Tuesday, April 19, 2016

Review - The Siege of Grimm Iron Peaks (DM's Guild)

Product: The Siege of Grimm Iron Peaks
Published: Feb 5, 2016
Author: Donald Thompson
Editor: Andrew O’Brien
DM’s Guild Link [Affiliate link]

First things first. I had thrown around the idea of reviewing some of the lower rated or rating-less content on the Dungeon Masters Guild as a feature on my Youtube channel. While I am not certain that this adventure merits that sort of treatment, I felt that it would be just fine for a blog entry, so here we are.

The Siege of Grimm Iron Peaks is a one-shot style adventure for 4-8 characters, designed to take 4-6 hours. It was released on Feb. 5th on the DM’s Guild site, and is currently a ‘pay what you want’ style release, meaning that it costs just as much as you care to spend on it. The pdf is just 31 pages, about 20 of which are pre-generated characters, one of which is a map, and one of which is a title page, leaving just 9 pages for adventure detail. As short as it is, it just doesn’t require any more than that. There are no detailed maps for combat encounters, as this adventure very much fits the old theater of the mind style.

The plot of the adventure is relatively straightforward, as befits a short one-shot adventure. The player characters are survivors of a war band, composed of various ‘evil’ races. While out on patrol around their mixed-tribe town, they are ambushed by adventurers. The adventure picks up just after the battle, where they are the presumed victors, though the rest of their war band was wiped out. Upon scavenging the bodies, they recover some miscellaneous gear and a map that details a settlement being built dangerously close to the PCs’ home. They are then left to push back the outsiders and basically ensure that settlement doesn’t take hold.

The content actually starts with some tips for DMing the adventure, most of which are pretty basic. Between that, and the pre-generated characters, this module seems ready for even a relatively novice DM to pick up and use for a night’s play. Indeed, since the characters are all of evil stock (of which only a few have been made proper playable races), these pre-made characters are pretty much required for proper enjoyment of the scenario. They are of varied classes, and there are two drow, two goblins, a bugbear, a gnoll, a hobgoblin, and a kobold. Which brings me to my first real problem with this adventure. What kind of town has that sort of varied group of evil races managing to live in close proximity without killing each other? That aside, I suppose there had to be some way to get multiple race types for people to choose from.

There’s a random encounter table, which has a series of basic encounters that all feel connected to the storyline. They can be run basically everywhere within the valley, and while an encounter chance is given, the rate you are expected to roll for them is left up to the DM, based on how much time they have to run that one shot adventure. It’s a good choice, in my opinion. Static encounters include an orcish village with rules on befriending them or coercing them into providing support, a gnomish tinker and trader, and the settlers’ buildings. The latter include a few options for how the player characters might deal with them, and a win condition for the adventure. The adventure itself is short and sweet, definitely suitable to run in a single night.

The hand drawn map included is not great, to put it bluntly, but it’s not supposed to be great. It is, after all, the in-character scribbles of some random adventuring band, updated by the random scribblings of some humanoids. The formatting is simple, with just enough variance to tell the separate sections from one another. It works for an adventure this short, but would need improvement for anything longer. Of more concern are the wording, punctuation, and grammatical errors throughout the adventure. Some errors are more grievous than others, and while the meaning can be understood from the context, it is distracting. It could all definitely use another editing pass.

That having been said, it is a pretty neat little concept, and I could definitely see busting this out when I’m short a person for my usual games, or just to try to break up the monotony of a campaign to avoid burnout. I could see a followup to this adventure being fun as well. While the quality is definitely far from professional level, it still might be worth a buck or two from the generous. Either way, I do recommend taking a look at this for a night of amusement and a break from playing the ‘good guys’ that is easy to just pick up and run.

You can grab it on the DM’s Guild here [Affiliate link].

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