The Lurkers of Bridgely Vale

By Kiera Kaine
Pig Faced Games
Heroes & Hatchets
Level 1-

South of the Grey Mountains lies the sleepy coastal plain of Bridgely Vale. Its ancient roadways, forests and settlements are seldom frequented by travellers these days. Only the harbour town of Bridgely sees much activity, as a transportation hub for the silver mined in prosperous Farely to the north. However, the land holds many secrets: forgotten ruins, hidden caves and lurking ne’er-do-wells. For those with a taste for adventure, it may be closer than first appears…

This 72 page adventure details a small region and six or so dungeons, using about fifty pages for them. The dungeons are not bad, from an interactivity standpoint, and have some interesting NPC’s in them, but the entire text is so busy it’s hard to focus on the rooms at hand.

I’m going to skip over the region and town portion of this. It’s just fairly generic fantasy trope stuff, with too much information on the NPC’s and businesses. There are exceptions to this, including a guy who “proudly sells his Gastronic Neuronic Tonic for 10 silver. It is bright green and glows in the dark. He won’t reveal any ingredients, only that they are ‘natural’.” That’s a decent little NPC’ tidbit. And, that’s par for the NPC’s found in the dungeons. They are usually interesting in some way or another and facilitate dialog well, with negotiation being possible here and there. I’m down for that. They are usually too wordy, but, then again, the entire thing is too wordy.

The product has “adventures” and “dungeons.” The adventures are pretty poor. The first involves killing a dog. That’s exciting, eh? Oh, wait, no, you can’t kill it, or you don’t get the reward. It’s fucking posossed, man! There’s also a little fight on a derelict ship that’s got some bogus rules like “if you fail your dex check by 5 you crash through to a lower deck/into the ocean. That’s a lot of fail for a routine check! Anyway, there are three or four little adventures that are all pretty poor. At one point you have to search a forest for a druid, and the DM is told they won’t find the druid unless they take pity on them. Hmmm … I see issues there.

This is the major problem with the first part of the product. It’s uselessly padded out. “Izzi’s real name is Jemma. She is an orphan and despite being regularly teased about her timid and somewhat dreamy nature, she is a hard worker and treated kindly by the patrons. She secretly dreams of better things and is intelligent but entirely uneducated.” Great. Nothing of use in that description.  “Sylvia agrees to help in any way she can, although she is tired and upset and won’t fight” … so, she doesn’t actually help? In a section on captured bandits you are trying to get information from:  “The constabulary, sheriff or magistrate will not stand for any form of torture” Fire & torture man. Fire & torture. Actuallly, I’m being a little unfair on that last one. The captured bandits are decent, pleading to lesser crimes, or they were just camping out, etc. Maybe they could use a brief personality, each, but otherwise it’s not bad. 

The dungeon are a different matter. The maps are done in some colorful cartography tool and, while they show terrain and light (yeah!) they are pretty busy overall. This makes grokking them a little hard. And, there’s no grid, so get out your tape measure.

The interactivity in them, though, is far far better than the adventures. Almost as if there were separate authors. There’s shit to talk to (a decent amount, actually) and maybe barter with or negotiate with. There’s statues to fuck with, fungi to eat, and so on. And some terrain features, like ledges and logs to cross over chasms on. It’s a decent amount of variety. The maps are a little small, maybe ten rooms to a level, which limits things more than a little. Somehow strung together though it would be a decent little dungeon. 

There’s a small read-aloud for each room. They can sometimes get just to the edge of being too long, but never fully go there, which is a good thing. The read-aloud is more than a little boring, using “dirty cage” and “small bell” for example. Actually, here’s the full read-aloud for that room: “Fixed to the wall opposite the door is a large fountain, artfully carved to look like a seashell with the figure of a mermaid spewing clear water into a basin. A jumbled assortment of supplies are stored here. A dirty cage sits in one corner, inside of which hangs a small bell.” That’s not the worlds worst read-aloud. You can see that the designer is trying to do a good job. It doesn’t get purple, and is focused, generally, on the interactive elements the party would want to mess with. Which is what it should do. There’s a miss or two that stand out in the text, like not mentioning skeletons in alcoves in a crypt room, but the overall content is not bad. I can take quite a bit of exception with the evocative nature of the writing though. It just doesn’t grab you. It comes across, I think, as more of a mechanical effort in writing. On the one hand, I don’t want to knock that, You SHOULD work your descriptions alot. And the evocative writing element is, I think, one of the hardest parts of putting an adventure down on paper. The ability to transmit a vision is a hard thing to master. And yet, it’s 2022 and there’s A LOT of adventure competition out there; workmanlike content is only going to get you so far.

