One bandit, James, a scrawny fellow, cannot keep his mouth shut. When the players talk he will call them names under his breath then deny he said anything.It's a small thing, admittedly, but, in just two brief sentences, Shorts gives the referee the hook he needs to turn another ho-hum encounter with bandits into something more memorable. Touches like that can be found throughout Knowledge Illuminates and the adventure is the better for them.
As noted earlier, the adventure takes place in a small wilderness area, which consists of seven keyed areas, one of which is described in detail with a map of its own. This detailed area, Tergul's Workshop, was once home to a devout and secretly wealthy alchemist. A tragedy occurred in the Workshop, resulting in the unleashing of an evil force, as well as the deaths of Tergul and others. The aftermath of that tragedy is still apparent when the PCs stumble across the ruined Workshop and it provides the framing device for this location-based module.
Given its explicit purpose as a single-session adventure, Knowledge Illuminates is necessarily limited in its scope. Tergul's Workshop has only eleven rooms, the bulk of which are uninhabited. However, many of these rooms contain mysteries, or at least hidden elements, pertaining to the tragedy that led to the destruction of the Workshop and those within it. Indeed, these mysteries provide ready-made hooks for spin-off adventures that, depending on the wishes of the referee, could conceivably occupy the characters for some time. Likewise, the implied setting of Knowledge Illuminates, which incorporates elements from Rob Conley's Blackmarsh OGL setting, was actually of interest to me, which is unusual in adventures designed to be easily transportable to a referee's home campaign with a minimum of fuss.
The 15-page PDF is no frills. The two-column layout is nothing fancy and the artwork consists entirely of clipart. The maps are all excellent, though, being the work of Rob Conley, whose clean and straightforward style I find both easy on my aging eyes and useful in play. Of course, it's the text of Knowledge Illuminates that is the main attraction here and I'm happy to say it does not disappoint. Shorts's writing is spare and unornamented but that's no criticism. In an adventure this short, there's no room for purple prose. Yet, as I commented earlier, there's nevertheless a lot of detail and inspiration to be found in this brief module, making it one of the more evocative short adventures I've read in some time.
Presentation: 5 out of 10
Creativity: 7 out of 10
Utility: 7 out of 10
Buy This If: You're looking for a well-made and intriguing short adventure for low-level characters to drop into your campaign.
Don't Buy This If: You prefer adventures to be longer or have no need for a beginning-level adventure of any length.