“I’m on a creative hiatus,” my dungeon master told us. He wasn’t dissolving the group. But he was effectively quitting until further notice. If he’d had Notice Boards: 42 Quests for Waterdeep and Skullport then he wouldn’t be without his muse(s) to take us on any number of quests at a moment’s notice…provided that number is 42 or less. At least that’s what I tell myself. In retrospect, I think my brother was just burned out. But I digress. Let’s talk about Notice Boards by Christian Eichhorn.
Notice Board: 42 Quests for Waterdeep and Skullport
Writer: Christian Eichhorn
Publisher: DMs Guild
Product Length: 27 pages
Just as its subtitle suggests, this product contains 42 quests for Waterdeep and Skullport. It’s important that the buyer understand that there is a distinction between a quest and an adventure. Taking a ring to a volcano to destroy it is a quest. The Lord of the Rings is an adventure (←check out that book set for a perfect Christmas gift for the Tolkien fan in your life). This product is filled with seeds to get things moving on nights when you don’t already have some epic adventure planned. Or it’s also a great tool to have lying around for those nights when James can’t make it. Which, coincidentally, seems to be every other session.
When you view the product page on DMs Guild you think Notice Boards is just 27 pages of graphics like the sample I shared above. You get these graphics, but you get more than just a blurb of a quest seed too. You get enough detail for each seed to be able to flesh out a meaningful quest to last a few hours. Some of them are comprehensive enough that you could build upon to create a larger campaign. But the spirit of this product is in creating filler sessions or in having resources available for the irregular gaming group, be it with revolving players or just intermittent sessions where continuity becomes an issue. This is the perfect resource for that group.
These are not a bunch of recycled treasure-recovery or highway-bandits missions. These seeds cover murder, demons, riddles, detective work, and more. Okay…okay…there is even a treasure-recovery mission in here too. But it’s a good one!
I have reviewed or read a fair amount of Eichhorn’s work now and something that continues to impress me is the fact that he is not a native English-speaker, yet he’s got such a strong command of the language that you’d never know it. So far, everything I’ve read by him is gripping and compelling. If there are page-turners in the Guild, they likely belong to Eichhorn. Editing was done by Christopher Walz and as far as proofreading goes, I saw no obvious errors. I know I harp on this quite a bit and truly do understand that we are all amateurs here. But, nonetheless, I love it when misspelled words or grammar misuses aren’t leaping off the page at me.
I think production is what people value the least when it comes to DMs Guild products. Some creators put a lot of effort into creating beautiful products for us but go slightly awry with overwhelming background parchments or grainy stock art. Eichhorn has found his niche with a distressed style that is as much his calling card as is his writing. These pages resemble parchment that has been applied to tavern walls and I’m not even talking about the actual graphic notice boards yet. As with Eberron: Sharn’s Bounty Hunters, Eichhorn also provides us with art asset templates to create our own notice boards
Some people will say this is “over production” and that’s fine. But I stand by my conviction that Eichhorn has found a delicate balance between stunning production and overdoing it. He continues to elegantly share his artistic talent when he could have left us instead with an uninspired set of quests in paragraph form on a white background. And I, for one, am thankful for that.
There isn’t much by way of design in this product. Of course, I’m talking about design in terms of encounter density, balance, and so on. Some seeds make good use of ability checks and there are plenty of monsters all throughout. But if you’re looking for any maps or dungeons or NPC dialogue (and I would think that you aren’t) you won’t find them here. The seeds, while inspired, are straight-forward and rarely exceed two paragraphs. They don’t need to.
Note: if you want to run all these quests as written, you will need the Dungeon Master’s Guide, the Monster Manual, Mordenkainen’s Tome of Foes, and Volo’s Guide to Monsters. If you don’t have those books and don’t want to buy them, it will mean a little more leg work for you. But not much. Despite being featured in my picture, you don’t need Waterdeep Dragonheist or Waterdeep: Dungeon of the Mad Mage. But those are great books too.
I don’t like to use the word “cheap”, so I tend to call products like these “inexpensive” instead. Cheap tends to connote bad quality. This product is far from cheap. Instead, it is very affordable, and you get a lot for your money. If you’re planning on visiting Waterdeep in your campaign you should definitely consider this product. If you aren’t, you might still want to take a look. I know we all have those times we wish we could play something simple if a member can’t make it to the next Curse of Strahd session. This is a good way to keep playing without the missing player getting left behind in a larger story.
As with my previous review (Monsters of Feyland), Christian is offering a complimentary copy to the first person who comments on this blog post with feedback for this review. What did you find compelling or lacking? What would you like to see more or less of?