The worst part is the rooms, proper, and specifically the DM text. It’s pretty common for a room to take up a full column of text. Some of this is from a stat block format that lists creature abilities out in a 3e/4e like format, with full text. That takes a lot of space and I can’t imagine digging through that in the middle of a combat. But, also, the DM text proper is long and … meandering? 

One of the shorter rooms DM text reads “The room is home to two devil mice. The kobolds

have been trying to tame them to be guard animals, with little success so far (their current feast is the last kobold trainer). The tapestry either confirms what the characters already know of the surrounding area or it could contain some clues to further adventures as the GM sees fit, especially since it was made many years ago.” We’ll ignore the “DM fill in the details portion; that’s just bad. But note how the feasting devil mice are referred to. It’s almost an aside, and buried in the text. With some embedded background. Better something like “two wire-haired coal black vermin with glowing crimson eyes rip and tear and a bloody body” or some such. (I just did that on the fly, don’t be mean to me.) That gets you what you want, some detail on the monster and what they are doing in a manner that communicates the scene. As written it’s almost clinical; a travelog. And not a very exciting one. 

This happens in every room in the adventure. Far, far, far too much text and written in this sort of oblique way that makes it hard to reference during play. It needs to be trimmed. It needs to be worked. You want a direct writing style. A trend towards terseness. Only the information that’s relevant to the adventure at hand. None of this “was once” shit that permeates the text. 

Work that fucking text until you are fucking sick of it and never want to see it again. And then work it some more! 

You could suffer through this, I guess, for the content. It’s not altogether bad content, the dungeons proper anyway. But why? There are better choices.

This is $6 at DriveThru. The preview is a poor one, only showing you four pages and only general regional fantasy garbage trope stuff. We need to see some rooms, some parts of the adventures, to make an informed buying decision.

https://www.drivethrurpg.com/product/389531/The-Lurkers-of-Bridgely-Vale?1892600

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The Sanctuary for Bicephalic Outcasts

By J. Blasso-Gieseke
21st Century Games
OSE/1e
Levels 1-4

A two-headed giant is seen at night. Two deer carcasses are found missing in the morning. A two-headed dragon is seen in the morning. Two fisherman never return home at night. A two-headed man and dog are seen in Grimholt Forest. They were heading for the Riddle Hills. Are these coincidences or are they connected? Will the party help the Confederacy of Barley, Bream, and Oak find out? 

This 36 page single-column adventure details a cave with nine rooms. You know the deal: the bad guys are the good guys and the good guys are the bad guys. A WHOLE lot of if/then conditions for everything. A kiddy adventure.

Yeah, I said it. Kiddie adventure. I know that term has been leveled against B/X in general, but I’m going to claim it now for these sorts of things. What was that adventure where there was a trigger warning against killing a pack of starving dogs that were trying to bite your face off? I got a stabbing knife and I ain’t afraid to use it! Yes, let us revel in mankind’s baser instincts! Quick, Robin, to the FlameThrower-mobile!

Mayor McDickCheese, Alderman Fuckwit and Headman Dickless want you to go look in to all these double-headed creature sightings. There’s this big ass 6-mil each 3×3 hex map provided … none of which matter cause they lead you to the exact hex you need. It’s full of caves. You search and the DM rolls a d20. If they get a 20 then you find the double-headed creature cave. Otherwise, every two searches you get attacked by something on the wanderer table that has a description of “It Attacks!” How longs it take to search for a cave? I don’t know, it don’t say. Which seems weird for an adventure that places such an emphasis on a “three day window
“ before the freak show owner shows up. 

