The Wicked Woeful Web

By Thom Wilson
Swords & Wizardry
Levels 1-2

The monks of Esherten have always used trained spiders to protect their crops from the nearby giant fly hives. That was until several days ago, when the always obedient arachnids left the small settlement and disappeared into the Woeful Forest. The giant flies, attracted to the Flame Flower nectar grown in the village, have found the crop unprotected. Monks and villagers are growing weary from their constant battle with the insects. They need help! Who can help them bring back their trained guards?

This is a seventeen page adventure fighting giant flies and spiders. There is some fine imagery in this that really sparks the imagination. Then there’s the other 99.9% of the text which is unfocused and hides the evocative bits, turning a nine room adventure in to seventeen pages.

A village grows a rare flower and nearby monks raise giant spiders to protect the crops from giant flies that like to feed on/destroy them. But the spiders have recently disappeared, migrating to a nearby forest. The primary adventure is a four room cave with a giant evil spider in it. The secondary adventure is a giant fly lair with five rooms.

There great imagery in this. Massive tiny spider migrations, as the evil spider calls them to her, ala Harry potter. You notice, by sense and/or smell something foul and ancient within a cave. Tiny spiders swarm over the remains of a fallen dear. Hundreds of deformed egg sacks hang from the ceiling and cling to the wall of a chamber. Very nice! It implants a strong mental image in your head and allows your brain to fill in the blanks, exactly the sort of evocative writing we’re looking for. But that’s generally one sentence in a column of text. Otherwise the writing is long and generally unfocused … hence the column of text per room. It’s padded out with trivia and detail that is not likely to come up in the adventure.

Then it leaves out things. Room c2 has spiders in it. The text says they will will attack. Unless they are the spiders from the monastery in which case they won’t attack. Are they spiders from the monastery? Are they mixed? No idea. And then the treasure … most of the mundane treasure is just generic coins and the magic treasure is “Dagger of Sharpness, +1 damage.” Lacking detail where it needs it and full of detail where it doesn’t.

Sometimes I find no redeeming qualities in an adventure and, after a couple from the same publisher, write them off and avoid that stuff for a couple of years. This does not fall in to that category; the imagery in this is quite good in places. What it needs is A LOT more thought on the writing, a focus on the purpose of the writing and how it relates to the room. That’s a “second draft” topic in my mind, and fixable and more easily learned than other adventure issues.

This is $1.50 on DriveThru. There’s no preview.

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