Into the Wildwood, a ?Bits of the Wilderness? product from Tabletop Adventures is a comprehensive collection of descriptive text and woodland encounters designed to assist the freewheeling referee who likes to improvise plot points and story on the fly. In this capacity, Into the Wildwood is a great resource for referees who are just beginning to explore this style of play or for more experienced referees simply looking for a boost in the improvisation department.
Now, Into the Wildwood isn?t first or only product of its kind, but it is easily one of the better products of its kind. Where several other books deigned to fill the same niche are content to provide simple lists of descriptive words, Into the Wildwood provides 175 detailed, yet simple, encounter seeds that can be inserted into a scenario as written or used to jumpstart the imagination of a struggling referee. That said, it?s the other material Into the Wildwood contains that truly sets it apart from similar products.
First, on top of the 175 encounter seeds the book also contains two short essays, the first of which examines the forest as a common fixture of myth and legend, and the second of which the ecosystems of ?temperate forests? in depth. Further, three unique OGL forest creatures are presented for use in your games, as are ?forest kits? (brief, but detailed, descriptions of the different kinds of forests that may pop up in a fantasy roleplaying game). Finally, appended to the end of the document are 102 encounter cards (100 of which are fully detailed and two of which are blank).
What are encounter cards? Very simply, they?re small cards that contain various woodland encounters to be utilized on the fly. Being able to shuffle them allows for not only a different kind of random element in your games, but also allows other players to get in on the fun (i.e., other players may draw cards to influence the adventure as it unfolds). Really, these cards are a great idea that make an already good product that much better.
I only have one complaint about Into the Wildwood, and that complaint concerns the cover art. The cover art of Into the Wildwood really doesn?t do the rest of the product justice and, if I based my purchasing decisions purely on aesthetic covers, I?d probably pass up Into the Wildwood - luckily, I?ve learned not to judge a book by its cover. If you?re a referee that likes to run your games fast and loose, but doesn?t like to sacrifice detail, Into the Wildwood is for you.
[Edited to correct numerical error in reagrd to encounter cards, as clarified by the publisher. Sorry about that, folks!]
LIKED: The whole product concept. The encounter cards. The idea of setting 'kits' that can be used to dress up an adventure. Several of the individual encounters.
DISLIKED: The cover art.
QUALITY: Very Good
VALUE: Very Satisfied
[THIS REVIEW WAS EDITED]