Review: "Help Wanted" Adventure Module


 

This is a longer format review of an innovative RPG adventure product, Help Wanted, from I Write Adventures

First off, the understated description on the cover really says it all:

  • Unobtrusive
  • Adventure Template
  • Creative GM's

Taking those one at at time: 

"Unobtrusive" means that the scenario does not attempt to tie you to a specific setting or even RPG system, nor does it attempt to impose anything on your world other than what you choose to include. To me, this makes it an incredibly innovative product. I've seen a lot of "can use it anywhere" and "system independent" products, but they usually require work to make them fit.

That brings me to the second word "Adventure Template" which is exactly what it is. It presents a basic scenario and a couple of maps, but leaves it to you, as the GM, to provide the details for what's going on, what the encounter means in the greater scope of things, how difficult it is, etc. But it does so through writing prompts.

In this, it's a really helpful product if you are in that specific state of writers block where you're struggling for a hook that feels unique and interesting, but have no trouble filling in details once you've started. To me, this is a "library" encounter that I could prepare, then set aside until I want to use it. (see my previous blog post on using Sandbox gaming concepts in your existing game.)

This brings me to the third part: "Creative GM's." The encounter details are only 3 pages long, and in those pages it contains maps, writing prompts, hooks and details. I think that as a user, this is a product/encounter that would play out better, the more effort you put into it. This doesn't mean that you have to detail everything out. Rather, you could use the same sandbox concepts the template itself uses, and let the players decide what they find interesting, and what they want to do with it. But putting initial thought into it, and getting a feel for the space would really help.

As a story hook, I like the idea. Man who claims to need help, but then traps those he can. Spoiler free, it could easily be played, as written, as:

  • He's evil and has found a way to get what he wants
  • He's caught, himself, and needs saving
  • He's got complex motivations, of which the obvious scenario is only a superficial part of the whole.
Which path you implement could certainly vary, depending on the details you put into it, but it could ALSO vary depending on the outcome the players seem interested in pursuing, depending on how sandbox you want to go with it.

A bonus, as I mentioned above, is that this scenario is "A guy" with "A situation" that ties to "Something Sinister". There are no stat blocks, no setting information, no implications of how hard any of this is. It could be encountered as a new character or an advanced one, for any system that supports the basic premise.

My only opportunity for improvement is that the writing prompts take a bit of understanding of the map, and overall layout. I think that a 4th page that lays out the basic structure and points of interest (without forcing details) would be very helpful.

That said, the "Help Wanted" module is PWYW with a recommended price of $1.00 on DriveThruRPG, and for that I consider it well worth the cost.

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