Fantasy Craft clearly points out there is no world or campaign setting for their book. I was surprised when I read through Time of High Adventure as a book for Fantasy Craft. The best description I could give is Time of High Adventure is a set of three short modules that you can easily insert into any of your Fantasy Craft campaigns. The book is primarily aimed at Game Masters (GMs). Though there is some cultural information that players can use, the stories themselves are not for the player’s eyes.
The first story, “The Darkest Hour”, takes place in the quiet village of Andra. The poor unknowning adventurers, who are simply passing through and trying to enjoy their dinner, find themselves fighting hordes of undead to protect the town. The storyline leads the characters into a confrontation with a figure known as The Master, and a very nasty creature under his control.
The second story, “The Cleansing of the Black Spur”, brings, once again, a group of traveling adventurers unexpectedly into a bigger story after they are attacked by a wyvern. The group is assisted by a tribe of goblins who request their help in return. A keep built on the mountain called, Black Spur, has a demon entombed there. Every 50 years, due to the stars being in the right alignment, the demon’s prison weakens. And this happens to be one of those times. The goblins ask the party to go into the keep and defeat those trying to free the demon. The adventure brings the characters into the keep to defeat monsters nesting there, a cult trying to raise the demon, and a somewhat shadow of the demon itself.
The third story, “The Vault”, is best described by these five words right from the story: “This is a dungeon crawl.” The adventurers are trying to enter The Vault for knowledge, fame, and treasure. The Vault itself is filled with cunning locks, shifting passage ways, unique traps, and a monster waiting in the treasure room, which I found very unique. And of course, there are monsters in the dungeon. What dungeon would be complete without them?
After the three stories is another section called “Adventuring in The Realm”. This section gives GMs background history on the three stories and how to include them in your Fantasy Craft campaign. There is exclusive detail on the country called Valespire, where all of the adventures take place, and their religious beliefs. The section also includes ideas on how to expand on the individual stories for your campaign.
The final section of the book includes ready to print maps on individual pages, handouts for the characters, and stats for NPCs in eachof the stories. This is a well thought out part of the book, as all GMs using these stories need an easy way to give the players the handouts.
There are a lot of things I love about this book. First and foremost, the three stories are all well written. They have a background, memorable NPCs, unique monsters, and things to keep the characters thinking. Even “The Vault” as a standard dungeon crawl is way beyond standard. It has depth and the traps are well thought out. Typical hack and slash players may not like these adventures, but good roleplayers will love them.
Second, each of these stories includes excellent descriptions of the scenes for the players. Besides having the standard boxedtexttoread to the players, the scenes include more than enough detail to know where the characters should be and what they should be doing. The stories list what the Objectives should be in each scene along with the Challenges. The scenes also include great art and beautiful maps. I personally love the maps for each of these adventures and while they are not standard maps with boxes showing every 10 feet, they are beautifully drawn to give the GM a good overview of each area. And the location descriptions are more than enough to draw out literal size of each area for those players who need to understand the size of a room or hallway.
Finally, my favorite part of each of the stories is a section called Direction. The author in each scene included some possible questions the players may ask during that scene and how you should answer each of the questions. Purely brilliant in my eyes. Most pre-written adventures do not take into account questions the players may ask or provide answers to those questions. I appreciate that the author took the time to include these questions and answers for novice and expert GMs. One of my favorite one is “Q: Why are we here? A: You’re adventurers – does it matter?...”
The one thing GMs may not like is the way adversaries (monster’s, enemy NPCs, etc…) are listed. Fantasy Craft uses a table of Romannumerals to determine an adversary’s initiative, defense, attack, health, saving throws, and even skills. GMs need to be very familiar with this table or at least constantly referencing it to understand the strengths and weaknesses of these adversaries. One would assume the GMs are since this simply the way Fantasy Craft uses their adversaries in the game. It’s not my personal favorite, as I simply find it easier if the adversaries had numbers listed instead of me looking up those numbers on a chart.
Overall, I highly recommend Time of High Adventure to any GM planning to run a Fantasy Craft game. These wonderfully written stories will give GMs the chance to throw in some fun adventures into their own world or use them for one-shot adventures on a pick up gaming night.