Review: The Drunken Unicorn's Prize
The Drunken Unicorn's Prize is a 23-page adventure for Cairn created for the 2023 A Town, a Forest, a Dungeon Jam.
In short: The adventure give the players a great reason to visit a town—lots of mead and a wish-granting unicorn—and provides lots of support for that with NPCs and a mini-game for attempting to get a wish from the unicorn. There are interesting things in the forest around town too, but it is less clear why players would want to investigate them, and more could be added there.
Adventure Summary: The town of Ronton has several fine meaderies and, once every "Bluest Moon," a unicorn comes to sample the mead and grant wishes. Players travel to town for this ceremony. Outside the town are dangers in the forest, such as boars led by a super-intelligent man turned boar, an abandoned keep full of bandits, and a maze of tunnels with dangerous mud creatures.
What I Like: The sections on Ronton and the unicorn are fantastic. I particularly like the focus on people's stated vs. true desires, and how it brings the players into this by asking them to list theirs prior to starting the adventure. The wealth of NPCs and the special rules for running the unicorn encounter seem like it would make this part of the adventure a lot of fun to run.
I also really like the procedurally generated maze of tunnels, trying to capture the spirit of a confusing underground network while making it more streamlined at the table.
The King under the Hill, a massive monster that may wreak havoc on the world, is also a fun addition, even if it probably won't come into play most of the time.
The list of possible changes to the adventure to suit different tastes is a nice touch as well.
What I Don't Like: My main issue with the adventure is the lack of hooks to actually draw players out of the town to explore the forest and dungeon once they get there. While some of the NPCs have connections to goings on in the forest, there's no pressing issues that would send them there, and I could see a party just spending several days in town until the unicorn appears and then leaving without ever touching the forest or dungeon. This could be a list of hooks that might be provided by any NPCs or baked in to the existing list of NPCs with something they might ask of the players and offer in return.
On more minor notes, I personally could do with less commentary on NPC appearances and sexual proclivities, but I wouldn't say that's a universal knock against the adventure, and that comes down more to taste.
Speaking of taste, I also don't personally like the use of an ampersand in place of "and" throughout the text.
The statblocks as images are also a bit blurry and difficult to read in places and make it so that the statblocks can't be searched for in the PDF.