Trouble at Niven’s Creek
Publisher: Ye Olde Gaming Companye
Release Date: 01/14/2012
Get it Here: DriveThruRPG.com
I’m a sucker for free adventures with foreboding names and so when I saw Trouble at Niven’s Creek, I knew I was going to download it. Of course, the fact it was a free adventure with one of the neatest covers I’ve seen in a while didn’t hurt either. Even though DriveThruRPG.com lists Trouble at Niven’s Creek as a OGL/d20 adventure, it’s actually for the Wayfarers Roleplaying Game. More specifically it’s for the Revised version of Wayfarers…which won’t be out until later this year. This made going through the adventure a bit more difficult. After all, it’s filled with system specific terminology and without the core rulebook, the lexicon can come across a bit nonsensical. The good news is that the original version of the Wayfarers core rulebook is on Drivethrurpg.com for less than four dollars. Which means if you download this adventure and the system seems like an interesting one, you can always try to make it work with the original version of the rules or wait for the Revised edition to be released.
Trouble at Niven’s Creek is for three to five players between 0 and 2nd level. Yes, there are 0 level characters in Wayfarers. It threw me off a bit at first too, but I remembered 1st Ed AD&D had something similar going on with Cavaliers. That’s not the only thing that will throw you for a loop as you read the adventure. Trouble at Niven’s Creek has neither a clear beginning or ending. Instead, it leaves that in the hands of the GM. This is a bit odd, especially for an adventure that says it was, “created to be run at a convention or as an introductory adventure.” I would think an either of those would be a little more concrete or hand holding, but that’s not how Wayfarers does things. The writers of the adventure itself seem to pride themselves on that, but it also makes the adventure a bit inaccessible to new GMs.
The adventurer revolves around a group of missing surveyors. This party went to explore “The Tomb of Vey Moss” and never came back. The PCs are there to solve what went wrong and recover any bodies that they can. The adventure then hinges on exploring the Tomb along with the DM deciding who betrays who as well as why, when, where and how. The adventure itself gives you a set of possible outcomes but they are only vague threads that the GM need to fully flesh out.
It’s not just the endings that the adventure is sparse on details with, but with locations and NPCs as well. The major NPCs only get about a paragraph of description while minor NPCs get a sentence. The entire town of Niven’s Creek only gets three-fourths of a page. For GMs and players who like a lot of detail to their published adventures, Trouble at Niven’s Creek will probably rub them the wrong way. “How big is this building? What can I search?” Etc. Etc. For a GM just looking for a few plot threads that they can weave into their own unique story however, I can definitely see this adventure going over well.
The one thing that is nicely detailed is the Tomb of Vey Moss itself. I won’t spoil things, but the whole plot of the Tomb reminds me of my old Rastipede from Spelljammer. This fourteen room dungeon gets six pages of description. It’s not the most intricate of interesting of locales, but it’s fine for low level characters. The Tomb contains a nice variety of monsters and magical items for the party to find, although it does seem to have a LOT more treasure than one would expect for an introductory level adventure. The adventure concludes with several pages of monster stats, NPC stats, a list of magic items, a random monster chart and finally, some pre-generated characters. In fact the only thing missing from this adventure is a set of quick start rules. I’m not sure why Trouble at Niven’s Creek doesn’t have QSRs, as that seems like a glaring oversight. After all, the Revised rules that the adventure is made for aren’t out yet and so something should be included to make it a) playable and b) decipherable to newcomers. Sure the contents will make sense to those that already own the original version of Wayfarers, but a free introductory adventure needs to be inviting and sadly, that’s something Trouble at Niven’s Creek just ISN’T.
I found the system in Wayfarers to be interesting, and this particular adventure piqued my interest enough that I’ll probably pick up the Revised rules once those are released, but for now I can’t really recommend the adventure. Newcomers won’t be able to make heads or tails of what is going on and people who already own the older version of Wayfarers will probably want to wait for Revised before picking this up. At the same time, the adventure IS free and it’s an interesting look at a system most gamers are probably unfamiliar with so although I can’t outright recommend, I can say that those gamers who are always interested or curious about gameplay mechanics might enjoy pouring this adventure over.