Along Came a Spider is an adventure for first-level characters by Joel Flank released by Jon Brazer Enterprises as part of their “Dangerous Delves” series. The adventure has been released in both 5E and Pathfinder formats. This review is of the 5E version.
The idea for the adventure is simple: A creature from the Deep Ethereal has possessed the mind of a spider and its kin, and has captured (and webbed) the inhabitants of a village as it attempts to work out how to control human minds. It’s a really good and creepy idea. The introduction to the adventure explains the concept with many obscure terms and attempts to make it really evocative. It fails. Instead, it presents a lot of wordy, overblown text that just makes me cringe. There are really great ideas in the introduction, but their presentation does them no favours.
The adventure is in three parts. There’s the initial exploration of the abandoned village, which allows some combat and role-playing. That’s followed by the tracking of the spiders’ path through the wood, which is presented as four encounters along the trail. The final part presents the lair of the spiders and the ethereal creature.
This is an awesome adventure. There are lots of good encounters, the idea behind the story is fantastic, and it’s got a killer ending. Balance-wise, I think this might be a bit too dangerous for a party of first-level characters, primarily because of the number of encounters rather than how deadly any individual one is; it might be better run with a group of second or third-level characters. However, a lot of that will depend on the skill-level of your group. When you have a short adventure like this one without an obvious break, I prefer not to presume that characters will be able to gain a level mid-way through.
The adventure has a good mix of traps, combat and role-playing, so it covers a lot of the bases.
The adventure is not without fault, however. A chief problem lies in the lack of maps. There’s no map of the village, no map of the woods, and the map of the final encounters is incomplete and poorly labelled. Some of the encounters seem to indicate that there should be an accompanying map. Can it be played without the maps? Yes, but it’d be much better if they were there.
There are also a couple of odd formatting decisions; in particular, the read-aloud text is smaller than the regular text. Monster stat-blocks are also broken over page-turns, which is something that should be avoided.
Despite these niggles, I like this adventure. It is one well worth considering for a low-level party, and I hope to see more of its type – albeit with better editing – in the future!