Bird of a Feather (OSR)
This adventure clocks in at 21 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page back cover, 1 page editorial/ToC, 1 page SRD, leaving us with 17 pages of content, so let’s take a look!
This module uses the Swords & Wizardry rules, but can be easily converted to other OSR-rulesets. It is intended for characters level 3 – 4 and works best when used in conjunction with Whisper & Venom, as it takes place in the Whisper Vale and basically presents an overland sidequest. The module provides stats for all creatures from Whisper & Venom it uses, and sports a couple of magic items on the quirky side of things. The fantastic overland maps of the Whisper Vale are reproduced here, but, unlike in the big book, they, and a few of the artworks herein, look slightly pixilated in the pdf. New maps are also provided, and these are b/w; no unlabeled version for these is provided.
The adventure comes with read-aloud text that is rather well written, as well as random encounter table and rumors. We also have new fantasy animals as critters that haven’t been introduced before.
All right, this is as far as I can go without diving into SPOILERS. Potential players should jump ahead to the conclusion.
There was a festival – the town’s finest have gone off to hunt – but alas, but one should return, only to pass away shortly thereafter. The hunters, in their ignorance, destroyed the home of a fairy – which, on its own, would but have inconvenienced them, but the fairy’s assault coincided with them biting off more than they could chew, in the guise of one of the ill-tempered rhacos birds. (These birds have a very valuable feather on their head, but are rather deadly…) Add a murkbeast, and we have a perfect storm of unfortunate circumstances. All of this background is, generally, pretty optional – the module has the PCs basically follow in the steps of the hunting party.
The lavishly-illustrated Distaff-region of the vale where this takes place manages to feel like a linear, yes, but also fantastic world, where strange fish exist, where dangerous predators prowl and where the fantastic cinereous eagles and aforementioned rhacos roam, where goblin bootleggers may be encountered. The PCs basically have to find the rhacos nest and deal with the dangerous creatures, hopefully harvesting the valuable feather of the male…though this, obviously, will not make the dead come back to life. It’s a humble hunting trek, but a well-crafted one.
The magic items noted include a bowel blockage cursed scroll or a dust that incapacitates the target for 24 hours with bodily functions on a failed save. Not the biggest fan of that save or suck there – it’s an instance of player/PC humiliation, which, while funny in doses, imho works best when the PC actually did something that warranted being made a laughingstock – you know, the type of thing that’ll have the player smirk and say “fair enough”, at least somewhat amused.
Editing and formatting are very good on a formal and rules-language level; while it deviates from some conventions, it is consistent in such instances. Layout adheres to a nice two-column full-color standard, with a surprising array of really nice full-color artworks. Both these artworks and the internally hyperlinked buttons at the bottom of the pages, though, look somewhat pixilated. The pdf is layered, allowing you to make it more printer-friendly. It also comes with a ton of bookmarks.
Zach Glazar and John Hammerle provide a fun little sidetrek, one that works best when used in conjunction with Whisper & Venom. This is an unpretentious, well-crafted, but painfully linear hunting sidetrek that is ultimately structurally not that exciting. While it probably won’t blow most folks away, it is charming in the simplicity of its angle, in how the nature and fantastic fauna featured within renders it plausible – even though the background story, in a way, is pretty convoluted without much payoff for its complexity. All in all, my final verdict will clock in at 3.5 stars, rounded down.
You can get this adventure here on OBS.
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