Part 2 of the Essentials Starter choose-your-own-adventure starts with some read-aloud text (or read-silently text, I suppose, in the context of a solo adventure):
The whinny of a horse catches your ear, and as you look around for the source of the sound, you see a rider at the crest of a low hill, a few hundred yards away. The rider seems to be human, but as the goblins flee he shakes his fist in frustration. His jet-black horse rears and whinnies again, and the rider’s red cloak billows behind him in the wind. Then the horse gallops off towards the southwest, into the Moon Hills.
This ham-handed caricature of a stock villain is exactly the tone to hit for a D&D adventure. This guy is awesome. Give the beginning players their fist-shaking, scenery-chewing villains! Give them their rearing, jet-black horses! Give them, if possible, speeches like “I’ll get you yet, do-gooders!” (PLEASE let that happen later in the adventure)
As melodramatic, overwritten flavor text goes, this passage is really top-notch. I actually did feel engaged. I saw the cloak billowing in the wind. I saw the impotent fist-shake. I saw the crescent moon behind the rider – although that wasn’t actually described. I just got confused because of the Moon Hills.
Who do you think that cloaked rider is, anyway? I hope it’s Bargle!