EN World have just launched a 5E-compatible “magazine” through Patreon called EN5ider, which will consist of various articles and the odd adventure. The first adventure, The Business of Emotion by Paul Oklesh, is available as a free download. The adventure is written for 3-5 adventurers of levels 2-3.
The adventure is presented in an 11-page document, and is nicely interested. The premise is intriguing: the village of Lanidor is suffering from an overdose of amorous affection. Simply put, they’re more interested in making love than anything else, and as a result have fallen behind on their trade contracts. Two potential hooks are given for the adventure: either the group are hired to discover what has happened to the adventure, or it’s just the next village they come to along the road.
The adventure has a mix of role-playing and combat encounters, as the players attempt to solve the mystery of the village (which isn’t that difficult). The balance of the combat encounters is problematic. A group of three 2nd-level characters have a good chance of absolutely being slaughtered by a CR 3 owlbear, let alone five CR 2 dire wolves. I would have much preferred if the adventure gave the baseline it was balanced for (four adventurers of level 3, for instance) and let the individual DM adjust encounters as needed. Especially for low-level adventures, characters are so fragile that special handling is needed; it doesn’t take much to overwhelm them.
The NPCs of the adventure need more definition. A sidebar of NPC descriptions manages to leave out a lot of important details about how to role-play them. One encounter with an aggressive man, Markus Dunwit, is poorly written. The encounter text just has Markus attacking if the PCs attract his ire – you have to go back to the previous page’s sidebar and read his NPC description to discover that he attacks if anyone returns his sweetheart’s advances. Given that the NPC descriptions pertain only to this encounter and are placed amongst the text of a completely different encounter, I’m not impressed. When there’s a lot of detail to the NPCs, it might be worth splitting important information, but that isn’t the case here.
The formatting of the adventure isn’t good. I absolutely despise columns of unequal width. It was tried for a few products in the late 90s in the Greyhawk setting before (thankfully) being retired, and its use here just makes it hard to determine what sections of the adventure are important. The adventure also has entirely too many font sizes, with the smaller font for tables and the even smaller font for NPC descriptions proving distracting rather than illuminating.
There are a few minor editing errors (“slight of hand” instead of “sleight of hand”, for instance), but generally the adventure reads well. There is little artwork, but what does appear is attractive.
Despite my problems with the adventure, most of them come from issues with its formatting rather than the adventure content itself. It’s not a bad adventure. It has an unusual situation and gives a good mix of role-playing, combat and exploration. I’d be very careful about the balance of the combat encounters when running it, but it’s unusual enough to give an entertaining session for you and your players.