The long-awaited third volume in Blackbyrne Publishing’s 4E Dark Veil adventure series has arrived. The Prophecy Revealed lets the PCs explore a jungle island infested by spiders and learn a strange secret that will shape their destinies.
As with the previous volumes in this set (The Hidden Current and Manor of Deceit), the goal is to provide a certain amount of 1st Edition D&D flavor using Fourth Edition rules. The Prophecy Revealed has a more “4E” feel than the other volumes, but this really results in a smoother adventure that works well with the rules.
The good things about Blackbyrne’s prior adventures are also good in this volume — there’s a great blend of combat, role-playing opportunities and skill challenges, including a nice use of a skill challenge to depict an overseas trip to the Spider Islands, seen above. You’ll certainly get there, but what kind of shape will you be in when you arrive? There may be pirates involved, and every D&D campaign needs a run in with pirates at some point.
While the theme of exploring an exotic jungle island is a classic, this isn’t a sandbox adventure. The players will follow a series of encounters that lead them into the jungle to deal with tribes of Lizardfolk and Snakefolk. They’ll eventually find a jungle pyramid, within which the adventure culminates, so you get a nice dose of dungeon crawl in here too. There’s a fun fight with a Big Bad at the end, but I won’t spoil it for you.
One of great things about Blackbyrne’s adventures so far has been the inclusion of full-size, full-color maps of every encounter with the adventure. That’s awesome, but the adventures have been PDF only up to now, so you had to print them out yourself. You can order a print copy of The Prophecy Revealed. The maps are so extensive that literally half the book is just maps, all in full color with one-inch grids. Now, due to the binding it might be a little tricky cutting the maps out of the book — I think a hobby knife will serve you much better than scissors in this case. But once you’ve put in that effort to cut and trim the maps, you’ve got large map tiles for all the encounters, which is bloody impressive. The pages are printed on fairly heavy stock, too.
I can only cite two drawbacks with this adventure, neither of which will affect most people who purchase it. The first is double spaces after periods. I’m going to keep harping on this until people stop doing it. You can try and debate it or say that’s how your 5th grade teacher taught you. It won’t change the fact that it’s incorrect and makes any published writing look amateurish. I hate to pull rank, but I’ve written for several newspapers and magazines, and in the world of professional publishing, two spaces after a period is incorrect.
My second issue relates to our recent discussions of RPG marketing here on Robot Viking. I’m a little worried that people are going to overlook this fun and interesting adventure simply because the cover and the title are all wrong. The cover image, of a lizardfolk village (I presume) would be fine as an interior illustration, but on the cover it’s very dull. Dull colors, no action, no living beings at all! Just some huts in a swamp. The title, The Prophecy Revealed, isn’t terrible, but it doesn’t sell the adventure. Really, the prophecy bit comes in late and really has little to do with the adventure itself. I would personally have used the bright map of The Spider Islands that I put at the top of this post — much more eye catching. For a title, I’d have gone with something lurid and exciting, something with a 30s pulp adventure feel to it. “Terror of the Spider Islands!” “Wrath of the Onyxscales!” “50 Lizardfolk and a Dead Pirate’s Skull!”
Third party publishers are grabbing larger shares of the D&D market in the last six months or so. I can see the quality increasing on all fronts, and the quality is increasing at Blackbyrne Publishing too. But as the market gets crowded, it will take more to stand out. Luckily, now you know this is a good adventure, so you can head over to Blackbyrne’s site and grab yourself a copy.