Alright, so I just finished reading through The Pine Barrens. And to start with, I feel like if the DM is willing to put a little effort into it, it can be an interesting area. The villains are of a dark nature and it is easy to understand why they need to be defeated. The cult design under the wytch house is especially interesting and useful to me. The maps have a lot of detail, and most of the hand-outs look great. There are some very detailed area descriptions. There are several people to rescue. I expect that dealing with them will make for good role playing prompts.
I would like to recommend this to people that are going to be running anysort of steam punk campaign, since with only a few changes it might feel very victorian era.
Okay, so that said, there are a couple of things that I didn't like. First, lets talk about the maps. They look good, but there is no map key. I found myself questioning if I was looking at doors or not at several points.
Next, I want to mention the overland encounters/map. There are 3 bridges going from the main land to the island. I can not tell why this is, especially since there is no road going to the south bridge. Similarly there is a bridge going west to an island. This island seems utterly unremarkable. It has an encounter, but I am unsure as to why the designers decided to use page space to include it. There seems to be no reason for the bridge to have been created or for people go to that island. When we get to the Millisca House, an interesting line presents it's self. "you note that the nearest house is 100yrds away." Wait, there are other houses around? nothing was said about this. Note this would be a good place for a former community. The loggers, hunters and others that moved away needed some place to live after all. But nothing is stated about this. The house it's self is described as a trading company. There is very little in the way of storage area. What did they trade? where did they store it? Owners are dead, we may never know the answer to those questions. Finally, the cabin in the woods. This location seems hidden in the woods. The owners are described as general store owners who also took over the mortician business in the area. It is hard to believe that they would get that much business, in a building hidden in the woods. There is no road to this cabin.
Next I would like to mention the room/area descriptions. Many of these are very wordy. They do a good job describing what the players see. Often telling the players how they feel about a situation (not good). For overland descriptions, there is the occasional assumption about the time of day. (why are the heroes still out treking late at night?)
Finally, the adventure states that it ends when the players get to the bridge on the far side of the island. The adventure contains minimal wrap up notes however.
(On a side note the cabin in the woods is missing a description for area 18 and a description of where the portcullis's are. Also, nothing is said about the people in the tank in room 17.)
Final word, I feel there are some interesting ideas, and maps here. There are some wonderful chances for the heroes to be heroes. And there are a number of things that feel like they don't fit quite right. With a bit of work however, this could be an interesting area for the players to explore.