Paul Baldowski
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Stockport
Cheshire
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Written with Neoclassical Geek Revival and general OSR gaming in mind, The Trail of Stone and Sorrow is an 8-page adventure written by Zzarchow Kowolski.

Given the page limit, this is an unashamedly brief adventure outline, in a two-column format. In fact, the adventure occupies just 4-pages, along with a map, a title page and two pages of credits and ISBN information.

You might think to yourself, what's left to read and how can this be worthwhile?

Well, I can assure you this is worthy of the time taken to download and read. Zzarchow just has a way with words and plot that get the idea across in short order, provide you with a scant setting, and leave you to weave the story around it.

Essentially, the inhabitants of a sleepy rural village have discovered a couple of local animals - a bear and a cow - inexplicably petrified. A young boy came across the bear by chance in the forest, reporting the find to his parents, who confirm the state of the poor animal. A merchant at yesterdays market mentioned seeing a petrified cow in a field - which the alewife took for a tall tale. However, it would appear that the cow suffered a similar fate to the bear.

The characters arrive in the midst of this, with the villagefolk scared and seeking assistance. Most villagers have never found it hard to find excuses in superstition and scaremongery, and in this instance the relatively recent arrival of a stranger, Doctor Brenner, provides an easy target for blame. Mind you, the villagers haven't quite summoned up the courage to do anything about it just yet. If the characters might oblige, they have the promise of a barrel of ale.

The adventure provides information about Doctor Brenner and the local environment around the village, along with a detailed explanation of what actually has happened for the GM to work around.

You have a lot of leg room to do with this as you please. Essentially, you could easily do this in a single session, or as a convention adventure to showcase an OSR system of your choosing. Alternatively, this could be a side trek in a wider campaign or even acquire some more meat to become a game of two sessions or more (if you felt the urge). However, herein lies just the core plot thread. If the characters follow that specific thread, they will ultimately uncover the cause of the petrification and wil have the opportunity (or at least the option) to do something about it.

Personally, I liked it. It's simple, but not. Jammed into 4-pages, Zzarchow effectively uses that space to explain the situation. That's the simple part. The less simple part - well, that's the characters finding a way to resolve it.

For a group keen on combat, this will need additional work. At heart, this is a puzzle that needs investigation, not a well-honed sword and a muscular arm to wield it.

While written for NGR/OSR, the very limited physical activity in the adventure means that you can easily use it for your fantasy (or pseudo-historical) game of choice.

At time of review, this is a Pay What You Want PDF from various sources. Personally, I believe it warrants your support with a donation. Or, download it for free and then go pay something more for another adventure by the same author to show your appreciation.

2015RPGGRC-01

This is a review for the 2015 RPGG Review Challenge - specifically written for the January theme of Adventure.
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zoten zombie
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Thanks for the review!

To be honest, when I saw the cover and the (sub)title I didn't take a closer look at the adventure. Maybe I should check it out though.
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A very enlightening review that points out it is not necessarily the number of pages but how the content takes you into the environment and story to play within it. Bringing in the investigative focus versus combat is a nice change that would fit in great as a intermezzo adventure while taking a party between quest locations, etc.

Thanks for your enlightening review!
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Paul Baldowski
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wusselpompf wrote:
Thanks for the review!

To be honest, when I saw the cover and the (sub)title I didn't take a closer look at the adventure. Maybe I should check it out though.

I seem to have had the opposite experience to yourself. The cover intrigued me enough to read more about the adventure on RPGNow, and I also picked up a PDF copy of the Neoclassical Geek Revival rules. The 'classic' look of the goats in the mountains distracted by something distant and out of frame just drew me in.
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zoten zombie
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I have to admit, when I first saw the cover I didn't know about Necolassical Geek Revival. I thought it was something (pretentious) the author made up as a subtitle. Plus I think I'm really not the target audience for the whole OSR movement (as I started playing in the mid-90ies).

All in all, that made me think "this is not for me" - while I agree that the cover image is not bad at all. But as with Death Frost Doom thanks to the review I will at least have a look at it.
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