Game: Interludes: Brief Expeditions to Bluffside
Publisher: Thunderhead Games, Inc.
Review Dated: 13th, January 2002
Reviewer’s Rating: 8/10 [ Really good ]
Total Score: 162
Average Score: 4.63
This is the sort of scenario that I like. Interludes: Brief Expeditions to Bluffside is a detailed adventure, with lots going on and has a lovely non-linear approach to it. As you read through the adventure you’ll be given plenty plot hooks (many of which just screamed out for bigger things – like an adventure to the city of Bluffside itself), rumours and NPCs.
There’s actually much more than an adventure in Interludes, there’s a dozen new creatures, some news spells, items, prestige classes and feats. In many ways, Interludes seems to act as a teaser for the Bluffside: City on the Edge saga (due out February 2002) and it teases very well.
It is partly through the wealth of extras that are crammed into the book that my usual reluctance to buy pre-written adventures was over come. There’s certainly value for money here. The danger was that with all the extra information the book would become crowded and confused but, thankfully, this is avoided. The six different appendixes keep all the stats and facts neatly in the back of the book and are referred to at all of the appropriate sections back in the adventure section. Where there are notes of mechanics (such as the DC for important actions) they’re kept clearly separate in shaded boxes.
One of the most successful aspects of the adventure was Quinn’s use of “theme” boxes. The idea is so blindly simple and yet so strikingly powerful I’m surprised I’ve not seen more of the same elsewhere. The theme boxes provide a binary checklist for you to adjust the difficulties of encounters and what sort of problems the group of heroes might face. For example, a quick check can help you to decide whether an important door should be trapped as well as locked, or just locked. I also appreciated the way some of the main news monsters (Goblinoids and exotic mounts) where introduced to the scenario. The presence of a whole new race wasn’t the reason for the adventure, unlike some recent scenarios I’ve read. Rather, the presence of the creatures is a plot twist and its handled with the same non-linear, subtle approach as the rest of the acts in the adventure.
My personal tastes for scenarios is that they should be a mesh of plot weaves that the players may get involved with, explore or ignore as they see fit. I really don’t care for games that might has well be set in a long hallway since players simply encounter each stage in the DM’s plan. Brief Expeditions was, thankfully, in the former style rather than the latter. If I’m to pay money for an adventure then I expect there to be enough background and information to flesh the scenario out into a juicy extra for the players. Again, this is certainly true for Brief Expeditions. For example, the book contains player handouts that you can just photocopy and have handy if the players ever manage to find themselves in the right situation to have them.
The book’s not perfect; I’ve taken to holding mine rather gingerly since a rather scary looking crack as appeared between the cover page and the first page along the inner spine of the book and perhaps some of the maps (such as three different pictures of a square room with lines of beds for the inn) are rather too far into the realm of completeness. Mind you, I’d rather the maps were there than the book simply being shied back by a few pages. Despite not being absolutely perfect Interludes: Brief Expeditions to Bluffside is extremely good and this is reflected by its score in the Wyrd Ranks.
The book does point you at a DnD website where you’re supposed to be able to download freebies (with the password given in the book). I have seen said website up and running but that was many moons ago and it has been down (that I’ve noticed) ever since. However, I believe this page fills the same role. You can also download the PDF version from RPGNow.