- First level characters never seem to have enough options.
- They’re so…smooshy. It takes nothing but some unlucky die rolls to take them out.
In other words, it’s hard for first level characters to feel truly heroic. But, worse than that, they often feel ineffective!
When I got a copy of Midgard Adventures: The Raven’s Call, though, I got pretty excited. Finally! A chance for first level PCs to feel a bit of agency in a dangerous and deadly world!
Most of the time, published adventures are not really my bag. I’m not a big fan of dungeon crawls, and I really hate being constrained by adventure modules that (in my experience) are pretty linear. When I create my own adventures, I try to keep them as open-ended as possible; you never know what kind of monkey wrench the players will throw in your plans, so having a less linear approach generally helps me come up with things on the fly.
That’s why I was so surprised by The Raven’s Call! It wasn’t linear. In fact, it set up a fun sandbox for the players to adventure in and gave them multiple possible motivations to move things in the right direction.
Here’s the premise of the module: A group of nasty raiders has taken over a town, displaced the townspeople (or imprisoned them in a barn), and begun consuming all the supplies. The players are motivated in some way (there are options in the book for creativity when it comes to said motivation), and it isn’t a hard leap for the adventurers to want to right the wrong.
Saving a village from a bunch of raiders might seem like a daunting task, but Wolfgang Baur’s design in the adventure really shines. With a bit of bravery, luck, and some well placed magical items, the PCs can be the heroes they were meant to be. With multiple ways to approach the adventure, there are many opportunities for characters with different skill sets to show off.
The various elements of the module are detailed enough to help the game master if the players get off the beaten path a little bit, but they’re not so detailed that the information gets lost in a morass of text. It was also really easy to fill in small details with some of my own information, which helped set the stage for further adventures.
The art and included maps were both very well done. The sketch of a trollkin on the final page of the adventure really stood out to me. I have to admit there were a few times when I’d be scrolling to that page to get some information, and I would find my eyes drawn to the sketch rather than the info I needed. I don’t think that’s a bad thing, though.
Overall, I’ve never been disappointed by the art in any Kobold Press release, and this adventure module continues that great tradition.
What’s the most rewarding thing about The Raven’s Call? The fact that my PCs really felt like they had “won.” The adventure was challenging enough that they felt a real sense of accomplishment when they rescued the village. At the end of the day, that kind of euphoria is part of the reason why we play RPGs.
Once again, Wolfgang Baur and Open Design have impressed me with what they bring to roleplaying games. If you are looking for a low-level adventure for your party, this is one I highly recommend!
Notes from the adventure:
My session featured four players, each with varying degrees of familiarity with the Pathfinder RPG.
-An elf fighter
-An elven archer (like The Raven’s Call, the elven archer is a Kobold Press creation that I’ll review in another column)
-A gearforged wizard (gearforged are clockwork beings specific to the Midgard Campaign setting)
-A human paladin
Quotes from the players (both during the game and afterward)
“Being able to play a gearforged character let me indulge in my inner steampunkery, and that’s awesome!”
“I want to ride the crab!”
“I’m an elf; I’m not telling you my name.”
“Let’s just set it on fire!”
“I’m not eating any of their food.”
“I really suck at climbing walls.”
“The D20 is a cruel and fickle mistress.”
“The setting is fun and not too terribly difficult, which is good for a core group of level one characters missing a dedicated healer. Best results with full five-member band.”