Review originally published at: www.whitehairedman.com/review-the-forgotten-outpost
This is my second review of an Occult Moon product. A few months ago, I reviewed The Library of Ethos, a system neutral locale from the Toys for the Sandbox line. Unlike The Library of Ethos, The Forgotten Outpost is not system neutral, but utilizes game mechanics that should be compatible with most Old School rules. Priced at a reasonable $1.99, the adventure is designed for characters of levels 3-5.
The Forgotten Outpost reminds me of the adventures I played during my RPG infancy in the early 1980's. I immediately recalled the first dungeon entered by my first character, the Fighter Torgar, and how he was incapacitated by Troglodyte stench. Like my first dungeon, The Forgotten Outpost resides in the wilderness near a small town. If you've been around as long as I have, you've probably played scores of variations on this scenario. There's a reason for this: some plots, when done well, tap into a fundamental aspect of why we play these games and don't get old. Every adventure need not break new ground; sometimes I'm looking for a solid example of the type of adventure that brought me into the hobby over thirty years ago.
The Forgotten Outpost embraces the Old School mindset with a simple situation. A local adventurer has gone missing while exploring ruins infested by kobolds and gnolls. His wife enlists the characters to rescue him. Some good hooks are provided to jump-start the adventure, but an Old School GM can surely devise a few more if these don't fit the characters.
The adventure contains classic opportunities for stealth and straight-ahead fighting as the characters penetrate the monster's defenses. They have a real chance to rescue the lost adventurer. The GM could easily make the rescue more interesting by having the gnolls use him to barter for their lives.
However, the rescue is just a prelude to discovering why the place is called The Forgotten Outpost. This occurs after the characters dismantle barricades erected by the kobolds and gnolls and venture into a deeper level filled with undead, magic, and other strange creatures. The change of pace elevates the adventure and makes it more memorable. The deeper rooms were apparently built to imprison a great evil.
I like how the shift from kobolds and gnolls to undead may surprise the characters and hint at a further mystery that will be difficult to resist. I would enjoy the The Forgotten Outpost as a player or GM. The adventure is simple, to the point, and, if necessary, playable without extensive preparation. Matt Jackson's maps also have an excellent hand-drawn feel.
However, there are areas where the adventure could be improved. First, it is never explained why the outpost was originally built, and we gain no insight into the reason for the prison. Even one or two paragraphs of information could provide additional ways to tie the adventure into a campaign.
Second, although usable, the writing is weak and does not serve the adventure well. The words fail to evoke the atmosphere of the outpost. The few examples of flavor text really have no emotional impact. Some room descriptions were confusing or unclear. This is my most serious criticism of The Forgotten Outpost.
Finally, the graphic design could be improved in two areas. Because the PDf contains no page numbers, I sometimes lost track of page order as I read a printed version of the adventure. The maps also have no scale. I suppose a GM could devise a scale, but in an adventure of this sort distances are important and should be indicated on the maps.
Pros: Good price, pure old school, easy to use, nice hand-drawn maps.
Cons: Lack of outpost history, weak writing holds back the adventure, PDf needs page numbers, maps have no scale.
Verdict: 3 out of 5.