Dwellers in Bone from Raging Swan press is the perfect example of a side trek, those glorious fillers that are not quite an actual adventure, but far more than a simple encounter. Following the 2 column approach for the layout editing appeared to be of high quality, and is decorated with a couple of stock B&W art pieces.
The story behind this side trek falls to this....ah, see, you thought I was just going to jump right into it without waiting to see if the players would stop reading first, didn't you? Come on, we all know by now they're going to read anyway, so if the players out there are looking to ruin their fun, that's their issue, for we must continue, lol. So, without further ado, let the spoilers commence...
The Severed Ear Clan of orcs had accomplished something more or less baffling to most other races, a note of civility. To demonstrate this I offer up the fact that they buried their dead in cairns. Most notably their dead from battles, but lets face it here, that's how most orcs die after all. It is the location of one of the cairns that will be at the center of this sidetrek. Years have passed and the Severed Ear Clan has long since been broken and scattered, and most of their cairns have been located and looted, all save one. And it to this cairn that a mated pair of drake have come to nest. The PCs will find themselves sent/led/or drawn to this site depending upon which of the provided hooks is used, where in they will meet the self appointed guardian of the last remaining cairn of this once proud clan, Grok Shattershield...or at least his extremely stubborn ghost. Grok and the drake's have hit a stalemate, as he keeps reforming after they kill him, and he is unable to affect them himself. Grok offers diplomacy, insisting the PCs aid in slaying the drakes. Of course he really doesn't offer anything up as a perk for doing it, since he is not going to agree to anything leaving the cairn, as he sees it all as property of his tribe, but as least working with the ghost will keep him from trying to possess any of the PCs and attacking with no thought of the damage being done to the body he's joy-riding in.
And what of these drakes? Mistaken for green dragons by the local townsfolk, which if played up enough before sending the PCs off to the cavern could make for some interesting issues once they get there and discover they have prepared incorrectly depending on what preventative steps they take.
An extensive cavern layout, with an entire section flooded, forcing this adventure into the mechanics of swimming and fighting underwater, against a foe that moves through water just as easily as through air. Two pages are included at the end of the PDF with the intention of being printed for each player at the table, so that everyone has handy notes at fingertip to remind them of penalties for swimming, movement, visibility, attack...etc.
Short, sweet and to the point. Just enough fluff to build the encounters up and give us a history to the cairn, as well as those little pieces here and there of description that one would expect from the series that keeps giving us the So What Is X Like Anyway?. Detailed carvings in the wall depicting previous orc glories, specific details to areas of scattered bones throughout the cairn (as opposed to “There are bones.” over and over again). A small handful of potential seeds and thoughts to take this somewhere beyond the scope of what is written here, and to further utilize the NPCs of the local Baron and his trusted servant who initially are used to hire the PCs to deal with the dragon threat.
The beauty of a product like this is that it can be taken straight as it is and run, entertain a group for an evening and be done, no questions asked, and everyone had a blast. It can also be developed with very little effort to be a full blown adventure of its own, having the PCs encounter the drakes on their own, before ever finding the cairn or the town, perhaps a history with the Severed Ear Clan itself. And, best of all, it is designed to be tucked into a campaign easily, which is always a major plus in a product of this nature.
Extensively bookmarked, which always pleases me to no end, and of course the Raging Swan checklist at the opening of the book. I had to bring up the checklist, as it got me wondering the last time I reviewed a book from this publisher, what are they going to do when that list outgrows the page? Personally, I can't until it does, as the Raging Swan imprint rarely lets me down when it comes to solid quality, and delivering exactly what they promise with each product. An easy 5 stars and well worth the price of admission. This is an excellent side quest, and more than enough of a unique challenge to keep a party entertained...I mean come on, how often do you find yourself underwater on a drake hunt?