Side trek adventures offer Dungeon Masters a quick fix to several issues that can arise in their campaigns. The foremost issue is usually preparation time, which almost any DM runs into at some time or another. A quick side trek on the way to an adventure site fills up a gaming session with a fun diversion, while lending the DM time to complete that big main adventure which is the heroes’ current destination.
But another important benefit of side trek adventures is experience and resources. For Dungeon Masters who want to insert a particular bit of treasure or added cash into a campaign, or when Characters need a little more experience before hitting the main adventure of a campaign arc, a side trek can provide the perfect one session solution, without interfering with any major quest lines.
Taurus XII’s adventure, Wild Wide Web, is a short side trek for the early to mid Heroic Tier, suitable to fill in one-night’s action, as Characters travel along a mysterious woodland trail, steeped in mystery and danger.
Wild Wide Web
- Designer: Jarrod Camiré
- Cover Illustrator: Budda (Dreamstime.com)
- Publisher: Taurus Twelve
- Year: 2010
- Media: PDF (24 pages)
- Cost: $2.95
Wild Wide Web is a short side trek style adventure for D&D 4E, which can be used in almost any fantasy setting. Designed for Characters of 4th Level, but can be modified for Characters from Level 3 to Level 6. The module contains two encounters, with recommended treasure and plot hooks, plus additional information on how to expand the side trek into a larger adventure, as desired.
The production quality of Wild Wide Web is fair at best, with a relatively no frills approach to the layout and design. Although the writing is good, with a decent (if short) plotline, the lack of maps for the two encounters is disappointing, particularly in light of the second encounter which is fairly involved. The encounters utilize stock monsters from the Monster Manual and MM2, requiring DMs to gather the stat blocks themselves, as GSL prohibits the re-printing of unmodified monsters.
The publication format is white lettering on a dark green background, which makes this module very unfriendly to any conventional printing. But as it is lacking any table of contents as well as PDF bookmarks, DMs who choose not to print the adventure will have to leaf through the 24 pages with no real reference points.
The artwork in Wild Wide Web is stock line art, as well as photos of woodland scenes and close-ups of spiders, which do little to enhance the overall reading experience. As some of these photos are high-definition images, it makes the prospect of printing out a copy of this module a daunting one, and fairly well guarantees a major drain on ink and toner.
Wild Wide Web is a short quest to determine what happened to travelers who disappear along a stretch of woodland road between the villages of Maple Grove and Old Lonely Oak. Locals have theories about fey creatures spiriting away people, and others think it may be related to a gnoll tribe which has recently taken up residence. But the actual reason for the disappearances is quite different than either of the two suspects, and the adventurers will get a chance to solve the case by following the trail themselves.
The plot of Wild Wide Web is fairly solid, and there are plenty of opportunities to role-play up the tensions and paranoia about the mysterious and supposedly fey-haunted wood. The author includes a couple local legends, including one of “The Death Treant”, which is a great old tree along the path rumored to come to life and spirit away travelers, which can certainly be played up to befuddle the heroes. As it turns out, the main encounter occurs at this “Death Treant”, although it has nothing to do with any fey spirits or undead trees.
The two encounters designed for Wild Wide Web are pretty well-balanced, and draw upon monsters from the MM and MM2. Dungeon Masters will need to copy those stat blocks from the DDI Compendium or other source in order to run the encounters.
The author provides a section for recommendation on how to modify the Encounter Level for the two encounters if the adventure is being run for higher or lower level heroes. The changes are intuitive, but canny DMs can best decide what alterations would best suit his or er own adventuring parties. The author provides recommendations on treasures, but this is based upon a 4th Level Party, and DMs may have to make changes to better suit their own campaigns, or to accommodate higher level parties.
Disappointingly, there are no encounter maps provided by the author, which makes setup a bit more difficult for DMs. The second encounter at the “Death Treant” is particularly troublesome, as the encounter is a bit more complex than a simple skirmish in a woods, involving climbing monsters as well as traps. An encounter map at this juncture would have been very useful, and DMs using this adventure will definitely need to read the tactical entry carefully to determine what sort of map they should construct for this combat.
Overall Grade: B-
Wild Wide Web is a fairly decent side trek adventure, which can easily provide one session of D&D 4E play. The plot is solid, and the writing is good, and there are plenty of opportunities to during the initial stages to roleplay out a compelling mystery. However, with layout pages that are difficult to read and navigate around in, and with the lack of monster stat blocks and encounter maps, the preparation time required to use this module is fairly hefty. Given the cost of the adventure, for the content provided, this adventure should be approached only by DMs who are willing to put in the time to get it ready – which sadly defeats the point of a good side trek module in the first place.
So until next blog… I wish you Happy Gaming!
Editor’s Note: This Blog’s Author received a complimentary copy of the product in PDF format from which the review was written.
- Presentation: C+
- - Design: C
- - Illustrations: B-
- Content: B
- - Crunch: B+
- - Fluff: B
- Value: B