Friday, January 10, 2014

A Quick Review: Howler

James V. West throws his hat into the adventure module writing arena with his first release, "Howler". There is a lot to like here.

James’ writing is clear and direct. Throughout, he strikes a great balance in helping the DM run the adventure – he gives suggestions throughout for ways you might want to play out particular encounters, but never railroads the adventure into a particular direction. He often suggests possible avenues for things that could happen, and throws suggestions that will help the DM along. This really lends itself towards a DM who doesn’t have a ton of experience, since these sorts of suggestions would have been a huge help to me when I was first starting out. The flavor text is just right – snappy and brief, establishing the scene and letting the DM get to the action.

The adventure itself uses a number of very common monsters, but provides just enough variety to give each encounter some freshness, so you’re not just fighting a group of generic goblins again. Each time, the variation is simple and elegant, appropriate to low-level play, but sufficiently interesting.

The main monster itself is quite clever, and is a great threat for a low-level party. There’s also a new monster type introduced, which I quite like. Hill Mummies for the win.

However, my favorite element here is the map, which is simply too cool. My ONLY disappointment with the entire package was that there weren’t more maps – I would have loved a small regional map in the same style to go with the one we got. The entire package is quite professional, from the expertly-designed cover to the clean, lively art throughout. The tone of the art and design align well with the flavor of the adventure.

It’s a sharp little package, and I look forward to more of James’ work. Now all he needs to do is set this up as ‘pay what you want’ so that people can throw him a few dollars to support him!

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