Monday, March 17, 2008

Wearing of the green!

I wanted to do a St. Patrick's Day themed post, and this looks like the closest I am going to get.

In my earlier post about Fey and the Feywild in 4th Ed., I spoke about how I was a big fan of the new take on the fey in Fourth Edition.  That being said, I have a certain amount of nostalgia for the adventure "Huddle Farm" By Willie Walsh in Dungeon Magazine #12.  It definitely is an old school fey adventure, but one handled with style and panache.

Now this is kicking it old school! The quick synopsis is that a halfling feud is ready to break out at the Huddle Farm because of a recent series of unfortunate events.  These events include trampled fields and a burned barn.  Most of the adventure involves finding out who is responsible for all of this chaos.  The answer is not immediately obvious unless your players snuck a peek at the cover of the issue.  If you still haven't got it, let me give you a hint: The culprit is known for wearing green, carrying shamrocks, and possibly concealing a pot of gold.

(Speaking of the cover, I am a big fan of the gorgeous work done by Linda Medley.  It really stands out among the Dungeon magazine covers of its era, and is one of the reasons I choose to run the adventure in the first place).

The adventure is a nice change of pace, since it provides a light mystery and a presents a number of social situations that cannot be easily resolved by resorting to swordplay.  The low level of the adventure helps, since even mid-level spell-casting can quickly derail this kind of story.

On the downside, First Edition AD&D was not designed to handle an adventure that was primarily social very well.  This could easily lead to player frustration and an unfortunate "lets just burn the whole farm down mentality". 

So how would this adventure translate into Fourth Edition?  Well, on the plus side, Fourth Edition is supposed to have much more robust rules for social interaction.  This should definitely help with the social aspects of the adventure, even among the players for whom Charisma is a dump stat.

Nevertheless, the tone of the adventure would change significantly.  "Huddle Farm" was primarily a light-hearted adventure, which  fit the generally light-hearted nature of the fey in 1st Ed.  In Fourth Edition, even "good" fey are dangerous and unpredictable.  The basic premise of a fey creature turning hostile because of mortals encroaching into territory he considers his own is definitely still valid in the new paradigm.  What would change is the general tone and feel of the adventure.

Pranks played by a Fourth Edition fey would be less light-hearted and much more dangerous to the halfling farmers involved.  One of might even be dead by the time the player character's arrive on the scene.  Rather than walking into an environment where the halflings are full of anger and bluster, most likely the environment would be one of uncertainty and fear.  The change in tone would make the adventure profoundly different.  Not unenjoyable, but different nevertheless.

So tonight, I raise a pint to the First Edition leprechaun.  You may be gone in Fourth Edition, but you are not forgotten.