There are times when you come upon a completely obscure and previously unknown scenario, made for a game which you’ve been playing for 13+ years now.
“A Walk in the Drakwald” is exactly this kind of product. It was made for the 2nd edition of Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay and published in 2007. I couldn’t find the author to credit but if any of you, my fine readers, know his or hers identity then please let me know.
First of all I wanted to thank Paco’s Miscelaneous Stuff and IGARol for helping me with acquiring this module. It was released for free, back in the day, but since then it completely dropped off the face of the internet. Now I have it in my collection and I am very happy about that, being a WFRP completionist that I am. Thanks for the help guys!
As is the case with all of my scenario reviews: slight spoilers ahead. Not that they matter a lot in this case, but still – it’s better to be safe than sorry.
Now this adventure is… weird. Written for 2-4 characters in mind (even though there are only 3 ready-to-play PCs), it came out some time after the premiere of 2e but I can’t really call it an introductory scenario, not really. It doesn’t showcase any of the complex mechanisms of the system, opting instead for a very simple rundown of the most basic rules. For example every encounter has a set initiative for all combatants. There are no opposed tests. There are no modifiers to any of the tests. There are no skills and traits (even though one of the 3 pregenerated PCs supposedly knows how to swim, there’s no info about this in his character summary). To say that “A Walk in the Drakwald” is light on rules would be an understatement.
Finally there are no Fate and Luck Points. What devilry is this?
So what about the plot of the scenario? There’s practically none. The PCs are travelling on a lonely road in the Drakwald forest. They encounter some beastmen and learn about a prisoner held in the ruins of an old inn, guarded by a bigger beastman. They come to his rescue and, maybe, agree to escort him to Middenheim. The End.
The whole PDF only has 12 pages, and two of them are dedicated to the characters and promotional stuff for Black Industries. The author even states that the whole adventure should take a maximum of half an hour to accomplish. While I didn’t personally GMed it (and I don’t intend to, if I am to be honest), I think that 30 minutes might even be too long to complete “A Walk in the Drakwald”. There are 2 laughably easy combat encounters and 3 possible NPC interactions. The whole thing is, naturally, railroaded to hell and back and the PCs don’t really have much to say in the matter. Go to point A, kill two wimpy beastmen, collect a clue note, go to point B… Needless to say there’s very little tension and both the heroes and GM won’t really feel like they’re playing for the high stakes.
So I’m not gonna lie – the crunch system for this adventure is a low point for me. But what about the atmosphere and worldbuilding? Does this scenario presents the realities of WFRP in a right way? Not really. While there are some properly Warhammery descriptions of the Drakwald forest and its grim environs, the whole thing is… kinda lazy to be honest. It follows the incredibly irritating trope of “your players encounter a completely random stranger in the worst place on earth”, which WFRP is sadly known for. There’s literally nothing about the history, culture and religion of the Empire, no lore snippets, nothing. If you’d remove the WFRP logo, “A Walk in the Drakwald” could be used in almost any D&D-like TTRPG system. Warhammer Fantasy, for all its flaws, is an incredibly reach and unique setting and this scenario doesn’t show that at all. For me this is its biggest flaw.
That said I love the fact that there’s a completely ordinary Bone Picker NPC who’s willing to sell the PCs a coil of rope for 10 Gold Crowns and a BARREL OF ALE FOR 5 GOLD CROWNS! By Sigmar’s Holy Hammer, how did she got her hands on Bugman’s XXXXX?!
Oh, and the spelling errors… Look, I know I make quite a few of these myself with English not being my native language. But “A Walk in the Drakwald” is, supposedly, a promotional, introductory scenario (it even says so on the cover). The ammount of errors inside really shows that there was little to no quality control here. This is simply unnaceptable, in my humble opinion.
So what do I think about this strange and unusual module? I don’t really know. It kinda reads like one of those “choose your own adventure” books, but… there’s really no choice here. It won’t teach the players proper game mechanics and it won’t really showcase the world of Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay. The few pieces of art are very basic and incredibly pixelated. There are no maps and only a single handout which is also kinda hard to read, beacuse of the terrible font used in it. Not good, not good at all.
While it’s a rare and kinda interesting product, “A Walk in the Drakwald” is, at the end of the day, completely unnecessary. Perhaps it should’ve stayed forgotten and unremembered.
Until next time!