N2: The Forest Oracle (1984)

It took two years for another N-series module to see release, which was N2: The Forest Oracle (1984). I remember years ago hearing about this module as perhaps one of the worst ever produced by TSR. I also recall a few years after that hearing it was a top example of a good/bad module, the sort that, if it were a film, would be ripe for Mystery Science Theater. Flipping through it for this post, I don’t really see either. It isn’t good, certainly — it is linear and under-developed. Mage needs cure for a blight (caused by an angry Nymph) and sends the party to a druid, who needs some goblins killed, etc, etc. Dull, but not egregious. Nor particularly humorous.

There are some incredibly odd design decisions, though. The tunnel through the mountains has lots of encounters, but they’re all situated in caverns on branches off the main path, so players could conceivably “stick to the road” and just walk through without a hint of danger (or excitement). And the Novice part of the adventure seems to have been applied to the inhabitants of the world, who all seem to have all the guile of newborns.

The biggest frustration for me is the art. The cover is fine, I am always down for some Parkinson, and red gobbos riding wolves sounds cool to me. But the interiors — imagine, having Jeff Easley on staff and assigning him illustrations that consist of several views of orchards and one of a dwarf facing off against a fricking osquip. What a waste of everyone’s time.

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