“‘Fierce’ was written for the annual release of Fierce, a tasty Berliner Weisse, at Off Color Brewery in Chicago, Illinois. It’s a one-shot intended for both beginner players and DM’s, with the space for personal flair to be added or to be run as-is.”
Designed for a party of 3rd to 5th level characters, Fierce is a combat adventure pitting players against several mobs of foes before reaching their ultimate goal where they’ll have to use keen judgment to decide what to do. While there is space for roleplay, it bookends the adventure leaving players mostly focus on fighting their way to their destination. However, what roleplay opportunities there are can certainly be expanded and made compelling by players, especially at adventure’s end.
For players, this adventure will feel very straight-forward. Beginning in a tavern (and thus making the module able to be inserted into almost any campaign), the party are told of dragon treasure horde simply waiting to be claimed. Players travel to the mountain lair via road and mountain trail, both providing investigation opportunities and encounters. Fierce relies less on unique monsters or a few strong ones as it does on masses of weaker foes who rely on pack tactics. DMs have plenty of leeway to add foes or augment those described. It also lends itself to a chase scenario as the party moves off the main roadway to the mountain trail that terminates in an ancient-looking wooden suspension bridge. Getting across this bridge could prove interesting, and with a clever party, could be a font of roleplay.
Once across and inside the mountain lair, the party can choose to sneak through possibly leading to some rich decision-making or enter guns blazing. Either method will throw the party into some interesting choices and conflict ultimately leading to the final scene. Here is the real payoff of the adventure. While the module has a clear line DMs could follow, depending upon the party’s alignment and/or temperament, DMs could influence player decisions by changing the type of chromatic or metallic dragon. Getting to this last stage will force the party to make two moral decisions both of which can not only affect this particular adventure but also could easily be built into a campaign for later encounters. Without giving too much away, players could end the adventure with a new party member and sidequest and any adventure allowing players to return to the game more broadly is a boon.
Overall, Fierce is a direct and promising adventure. While I would have preferred a bit more difficulty in the battle encounters, on balance what the party meet is manageable without being too easy. If anything, Paige Ford’s Fierce is an adventure that revels in travel. As such, it would perhaps work best as a drop in quest within a larger campaign. For new players and DMs, this adventure is well suited. There isn’t much need for mapping but DMs can certainly flourish the adventure as they see fit, which is the greatest strength of Ford’s adventure–it provides just enough flavor to spark ideas without being overly detailed or dictatorial.
Recommend Party: A party of five would find this adventure right in its wheelhouse. To my mind, this is a party best suited to damage loving rogues, sensible rangers, and casters with a tendency for crowd control. Also, Ford has written a gnome adventuring party and an interesting item which I think inserted into this adventure could make for some silly fun.