Today I’m reviewing ‘Adventure Shorts’ 1, 2 and 3 by R&D Adventures. That’s right, 3 reviews for the price of one!
…You are paying for this right?
Adventure Shorts are collections of… short adventures, by Rowan and Doug Schultz. They’re designed to be dropped into existing campaigns, or to provide a side-quest or distraction from the main plotline.
Adventure Shorts 1
This was the first, and contains 5 adventures for a party of level 1 characters. The ideas are all pretty good, the presentation is excellent, and it includes nicely detailed maps and passages to read aloud. The encounters are all well put-together, although a little cliche (skeletons in a tomb? Troglodytes in a cave?), but I suppose they have to be at level 1. They’re also all built around combat, with no suggestion of a different way through, which may not be to everyone’s taste.
My main problem with this collection however, is the level. It takes 300xp to reach level 2, so most campaigns will fly through level 1 halfway through the first session. You don’t really need drop-in encounters this early on, unless you’re using one of these as the start of a campaign.
[Now updated – see update at bottom of page]
Adventure Shorts 2
The first collection felt like canapés, this contains some real meat. The biggest difference is that this collection now allows for different party levels (2-5), with the encounters scaled accordingly. There’s only two ‘adventures’, and the first is really more of a setup for the second, but I don’t mind that. One-fight encounters are easy to create, this is feels more like a mini-adventure, which is what I was looking for.
The main adventure is about an evil cult that tries to capture and sacrifice the party. It’s a small dungeon, easily playable in a single session, but nicely structured and with some proper NPC characters rather than just ‘cultists 1, 2 and 3’.
If you want a quick, no-prep adventure to drop into your existing campaign, this one does the job well.
Adventure Shorts 3
While volume 2 was one larger adventure, 3 is back to single-encounter adventures. They’re designed to be something that happens on your way from A to B, but happily they’re more interesting than just “some orcs appear, roll for initiative”. The best part is that although all the adventures can (will) involve a fight, that’s not always the most interesting part of it, and many involve a puzzle, some interesting treasure, or just a random little thing happening.
This is a great collection of interesting little adventures, and a nice way to liven up a long journey.
- The quality and layout of these adventures is top notch, with player and DM maps and illustrations included. Everything is explained in detail and there’s scope to expand or alter it to fit into your own campaign.
- Collection 1 is nice, but a little pointless. Although might be useful for conventions, where you just want to run a 90min taster of 5e.
- Now Collection 1 has been updated for different party levels (see below) it’s much more useful and I would recommend it unreservedly.
- Collection 2 is really one full-session adventure, with some nice ideas. Keep it in the collection for those sessions when you’ve not had chance to prepare anything.
- Collection 3 has 5 little side quests to drop in when the party is travelling and you don’t want to just roll on the random encounter table.
All three Adventure Shorts collections are available at DriveThruRPG.
Since writing this review R&D Adventures have released Adventure Shorts 1 2nd edition (which they were kind enough to give me for free).
This now includes options for parties of level 1, 3 and 5, which is pretty much exactly what it needed (there’s also some art and layout upgrades). Is that because they read my review? I like to think so! Anyway, the point is that the new version is much better, and I’d recommend it for any DM running a low-level campaign.