Lands of Darkness #3 – Woods of Woe is a 24 page GSL product from Suzi Yee and Joseph Browning of Expeditious Retreat Press for $6.00. This release, as well as others in the series I understand, presents a number of encounters (12 this time) over a large geographic area.
The encounters can be linked together with quests, used separately, or pulled out for use elsewhere. Each encounter has full statistics for their opponents, tactics and strategic maps (not placement, not for minis). The encounters are designed for Party Levels 6, 7 and 8. None of the monsters in this module are from the MM4e as far as I can tell. I think this is due to the inability to reprint stats under the GSL , so instead there are a number of new monster analogs woodland tusker (wild boar?), woodland wolf (gray wolf), birdbears (owlbears?), primordial root ravagers (shambling mounds?) or slaves of the moon (werewolves). The encounters have a limited number of terrain effects, there is a single trap but a good range in the types of opponents faced and range of opponent powers. There are three potential quests to lure your party into the Woods of Woe and within the encounters there are three or four additional quests that your party could undertake. There is no large overall plot, nor do I think there is supposed to be. I like the encounter with Elwyn because of its potential not to end in bloodshed (and to actually provide allies or new quests) as well as slaves of the moon encounter because of their frenzied charge ability.
My only complaint with the Woods of Woe as a product is that while some monsters may be analogous to the one we know from earlier editions, the lack of descriptive text for monsters and npcs. There are pictures of the hounds of tintinablos, the Triune Avatar of the Breathless, birdbears and Verdenthax the dragon but no descriptive pieces for the other monsters or npcs. Otherwise it delivers exactly what it promises a large geographic area with a set of encounters tailored to multiple levels. If your players are heading into dark woods, Woods of Woe can save you some encounter and plot planning time, while providing your players with a wide number of opponent types.