Each issue is dedicated to a particular facet of the game, is approximately 25-30 pages long and is broadly split into the following four parts:
- Sage Advice discusses different aspects of the D&D rules. There is no assumption of any existing knowledge of the game, so it is ideal for anyone interested in playing D&D.
- Character Creation examines how player characters are made, what the various classes are and how their different abilities can be used.
- Lore examines the standard D&D setting, by explaining the locations and factions within the Forgotten Realms. It would be interesting if they also considered other D&D settings such as Dragonlance or Ravenloft.
- The final part is an encounter. Each scenario forms part of a larger adventure, but they could be slotted into an existing campaign as a small side quest. The encounters are reminiscent of an hour-or-so games for running during lunchtime breaks.
The magazine is engagingly written and encourages experimentation; D&D – like all of roleplaying – rewards player imagination. Likewise, each of the scenarios are inventive and sufficiently different that they do not always rely on combat to solve, ensuring that no particular character or class is essential for their completion.
Location maps accompany each scenario and are clearly presented for the GM. However, the best ones are those that are presented as in-game handouts, as they are drawn as if on parchment.
The sample character sheets (and their accompanying tokens) with the second issue are designed with these initial scenarios in mind. However, the scenarios could be run using the players’ own characters or the sample characters used as supporting characters in another game.
The first few issues come with free dice and accessories, but the highlight has to be the map of Sword Coast that comes with the second issue. The map is especially useful and will make an excellent focus for players to gather around. Its large size means there are a lot of details, whilst the heavy-duty paper quality means it is possibly tough enough to withstand being used as a playmat.
The elephant in the room is the price tag. The first issues are cheaper, but later issues cost £8.99 each (premium subscribers pay an extra £1.25), with four issues released each month. When buying just for one person the price does seem steep, especially compared to the price of a D&D Essentials boxset. However, if the subscription were to be shared, then it could be justified. As D&D is a group activity, a group subscribing to the magazine collectively makes sense.
Overall, Dungeons & Dragons Adventurer is an excellent, if expensive, partwork magazine that introduces the world of D&D – and the wider hobby of roleplaying – in a clear and fun way to a potential new audience. And more roleplayers is never a bad thing.