DriveThruRPG Review – Following the Tracks

Track animal-stealing bandits across the savannah in this 5th level adventure for Pathfinder 1st ed.

A review copy of “Following the Tracks” was provided by the publisher. Find more TTRPG reviews on my website and YouTube channel.

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

Designed by: Maria Gatta (Wilderling)

My experience with Pathfinder may be limited, but I know a solid adventure when I see one. Following the Tracks takes a vastly underused setting, a wild savannah, and injects a setting-appropriate story with plenty of beasts to battle, herd, and rescue.

The 40-page adventure includes about 20 pages of actual adventure, along with a detailed bestiary and NPC gallery, with pages and pages of NPC descriptions and statblocks. I’m particularly fond of the use of non-fantasy artwork, with what looks like real photos of the African savannah with a sepia filter.

The fifth level adventure takes place in a savannah, though I’m unclear if it uses Pathfinder’s world of Golarion or if it’s a more agnostic setting. Either way, the party is traveling through the savannah, and are attacked by rabid painted dogs before getting a chance to harvest some special plants from a gall (beware the ensuing ant swarm, however).

The DM is free to skip these encounters and jump right into the quest-givers, a nearby caravan consisting of several catfolk with their elephant mounts. The merchants are a trading caravan who had “found” some rare creatures, lilipotamuses, and were moving them to the city to be sold, but some bandits attacked and stole them.

Time to do what it says on the tin and follow the tracks! A ranger or druid player character would certainly get a chance to shine throughout this adventure, with lots of opportunity for animal and nature-related checks as the party fights (or avoids) a trio of lions,  survives a spring trap poisoned by tree frogs, and deals with a group of screeching monkeys that threaten to warn the bandits ahead.

Only, they’re not actually bandits. The adventure offers a neat mid-story twist if the party gets a chance to speak with them. They call themselves the Chattering Woodland’s Guardians, and are more like nature-loving freedom fighters. They had liberated the lilipotamuses and are taking them back to their home in the fey realm.

I appreciate the morally gray choice the party is forced to make. These so-called Guardians did end up injuring the traders (and their elephants) in their attack. Does the party renege on their original deal and take up this new cause? Or do they kill these would-be eco-terrorists and return the lilipotamuses to their “rightful owners?”

tracks plains

It’s a big choice, and one that should’ve been spelled out a bit more clearly. If the Guardians are given forewarning (via the screeching monkeys) they’ll try to talk to the party and explain their situation.

If, however, the party is good at sneaking, it’s possible they’ll get the jump on the Guardians and jump right into combat. There needs to be some contingency that allows the Guardians to parlay with aggressive or sneaky parties, or perhaps a scene or series of cutscenes that could clue cautious players into the fact that these are not mere cattle rustling thieves.

If the party kills the Guardians, they’ll still need to recover and herd the frightened, displaced lilipotamuses with proper skill checks, followed by a battle with a living topiary and some leshy, before returning to the merchants for a nice payout.

If they take up the cause, they’ll journey with the Guardians to a nearby portal into the fey realm, battling half a dozen twig monsters before enjoying a social epilogue with the Guardians and some musical grigs. Either path could net them a cute new animal companion with the unique lilipotamus.

Following the Tracks doesn’t include any maps, which is a bummer. There’s no dungeon to map out, but at least a single savanna map would’ve been a big plus to fit all these encounters. Even without maps it’s a very solid adventure that checks all the right boxes in providing a meaningful journey through a unique setting.

 Pros:

  • African-inspired savannah is a memorable setting, and well-utilized.
  • Meaningful player choices, alternative hooks, and optional encounters.
  • Full page descriptions and stat blocks for each NPC.
  • Smart use of non-fantasy artwork.

Cons:

  • Bandit twist should be made more obvious.
  • No maps.

The Verdict: Following the tracks expertly applies an underused savannah setting teeming with life, featuring a variety of encounters and an interesting twist.

A review copy of “Following the Tracks” was provided by the publisher. Find more TTRPG reviews on my website and YouTube channel.

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

Author: roguewatson

Freelance Writer

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s