Blackbyrne Publishing’s Dark Veil Campaign continues with the fourth adventure in the series, Sands of Despair. The heroes have drawn deific attention, and even time itself becomes unstable as they traverse a desert that is not a desert in search of a magical artifact.
This level 7 D&D 4E adventure gets bonus points right off the bat for several reasons. First, publisher and author Jeff Gupton listened to some of my criticisms of his last adventure (and seriously handles criticism better than pretty much anyone ever). He did away with double spaces after periods. He put an awesome image on the cover — skeletal warriors and a skeleton monster looming out of a sandstorm, perfect!). He gave the adventure a killer name. And to top it all off, he quoted some lyrics from Led Zeppelin’s “Kashmir” in the author’s foreword.
What would otherwise be a fairly straightforward “find the magic thingy” adventure gets some crazy twists and turns thanks to some interfering gods who warp the PCs through thousands of years of history. Every morning they wake up in the same where, but a different when. Sometimes they go so far back that the desert is actually a forest. The encounters in this section can be arranged randomly or at the DM’s whim. It’s an ambitious ploy and I think it’s a very cool idea. My only concern is that a series of unconnected, randomly arranged encounters will start to feel like busywork for the players, who may not necessarily gain any sense of getting closer to their goal.
Fortunately, they’re fun encounters with a variety of beasts to battle (with some skill challenges in the mix as well). You’ll mostly encounter undead, but quite a few different types. Vampires, skeletons, zombies, ghouls, undead animals like badgers, eagles and wolves.
Each encounter has helpful DM advice for scaling it up or down to a party with more or fewer members. The last half of the book has fully printable color maps of every single encounter, just like every other Blackbyrne adventure. You can score a copy this solid 4E adventure at RPGNow.