You see, HES the real bad guy. All of the double-headed things (ettin, troll, minotaur, death dog, etc) escaped thanks to one double-headed dude who willed a goddess in to existence. Also, he charmed them all to be nice and one of the them, the minotaur with two heads, stole his charm bobble so they are all walking around outside now, eating livestock and people and shit. Oops. They are all nice people. Well, except for the fact that they eat actual people when not charmed. This is straining the term Good Guy for me. Eating people. Mental domination. At least the freak show dude didn’t do that shit. 

I wish I could say that there’s an actual moral dilma here, but there isn’t. It’s full of the usual gymnastics to make things ok and keep the plot on track “Though Tooma knows Beylon is dead, he will understand this as fated by Nooma and attempt to talk with the party and ask for their help.” That’s trying to say that the main two-headed dude doesn’t care that you just killed his friend since he thinks his god willed it. Uh huh. Also He will “give the party his fire opals to purchase another magic item that will allow him to recharm the friends under his care.” Uh huh.

Did I mention tha the hex map, while having encounter numbers, doesn’t use those numbers in the text? AUTO FAIL! And that like everything in this, including a two headed hydra, is like 4HD. And at least one werecreature. So, yeah, level one. Right. 

The text is RIDDLED with LARGE and LONG if/then sections. If the party leaves Bob alive and if they bring him back to the cave athen follow this section. Ifthey leave Bob alive and don’t bring him back to the cave then follow this section. If … you get the idea. 

It’s doing two decent things. It has a cave of echoes that will answer any question truthfully … once a day. A little too often, but good idea. And, to get in the main cave you have to trick a statue of the new god. They only let two headed creatures in. Wear a mask or create an extra large shirt or something to trick it. It’s left open ended … which is a good thing in D&D.

But, no. Kiddie D&D. Implied morality. If/tehns. No real descriptions. An attempt at formatting through bolding and the like, but far FAR too much of it to actually be helpful. And the if/then shit is not helpful at all.

This is $6 at DriveThru. The preview is twenty pages. It accurately represents what you’re buying.

https://www.drivethrurpg.com/product/396438/The-Sanctuary-for-Bicephalic-Outcasts?1892600

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Labia – The Strange Case of the Cursed Vagina

By Silvia Clemente, Miguel Ribeiro
The Red ROom
B/X & Wretched Bastards
Level ?

The Red Room

B/X & Wretched Bastards

Level ?

Princess Lisabetta, the precious daughter of the King of Riget, has been cursed by her evil aunt. Between her legs, Lisabetta now has a monstrous carnivorous “octopussy”. To bring the princess back to her natural self, an intrepid group of wretched adventurers must venture into the maze-like Citadel of Berleng and destroy the evil witch. But in a world of bastards, nothing is as simple as it seems and a dark, forbidden secret that will shake Riget is about to be revealed…

This 29 page adventure uses some number of pages to describe fourteen rooms in a dungeon. That might be under a castle? Maybe on an island? I don’t know. It’s some kind of funhouse thing that doesn’t actually describe ANYTHING. And I’m using a VERY loose definition of “describe.”

“The princess has a monster for a pussy” made me think this was LotFP, but, no, it’s for Wretched Bastards, some kind of B/X campaign world thing. Anyway, hang on … “Oh, my! I’m shocked! How disgusting! My sensibilities are in a kerfluffle!” There, was that chill? Did I do an adequate job at being shocked? 

Whatever. There’s almost nothing here. The king sends you to go kill his sister, the aunt. She’s in some castle on some island. And I’m not summarizing by much here, this is about how much information you get. Or, specifically “The unlucky bastards that take the challenge must reach the island, enter the citadel, find countess Golithya.” That’s the extent you get about the island and citadel. You do get a fourteen romo dungeon though!

The fourteen rooms have numbers on them. The numbers have a little key at the bottom at the map. “7- The Tar Pool” or “2- The Skeleton Office.” You don’t actually get keyed entries though. The fucking text just says “The Tar Pool” or “The Skeleton Office.” This pisses me off to no end. It’s like they just started writing the words backwards for no fucking reason. Why fucking do this? Did you make the product easier to use by doing this? Is it easier to find the rooms from the map in the text because of this? No? It’s a lot harder, you say? Then why the fuck do it? I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, I’m tempted to utterly fail every adventure from now on that does this. Fucking useless for running the thing.

