Cats Have No Lord

Review: Turn of the Leaves

Turn of the Leaves is an 8-page adventure for Cairn created for the 2023 A Town, a Forest, a Dungeon Jam.

In short: I love the format as a play script, although that comes with a trade-off of perhaps requiring some extra work for the warden preparing to run it. I think that's worth it in the end for the novelty of seeing an adventure presented in this way. The story itself is great too, with some interesting moments for players to work through.

Adventure Summary: Adventurers arriving in a town learn of a curse on the town and are exhorted by an old man to come into the woods with him to help cure it. After encountering several different fae creatures in the woods, they learn of the source of the curse and the barrow they must enter to fix it. It concludes in the barrow, with a dangerous encounter with a lich, although they should be well prepared to face it by this point.

What I Like: The adventure is presented as a play, split into acts and scenes and with rhyming monologues for an NPC in most scenes. Although I'm not sure I'd use them in game myself, they're fun to read as the warren, and the format is a fun change from standard adventure presentation.

The storyline itself is also interesting, with an ancient curse turning original settlers of the town into fae creatures, and now returning to turn the current generation into werewolves.

The encounters are well-designed, with potentially deadly creatures at every turn, but with non-combat solutions presented in all cases for players who take the time to think. The motivations of the creatures are also all clear and tied in well to the rest of the story.

What I Don't Like: My only quibble is the tradeoff between the format of the adventure and usability at the table. The author acknowledges the linear nature of the adventure (natural when formatted as a play) and encourages wardens to allow play to expand outside the strictures of the page. However, there is little support provided for that, and it would require some extra work by the warden to prepare for the spaces in between the scenes or players straying outside the structure of the play. This isn't insurmountable by any means, but a few resources, such as random encounter tables, at the end of the adventure would go a long way.