the Sneak Attack Press adventures

In case you don’t know the guys: There’s a little company out there called Sneak Attack Press that has released some affordable adventures and today, I’ll take a look at all of them, chronologically! All of these adventures are available for 4th edition and PFRPG and for convenience’s sake, I’ll link each picture to the PFRPG-version and each adventure-title to the 4th edition version. All right?

So let’s start with:

 

Blessed by Poison

 

 

This pdf is 15 pages long, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 1 page SRD, 1 page advertisement, leaving 11 pages for this short adventure, so let’s check it out!

This being an adventure review, this review contains SPOILERS. Potential players might want to jump to the conclusion.

Still here?

All right. Blessed by Poison is a rather straight-forward adventure – Kurk Davrip, famous Goblin Hunter has vanished and it’s up to the PCs to find him. Once they have found an abandoned goblin camp-site, they’ll encounter two kinds of deadly spiders. a mini-map is provided for this and all other combat encounters. Via a skill-challenge (nice to see skills get some use) the PCs can track the trail to a cavern and goblins preparing an ambush. Once the green pests have been conquered, the PCs will have to explore the cavern, fight a special spider that has created zombies and finally meet Kurk.

Or rather what has become of him. The hunter is now host to a terrible swarm of nightmare spiders – a weapon that lets him combat the goblins, but at the expense of his humanity. The final battle rocks and has the option of PCs using social skills to make Kurk shed the spiders (which is rather unhealthy for him as they erupt from his body…) and only fight them – should they fail with their smooth-talking, they’ll have to contend with both Kurk and the swarm. The adventure closes with the new template for hosts of nightmare spiders.

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Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are very good, I didn’t notice too many glitches. Layout adheres to an easy-to-read two-column b/w-standard. The adventure has no bookmarks and no artworks. The maps are ok and the fact that we get multiple maps for each encounter. The adventure is straight-forward and simple and the foes feature neat modifications that make them feel not like some critters straight from the bestiary and the final confrontation offers a chance for redemption. On the other hand, the adventure does not feature a unique or legendary storyline, just a straightforward, neat, short adventure. In the end, my final verdict will take the low price and the nature of the adventure into account and clock in at 3 stars – slightly above average, neat little scenario.

 

Next up is a nice horror-module:

 

Good Little Children Never Grow Up

 

This short little horror-adventure is 25 pages long, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 1 page ToC (also featuring 3 little maps), 1 page SRD, leaving 21 pages of content, so let’s check this out.

This being a horror-adventure, the following review contains SPOILERS. Potential players might wish to jump to the conclusion.

Still here?

All right! “Good little Children never grow up” begins like many horror-adventures on a dark and stormy night, with the PCs fighting wolves. What is not necessarily normal is the fact that the PCs will have visions and, via one hook or another to an abandoned orphanage, most likely to save the sons of a local farmer who went there to meet the new neighbors who moved into the old orphanage. Unbeknownst to the new residents, the orphanage is a place of terror – once run by the deeply traumatized Granny DeMay, she “delivered” children from ever losing their innocence and thus “protecting” them from the rigors, hardships and traumas of adult life in a twisted take on the trope of lost innocence. One of the girls, once she figured out what Granny exactly does, sacrificed herself to be buried alive by the other children with Granny and at least keep her fellow orphans alive. She and Granny haunt the house to this day. Possessed by Granny, the new lady of the house killed her husband and now the ghost of Granny once again wants to keep children from growing up. Enter the PCs.

Good horror-adventures are hard to do and on 21 pages, this offering does not have that much space to develop. But oh how it’s done.
8 pages, containing a total of 45 handouts support the DM to bring to life the horror of the situation: One of the PCs is chosen by the child and has corresponding visions, one player will be tormented by visions and possession attempt by Granny, one will receive visions from an intelligent weapon (provided the PCs find and use it) etc. Combine that with Granny’s creepy insinuations, her very own song she tends to hum when killing children and the ability to enslave children and set them upon the PCs and we have not only an adventure that rewards non-lethal combat solutions, but also provides an atmosphere of iconic dread not often seen in adventures. The pdf includes a new template, the Granny-possessed creature.

 

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are good, although I didn’t like some blank spaces on the handout-pages. Layout adheres to the classic b/w-2-column-standard and the b/w-artwork is stock and fitting. The pdf has no bookmarks, which is a minor downer. Content-wise, this adventure is top-notch and delivers a supremely creepy atmosphere for a very low price. Author Matthew J. Hanson delivers a disturbing yarn that is a sheer pleasure to run and the 8 pages of handouts rock. However, not all is fine. I would have loved to get a player-friendly map without numbers to hand out to my players. Also, it is noticeable that this adventure once was created for 4th edition: While most sections have been professionally converted, a dragonborn (instead of half-orc) slipped past the editors. Worse, the decision on whether the villain of the piece is put to final rest depends on being destroyed via “radiant” damage, necessitating a DM to devise another way to determine success or failure in the final encounter. Usually, I’d mark the adventure down to 3 or even 2.5 stars for this rather significant glitch, but the writing is simply too good – this yarn of gothic horror would score the full 5 stars sans the glitches. With them, I’ll grit my teeth and scale down to 4 stars with a definite recommendation for any fans of creepy scenarios.

