Changing Seasons is a robust dark coffee shot that was not filtered well. You will get a good kick, but it might leave a few grains in your teeth.
When I got a request to review this Cypher System adventure, I had no idea what it was about. I have some of Christopher’s other work, and I like it. Especially Mortal Fantasy, it’s a superb little book.
Turns out, Changing Seasons is a seven-page adventure that uses MCG’s Instant Adventure format. It is a dark fantasy horror scenario.
Like a river made of engraved paving stones, the Emperox’s Road winds and branches across an entire continent.
The book starts with a backdrop setting named Emperox’s Road. I liked that touch; it makes the scenario pop out. You get about two paragraphs on the setting, but it’s just enough to set the mood and get the creative juices flowing.
The meat of the book is the scenario itself that follows the Instant Adventure format very closely. You get a two-page spread for the introduction, a two-page spread with the map, and a two-page spread with additional details and monster stats.
The scenario structure is self-contained and straightforward, but what makes it work is a monster that Chris created. It is well thought out and comes with its own ecology and life cycle and all the various nasty things it can do to you.
Chris recognises the grittiness and reserves a few paragraphs to write about consent in gaming and how to make this scenario less (or more) dark. A great touch, especially for being included before MCG’s Consent in Gaming free PDF.
The art in the book is very nice, especially the illustration for the main two-page spread. The map has both to the side and over the top views, and each location has a succinct description.
Here come the nitpicks! These are all minor and can be fixed with a couple of editing passes. It is also fair to note that Chris updates and improves his PDFs over time.
The first nitpick is about a dozen or so spelling and inconsistency errors that left me with a feeling of reading through a rough draft.
Next, the adventure makes me work before running it. There is a village with little to no detail, and although Chris expands on it in the “More Details” section, I wish I also got a few standout NPCs.
The scenario mentions several locations: road, village, lake, keep, and forest, and I think a loose map would have been helpful to put everything in a positional context. The art of the keep, although a fine piece, does not correspond to its plan on the main spread. It’s not a useful handout unless you prep for questions like “What are these floating islands?” and “What is in the rest of this giant structure?” and so on.
The main spread does not have a starting position marked. Also, some of the situations on it are not covered in the “Summary” section. This made me flip back and forth a couple of times until I could grok what was going on. This is a common problem with the Instant Adventure format.
For these minor shortcomings, I will give it 4 out of 5 dark coffee beans. You can grab it on DTRPG for the super low price of 2.50 shins.