With an interesting move Ye Olde Gaming Companye re-released their Trouble at Niven's Creek adventure for the new edition of Wayfarers Roleplaying-game. Why it's an interesting decision ? Well, because as you may check it on the Wayfarers product page, the new edition is not even released yet, but thankfully it will be available shortly. Hopefully the core rulebook will be released in this month by Mongoose Publishing.
What is Wayfarers ?
As you may already guessed, it a roleplaying-game, originally released by Ye Olde Gaming Company in 2008. Published under it's own Open Gaming License, Wayfarers is a Sword & Sorcery RPG, with some resemblances to the 1st and 2nd edition of D&D, featuring a class-less skill based system. The game definitely delivers an old-school feel in a good way, but definitely hold many interesting features which separate it away from d20 games, like a skill-point based character advancement, damage-reducing armor instead of AC and an unique magic system, which is based on the DnD 3,x SRD.
But now, back on the adventure.
Trouble at Niven's Creek
The adventure opens with a couple of missing and dead people, as well as several locals attacked by a seemingly immortal (or at least resurrecting) monster. Based on the micro-setting of the book, the characters are sent to investigate as the members of the Surveyors Guide, since two of the missing people are among their numbers.
In my opinion the adventure could be divided into two part : an investigation featuring betrayal and NPC-s with different targets, and a straight dungeon-crawling part. However, the connection of the two part is not really detailed, and I think it's must be fleshed out by the Game Master. For example : the characters won't know who is responsible for the new monster appearing around the town, only if said person make a move against the players (which is clearly assumed by the writers). While I don't consider this as a real problem it's worth noting.
What I really like, that the adventure is really open ended, and if played well, the different motivations of the NPC-s, and the PC-s reactions and actions could lead to different encounters. There are several questions left completely open, like the fate of one missed NPC, and the real motivations of another major character, so the Game Master really have a great freedom here to shape his own story, but it's also mean more work to him.
The dungeon-crawling part of the adventure left me with some mixed feelings, but maybe because it's for those players who are much more old-school fan then me. The good part was the map, the very realistic and interesting placement of items (both real treasure and quest/story items), and the environment. On the other hand, the encounters and monsters seems like if they were thrown randomly on the map and in the scenario. The back-story of the place won't take a form for the players through the adventure, as maybe intentionally there are large gaps which couldn't be known by even the GM. for example I couldn't even decide if the old sect lived there was evil, demented or "only" very strange.
However I have to note, that this is intended as an introductory adventure for Wayfarers, and it should be viewed in that light. The story is not overly complex, but it features social interactions, investigation and several different combat encounters, so all facets of the rule system could be tried out without over-complicated corner-cases and encounters.
While it's not perfect and maybe left to many questions unanswered I consider Trouble at Niven's Creek a good adventure. They paid a lots of attention on details and on NPC-s, and they even included some sample characters to new players. So in the end I give it 4/5 stars.
Trouble at Niven's Creek is available for free as RPGNow, here.
You may also pre-order the new Wayfarers core rulebook at Mongoose Publishing's website, here.
Zoltán "Cain" Mészáros