Struggle in Three Horn Valley is an adventure for four characters of 3rd level, by Phil Beckwith.
The heroes find themselves on a ship while a pirate attack takes place. During the attack, a large storm erupts and they end up stranded on an island full of dinosaurs. If that wasn’t enough, the pirates have also survived and are planning an attack on a peaceful tribe that lives on the island.
The adventure is designed to be used in the Forgotten Realms but it can be easily be used in any campaign setting. You just pick where you want a dangerous island full of dinosaurs, and possibly some hints of civilization.
While a few hooks are provided, there isn’t anything specific to tie this adventure to a setting. The only requirement is to include a specific NPC but that’s not really an issue.
The chapters that contain the actual adventure are chapters 2 and 3. Chapter 2 begins with the characters still aboard the ship they’re travelling on. It’s a short chapter because it contains only one encounter, the battle with the pirates, but its purpose is to set the tone and start the adventure with action.
Chapter 3 is where the adventure on the island begins. The structure is fairly simple; you could say that it can be divided into two parts. There are quite a few places the characters can explore, and encounter various situations. There is no particular order in them; the characters can explore the island any way they want.
There is a variety of encounters and most of them have the players dealing with dinosaurs. In one of the encounters, the characters have to avoid getting stomped by a herd of triceratops. Another one is a chase scene, during which they’re hunted by a pack of velociraptors. There’s even a chance they’ll end up in a pteranodon nest and even in a cave full of lizardfolk.
However, sooner or later, the encounters will lead the characters to the Three Horn Valley, the area where the second part of the adventure will take place. There they make contact with a human tribe and are asked to help them defend against the attack of the pirates, who at this point have some dinosaurs under their control. While in many of the encounters of the first part don’t have (and possibly shouldn’t) result in combat, the final encounter is definitely going to be combat. And if the players weren’t that careful during the first part, they may even have to deal with levels of exhaustion during the battle.
It’s an adventure about survival
I wanted to make a separate section for this one because I really want to emphasize that in this adventure the main goal is survival. This can be seen in the way the encounters are designed. You can’t really defeat 100 triceratops charging at you and you can’t expect to kill a bunch of velociraptors trying to make you their lunch. These encounters want you to think and, especially, think how your character would think if their goal was to survive on an island full of things things that can kill them.
Since it’s a survival adventure, the exhaustion mechanic plays a big role. It’s really easy to get exhaustion, so the players have to make sure their characters eat, drink, and rest. There’s even a table that helps the DM determine the time of day, so that they can hint to the players if and when they have to rest in order to not get levels of exhaustion on their characters. It’s pretty easy to use it, since it’s based on the number of encounters the characters have faced.
Increase the challenge
The adventure is designed for 3rd level characters but it can be used for 4th level characters as well. Also, an adjustment is provided in order to make the last battle more challenging.
However, if you want to increase the challenge some more, for both the players and you, as the DM, an extra option is provided. You can split the party into two groups when they land on the shores of the island. This way the players will probably experience more of the areas on the island and also the difficulty will be a bit higher. This can be a challenge, especially for less experienced DMs, but it’d be fun to run a session like that.
The cover art is amazing. Inside the product you’ll also find pieces depicting dinosaurs and landmarks. Moreover, in the appendix where the stat blocks can be found, every notable NPC has their own portrait.
Finally, the maps are very well drawn. There are enough of them in order to depict every important area.
Overall, Struggle in Three Horn Valley is a really good adventure. It provides very well designed exploration and combat encounters, and can provide entertainment for your players and you for a session or two.