Tabletop Review: Isle of Undeath: Nature Consumed (Pathfinder)

Isle of Undeath: Nature Consumed (Pathfinder)
Publisher: Adventureaweek.com, LLP
Cost: $5.99
Page Count: 32
Release Date: 2/17/2014
Get it Here: Drivethrurpg.com

Isle of Undeath: Nature Consumed is the latest Pathfinder/Dungeons & Dragons 3.5 adventure from Adventureaweek.com, LLP. This particular adventure is designed for three to five characters between Levels 3-4. I always like low level adventures, as it tests a player’s thinking ability rather than letting them just hack and slash through everything. This is especially true in the case of the undead, which are immune to so many statuses, and while they can be turned, they can’t be outright destroyed by a low level cleric or paladin. Thus even a few zombies or skeletons can still be a potential threat to the players, especially if they are just wizards, rogues and fighters.

The plot of Isle of Undeath: Nature Consumed is about a cursed island from which a plague of undeath seems to be emanating. So the title is pretty fitting. Players start out by Thomason Lake for one of several reasons (pick which fits your game best) which is then hit by two waves of undead life forms – one insect and the next bovine. From there players will have to travel to Thomason Isle to figure out the nature of this strange magical blight turning living beings into zombies. There players will encounter… well, not much actually. There’s very little on the island except a half-mad druid and some random encounters. The druid is integral to the “climax” of the adventure (more on that later) and if the PCs kill him, the authors haven’t really left a way for the day to still be saved. This is a huge oversight that I can’t believe made it past the editors of this piece. There’s a nice ritual players have to help the druid complete, but players have no chance of discovering it save from the druid himself. Because the druid is half mad and will potentially attack players on site, he’ll probably get killed in self-defense, which means a smart DM has to have multiple back-up plans in case of this eventuality – something that should be included in a published and paid-for adventure. This is really kind of bad.

The adventure also has weird contradictions. In one part of the adventure it says a cursed magical item is the reason the druid is blind. Later on it says a ritual blinded him. Perhaps these two disparate events could be made into one by a good DM, but again, in a PAID FOR adventure, this is the job of the authors, not the purchaser. This thing really needed to be edited for continuity and contradictions. It’s not very well written at all, and if I had actually paid money for this (yay for review copies), I’d have been kind of pissed at what I received for my money, especially compared to many other third party Pathfinder releases out there.

Although Isle of Undeath has thirty-two pages, only fifteen pages are actually the adventure itself – and that’s counting maps, two full pages of random encounter tables, and art. There is not a lot of content here at all. The adventure is extremely short and can be played through in a single session, with still a bit of time to spare. The other pages are ten pages of monster stats, the usual OGl pages, cover art and two reprints of the same map. You’re not really getting much for your $5.99, either in terms of quantity or quality here.

Isle of Undeath: Nature Consumed is an odd adventure. It calls itself a sandbox style adventure, but it’s actually a pretty linear affair. A sandbox adventure needs to have many sidequests, locations to explore and a hefty amount of content in addition to the core plot. Isle of Undeath is actually pretty straightforward, with only four real places on the island to explore and a “whopping” half a dozen planned encounters (although most are traps or haunts), although random wandering monsters could bump this number up. The adventure is actually exceptionally linear for something that is meant to take you across an entire island. Worst of all, the adventure doesn’t have a climax or an ending. After one encounter, the adventure literally just ends in to be continued fashion. To keep the piece going you have to buy the next adventure in the series, Isle of Undeath: Nature Restored. So in fact, you’re not getting a full adventure here – only half of one. This means you’ll have to pay roughly twelve dollars of the full adventure, not to mention your players will be stuck twiddling their thumbs waiting for part two to come out. After all, your characters can’t just go off and do some other adventure in the meantime. This was really poorly though out. At least with other multi-adventure based storylines from Adventureaweek.com, each leg of the story is self-contained and has an actual ending that you can give players. Not here with Isle of Undeath: Nature Consumed. The end result is a very disappointing piece that is guaranteed to dissatisfy players who sit through it. Adventureaweek.com would have been far better off putting both halves together into a single adventure instead of releasing just the first half which simply trails off with no closure.

About the only good thing I can say about the adventure is that the layout is color coded with symbols designated the different aspects of the adventure. There’s an icon for what you read out loud to your players, one to let you know where monster stats are, another for encounters and so on. UNFORTUNATELY, even this good idea couldn’t be implemented correctly. You see, nowhere in the adventure is a key for what the color coding and/or symbols mean. How on earth did THAT get by the editorial staff or the writers? That’s a huge faux pas to make. Sure, an experienced DM can figure it out, but for a newer or younger DM, these shades of colors and symbols will make the entire adventure look like a confusing mess, and only after they have spent some time with the adventure will the symbols and shading make sense. Not a lot of time mind you, but enough that every aspect of this adventure comes off like a bumbling third rate mess – almost as if it were made by the Three Stooges or characters in a Benny Hill skit.

The bottom line is that I implore you not to waste your money on Isle of Undeath: Nature Consumed. Not only is it the worst adventure I’ve reviewed this year, but it is vastly overpriced for what you get. It’s insulting to the potential audience that the writers would just break an adventure in half with no real resolution and expect gamers to not only be okay with this, but try to double dip in the disposable income pond to boot. This is not typical of Adventureaweek.com, so I’m really hoping this was just a bad error in judgment on their part to let this come up for sale in the condition it was released in. There is nothing at all positive to say about this adventure except that thank god I don’t have to review part two Isle of Undeath – Nature Restored once it is available. Yuck.

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