Ah, but about the keyed entries themselves? What about them? “The lion lies asleep in a chamber close to the citadel’s entrance. A scrambled map can be found among the bones and half-eaten carcasses on the lion’s den; it points to a treasure hidden in a Citadel’s chamber.” That’s room one. Or, rather, “The Sleeping Lion’s Den.” Where does it point? To which room? Nope, you’re not getting that. 

This abstraction is present throughout the adventure and, I assert, the a design decision. Someone, somewhere, thinks that this is the right way to do things, otherwise it wouldn’t be so consistent in its application.”This room appears to be some kind of office.” No, it’s an office. “If the characters tart to look around then …” No, no if/then statements. Also, nothing happens in this room. A skeleton comes to life and then crumbles to dust. But, more to the point “”There is a hidden door in the room; if the characters detect and unlock it they will find a well-stocked armoury,” Perhaps my favorite is “In the pool lies a treasure chest filled with jewels and gold, but the bounty is too heavy to be carried.” … with no other words or details. 

Seriously, this is Indi RPG levels of detail here. “Maybe do something related to this keyword or something. “

In the end, this is nothing more than an abstracted funhouse dungeon. Random shit appearing in seemingly random rooms that is not well described. I would hesitate to even call this an adventure, PARTICULARLY given the issues with the map keys.

This is $2.50 at DriveThru. Reve in the eight page preview that shows you nothing of the room keys. Such that they are.

https://www.drivethrurpg.com/product/408407/Labia-The-Strange-Case-of-the-Cursed-Vagina?1892600

Posted in Dungeons & Dragons Adventure Review, Reviews | 14 Comments

Falkrest Abbey

By Andrea Tupac Mollica, Giuseppe Rotondo
Axian Spice
OSE
Levels 1-3

The forlorn Falkrest Abbey in the icy Lune Mountains is where the Queens and Kings of Yore used to be crowned and buried, along with their treasures. According to legends, the Fountain of St. Brynedd still pours its miraculous water somewhere inside. But what caused the fall of the blessed Abbey?

This 49 page adventure uses sixteen pages to feature a ruined abbey with nineteen rooms.It’s using the OSE house style (I think? It reminds me of it anyway …) and has a decent little amount going on. I don’t know. It strikes me as a little … soulless? There’s no GLEE here. Which, I guess, isn’t a bad thing. I mean, I didn’t take a dump in this ones mouth.

Let’s talk Evel Kinievel. Snake River Canyon. It was fucking glorious. It didn’t matter. If he made it then it was going to be fucking magnificent and his failure was just a thing of beauty. Hubris mother-fucker, ever heard of it? A product with vision may be a dumpster fire (Did I mention my girlfriend has a dumpster fire tattoo on her arm?) of an adventure but man, its got a fucking vision and it’s going for it. Either way it’s gonna be great! And, what about that adventure that goes to work every day, bringing home a steady paycheck and providing health insurance for all the little adventures … what of it? Good ol reliable. Fuck that thing. Errr, I mean, yeah, uh … Good Job! This is a decent adventure.

So, old monastery up in the hills. Burial place of the old kings. Healing fountain. Etc. The more interesting hook is that the local Earl wants evidence, from the monastery, that he’s related to a legendary queen … and the evidence found disproves his claim … that’s embarrassing 🙂  There’s this inn at the base of the mountain with some good rumors, both random and no. A dwarf went missing. There’s no such thing as vampires, they are just a legend. And an old diary for sale that has three extra random rumors in it. Nice mechanism and inn. Terse for what it is and provides some local color … and local color is the heart and soul of D&D. Take, for example, the bandit encounter on the wanderer table to get up to the monastery. It’s with “5 bandits.” Which are actually Old Beorly and his four treacherous children. SWEEEET!!! That the kind of specificity, the kind of local colour, that I LUV in an adventure. It’s something that the DM can run with. There should be more of it in the D&D adventure products I review! And … in this adventure …

The map, while simple, is good. Multiple entrances. Monsters located on the map for reaction purposes (even though only one group can really react …) and some interesting features like same-level stairs and an open courtyard, as well as some wall collapse, etc. Really good job on the map, for something as small as this.

