5E Adventure Review: Gothnog & Swamper’s Unexpected Encounters – Volume One

Unexpected Encounters is a collection of ten encounters (or mini-adventures) for a D&D 5E campaign from Critical Hit Publishing. It feels like it is expensive for a pdf product, at a price of $9.95 for 26 pages. The product is nicely formatted and has a large number of full-colour illustrations. The encounters are written by Alex Guillotte and Rob Davis, and illustrated by Alex Guillotte. The cover artwork is by Kriszta Kovacs. The interior illustrations are mostly not original, but are taken from paintings and photos and sometimes then modified.

Each of the “encounters” features one fight, with perhaps some role-playing or exploration around it. Each encounter has a background that explains the context, and have suggestions for further expansion of the ideas. With artwork and maps (when required), each encounter generally takes up two pages – there is one that takes up three pages with a fourth used for artwork. The remaining pages are used for cover, back cover, credits, and a table of contents and introduction.

The ideas behind the encounters are really good, the encounters are well-developed and written, and there are a wide variety of adventures here. You may be dealing with cursed bards, trapped children, or mountain pass ambushes. It’s a pleasing set of mini-adventures.

The rules are not handled quite so well. The monster stat blocks lack XP and Challenge Rating details (although an overall challenge rating is given for the encounter), and the format of the stat-blocks isn’t as clear as I would like. For instance, the description of the trolls neglects to mention their multiattack capability. The calculation of the challenge ratings is also wonky; how is a fight involving a CR 6 cyclops rated as only CR 3? Mind you, I’m rather less than convinced by the encounter building guidelines in the DMG, but if anyone has any suggestions as to the proper challenge rating of a battle with 3 trolls (CR 5 each), I’m curious to learn it – this book suggests CR 6.

The editing is mostly good, although there are patches of purple prose and a few punctuation mistakes. The ordering of the adventures is done alphabetically rather than by challenge rating.

It’s a nice collection of short adventures, although you’re probably going to have to modify their difficulty and reconstitute some stat blocks to make full use of the product.

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