Module Review: The Coven Creek Horror (Josh Shahan): (3 Stars)
They say a Hag can use magic to vanish from sight or change it’s appearance to look like any one…. You want to know what I think? I think this town is damned. If I were you, I’d trust no one and assume you’re being watched at all times. I’d also get the hell out of this place as quick as I came.”
What First Drew Me?
The excellent cover art grabbed my attention as I sifted through the newest releases on DMs Guild. Hags are a highly under-used antagonist, and the portrayal I saw on the cover immediately made me want to look at the product. The price is decent for 34 pages of content, and I am a big fan of horror/mystery modules, of which this is both. The basic plot–a small town paralyzed with fear and nervous about any possible outsider– made this a “must-review” for me.
This review is based solely on my read through of it and my knowledge of the game. I have not run it myself.
The plot of this adventure is meant to be a mystery–it’s also relatively complicated and convoluted. In essence, a small village falls victim to the plague, and fearing an old hag from the village’s past, begins a witch hunt–burning at the stake, included. The players must search for clues and interrogate the very uncooperative villagers to discover the identity of the hag, and hopefully kill her. There is a decent chance of failure in the adventure (which I think makes it interesting), and it is unlikely to have a happy ending. Rating A-.
What Went Well
While set in the forgotten realms, a DM could easily use this in an agnostic setting. Because it involves a high level of mystery, the plot is rather complex and involves many interesting and intricate NPCs. There is a lot of detail given about each NPC and how to play them, and even a section about how to roleplay the hag. It would be very easy for a DM to run this adventure without having to improvise anything. The horror and mystery aspect provide a lot of flavor: the characters are relatively well fleshed out, and the setting detail is apparent. At one point there is even a horrifying nursery rhyme to add a little creepiness.
The maps are well done, though there are only a couple of them, and I really like the style and quality of the artwork. The hag on the cover was what first grabbed my attention, and the depiction of a scarecrow within the adventure is terrifying. The writing has a decent flow and the whole adventure could be legitimately creepy for the players if the mood is correctly set by the DM. There is a significant amount of mystery, and the final battle should be fun for everyone involved.
What Would I Change
Frankly, the work needs a lot of editing. There are quite a few typos, inconsistent capitalizations, and misspellings throughout the adventure. I stopped noticing them after a while because there is a lot of text, but the nature of the DMs Guild usually means this is a pet peeve of most buyers. Post-Edit: Many of the grammatical errors present when this review was written have been corrected.
- This adventure is A LOT of reading. It’s literally pages and pages of text. I do understand that it’s a horror mystery and the author prefers to give as much detail for the DM as possible, but I personally wouldn’t run this just because of how much pre-reading it requires. It’s almost like reading the first chapter of a novel. The author could do with a bit of layout help.
- There is actually very little flexibility in the adventure. Because it’s meant to all lead you towards the discovery (or mistaken accusation) of the Hag, the adventure is actually quite directional. There’s different ways adventurers could go about this goal, but in the end if feels as though they are part of a singularly directional movie moving consistently, though albeit calculatingly, toward the end scene.
- There is a ton of roleplaying in this adventure. Depending on the random encounters and player decisions, I would estimate the breakdown to be about 80% roleplay, 20% combat. If that’s the kind of adventure you like, that’s great, but I personally prefer a more balanced module, if not slightly tilted towards more combat.
- There are no suggestions on how to scale the adventure to different levels, something which is pretty standard in adventure modules. I would also like to see, explicitly, how long the module should take to play. I would guess 8-12 hours.
This module has a lot of potential. It is recommended for people who enjoy lots of roleplay in their adventures, who are looking specificly for a mystery horror module, and who aren’t afraid of a lot of reading to prep for their adventure. The price is on the low side for everything you get from the adventure, which is definitely a selling point. Overall, based partially on personal preferences, I give this module 3 Stars.
Pick up the adventure by clicking on the picture below!