Your heroes have come to the village of Nubonne on the borders of Domerre and Orde to help the villagers stop vicious attacks by giant wolves and local bandits. These contested borderlands have been unpatrolled and lawless in recent years and the people need brave adventurers to step up to the plate. Will your heroes help these kind folks who have lost children and friends in senseless attacks?
This 28 page adventure describes a ten-location village and a fifteen-ish room ruined fort with some brigands in it. It is laid out well but is just about as generic and bland as an adventure can be. It is magnificent in its ability to convey bland facts in an organized, yet wordy, manner. The adventure has exactly one bright point, at the end.
Some borderlands village is being attacked by a monster wolf, along with some men who claim to offer to protect the village form it. The party works for 100gp to go look in to things. Or they do it out of the goodness of their hearts. Or they have “bad dreams.” This is the first indication that something was up with this adventure. Three hooks, all generic and uninteresting. A hook to stir one’s soul?! No. You get paid 100gp. I note that the protection racket is charging 50gp A WEEK. If I were a player I’d take over the brigands work and optimize it, seeing a far more lucrative future in their work than in goody-goodying.
Anyway, the village presented is boring. The ten-ish keys are presented in about a column per key format. Sometimes they have QUITE lengthy read-alouds. On the order of three paragraphs, full of flowery “may the sun and moon bless us!” kinds of shit. The long area descriptions are supplemented by lengthy NPC stat blocks. And both provide NOTHING of interest to a DM. “Shaved head and well-kept beard. Wears brown robes.” That’s the priest description. His possessions are listed as “staff, holy book, robe, pouch.” This is the wal of all the NPC descriptions. They have no meat to them. All facts, and boring facts at that. There is absolutely nothing memorable in any description. The inn serves “fair quantity at a fair price” or something like that. The smith is a big man with a good heart. It’s like a magic white people village where everyone is that dude from the Lego Movie; so bland that they are immediately forgettable. There’s nothing here to hang your hat on. And yet they STILL go on for a column of text. A generic idyllic village in which there is absolutely NO drama, except for the wolf. This sort of stuff is not helpful to a DM running the game. A blacksmith who fits the stereotypical blacksmith mold needs no explanation. Likewise we do not need a in-depth description of what a bedroom looks like if its a normal bedroom. The designers role is to give the DM something to work with. To describe what’s different & interesting FROM A GAME ABILITY standpoint. Play focused. Otherwise it drifts, as this adventure does, in to the realm of description for the sake of description.
The ruined fort likewise suffers from the same fate. Descriptions of things that are not very meaningful. There’s nothing interesting going on. A bunk room. With a long description of a normal bunk room, with long descriptions of of the brigands that add nothing, Not even any mention of how the brigands react when invaded. The ONLY interesting thing in the entire adventure is that the boss commits suicide when you bust down the door to his room. (Because ofthe 6HD spectre haunting the room.) THAT’S interesting … but will leave the party bewildered, a mystery mired in a backstory that is independent of the party and only impacts them by being window dressing.
The simulationist mess extends to the wanderers table for the wilderness trip to the ruins. “You see a squirrel and it runs away”, along with a separate entry for a rabbit and fox and … a bird. What?!?! No mention of the fallen tree limb that stands its ground, unwilling to yield to the party’s approach?!?!?
One room skews THE OTHER direction. The jail cells read, in part “each cell has a 25% chance of loosing a ghost if opened. Even if unopened, any ghost spotted by a PC has a chance to Frighten the party. (Save vs spells.)” THAT is closer to gameable information than anything else in this adventure.