The writing in this instalment of the Skull & Shackles AP was noticeably different, and in this case at least, the change was definitely for the better. After reading many of these AP instalments, we get used to certain writing styles and adventure approaches, and it was a nice breath of fresh air to read an adventure by a new writer; notably an RPG Superstar winner.
Almost everything in this adventure works very well, from the pirate-y competition that endorses lying and cheating to prove your worthiness to encounter the Hurricane King, followed by an investigation into the sudden deaths of a Chelaxian spy ring featuring some very neat intrigue/mystery encounters, and capping it all off with a race through the edge of a hurricane and a nautical showdown with the villain introduced back in the first issue; all pretty exciting stuff!
A few minor quibbles with this issue; firstly, while I particularly enjoyed the majority of the investigation segment, I felt like there was a bit too much symmetry in the two potential leads as they both ask you to effectively 'go here, do that thing, and come back for the next bit,' which irked me a bit, but the parts involving interrogation and the assassination attempt encounter were so well done I couldn't fault the segment as a whole. The support article listing pirate lord NPCs felt like it was spread a bit thin; perhaps 16 NPCs was a few too many to offer interesting and useful ideas for a GM.
Taken together, though, the minor problems I have do not come close to tipping the scale compared to all the fun events in this adventure; I'll be looking forward to more by Matthew Goodall, that's for sure.
Even though this is listed as a D-class adventure, it feels like so much more. Starting with a holy ceremony gone awry, the adventure starts off with a burst of excitement and doesn't drop it until the end. Racing against time, the PCs have to fight off a horde of demons before it's too late, a classic adventure style, but it is executed so well here.
As mentioned above, this is no simple dungeon-crawl, the PCs must assault a defended keep, and deal with all the tactical considerations that entails. Add to this a good variety of enemies and a good mix of hack-and-slash encounters with some good roleplaying opportunities, and you have a good mix for any player.
Steve Greer and Tim Hitchcock have outdone themselves with this adventure. What else can I say? Get it now!