Legendary Games have continued their release of adventures for Dungeons & Dragons 5E with Road to Destiny, a 36-page PDF that is a conversion of a previous Pathfinder adventure. This is a longer adventure than their first two releases (The Murmuring Fountain and The Fiddler’s Lament), although it is also an adventure designed to be used as part of one of Paizo’s Adventure Paths. In this case, the adventure is written to be played between the first two instalments of The Jade Regent. It would appear to be for a group of 3rd level characters.
This gives Road to Destiny a basic structure: the characters are accompanying the lost Imperial Heir on a caravan journey back to her homeland. The Dark Spirits who now rule her homeland have sent agents to kill her and the characters have to stop them. The adventure consists of a few stand-alone encounters on the road and a number that relate to the major threat which that characters will face at the adventure’s conclusion.
As with the other two adventures, the writing and editing of the adventure have problems. The writing style isn’t as overblown as in the two Gothic Horror adventures, but it would still benefit from a more rigorous editing process. There are a few grammatical mistakes, as well as several times where the choice of words is quite odd. There’s a lot of text in the adventure! Occasionally I found these errors quite distracting, but they don’t make the adventure unusable.
The adventure is split into seven parts, each corresponding to one of the stops along the way where interesting events occur. Some of these events are very inventive. I particularly like the second encounter, where the characters meet a detective who is tracking down a stolen book; it turns out that the book was stolen by another in the first place and the current thief is reclaiming it for the original owner. This give rise to the interesting problem of determining which side to help, especially as the book’s current owners were not aware it was stolen!
There are also a goblin raid, a village where the sheriff is extorting the locals, and a few ogres to deal with. Meanwhile, the group will keep hearing rumours of bandits on the road ahead, until finally the bandits become a reality and it will become clear that the bandits are led by someone who has entirely too much interest in the heir! The fifth encounter could see the heir kidnapped, but the kidnapping is not forced upon you; the adventure works whether or not the heir is kidnapped.
I’m quite pleased by the foreshadowing used in the adventure, although I think the expression of it is occasionally clumsy. It’s nice to have some unrelated encounters along the way as well. Structurally, as this is a road trip, it’s a pretty linear adventure with most of the major decision points boiling down to “Do we take this quest or not?” The adventure does allow for variations in its play, although the form of several of the encounters is quite dependent on the individual Dungeon Master.
I’m less happy with the unresolved parts of the story. The White Wolf has a fascinating backstory, little of which will be revealed during play of the adventure. His sire, the vampire Shirota, is potentially even more interesting, but does not appear in the backstory. This is less of an issue if you run this as a stand-alone adventure rather than part of the Jade Regent AP; you can always use him as a foe in a later adventure. Used as a key part of the adventure with no follow-up? I don’t really like that kind of design. (If he appears in the full Jade Regent AP, I’m not aware of his appearance).
The maps and artwork in the adventure are of a high quality. The encounter maps are at the end of the adventure in full-page art, although they will require some fiddling with to be printed in the proper scale for use as battlemats.
The conversion to 5E stats is somewhat bumpy. NPCs typically are made along the guidelines of player characters, but the stat-blocks tend to have minor mathematical errors or, on occasion, missing numbers. (The stat-block for Kenna lists improved saving throws of Wisdom and Charisma without giving the actual modifiers!) There are also a few incidental modifiers that I would prefer to handle with the advantage or disadvantage mechanics, but that may be just a feature of personal preference.
Overall, I consider The Road to Legend to be an interesting, if flawed, adventure. The best bits of it could be easily mined for use in any road-based adventure, but it seems quite useable even without its connection to the Jade Regent story; a little adjusting of the adventure should be sufficient to make it more independent of its original inspiration.
It should be stated that my biggest WTF moment with this adventure came from the introduction. I reproduce the text here for your perusal:
We’ve hyperlinked this product internally from the Table of Contents and externally with links to the official Pathfinder Reference Document as well as d20PFSRD. If it is in the core rulebook, we generally didn’t link to it unless the rule is an obscure one. The point is not to supersede the game books, but rather to help support you, the player, in accessing the rules, especially those from newer books or that you may not have memorized.
The table of contents is two entries and doesn’t even list the encounters. And, perhaps thankfully, no further references to the Pathfinder rules can be found in the game. I wouldn’t be surprised if the text mysteriously vanishes from the pdf sometime in the near future…