Friday, November 18, 2022

About Wyvern Songs

 Wyvern Songs is a collection of four adventures for Old-School Essentials, authored by Brad Kerr. If you like your OSE game with just a pinch of weird and whimsy, and you are looking for GREAT adventures, Wyvern Songs is a must-buy.

Brad is the author of the widely acclaimed, best-selling OSE adventures Hideous Daylight and Temple of 1000 Swords (I've reviewed it here), and of Demon Driven to the Maw (written for Cairn RPG).

In short, Brad had dropped an outstanding series of adventures, so as soon as this new book was available, I ordered the hardcover version, which is a nice full color,  A5 book (hardcover A5 is, in my opinion, the best print-on-demand format from DriveThru, and the one I've chosen for my OSE-licensed Axian Library book too).

What's inside

The book features four adventures: The Sinister Secret of Peacock Point, Fabien's Atelier, The Singing Stones, and The Dreaming Caldera, plus an impressive appendix of bonus material.

Each adventure has a different color used for text headings and as the background of the maps, making browsing the volume very easy.

All the adventures are location-based, with multiple hooks, and no preset outcome. All offer non-linear problems and things to play with, and ideas on how to further develop the place or the events that the players may trigger. The text is short and sweet, with clever use of bolded text and bullet points, making preparation super easy.

The table of contents, with a summary of the adventures.
It also introduces the color-code used throughout the book. 

The Sinister Secret of Peacock Point is a dungeon crawl adventure for first level characters. The dungeon (25 rooms) is the guildhall of a gang of thieves, who've just been slaughtered by a demonic insect lord they've unwittingly released from its prison inside a locked music box.

So the place has a story, and it shows in every room. And it's got the traps the thieves had set to stop intruders, and they are reasonably telegraphed, empowering player agency; and an overarching "puzzle" that develops along with the random encounters and exploration of the place.

Fabien's Atelier is a dead wizard's flying palace. It is a puzzle-heavy dungeon for characters level 2-4 (19 rooms), and can be played as a followup to Hideous Daylight or on its own. Fabien the wizard has died, and its flying abode has a lot of things going on.

The core piece of the dungeon is a magic cabinet that makes you change size, allowing the players to explore a series of small tunnels inside the walls (among other things). Also of notes are puzzles featuring keys which are not keys, a miniaturized dragon living inside a doll house, and a mass battle between dream gremlins and undead rats. The adventure is open-ended and the players may cause a lot of trouble freeing a djinn, or crashing the flying palace on the duke's beloved garden.

The Singing Stones is a point-crawl adventure for characters level 3-5, set in a rocky valley of enchanted stones that's 6 square miles and features 20 different points of interest to explore. The valley has a lot going on. The main hook is to find the disappeared prince (who got poisoned by a wyvern, and also petrified by a medusa before the venom could kill him!), but other hooks are provided: finding a great bard's burial place and treasure; stopping the mysterious beast eating the singing stones; investigating the ghost of a young bride; visiting a commune of dwarven artists who are unwittingly creating a summoning device for an ancient vampire... and more.

This adventure is probably the best of the group. Even more open-ended, with each location point offering enough elements to investigate, explore and interact with, to fuel hours and hours of play time.

The Dreaming Caldera is another "traditional" dungeon, designed for characters level 5-6. It features 27 rooms divided in 2 levels, and includes areas specifically designed to expand the dungeon, if you want. The content is a bit of a funhouse dungeon, with a great variety of monsters. What makes it a cool scenario is the strong theme the connects everything: all the monsters inside the dungeon are busy trying to shape a body for a chaos godling that is about to be born. 

All in all: the book is just great. From overall structure, to layout, use of of colors, and text organization of each room, everything is just perfect to make it easy to run. You read it and you are ready to run the game. And the content is top notch. If you like your fantasy game with just a pinch of weird (of the imaginative -not dumb, not gonzo- kind), this book has four scenarios you want to have and will enjoy running, as players will find plenty to do, figure out, interact with, and decide on their own terms.

And I haven't even mentioned the bonus materials at the end of the book: a new class, a starting village, and even a regional hex map with the locations for the four scenarios in the book AND a score of other published adventures, both from Necrotic Gnome and from other authors, as The Black Wyrm of Brandonsford and The Seers Sanctum.

1 comment:

  1. A well written review and high praise. I'll be picking up a copy based on your recommendation. Cheers.


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