Product Blurb: Take Your First Steps On the Road to Adventure. Goblins set upon the quiet town of Barrow’s Edge, and the community cries out for heroes to. Scourge of the Howling Horde is a generic setting adventure module for the edition of the Dungeons & Dragons roleplaying game. The adventure is. Scourge of the Howling Horde (3e) – Take Your First Steps On the Road useful DM advice for beginning and experienced Dungeon Masters.
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Scourge of the Howling Horde.
Results 1 to 1 of 1. Join Howlin Sep Posts This review is about an adventure, so if you’re a DM, read on. If, however, you’re a player whose DM might be considering having you run your group’s PCs through this adventure, read no further than this green area.
You wouldn’t want to ruin the experience, would you? No, of course not. Off you go, then! Scourge of qnd Howling Horde is a new adventure for 1st-level PCs, and is also specifically written for first-time DMs. It’s a rather simple “go fight a goblin tribe in their cave network” adventure, with a few added things thrown in here and there.
Scourge of the Howling Horde by Gwendolyn F.M. Kestrel
The cover artwork, by Simone Bianchi, is a painting of five goblins in threatening poses, reminding me somewhat of the antics of professional wrestlers. Unfortunately, the definition is rather poor, and it’s difficult to tell at first glance scoirge body parts go to which goblin, as their poses overlap each other the secondmost goblin has his morningstar-wielding hand and arm practically wrapped around the neck of the foremost goblin, for example, making the foremost goblin’s arms look mismatched – it isn’t until closer examination that you realize that those arms aren’t both his.
Also, while I don’t mind hairy-armed goblins, Simone’s attempts at rendering arm-hair makes it end up looking more like spines or quills. It’s not the best cover artwork I’ve ever seen, but it certainly gets across the concept that the PCs will be fighting goblins, so in that respect it serves its purpose.
The interior artwork consists of a scant 3 black-and-white illustrations by Carl Frank: Each is a rather simple drawing with some basic shading, but Drxgons credit Carl with paying close attention to the written descriptions of what he’s illustrating, as the depictions are spot-on, from the details on the buildings to the specific weapons and armor carried and worn by the goblinoids. Cartographer Mike Schley also provides 14 black-and-white maps, although technically I suppose it’s more accurate to say that he provides two maps – one on the inside front cover and one on the inside back cover – with the 12 separate areas of the goblin lair on the inside back cover blown up into individual maps for the “encounter page” areas detailing each of those sections of the lair.
This is the same format that was first used in Expedition to Castle Ravenloftdungekns here, some of the “2-page encounter spreads” are just a single page.
Scourge of the Howling Horde
Surprisingly, there isn’t a map of the town of Barrow’s Edge – since this adventure is intended for first-time DMs and even suggests that the town can be a “home base” for the PCs at the conclusion of the adventure, I was kind of expecting at least a half-page map of the layout of the town, with maybe the important buildings identified.
That’s just the sort of thing that a newbie DM would find exceptionally helpful, and my only guess is that they just couldn’t make room for it. In any case, the maps in this adventure are well done: Unfortunately, the rest of the text in this product is not as clear to read, due mostly to a poor choice in “background pattern” on the pages that hold the goblin lair area maps.
The gray is splotchy and a bit dark, making parts of the black text difficult to read; this is especially true of the “Terrain Features” sidebars which hold the “map chunks” from the goblin lair map in the backwhich are a much darker gray in tone. Add the fact that the “Terrain Features” font size is even smaller than the text on the rest of the page, and you’ve got a perfect recipe for eyestrain.
That combination was not the wisest one that could have been made. The adventure itself is rather simple, like I mentioned in the first paragraph of this review: The PCs track the goblins to their lair, and then work their way through the lair, fighting off goblins, hobgoblins, the occasional zombie and skeleton, a bugbear, a dire weasel, and eventually the cause of the recent goblin shenanigans: Of course, the adventure’s simplicity makes perfect sense when you consider its target audience: As far as that goes, Gwendolyn does an excellent job providing the neophyte DM with all of the help he should need; she provides page numbers in the Player’s Handbook and Dungeon Master’s Guide where specific information can be found, gives reminders about how some of the concepts like damage resistance and hardness work, and so on.
However, in some places the adventure is too simple: One thing new about the stat blocks in this adventure is the complete removal of any indication of Hit Dice. Hit points are provided on the very first line of the stats something I noticed they had done with almost all of the stat blocks in Expedition to Castle Ravenloftand Scourge of the Howling Horde even takes it one step further by adding a number of “check-off boxes” the DM can “X” through as the creatures take damage, but nowhere do the stat blocks state how many HD a given creature has.
This is troublesome for a couple of reasons. First of all, it’s a “dumbing down” of the stats, removing crucial information that’s needed to ensure that the stat block calculations were done correctly. Sadly, past experience has shown that cannot be taken as a given.
