SNS4 – The Mires of Mourning

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by Greg A. Vaughn & Kevin Wright
Frog God Games
Swords & Wizardry
Level 6

Adventurers are needed for a simple job: escort a catatonic prisoner of value to the Crown to a sanitarium where he can be safely held for treatment. What could be easier? But the sanitarium lies at the heart of the Creeping Mire, and it’s the rainy season. No patrols or contacts have been able to get through in weeks. What dangers await along the Swamp Road, and why don’t they want the prisoner to reach the sanitarium? And why does the sanitarium staff want the adventurers to place the prisoner in their care and leave as quickly as possible? What secrets are held within the mute man’s head that some would kill for…or worse?

Oh boy, a Pathfinder conversion with a plot! And a bajillion word backstory! And lame ass treasure and NPC descriptions! I can’t wait!

Backstory backstory backstory backstory backstory backstory backstory backstory backstory backstory backstory backstory backstory backstory backstory backstory backstory backstory backstory backstory backstory backstory backstory backstory backstory backstory backstory backstory backstory backstory backstory backstory backstory backstory backstory backstory backstory backstory backstory backstory backstory backstory backstory backstory backstory backstory backstory backstory backstory backstory backstory backstory backstory backstory backstory backstory backstory backstory backstory backstory backstory backstory backstory backstory backstory backstory backstory backstory backstory backstory backstory backstory backstory backstory backstory backstory backstory backstory backstory backstory backstory backstory backstory backstory backstory backstory backstory backstory backstory escort some dude to an asylum in a swamp. On the way you get attacked by some generic giant mosquitos and a small band of bugbears. Both of these, as well as the wandering monster table, are good illustrations of what is wrong with adventure writing. There is a great deal of text present in these two lead-in encounters on the way to the main adventure … but very little text to actually help the DM. The swamp teems with these blood-sucking brutes. They come in the rainy season. Not commonly know, they prefer to feed on the wild garbunzo, of which there are none in the nearest 500 parsec area. Most remain under dry branches during the rainy season and so many die of starvation. What the fuck? There’s NOTHING in that that helps me run the damn encounter. There’s no flavor, just bland history and ecology. Hey! You! With the face! THE PURPOSE OF YOUR WRITING THE FUCKING ADVENTURE IS TO HELP THE DM RUN IT! Not to illustrate why your great american novel can’t get any response from a publisher. Let me help you with that one. YOUR WRITING SUCKS! That doesn’t really matter here, because you’re not writing me a novel. Your writing a fucking adventure. Tailor your writing to its purpose!

The party gets to the asylum and drops the dude off. They are invited to stay the night, during which the place is attacked by a mixed band of bugbears and dragon, which free a bunch of deranged inmates, and a general chaos ensues. Danger Wil Robinson! Danger! PLOT PLOT PLOT! The point of this is to free the prisoner, kill the asylum keeper (but not before he can reveal the 99 page backstory to the players with his dying breath(s)) and give the players a trail to follow to the next lameness. Almost no one here has a personality. There’s a brief mention of the orderlies and servants, but just in brief with very little character to them. Perhaps the only good part is that the entire asylum room key is one one page. This is smart. The characters are only going to be here a short while and the purpose of the map is to run the NPC encounters (which don’t really exist in this adventure) and run the nighttime raid. It’s PERFECT for that. Short, terse, just enough detail (little more than room names and a sentence) to let the DM run the night raid. THAT’S what I mean when I say I want the writing and content targeted at the DM. THAT helps me run the damn thing at the table. It’s still lame. After all the build up the raid is little more than “a dragon and N bugbears attack and nuke the NW tower.” I’m used to seeing little vignettes in these things, where the party encounters something, etc. Some ideas to use and spring on the players would have been nice. After all, that’s what we’re paying for, the imagination. Instead it’s nothing more than “they attack and the dying curator vomits forth the length backstory.”

The characters are expected the follow the retreating monsters through the swamp to find the backstory inmate, and get access to the The Black Ward and the treasures within. This is total bullshit since the monsters combined lair really nothing more than a wide-spot in the swamps with a note that says “hey, go back to the asylum to find The Black Ward.” The Black Ward, with all its build-up, then consists of seven linear rooms. There is exactly one interesting thing in: The Brothers Shank, a pair of ghouls with a nice backstory that provide a great deal of inspiration on how to run ghoul encounters. Are they alive & depraved or just undead? The Where the Fallen Jarls Sleep and its sequels, the treatment of the undead as The Unknown rather than “its just a zombie” provides the sort of inspiration I AM looking for in an adventure.

The treasure here is almost the worst I have ever seen. The worst I’ve ever seen is “put in as much as you thin is appropriate” while this adventure frequently turns to “treasures worth 946gp, 7364SP and 2673CP.” Again, we’re paying YOU, the fucking moron who wrote this adventure, for the detail of the treasure. Fuck you and fuck the Story/Plot mentality that, inevitably, is used to justify this sort of fraud.

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One Response to SNS4 – The Mires of Mourning

  1. Jay Murphy says:

    Yeah no cares about (insert writer of module) your jerk off daydream. Give me an adventure which gives me the tools to keep an animate, lively world full of fleshed out npc’s, and cool stuff. You don’t need lengthy backstorys if you have well developed npc’s. A defined npc gives the DM info he needs to know what he would do in any given situation, what his motivation is, for f#$%sake. I’m with you bro, I find your reviews highly useful. You sift through the garbage so I don’t have to.

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