It is a shame that it took me so long to start reviewing this supplement. The second I started reading I couldn’t stop. I devoured it. Every adventure was a joy to read. There was a lot of diversity in regards to the monsters chosen. I’ve used 20% (15 out of 75) of the monsters in this supplement and still have not used them in the way these adventures have.
Design and Layout
I don’t know what it is about the cover that is giving me serious 70’s vibe. It’s probably the color-scheme and the art style but whatever it is, I am loving it. That love also extends to all the artwork within Beyond the Basics (BtB). There are a number of different styles and all of them are great. My personal favorite is the artwork for the awakened shrub. It’s adorable.
I love the way the adventures are laid out. The clear explanations of what pillar of play is involved in any particular part of the adventure is a god send to me as a DM. Also the ratio between combat and social encounter is excellent. Too often I see just combat put forth as a solution and it’s nice to step away from that and have another pillar of play shine
Beyond the Basics Adventures
Ankylosaurus: I don’t see a lot of adventures with dinosaurs (outside of ToA) and when I do see them they are typically in an adversarial role. I loved the approach of the dinosaur needing help and the open ended way the players can solve the problem.
Banshee: So I have my issues with the lore of banshees (women that didn’t use their beauty for good blah blah blah) but Megan Irving leaned into that and gave us a little twist on how we typically view/use undead.
Minotaur: Holy shit, I loved this. First off I love minotaurs. Don’t know what it is about them but I love them. This is an entire adventure of exploration and skill challenges – with the option of combat – but its primary focus is exploration. A breath of fresh air in a culture steeped in combat encounters.
Mummy: There are so many different types of mummies in the world and I am so excited for BOG MUMMIES (I might be influenced by the bog mummy meme that was floating around on Tumblr a while back). I love undead. I like mummies but I get tired of the standard Egyptian-esque setting they are always used in.
Wight: The thing I really like about this particular adventure is the lesson at the end. That sometimes the only way to find true peace and escape war is to put down your weapon. It felt like a warrior’s epilogue. After a long life of violence, one final act must be completed before their arms can be laid down.
So one of BtB’s greatest strengths is the variety of levels for the encounters. There is an adventure for every tier of play. But my one issue also stems from the wide variety. I would have liked to have seen something in the table contents that shows what level each adventure is for versus having to one by one go through every adventure to find out. It would just make it easier if I needed to grab an adventure quickly.