As our heroes head past the small village of Elhann, they find themselves drawn into a battle that could lead to the end of the world… A local bandit is kidnapping children from this and other villages – but why? Will our heroes get to the bottom of the mystery before it’s too late?
This 34 page adventure has five encounters related to cultists capturing children and taking them to their snake cult tower to sacrifice. It uses film narrative for introductions, is linear, repetitive, and makes me want to bang my head on my desk until I leave a bloody smear. It DOES make use of classic tropes, which I’m a sucker for, and has an interesting “event” table or two. That doesn’t make up for being linear, overwritten and pretentious.
The adventure opens with “Over Black: Drums beat in the distance, like the heartbeat of the land.” and then continues with a narrator voice over. Judging a book by its cover it bad. Throwing up in your mouth a little and pondering the ultimate meaning of a meaningless life and the existential paradox because of the first two sentences of an adventure seems, though, like a learned habit.
I want to repeat again: 34 pages. Five encounters (Seven if you count two interludes.) I recently looked over an eight page adventure that contained enough for about six sessions. A recent 24 page adventure I looked over had enough content for six months of play. This one has five encounters in 34 pages. You fight 6 bandits at a village. You get attacked on the road to the bandit tower. You get attacked going in the front door. Then you have a CHOICE! You can go to the basement full of crying children and kill some bandits OR go upstairs and kill some chanting cultists! Clearly, a sandbox adventure, obviously. 34 fucking pages. Nine fucking dollars. For that. Each encounter is two to three pages. For a fight with six bandits, which is what most of them are.
I will give the adventure one thing: for a linear plot shitfest it DOES inject some color. Each encounter has a small/short table of ten entries to spice things up. During the village attack you get such things as a bandit dumping a villager in a well, a child running from two bandits, setting a bandit on fire with hot coals, and so on. Likewise a table of things a crazy old man says, or things you overhear the bandits talking about. It’s all just window dressing though. Like those 2d fighting video games. There’s a background, people cheering, or cars racing by. But it doesn’t do anything. It doesn’t really contribute to the adventure. Yeah, its great to see a villager thrown down a well in a village attack. But devoting half a page to window dressing? Over and over again?
It does have a certain Conan appeal. Bandits putting kids in cages. A tower with cultists actually chanting and sacrifice children as the party appears. Nice. But it’s also VASTLY oversimplified and simultaneously wordy to the point of ridiculousness.
Clearly going for a cinematic vibe. Linear, film narrative at the start of each encounter. But there’s just NOTHING to this adventure to warrant it. This is entire adventure is ¼ column in better designed product.
The $9 PDF is on DriveThru. The preview shows you the table of contents. That should be illuminating in terms of content as see it has five encounters. Page two has that great “heartbeat of the land” narration, which you can expect more of at every encounter, setting the scene. The last page shows you page ONE of the two page first encounter. It just repeats the same stuff, including the bandit stat blocks.