Formatting is OSE style. It concentrates on keywords of features that are then expanded.  So, “Archway, wooden double door, fallen long ago.” Bullets , whitespace, bolding, and even mini-maps, all combine to provide a relatively complex environment that is easy to scan. Important things are called out, like, things heard in the next room. Thank fucking god someone has finally learned this lesson.

Ok, so, the actual writing and adventure? It’s ok. It’s not really hitting it out of the ballpark with descriptive text. I’m not imagining much here. And the interactivity comes off a little bland. It IS present. Clues in frescoes. Hearing things in the next room. Monsters eating other monsters. A couple of factions of undead who want you to go kill the other dude. The old abbott, in particular, I think comes alive in this description as an undead and in his wants and goals. (Which, again, are organized well.) 

The whole thing is just a little … bland. The descriptions are a little bland. The interactivity is a little bland. It’s not that it’s not [present. It’s not that it’s bad. It just comes across as … not too exciting. And I don’t mean that everything has to be all EXPLOSION SOUND or gonzo. But It’s just content that, generally, doesn’t seem all that interesting to run.

And what does that mean? When something is ok, and I don’t hate it, but, also, I’m not gonna do anything with it, it means No Regerts.

This is $1 at DriveThru. You getting the whole thing in the preview, so, enjoy. Check out page eight for that inn, or pages eleven and twelve for the map and a sample encounter. Pretty nice! But, nice ain’t enough anymore.

https://www.drivethrurpg.com/product/409280/Falkrest-Abbey?1892600

Posted in Dungeons & Dragons Adventure Review, No Regerts, Reviews | 12 Comments

Through the Valley of the Manticore

By Jacob Fleming
Gelatinous Cubism
OSE
Low Levels (ha!) to Mid Levels.

In the desolate and forbidding canyon lands, Hurloror Canyon is home to only the bravest and most hardy. The road that leads through it is the only way to navigate this dangerous wilderness. Travelers and merchants alike must face the canyon so that trade and commerce between city states can carry on. Much depends on the road remaining open and unimpeded. Fort Davelmag, the only safe refuge in the canyonlands, stands as a beacon for weary travelers and a testament to the will of the lawful. Once a military fortification built to hold off the advancing forces of chaos, now a way station for merchants and caravans, with a small detachment loyal to the crown stationed here. Now the residents of the Fort face a far more devious threat than the harsh environment or hungry beasts. Through the Valley of the Manticore has players traverse winding sandstone slot-canyons and explore natural cave systems rumored to contain hidden relics of immense value and magical power. Sooner or later they may realize that they are mere pawns in a game being played by an unnaturally intelligent monster. They will need cunning as well as strength in order to overcome this bizarre and terrifying tale.

This 48 page digest adventure, not really a hex crawl, contains a small region, a kind of valley in the desert, with a few small dungeons and a few quests in a trading post related to them. It’s formatted rather well, generally, and is trying to be interactive in places, but comes off a bit bland, which i snot helped by the minimalist descriptive style.I don’t hate it, and it’s intriguing in some ways … but not enough to run it.

Hex map, six mile hexes, with the map being six hexes wide and four tall. There is a town, a small desert watch/caravan stop, described as well as four dungeons, ranging from four to sixteen rooms. The dungeon maps are rather simple and the hex map has some roads through it, with the dungeons hanging off the road … with a couple of exceptions. Two two not on side roads consist of “head up in to the hills and figure out why the spring aint flowing anymore” and “follow the manticore back to its lair.” I mention this because this is listed as a hexcrawl when, in fact, it’s just a small region. All of the dungeons are related to subplots going on in the fort.

The forts your home base. The militia at the fort are on edge; a manticore has shown up and ate two of them. And, also, Frank the guard killed one of the caravan people stopping for reupply, they are pissed and not leaving until justice is done .. and he claims he don’t remember doing it though he obviously did. Also, the forts water supply is drying up. Also, the caravan leader wants a tomb robbed. Also, some other merchants kids went off to rob a different tomb. 

Formatting is good. You get a little description for each room and some indents and bolding to help call out some special features that appear lower down in the text. Essentially, it’s paragraph form, if the paragraph is short and references other information well. And has appropriate cross-references. There’s an exception to two the formatting being well done … the overview of the fort, for example, is essentially all paragraph and could have done with some indents/bullets/bolding, etc to help call out the more important pieces. But, overall, not bad at all and fits the needs.