 

We also have an urban intrigue:

 

The Golden Banner

 

This adventure is 23 pages long, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 1 page advertisements and 1 page SRD, leaving 19 pages of content, so let’s check out this latest adventure by Sneak Attack Press!

This being an adventure review, the following text contains SPOILERS. Potential players might want to jump to the conclusion.

The Golden banner is an urban investigation adventure set in a rather generic city and is thus easy to insert into a given campaign: The basic storyline is that once upon a time, a relic, the Golden Banner, was key in defending against a humanoid invasion. The banner was the key symbol for the 3 dominant religions involved in repulsing the invasion and was subsequently lost. The faiths were a good sun-goddess, a neutral god of war and a rather lawful evil entity called the Tyrant. A new age has begun and the banner was lost for quite some time, the Tyrants has been mostly eliminated from official history. However, his faithful haven’t forgotten and thus, bad omens accompany the resurfaced banner. Now in the hand of a rich philanthrope, he plans to bequeath the artifact to one of the two beliefs that lay claim to it, while the Tyrant’s followers want the banner and are willing to go to almost any lengths to realize their “rightful” claim to the relic.

Anticipating trouble, the rich man hires the PCs to uncover any conspiracies and defend the banner from any who would steal it. The problem is: The banquet is scheduled for the evening and time’s ticking. The list of retainers, priests and high-society people is long and the PCs might have to split to get their legwork done in time. Each of the character write-ups is located in one of three districts and tracking the time it takes to go from a) to b) as well as waiting for receptions will be essential and necessitate smart planning. Add to that a strike-force of Tyrant-worshippers and the PCs have a lot to uncover: From hallucinogenic mushrooms in the pheasant (the cook is being blackmailed), noble-born tyrant-sympathizers and the wall of silence around the involvement of the Tyrant in the banner’s history (and thus the identity of the assailants) make for a lot off juicy bits of information to uncover, which may actually lead the PCs to the hidden temple of the tyrant, which along-side the dinner itself, might constitute the climax of this investigation.

My only gripe with the adventure is the wimpy nature of the antagonists, who can’t hold a torch to lvl 6-7 PCs and the fact that the named NPC-foes are mechanically rather on the boring side.

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Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are ok, I noticed for example the amount of levels missing from some statblocks and other minor punctuation glitches. Layout adheres to a printer-friendly 2-column b/w-standard, the artwork is stock and the maps provided for all combat encounters are not pretty, but do their job. The pdf comes without bookmarks, but features two handouts -neat. The investigation per se is open-ended, PCs have multiple ways and degrees of success and the story per se and its presentation is concise and well-written. In fact, this adventure is a very good example of how I tend to run my less complicated investigations and features ideas galore and some intriguing detective work without slacking the pace and action-aspects too much.
If the glitches were not there, I’d gladly go full out on this cheap, well-written little adventure. Seeing, though, how crunch-wise the enemies are rather bland and taking into account the lack of bookmarks, I’ll settle for a final verdict of 4 stars instead. With a hearty recommendation to all of you out there: Add some cooler villains and you have a neat go-play investigation for a very low price.

 

And the so far final one:

Beacon in the Dark

This adventure is 22 pages long, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 1 page ToC, 1 page SRD and 1 page advertisement, leaving 17 pages of content, so let’s check this out!

This being an adventure review, the following contains SPOILERS. Potential players might wish to jump to the conclusion.

Still here? All right! The PCs are hired by dwarves who have recently lost a stronghold to the drow to reclaim it or, to be more precise, escort a cleric, a wizard and a druid to the stronghold to perform a ritual to reactivate the magical defenses and drive the dark elves away. Problem is: The dwarves suspect a mole and indeed, one of the casters is being blackmailed by the viscous dark elves. Indeed, the trek goes anything but smooth and after a rather deadly ambush by the drow, the PCs and their 3 allies can reevaluate their strategies – whether they stick to their original route or take an alternate one, their trek through the underdark will prove to be rather challenging.

Once the PCs have reached the fortress of Ballo Dar, they will have to defend the spellcasters while they perform their rituals against wave upon wave of deadly drow and the pests – depending on whether they’ve routed up the traitor, the finale will be more difficult and in fact result in a rather hard war of attrition on the PCs and their resources. The pdf includes a new incantation, a DM cheat-sheet and full stats of all enemies and the NPC allies in the module.

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are okay, but not stellar – one instance still calls this a 4th edition adventure and there are some minor glitches throughout the text. Layout adheres to a 2-column standard and all battles have their own b/w-maps. The artworks are b/w and the pdf comes without any bookmarks, which is a bummer. This adventure is a straight-forward sidetrek and I enjoyed the new incantation as well as the “Hold your ground”-finale, but overall the module falls somewhat flat of e.g. the coolness of “Good little Children never grow up” or “The Golden Banner” and can be rather considered a run-of-the-mill scenario. While there is nothing wrong with the module per se, neither did I consider the module to be stellar. The alternate route the PCs can take is nice, but I would have enjoyed a more pronounced splitting of the paths and more consequences for the route-splitting/ferreting out the traitor. Thus, while not a bad module by any means, neither did this one wow me and combined with the glitches, I’ll settle for a final verdict of 2.5 stars, rounded down to 2 stars in spite of the low price.

 

All right, hope that helps! As always, thanks for reading my ramblings,

Endzeitgeist out. 

 

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About Endzeitgeist

Reviewer without a cause