Raging Swan Press released an interesting location based adventure for Pathfinder today : Shadowed Keep on the Borderlands. In this adventure the players have the chance to just loot the place and leave it there, or to start a bigger campaign to clear the area of monsters and other dark influences.
Shadowed Keep on the Borderlands is a Pathfinder adventure for a team of four level 1 characters. If they clear every single corner from it’s current inhabitants (including goblins, bandits and monsters) they could go up to level 3 until the end.
In it’s basics it’s an old-style adventure with dungeon crawling and such, and while I’m not a big fan of the style it’s presented with a lots of merits. Obviously the author Creighton Broadhurst done a lot of work to turn the keep and it’s surrounding area to much more than an extensive battle-map – it’s a place with a history, and a dynamic “environment”, where NPC-s and monsters are really living their own life, instead of waiting for their turn in “room d4″ to be killed. And that’s great.
Design and layout
I think what we see here is a simple but really good layout and format. Thankfully there is a lot of information included for each encounter/area, and everything is clearly visible and easy to find. But I will be back on that later.
On the other hand there are relatively few artwork in the book, and while they are OK it’s not outstanding. I don’t consider this as a problem, since as a Game Master I’m mostly interested in the maps and they are good and clearly labeled.
There are many things to love in this adventure. As I mentioned this is a really living setting, where different characters try to act pro-actively without (or even against) the players. It’s possible that the different factions partly kill each other without the adventurers “help”, or a group of bandits offer alliance, and one of the goblins want to betray the current leader to mention few possibilities.
As I already mentioned the different areas and encounters are nicely detailed, including tactical notes on the environment (cover, lighting, etc.), and tactics of the enemies involved. Also there are exact DC-s added for each possible “locate things”, “know things” and even “identify magic things” check, making the Game Master’s work much easier.
Thankfully the adventure also consist several possibilities to use it as a start for further adventures. The players may find several maps about an abandoned dwarf fortress, or they may claim the keep as they own and clearing the area, or enter the underworld under the buildings.
I think Creighton Broadhurst presented one of the best old-school adventures I’ve seen recently, so naturally I give it 5/5 points, and highly recommend it.
Zoltán “Cain” Mészáros