Interactivity is ok. Meh, better than ok, I guess. Each dungeon has a couple of traps and a secret or two to explore. Teleporter, Well of Souls, etc. There’s an altar in one that you have to make a sacrifice at in order to open a secret door. The advice given is to be generous in how you treat the word “sacrifice.” I can handle that, and prefer things that way … let the DM interpret the player intentions. Money, a dead body, spilt blood, whatever. It’s the intention that counts 🙂 I guess I’m unhappy with the interactivity because of the lack of depth here. It’s all pretty self-contained and, given the small size of the dungeons, theres only so much room to get your interactivity on. 

The real issue with this thing is that its a minimally keyed adventure. A minimal key that LOOKS like more than that.

The entries FEEL like they have some weight to them. About six per page, or so, in two column digest format should be ok. And they are all a couple of paragraphs long with some bullets following for more information on specific room details/secrets. That should be cool, right? 

But it’s not. 

Let’s take a look at a couple of entries, shall we? “Giant Scorpions [incline state block] are kept here as pets. The floors here are slick with rotting blood and scattered with bones.” or “a group of gnolls [stat block] are eating meat from a recent hunt around a fire.”

You see, now, I hope and pray, what I mean by a minimalistic description. These are about at the level of the more interesting B2 description, with orcs shooting dice. And while that level of description is better than just “5 gnolls”, it’s not by much. Especially in 2022. When looking at these descriptions it/s pretty obvious what the issue is: conclusions. “Are kept here as pets” is a meaningless statement. It attempts to explain why there are scorpions here. As does “From a recent hunt” in the gnoll description. Descriptions which draw conclusions, explain history, and meaningless backstory are not good descriptions. Good descriptions actually DESCRIBE. What, about the room and scorpions, would make a player say “oh, they are pets!” That should be the description. Put them on chains. Put a collar on them. Something. The same with the gnolls. Put a carcass, hung upside down with an arrow in it, in the room, with maybe something fun done with the guts. “Ah!” the players says “they have just killed it on a hunt!” It is the job of the designer to bring the environment to life and inspire the DM so they can do as much for the players. And this don’t do that. Again and again it don’t do that. Again and again it is a minimalistic description that, in some cases, somehow takes up A LOT of space.

“The door to this room is trapped. If triggered there is a poison needle that will stab whoever tripped it. However the poison used on the needle is from one of the scorpions kept in room 3 and is not a lethal dose. [Poison effects follow]” This is all garbage. It is all meaningless. It is all padding. It is built up justification. It’s a door with a poison needle trap [poison effects.] Done. IF triggered … really, IF? We don’t do if’s when writing. 

It does this over and over again. Padding to no effect. Minimalist descriptions. The adventure LOOKS good. The formatting is nice. The art is nice. It’s on the right track to providing a little sandboxy region to have some fun in. But, it’s weak. Very much so. Writing good descriptions is hard. I think it’s the hardest part. I don’t hate this, but, I’d pick something better.

Oh, shit, I do want to mention, though, that this has some great monster selection. A roper shows up at an interesting time. The use of a scorpionoids, a black pudding, akrell. The fucking manticore itself in an arid environment. Really good monster selection here.

This is $10 at DriveThru. No preview because it’s broken. 🙁

https://www.drivethrurpg.com/product/400889/Through-the-Valley-of-the-Manticore?1892600

Posted in Dungeons & Dragons Adventure Review, Reviews | 29 Comments

Terror in the Old Fell Forest

By Lord Eldrad Wolfsbane
Self Published
B/X
Levels 1-5 (Quite the range, eh?)

You all meet in a a loud and smokey tavern! It’s a sad time for the quaint village of Valehaven. For the bawdy son of the portly mayor and his foppish and foolish friends have went missing. The foolish group of young adventurers went North into the Old Fell Forest some two weeks ago. They sadly and alarmingly have not returned. Dark and ominous tales are whispered about the foul Old Forest. The party is hired by the portly mayor to find out the whereabouts of a foolish group of adventurers far to the north into the Old Forest. The mayor Miles Kaxzwell is a pale fat balding winy self righteous type of man who truly believes himself far superior to others as he is of noble blood! His “son” and his adventuring party of his friends, left a few weeks ago and nothing has been heard from them since. The people of Valehaven don’t seem to be sad at all.

