Review: Interludes – Brief Expeditions to Bluffside

brief_exp_bluffside_coverThe Iron Tavern received a copy of Interludes: Brief Expeditions to Bluffside (IBEtB) last week to review. This is a supplement for the Castles & Crusades system published by Samurai Sheepdog and written by Jeff Quinn and Peter Schroeder. This product is a conversion of the original supplement for the Bluffside setting which was d20 D&D 3.x compatible.

The PDF is 42 pages in length, including appendixes and OGL license information. The product is in black and white. The adventure is designed for 2nd level Castles & Crusades characters.

The product includes an extensive Table of Contents. Every major encounter area, NPC, and player handout is included in the table of contents. Each clickable to jump right to the correct location.

Next follows the adventure summary and background and then a course of the adventure section. These are quite handy for a CK to quickly see the flow of the adventure and make reading the rest of the adventure a little easier by having this overview in mind. The adventure centers around a kidnapping of a family from a small village named Kirkwood. The PCs will be investigating and tracking down just who orchestrated this kidnapping.

The rest of the book is broken up into three main sections. Kirkwood, The Holy Grove, and The Crossroads. Each area is well detailed with buildings, NPCs, and maps throughout. The level of detail makes the area feel more like a mini-campaign setting than a single adventure. The detail has both good and bad points, though the bad points can be easily turned into good depending on the CK’s approach the module.

After reading this adventure I felt like there was almost too much going on and this product would be better marketed as setting than an adventure. With the amount of detail and NPCs for even the village of Kirkwood a CK could easily use it as a base of operations and an instantly populated town with interesting people and rumors. The main adventure almost felt secondary.

The adventure arc was good, it just felt a little lost amongst the other detail. A kidnapping with a twist and one that ties a couple of power groups together. I felt the adventure was very solid and would be an enjoyable play.

The module strikes me as better if the CK goes into it with expectations of it being a mini-setting with an already provided adventure with several additional plot-hooks and suggestions for future adventuring in the area. Kirkwood could provide many, many sessions of adventuring between the as written adventure, rumors, and suggested adventure opportunities.

The product is lightly illustrated with a handful of graphics appearing within. There are numerous maps of the area, buildings, and such. The maps suffice, but I think they could have been of higher quality, the resolution seems a little low for several of them. It does not impact the usability of the map though, just the overall appearance.

Overall the product seemed a little rough around the edges, but given just a little bit of work and prep from the CK offers an excellent starting point for a campaign. The town of Kirkwood is wonderfully detailed. There are plot hooks sprinkled throughout via rumors and there are numerous NPCs for a CK to use to generate building their own. While it appears the PCs are meant to pass through the village, it seems like a good place for low-level PCs to call a base of operations.

If you are need of a lower level C&C adventure and possibly a place for your PCs to call home for a bit I think Interludes: Brief Expeditions to Bluffside is a good purchase. Just be aware that it needs just a little polish from the CK to really make it sing and make it your own.