It is my fervent desire to review more adventures that are written well and have had a good editor working on them. Sadly, this is not the case for AAW’s recent release, Under His Skin. There’s certainly no editor listed, and the adventure shows the lack.
This is rather a pity, because there are a number of good ideas in the adventure.
The adventure has the players exploring a wizard’s tower, seeking a reclusive sage who has recently disappeared. It turns out that the sage was killed by a recent subject of his experimentation – a Worm Who Walks – and the tower is now filled with dangerous monsters and traps. There are some very nice touches that add to the atmosphere of the place, including a warded forest that reshapes itself to confuse those who wish to reach the tower; normally this magic would just affect those who didn’t use the path, but the death of the sage has disrupted the wards. So, the players will need to pay attention to reach their destination!
Once in the tower, the players must deal with traps, tricks and the odd monster who has taken up residence in the tower. My favourite encounter is a carpeted hallway where some sections are bare of carpet and are actually pit traps; something that allows the players to feel clever about noticing that detail. (Unfortunately, the boxed text fails to mention that only some of the hallway is carpeted!)
The final foe, the Worm That Walks, is potentially terrifying, especially to those players who remember the 3E version. This Worm is a lesser version that the writer has rated as CR 5 (rather than the epic level CR 26!), although I believe a CR of 2 would seem far more appropriate for this Worm’s abilities. This is just as well, even CR 5 is far too high for the first and second-level characters this adventure is purportedly written for. Even so, the final encounter may still be too difficult for a first-level party.
Once you ignore the editing – hard though it is to do – the production values are very nice, with good art and layout used throughout the adventure. This is with the exception of the cover, which I rather dislike.
At $6.99 for a 21-page PDF, this feels somewhat pricey. The adventure isn’t exceptional, but it’s a solid adventure that should provide a session or two of entertainment.