I have never run an adventure as written. It is the only way to properly weave someone else?s adventure into my intricate stories. I do not think I would be the Iron DungeonMaster if I did not do any alterations. I would probably be more or less the Iron follow the adventure as written guy, and that does not sound as cool.
In any case, most of the time adding stuff is an option, with Beyond the Towers, the second adventure in Green Ronin?s bleeding edge line, it was an unwelcome necessity for an otherwise solid adventure.
Beyond the Towers is a good investigative dungeon crawl adventure that faults with its lack of drama. The PCs are either recruited or stumble upon an professor?s assistant named Frank whom professor boss needs the sword of some skilled mercenaries to excort him to a new dig site. The site has been accosted by bandits and the PCs will need to take care of them in order to provide a secure setting to explore. The adventures first must travel through a swamp to the location where they have the opportunity to deal with the bandits and investigate the site.
The adventure seems straight forward but the writer crafts the tale in a way to answer side quest questions and present an open non module feel. This is one of the best features of the Bleeding Edge series, however, it still needs to be honed. Some of the side quest questions aren?t fully panned out, and a lot is left up to the DM to fill in. Case in point, eventually the PCs find a traitor, and the book says that this person is a traitor, but it leaves it up to the DM to figure out what the traitor does. .It would have been nice to have a page detailing what the NPC does or tries to do in certain areas. I almost envision that to make this work, the next installment needs an NPC sheet showing what certain NPCs would do in certain locations if the writer knows they are traveling with the party and are important to the plot.
The PCs eventually find the location and it refreshingly detours from your traditional dungeon crawl with only a handful of encounters, but lots to find in each room. There is a feeling that they provided too few encounters inside of the Towers and the ending really feels like a let down as you find some more mundane trinkets. I like the idea of the pcs getting xp by finding mundane trinkets, but assigning a value or goal to the amount they needed to find would have made the adventure more goal oriented for the PCs.
For the DM
Having read all four of the Bleeding Edge line, they are some of the most open adventures written. Though a few parts are a bit too Freeport specific, the actual adventures and places can be placed anywhere. My favorite part of the adventure is the description and intelligence put into the bandit camp. Every NPC has a good writeup and statblock presented after the adventure. However, it is a letdown not to receive clear adventure maps and handouts despite the promise of some available on the website. (no web enhancements on the website unless you want to run it as a True20 adventure). As a bit of tidbit advice, I would ignore the random encounter charts and make the special encounter presented in the book mandatory as they are quite good and shouldn?t be left up to a small percentage chance.
The Iron Word
The Bleeding edge is a line that is growing and seems to be getting better with each entry. Beyond the Towers is a very different dungeoncrawl adventure and needs a few little DM elements to spice things up. .
<b>LIKED</b>: - I like where the writers are going with the non-module feel; the pcs have choices
- A refreshing take on the dungeoncrawl<br><br><b>DISLIKED</b>: - the ending wasn't climatic, there needn't be a battle but the PCs should feel as if they completed a goal and have completely explored the place.
- some of the npcs lack future direction <br><br><b>QUALITY</b>: Very Good<br><br><b>VALUE</b>: Satisfied<br>
[3 of 5 Stars!]