Ramping up my reviewing.
Happily playing games for many, many years.
Fangwood Keep is a stand-alone Pathfinder adventure for 4th level characters by Alex Greenshields. It uses the tried-and-true approach of presenting what initially appears to be a standard adventure which transforms into something else in its second half.
The adventure begins with the characters charged to recover a contested keep on the border between Molthune and Nirmathas, which has been seized by a rebel soldier, thus allowing either side to hire the adventurers. When they get there, they discover that he and his lover have hired hobgoblins to kill the rebel soldiers that he originally used, and that the keep was built on the home of a corrupted elven transmuter who used the power of her demonic patron and a book of infinite spells to create a malfunctioning device; the rebel is now trying to recover the book.
The adventure therefore consists of two parts; the first part, as the group explore the ground level of the keep, involves a number of encounters with hobgoblins and their allies. The group will need to be stealthy to avoid alerting the hobgoblins and facing them in numbers. Then, once they penetrate the lower levels of the keep, they find the chambers of the elven wizard and the strange experiments she was conducting. This allows them to encounter some very unusual situations and face some interesting challenges. The final battle, against the rebel’s lover and some skeletons, could prove anti-climactic depending on party composition and how well the characters roll against her enchantment spells.
If I have one regret, it is that the final encounter doesn’t make more use of the failed experiment of the elven transmuter; it’s created a few interesting effects in other rooms but in its actual presence it doesn’t do anything. This seems like a missed opportunity.
However, otherwise the adventure is quite strong. It uses a great mix of different types of encounter: there are tricks, traps, role-playing opportunities and plenty of exploration and combat. I was very pleasantly surprised to see that the leader of the hobgoblins could be bribed to take her troops and leave – it allows this adventure to be more than the hack’n’slash affair that I’ve seen too many adventures turn into.
Physically, the adventure continues to conform to Paizo’s high standards. It is a 32-page adventure printed in full colour on glossy paper with excellent artwork throughout. The maps are printed on the inside of the covers; they don’t always conform to the 5’ grid, but this isn’t that much of a problem as they are quite simple.
Some of the writing reads poorly with some odd choices of grammar, but it is mostly of good quality; it is certainly presenting some good ideas, and that excuses the occasional poor choice of verb.
I’m very pleased with this adventure. It doesn’t extend the form of the dungeon adventure, but it presents an entertaining and interesting adventure which should give you and your players a few hours of enjoyment. You can’t ask more than that!