“The Hidden Current” is the first chapter of the Dark Veil Campaign arc for 4th Edition Dungeons and Dragons that promises to take players from level 1 to level 30 published by Blackbyrne Publishing. It was written by Jeff Gupton and is a 34 page long, full-color adventure module with an additional 40+ pages of color maps (1″ scale) that can be printed on 8.5 x 11 paper for use with the adventure. Though the adventure module is a bit amateur in presentation and some of its elements, it more than makes up for that with its original ideas, good writing, and an exciting series of adventures for your players to enjoy!
Note: I have not had a chance to run or play in this module yet, but I can tell simply from reading through it (as any DM should be able to) that I would enjoy running this module for my friends and that it would most likely be a lot of fun for everyone involved.
“The Hidden Current” starts with a summary of exactly what the adventure is – an adventure for a party of 1st / 2nd level characters, and the history of the towns and region that the adventure introduces. The writing of the module is a compelling combination of classic D&D ideas and elements that grabbed my interest very quickly. While the types of locations and monsters used should be familiar to any D&D player, there was never a moment where I groaned or found something too cliche like I have with many other 3rd party products. “The Hidden Current” keeps things relatively clean and simple, which seems to be a winning recipe for quality modules that DM’s will want to run and players will want to play.
The basic plot of “The Hidden Current” focuses on the resettlement of a valley that was formerly under the ruthless control of a white dragon but was long ago abandoned and forgotten. More recently the valley has sprung back to life with people traveling into it for trade and exploration, as well as whispered rumors of ancient power and treasures. However, this larger plot is disguised in a series of opening encounters dealing with the town of Boarland Falls and a group of bandits that plague the town. These encounters serve to grab a player’s interest and introduce them to the region and major elements of the campaign in a gentle fashion. The module has several pages on the various important NPCs that will be encountered during the adventure and a group of secondary plot hooks that can be used to keep a players interests.
The monsters and encounters in “The Hidden Current” seem to be on par with other 4th Edition adventure modules I’ve read, with some welcome additions such as detailed information that can be gathered by interrogating survivors of the combats. Some elements are less preferable like requiring a natural 20 for some perception checks or requiring one bandit to run away (my players tend to catch those guys), but these things can be adjusted by a DM with a negligible amount of effort. The adventure starts out with a good mix of combats and skill challenges but seems to become more combat heavy by the end, however there is a good mix of different monsters to combat from bandits to zombies, goblins, and of course dragons that should make the combats stand apart and feel unique from one another. The locations and location maps provided for the module are a bit on the simple side but they also have the benefit of being easily printable and very functional for use on a tabletop, which is not true for many modules that I’ve seen when the spectacular terrain becomes more of a hassle to play on than it’s worth. What makes this module unique and exciting is the simple but interesting plot that builds in the background as the party investigates the various events that occur around them. I’m excited to see how this module leads into future adventures and how the campaign arc as a whole comes together.
Overall “The Hidden Current” is a very good beginning module for any 4th Edition group, and I can see it being incredibly helpful for DMs that don’t have the time to completely flesh out their own campaigns and don’t like the other modules that are out there or have already run them. It also introduces a new universe distinct from the 4E cosmology, so if you’re looking for something new then I recommend keeping an eye on the Dark Veil campaign modules.