I "met" Dylan online shortly after I started up my blog, and we quickly found that we had a lot in common, including raising small children while trying to keep up with our gaming, and also a love of good craft beer.
One way in which we've diverged over the past few months is that somehow, Dylan has managed to keep up his rather prolific blogging activities, whereas mine have fallen off pretty dramatically. And not only has Dylan kept up his blogging on pretty much a daily basis, but he's also focused his efforts almost strictly on producing material to be used in-game for old-school role-players. His Blasphemous Brewery of Pilz is a fun short adventure perfect for an evening beer-and-pretzels game (I'm most likely going to running it for my Friday Night group soon).
For his newest adventure, Dylan offers up The Veiled Invocation, a 28-page PDF adventure (including the obligatory license at the end) that's structured to take a group of adventurers from 1st through 6th level. It involves an adventuring group being hired to find six missing pages of an ancient magical tome, which are scattered across a large area and in the hands of some interesting characters, many of whom don't know the value of the pages they hold.
Dylan's original artwork is always a great addition to his publications - they have an old school quality, but the style purely belongs to Dylan. He's not copying anyone. You can see more examples of his artwork on his blog, and they also creep up from time to time in other old-school adventures and sourcebooks that are published in our community.
Part of what makes the Veiled Invocation so much fun is the inclusion of NPCs that are based on real people that Dylan has met (either in person or online) through his blog. Many of the names will be familiar - Tim Shorts, Matthew Schmeer, Eric Campbell, Nick Kalagias, and your humble author. Dylan held a "contest" of sorts on his blog, inviting people to write to him with a profile of an NPC.
My character is called Tartin the Semi-Mighty, and you can see Dylan's illustration of him above, with the ad he created to promote his adventure. Dylan took my notes and crafted a fully fleshed out character, and one that I'm curious to see how people interact with during their adventures in recovering the lost pages from the Veiled Invocation.
Another cool thing Dylan includes are a lot of new, unique monsters for his adventure, from the feline Ghilleopards to the Simiandros (sentient spider-monkeys). I personally would like to have seen some illustrations of some of these new monsters, but I do realize that Dylan put a lot of work into illustrating all of the NPCs he created, along with maps and lots of player-aid illustrations at the end of the adventure, so he may be saving some of his time to do the illustrations for his next adventure.
Dylan also pays homage to the old-school adventures of our youth by including some interesting and fun mathematical puzzles at the beginning of the adventure that will require player, rather than character, ingenuity to solve.
The adventure is very open-ended, in that the framework for the adventure is provided (recover the lost pages of the book for an aging wizard), along with descriptions of the different characters that each hold a page, as well as outlines of various locations including a large manor house, a mine, and a port town. It's noted in the adventure that the pages can be recovered in any order, and there are plenty of side-adventures hinted at, particularly in the motivations of the NPCs, so that this compact adventure could end up providing adventuring opportunities for several levels of play.
Other stats you may want to know are below. I'm going to steal a bit of the format that James Maliszewski uses when he reviews titles in the form of his "Buy this if..." and "Don't buy this if..." summaries.
- Title: The Veiled Invocation
- Author: Dylan Hartwell
- System: Labyrinth Lord (but can easily be adapted to any old-school class-and-level fantasy RPG)
- Levels: Character levels 1-6
- Layout: Standard two-column format, with a font that is large enough to be read easily without straining the eyes.
- Price: $2.99 for a 28-page PDF (including two pages of the Open Game License)
- Buy This If: You enjoy fun, clever, well-written, and open-ended old-school style fantasy adventures with original artwork and hand-drawn (but professional) maps.
- Don't Buy This If: You prefer a more "structured" adventure where everything is planned out ahead of time.
You can buy The Veiled Invocation here.
Hanging: Home office (laptop)
Listening: "Summertime" by Ella Fitzgerald and Louis Armstrong
Drinking: A glass of 2009 Sonoma County Zinfandel