DMs Guild Review – Campfire Tales: In-Between Encounters

Eight drop-in, noncombat road encounters.

A review copy of Campfire Tales: In-Between Encounters” was provided by the publisher. Find more DMs Guild Reviews on my website and YouTube channel.

Support my work by using my affiliate links and pledging via Patreon.

Designed by: Angus BessaiPatrick Hoffmann

Traveling between more exciting locations is often left to a montage of descriptions in D&D, punctuated by the occasional random encounter battle. Encounter supplements are typically full of battles and mini-quests, but Campfire Tales specifically provides non-combat encounters that focus more on role-playing and world-building.

Campfire Tales includes eight drop-in encounters, all of which are designed without combat (though certain parties may be more prone to challenging a sitting giant rather than speaking to them).

Most of the encounters feature social situations and opportunities for roleplaying. Play games and tell stories with a group of traveling nomads (who then rob you if you don’t succeed on enough skill checks). Pull a dagger from an annoyed fire giant’s shoe. Mediate an argument between clerics on blessing a waystone, or trade with a beleaguered adventuring party saving up to raise their recently dead companion.

Crafting generic encounters is challenging enough, doubly so when emphasizing role-playing and world-building. The encounter designers have to presume the DM’s world and tone, and the results can be awkward. One of the encounters boils down to a bunch of bratty kids pulling pranks on the party just outside of a town. In a bigger adventure it may have some context or purpose, but here there’s no real point to this odd encounter and it doesn’t lead anywhere.

My two favorite encounters feature neat little social encounters with ample room for player choice and satisfying roleplaying.

In The Wayfarer’s Stone, the party comes upon a group of mages and clerics arguing over whom to dedicate the stone to. The party can intervene, and choose whom to side with. For some fun twists, one of them is an insane cultist of Tharizdun, while another is a secret devil-worshipping acolyte of Asmodeus.

In A Distant Light, the party follows a strange light through some ruins. The surprise is that it’s just a campfire from another adventuring party. But this party has had a bad turn, having retreated from a nasty dungeon crawl with grievous injuries and a dead companion. The players could choose to kill them, rob them, trade with them, or gift them the money they need to raise their friend.

godstone pond campfire tales

The encounters the involve active hazards, such as a mountain trail of mushrooms or the road of dumb kid pranks, include maps. Unfortunately they’re  basic graph paper mock-ups, and not really usable on VTTs — not that I would necessarily expect maps in a series of noncombat encounters.

On the plus side, each encounter is given a full page, black and white illustration. These images, created by Mark Muir, are stunning, with plenty of detail and shading to make the situations come to life.

The supplement also includes several appendices featuring flora, fauna, magic items, and interesting locations. Most of these are drawn from the preceding encounters, such as the magic dagger in the giant’s shoe, the mushrooms, and the Wayfarer’s Stone, but it’s helpful to include them here.

Even if there are few memorable stand-outs, crafting specifically noncombat encounters is a noble endeavor, and the full-page art illustrations and detailed appendices help elevate an otherwise relatively straightforward supplement.

Pros:

  • 8 relatively simple encounters emphasizing role-playing and exploration.
  • Each encounter features gorgeous original cover art.
  • Appendices include new beasts, magic items, and interesting locations.

Cons:

  • Maps are black and white graph paper.
  • Social encounters can be difficult to drop into existing campaigns.

The Verdict: Creating drop-in travel encounters focusing on social and hazard encounters is a challenging task, but Campfire TAles features several memorable events worth exploring.

A review copy of “Campfire Tales: In-Between Encounters” was provided by the publisher. Find more DMs Guild Reviews on my website and YouTube channel.

Support my work by using my affiliate links and pledging via Patreon.

Author: roguewatson

Freelance Writer

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