Secondly, there are times the DM needs that information, like any time a player has his wizard PC cast a sleep spell on enemies. Sleep affects 4 HD of creatures; how is a DM – especially a first-time DM, like the ones that this adventure is targeted for – supposed to figure out how many enemies are affected if he isn’t given the number of HD each potential victim has? I just hope this was an oversight in this one particular product, and that the powers that be at Wizards of the Coast haven’t decided that we no longer need to know just how many HD the creatures in their products have.
Hopefully this isn’t a taste of things to come in 4E! I guess we’ll find out as they release future products. In any case, the stat blocks themselves were not particularly well done, either. You’d think that a product designed to help new DMs – and a product that only has 32 pages, and a total of only 20 stat blocks in all, all of which are of low-level creatures and therefore the least complex stat blocks in the game – would have top-notch, high-quality stats, wouldn’t you? Well, you might have thought that, but you’d have been wrong.
I’m not sure who’s responsible for the stat blocks in this product – author Gwendolyn F. Here’s my “unofficial errata” for Scourge of the Howling Horde: This is Glarr’s animal companion, but there’s no indication what trick she knows.
This isn’t even a full stat block, merely a list of the spells currently prepared by one of the friendly folks in town. However, even it has an error: I’d delete one of the prestidigitation boxes.
He only spent 9 of his 12 skill points. I suggest bumping each of those three skills up by one point. As an undead, it drops the ” goblinoid ” subtype. Flat-footed AC should be 16, not Touch AC should be 10, not 9. Flat-footed AC should be 12, not Speed should include ” can’t run. Speed should include “climb 20 ft. Judging from his hp and CR, I’m guessing this is a Ftr1, in which case he should have a second feat listed his fighter bonus feat.
Why is there no “Immune: For that matter, why doesn’t this poor little guy have improved grab and constrict attacks? Granted, it’s only a “lesser” gray ooze, but it’s as big Medium size as a “normal” one.
I’m guessing the reason was “because there wasn’t room for those lines if we wanted the stat block to fit on the page. The “Urrtarr’s Deal” section describes her color spray and sleep spells, but her stats list burning hands instead of sleep.
It’s not like they can’t use it – they’re each wearing studded leather armor and wielding a masterwork longsword. Judging by his BAB, he’s a Ftr2. Since he spent 2 points each on Listen and Spot, that leaves one skill point unaccounted for – spend it wisely!
Her water breathing and immunity to acid are not noted in her stat block. Likewise her creature type is missing the ” Water ” subtype. She now has 52 hp, yet there are 56 “check-off boxes” indicating her hit point total. Breath weapon should be a foot, not foot, line of acid. With 7 HD, she should have 3 feats, not just 2. Even assuming that she spent a full 10 points on Hide, she still only spent 42 tbe 50 skill points. Again, these are pretty lousy stats for a Wizards of the Coast adventure, but they’re especially poor for a new DM trying to understand how the game works.
You’d think that they’d have gone the extra effort for an adventure with this type of “new DM” focus, but I guess not. Also, I want to point out that even though there are 20 stat blocks in this adventure and I have 20 items on my “unofficial errata list,” I added Thamior to the list merely out of convenience; he doesn’t even have a full stat block, just a list of spells.
For the record, the dire weasel stat block on page 18 looks perfectly fine to me. Several spell and magic item names were not italicized, “goblin” wasn’t capitalized when used as the name of the language spoken by goblinoidsthere were a few parts of some stat blocks that had words that should have been in bold font but weren’t, sentences with incorrect words reference to the inside front cover was made when it was the inside back cover that was being indicatedholwing a sentence missing a word.
There were also a few places where some odd assumptions were made; for example, the tunnel text on page 27 assumes the PCs are all Medium size, but this is not necessarily so, given that halflings and gnomes are core races. I don’t see how that can be anything but confusing to a new DM trying to learn the game. All in all, I commend the thought process that went behind the design of Scourge of the Howling Horde ; it’s about time Wizards of the Coast decided to create a 1st-level adventure with the neophyte DM in mind.
Unfortunately, the end result is not all that it could be, and I really can’t recommend the adventure for a new DM just learning the system; riddled with errors as it is, it’s liable to confuse him more than it helps him.
Incidentally, I still recommend Of Sound Mind as the dunngeons low-level adventure for a brand new DM to sink his teeth into, even if he doesn’t intend to use psionics in his campaign; I understand it’s even being – or maybe has already been by deagons – updated to the 3. In the end, I rate Scourge of the Howling Horde at “3 Average ” – good concept, decent if by-the-numbers adventure, helpful reminders and suggestions for the neophyte DM, but poor stat blocks and a difficult-to-read background fo this product a much lower value for the money.
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