Having just finished writing up a review of Dungeon Delve, it’s time for a new challenge. I’m going to read through the entirety of the Scales of War adventure path for D&D 4e, making notes as I go. Hopefully, there’ll be some interaction from those who have actually played through parts of this campaign to give my thoughts some context. Spoilers are inevitable in such a project, sorry about that, but I’ll won’t give away any really big reveals unless it really can’t be avoided. I’m going to start at the beginning with the first adventure, Rescue at Rivenroar by David Noonan. It appeared in Dungeon 156 in July 2008.
You’ll only find Scales of War online as part of DDI on the Wizards site, specifically Dungeon. You don’t need to be a subscriber either. It’s an adventure path (that’s a campaign to you and I) which covers all three tiers of play, taking your party from level 1 all the way to 30. Each month sees a new episode which covers between 1 to 2 levels, and there are extras available in Dragon such as side treks and backgrounds.
As Dungeon is a PDF, the formatting is different to something you’d usually see in a deadtree. The pages are landscape, which I like as it fits better at the gaming table. It can be updated and errata’ed as needed. I can already see that the skill challenges have been updated since original publication. Printing off the pages you need is simplicity itself, so you can get the most out of stat blocks and images. Watch out though as the pagination assumes you’re looking at a whole issue of Dungeon, so Rescue at Rivenroar runs from page 4 to 44. The now standard Delve format of putting tactical encounters all in one place remains, but as you don’t get two facing pages in this format, many encounters are rorganised slightly differently. This seems to work just fine. On the downside however, a PDF simply isn’t the same as paper when it comes to flicking back and forth. The way the first adventure is written it needs the DM to bounce around slightly too much for me to say you could run it stright off the screen. Printing it out is a must, and to be fair, the margins are spacious enough tfor you to add your notes to it. I reckon you could track initiative and hits on it too. What a shame WotC hasn’t really taken advantage of this electronic format, I’d have liked to have seen hyperlinks at a minimum. Check out Monte Cook’s Dungeon a Day project for what this could so easily have been. Dungeon is essentially a landscaped magazine on your screen, don’t expect any more than that and you’ll be fine.
You can’t help but compare and contrast with Keep on the Shadowfell, a traditionally published module that hit the shelves a short while prior to Scales of War. I’m going to guess that most groups were getting stuck into KotS when this was released, certainly online APs suggest as much. I wonder if there was less take up for this campaign on that basis? I’m skipping to the end here but, to be honest, this is a much better adventure, in nearly every way. The next installment of this review will explain why…