usually learn with experience, but having such tips available can give them a jump start on that process.
You will definitely need to have your Pathfinder books handy, especially the Pathfinder RPG Bestiary and Pathfinder RPG Bestiary 2 for monster stats on several of the beasties encountered. It would be nice to have a list of the books necessary for the adventure up front as opposed to discovering mid-way through you need the Bestiary 2. Or include links to some of the creatures in the online D20 PFSRD Bestiary.
The cover art by Hugo Solis and the interior art by Gill Pearce are amazing and really help set the stage for the adventures. I continued to have a little trouble seeing the art in the GoodReader app on my iPad, though it all came through fine in the Adobe Acrobat Reader so I’m not sure what’s up there. The maps are gorgeous and offer plenty of details for GMs and PCs to explore.
And I have to say that I really like some of the critters in the adventure as well, but I don’t want to spoil the fun. Let’s just say that the PCs will definitely have a few challenges to overcome!
That’s not to say that Beyond the Ghostlight Reef doesn’t have a few problems. I found quite a few editing issues scattered throughout the book, which is unusual for a book from Kobold Press. Everything from missing words to sentences that just don’t make a lick of sense. Nothing that can’t be worked through, but enough to raise a flag for me as suggesting that the text needed at least one more editing pass before it went to layout.
Those minor glitches won’t take away from the fun or challenge of this adventure however. I think Christina continues to show why she’s quickly risen to the ranks of the great designers at Kobold Press and I look forward to seeing her journey continue!
For more details about…
- … Midgard Adventures: Beyond the Ghostlight Reef, look for it at DriveThruRPG or at the Kobold Press Store.
- … Kobold Press, check out the Kobold Press home page.
- … Midgard, check out the Midgard tag page at Kobold Press which has all sorts of fun articles about various aspects of Wolfgang’s world.
- … The Defenders of Midgard or other Open Design/Kobold Press products, check out their listings at DriveThruRPG.