Want to run a short adventure? Stuck for ideas? Let 5 Adventures, 25 Rooms break your writer's block.
5 Adventures, 25 Rooms offers content previously available only to Quid Novi? subscribers. In this 19-page PDF, you'll find five adventure synopses, one new template, and two new monsters. The adventure synopses assume a fantasy setting, but otherwise strive to be more or less system neutral. These synopses are not complete adventures. Instead, each synopsis is more like an adventure seed. You provide the maps and the game mechanics to make that seed grow into a fully realized scenario.
Throughout the PDF, you'll find suggestions for adapting the synopses to the Pathfinder Roleplaying Game. The template and monsters are fully compatible with the Pathfinder Roleplaying Game.
Adventure synopses include the following:
Guard Duty: The heroes are hired to guard a lady threatened by her fiance's rivals. Can the heroes protect her until her fiance arrives?
Shelter from the Storm: While pursuing a vicious killer, the heroes encounter a strange family in an abandoned windmill.
Bird Flu of the Damned: A strange sickness has struck emu ranch country. Can the heroes help the ranchers?
Love Lost: Aengus has lost the love of his life and is hunted by killers, and he turns to the heroes for help entering the fey realm to win her hand.
"I'm So Cold": Someone—or something—is killing people in a rundown section of town. Can the heroes root out the killer and put an end to the terror?
After having reviewed Making Craft Work as a rare 5 star product I decided to browse over more Spes Magna Games PDFs. 5 Adventures, 25 Rooms caught my eye because of Adventure 3: Bird Flu of the Damned, which sounded like it would be good for a laugh. And I must say, for about $1 I'm quite pleased. While each quest in 5 Adventures, 25 Rooms can be run all by its lonesome, it really is a handful of purposely half-finished adventures. Why would anyone want to purchase a half-finished product? I would; I'm officially referring to this product as cookie dough and here's why:
Say you want cookies. Cookies are delicious- everyone likes cookies. However if you want to bake cookies you need cookie dough. Cookie dough takes quite a few ingredients and can be time consuming to mix properly (not to mention the time needed to clean my kitchen afterward). If you go to the store and buy a box of cookies (or a game module) for you and your friends, then congratulations you have cookies that you and your friends will likely enjoy. However, if you buy a tube of cookie dough you will need to spend a few minutes baking your cookies. It is hardly any extra work, but you end up with delicious, gooey cookies hot from the oven, arguably a better product for the same cost, or often less (in the case of 5 Adventures, 25 rooms, the latter), which is a delightful middle ground between making your won cookies and purchasing already finished cookies. In addition to getting to enjoy warm, fresh cookies with your friends, you then get the credit for making the cookies, along with the level appreciation that goes along with that, even though all you really did was toss them in the oven and let them do their thing for a few minutes. This product design has served Pillsbury and Nestle well over the decades, why not module design as well? This is an excellent innovation for GMs like me who enjoy being able to run games of our own design, but lack the free time to fully flesh out an adventure from scratch every week, providing a few good springboards to jump off of.
