Module Review: Unknown Whom (Rob Twohy): 3.5 Stars
As you come into consciousness, you are unaware of what caused you to be out. Were you asleep? Were you knocked out? Poisoned? You’re just not sure. Where the hell am I? As you come into full awareness, you can tell the room you are in is cramped and dark. There is a faint, flickering light coming from what looks like a space under a door. There are others here with you. Moans and grumbles begin to fill the room.
Unknown Whom is an ambitiously designed, short adventure module that seeks to bring the players through “narrative character creation” by starting them without backstory and at “level 0”. This is something that most experienced DMs or players have at least thought about trying, and despite some pretty big production flaws, Unknown Whom delivers on it’s attempt. Providing an excellent, unique start to a campaign, this adventure breaks the mold of character creation and presents an easy to solution to something you’ve always wanted to try!
Concept. The concept of the entire product is excellent. So many times I’ve toyed around with the idea of starting at level 0, but have always been too lazy to come up with something myself. This adventure fills that niche and is easy for DMs to prepare and run. It also takes zero prep time for players, so if you want to just throw a game together quickly and your players don’t want to make character sheets, this adventure is for you.
Dungeon Design. While the dungeon is heavily combat oriented (something I actually prefer, personally), there are other encounters like potion puzzles and traps. The dungeon is jam-packed with encounters, ensuring constant engagement for both players and DM.
Narrative. The narrative and plot behind the product is relatively interesting and comes with a nice twist. It’s a relatively unique twist that is surprisingly easy to integrate. This, in particular, is brilliantly executed by author Rob Twohy.
Character Creation. The character creation process, primarily finding and choosing items from chests, treads a fine line between complexity and simplicity, and settles adequately in the middle. Rob has also attempted to predict every possible situation that might occur during character creation and outlines elegantly simple solutions for the DM to avoid or fix them. This is a viable and fun way to create characters.
Editing. The quality of editing for this product is very rough, especially considering there’s about four editors credited. Things like extra words, sentences that don’t use the same plural/singular context within themselves, and run on sentences are, at times, distracting or even confusing. A quick edit of the work would make it passable. An in-depth edit would make it amazing.
Writing Style. The writing style is frequently “over-colloquial”, too wordy, not matching 5e style guides, or repetitive or useless information. The good part is that the communication is clear, the DM can understand what the author means to communicate, there’s just a lot of unnecessary elements to get to the point. A more in-depth editing could really polish up the writing and make this module shine.
High Probability of Death. While I love a good dungeon crawl and meat grinder, I usually don’t use them to create characters. I love all the encounters in this module, but they could perhaps be dialed down a bit. The author does acknowledge this, so it’s not a huge issue, but it could be off-putting to a lot of players who are dying as they are only halfway through creating their characters.
Unknown Whom is an excellent concept in character creation and, by nearly all accounts, is fun to play and run. Because of the production issues, we’re giving it 3.5 Stars and recommending it for anyone who what’s a narrative way to create characters. It’s definitely worth the price, and is well regarded among those who play it (the fantasy grounds version, at least). You can pick it up by clicking on the picture below!