Historically I've been a DM who runs a lot of games in contained interior (dungeons, haunted houses, etc) environments. I was never much of a fan of outdoor settings until the release of Castles Forlorn for Ravenloft in 2nd Edition. Castles Forlorn introduced a struggle between druids and the undead. The forces of nature versus the unnatural forces of undeath made for a great fantasy/horror story that captured the classic flavour of Dungeons & Dragons while being set against a new backdrop. This started my appreciation for druidic stories in D&D.
Today I'm looking at In The Heart Of The Forest, the latest adventure from Beth Ball.
One of the first things I'd like to call out here is the fact that Beth Ball has previously co-authored a series of adventures intended for 1 player and 1 DM. With In The Heart Of The Forest the author has applied the new Sidekick mechanic to continue to accommodate that one-on-one style of play.
Onto the adventure itself.
The adventure is a tight 3 chapters featuring an ancient pact and as I was alluding to (although it might have seemed like rambling) at the start of this post a conflict between the forces of nature and undeath. I really liked the theme and the exposition was handled really well through a combination of exploration and investigation book-ended by a simple hostile encounter at the very beginning and a more complex encounter at the end. The adventure can easily be run in one sitting but is populated with enough NPCs that it could be dropped into an existing campaign and teased well ahead of play. I also personally liked the fact that the adventure has it's own internal history and mythology that is not linked to any particular outside world, this means the adventure can easily be dropped into any campaign setting with a forest in it. With the recent rise in popularity of The Old Margreve setting I could easily see this fitting in there or possibly Forfar or Sithicus if you're a Ravenloft fan like me.
In The Heart Of The Forest does a great job of mixing high fantasy and some light horror elements. The adventure is currently available from DMsGuild at https://www.dmsguild.com/product/284452/In-the-Heart-of-the-Forest?term=in+the+heart+ Not only would I recommend In The Heart Of The Forest for players and DMs looking for a quick forest adventure but it would be great for a DM to have prepped in their back pocket for one of those sessions where your whole group doesn't attend and you need something you can run on the fly.