No maps are included, presumably because these are just short adventures and seeds that can be worked in just about anywhere. There are only a few graphics, which make the PDF rather printer friendly. There is an easy to read table of contents, and plenty of sidebars that discuss how to scale each adventure. 5/5
Adventure 1: Guard Duty
An interesting twist on an old cliche and a great jumping off point for something grander, presenting villains for later use that are on a more personal level with the PCs. This adventure can fit well in most low level games regardless of genre designation. 5/5
Adventure 2: Shelter from the Storm
I noticed a typo during this adventure. At one point a character is named Yeranc while later in the same paragraph the NPC is referred to as Yerang. I find this to be the least impressive of the presented quests; it makes some assumptions as to the actions of the PCs (notably room 2), which can cause the adventure to break down if not followed. For a mystery, even just a short one, the cast seems a bit small. 3/5
Adventure 3: Bird Flu of the Damned
I literally purchased this PDF because of this adventure. Sometimes the phrase "zombie emus" is all you need to get a sale. All in all, this quest is a solid, if a bit basic, fight against fanatical goblin cultists, but the undead provide some novelty for an evening's enjoyment. And it does open up some interesting ideas for continence. 4/5
Adventure 4: Lost Love
This adventure has some wonderful, romantic backstory, but seems to require PCs to be a bit more emotionally invested and motivated than what is common without extensive setup. Not a quest I would recommend for every group, but for those that appreciate games that offer a chance at some rather deep roleplay, it'll be hard to find a better seed. 4/5
Adventure 5: I'm so Cold
I'm so Cold is my favorite adventure out of the bunch (probably tied with guard Duty). It well written and thoroughly enjoyable, if a bit depressing. It has a decent mix of action and mystery set in somewhat of a drab (though immersive) background. My only complaint is that the fight in room 4 feels a bit contrived, so I'd alter the time and place of the encounter, which is hauntingly beautiful in itself. 5/5
After the adventure there is the Unseelie template, the statistic block of one of the villains, and the rules for emus (regular, zombie, and my players' favorite: animal companion). The template is handy to have, and the emus are fun and well built. The statistics for the villain feel unnecessary, but it is convenient that it was provided. 5/5
31/35 = 4.4/5, rounded up; the whole is more than the sum of its parts. The innovation behind this product's design is more than enough to push it up that last star.
5 adventures, 25 rooms
This pdf is 19 pages long, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial/table of contents, 1 page SRD. This leaves 16 pages for 5 adventures – a tight space, so let’s give it a look.
First of all, if you haven’t figured it out yet: This is pure adventure-fluff, id est, no maps, almost no stats, DCs and the like. The adventures are free-form ideas. They are adventures, but you’ll have to do the mechanics yourself. I think adventures in 5 steps would have been a better moniker, especially due to the distinct lack of 5-room dungeons within this file.
“Guard Duty” is a rather straight bodyguard adventure with a twist. Nothing too special.
“Shelter from the Storm” is a nice sidetrek for the final of one of your murder-mysteries. The PCs screwed up and lost a killer? They want to hunt him on his escape? Awesome, set this one up. Simple, but nice.
“Bird-flu of the Damned” is the goofy over-the-top adventure of the bunch. Your PCs can fight …*dundundunhhhhh* UNDEAD EMUS in this adventure. Do I have to say more?
“Lost Love” is a nod to one of my favorite poets, W.B. Yeats and thus has some plus points. Of all the adventures, this one would need the most DM-work to successfully pull off. I’d recommend some ideas on fey and their courts, e.g. from Open Design for this one.
”I’m so cold” is a rather tragic murder mystery for low-level characters and is best set in an urban environment in the winter after some harsh, cold nights. Of all the adventures, this one is probably the one with the most potential for a gothic-horror-style investigation.
The pdf closes with 3 pages of stats, the only stats you’ll get, by the way. The first is an NPC, the second is the emu and the second is the undead Emu. If you’re not intrigued now…I just don’t know.
The quality of the pdf is okay, editing and formatting are very good, it’s easy to read, art is public domain, as usual.
Is this worth your bucks? Well, if you’ve hit a little creative flat-line as a DM, then yes. If you are an experienced DM that improvises complex investigation scenarios on the spot, this compilation might bore you a little. If you buy adventures due to mechanics and because that has been taken of your chest or to scavenge them, you probably won’t enjoy this pdf. For the price, it’s a good buy.
If you’re stuck for ideas and want some quick and dirty scenarios, add a star, for you, this is a 5-star file.
If you’re an experienced investigation/detective-DM, subtract a star.
If you want to scavenge mechanics, subtract a star.
If UNDEAD EMUS got you, buy this now. ^^
On average, though, I’ll give it 3 stars. Mainly, because there is another book on DM-ideas that has spoiled me beyond belief…and I’ll review it soon.
P.S.: My mighty Dire Beavers could kick any undead Emu’s behind. ;D