This 28 page digest adventure is a series of scenes. It’s cute, if you’re in to reading things.  This isn’t really an adventure. It’s more a series of ideas, strung together and not really in a form to run. 

Eldrad is an idea machine. He does a great job coming up with things and jotting down terse and memorable things about them. You got the whole “get hired by the mayor to find his son and friends” things from the intro blurb, right? One of the rumors is “We hopes that mayor’s son and his friends don’t come back! They was knocking up the entire village! Even their own sisters, aunts and cousins!” Also, the mayor has fifteen sons. Also, he has multiple wives and gets rid of them Henry 8 style. THis theme is repeated everywhere in the small town. Also “Barracks: Here is the upstairs of a gigantic warehouse and store is where the barracks are. Various distant kin to the mayor and hangers On our employees Town guards. Talk around town if they’re very corrupt.” Thus, the repetition builds to something that even the most dense party can’t ignore. But, hey, there’s gold! It’s a fun little thing. I like it a lot. The town goes on to describe the local temple, with the line “He had quite and impressive torture chamber where he does inquisitions parties for the nobility as he tortures people for the crowd’s amusement. It is all work for the gods!” Uh hu uh huh … getting the picture? DId I mention that staying in the stable csts 2cp a night and the poorhouse only costs 1cp a night … ? Eldrad does a really good job. Everything really works together to paint the scene.

The writing, the evocative imagery, is really well done, when he engages in it. “A mysterious stone archway opens the way into the forest wall of the Old Forest after a day of travel.” Or, maybe “The Old Forest has huge ancient pines so big that it would take 20 men to surround one of these trees. The light is dim and the ground covered in pine straw. A few chatterings of birds above is the old sounds of life. The old cobblestone road continues into the bleak dim light. From above, giant pinecones rain down and one smashes one of the militiamen causing his head to explode and gore, brains, blood, eyes and teeth splat onto everyone and everything around! Giant Squirrels are protecting their territory!“ So, yeah. And, if you find the diary of a certain halfling out in the forest, a dead halfling mind you, and bring it back to his beloved in town then … “If Matilda Berrywine is told about the death of Tommy Took, she climbs to the top of the local temple and jumps to her death.” Yeah. Eldrad knows what he’s doing.

But, also, man, the thing is a fucking mess. The maps are handdrawn and then, maybe, a photo taken of them? They are blurry as fuck. And the garden in town? “It’s guarded by a wood golum named Oak tree Edd who will chase anyone away from the garden who don’t belong.” And then there’s “The Pit: The mayor brings in monsters from all over as well as adventures in most of the time on Lucky townspeople to fight to the death for gold and betting. The arena can hold a thousand people in its seats.” The vibe is all mixed up. We go from local hick inbreeding to a community of thousands with magic wood golems at the garden. It’s mismatched.

But, alas, all is not well in Eldradville. Could it be the treasure? “Treasure: EP: 2000, GP: 1000, Magic: Axe +1” Certainly, not awe-inspiring … Well, though, we are a just and merciful reviewer .. .how about the monsters? “30 zombies” Hmmm, while I’m enamored with the number 30, and thus the implication that this is NOT combat, I’m afraid that just will not do. And points to the main problem. Or, one of them anyway.

The road not taken is that this is just a series of scenes. You walk down the right path and encounter Z. Then as you sleep X happens. Then you meet B the next morning. This is, then, a home adventure. The kind you scrawl on a piece of paper two hours before the game because you need something. I think we can do better in a published adventure, yes?

But, more importantly, Eldrad doesn’t follow though. FOr while we get all of these great bits in town, about one great bit per location and several more scattered through the text … he can’t seem to sustain this. Thus a barrow complex has three barrows, with one bit per barrow. Sure, there are three numbered location, or six, or whatever, ut only one concept. It’s not a dungeon. It’s a scene. Everything is a scene. Everyone is a point in time with little to connect it. If it were Moria it would be three scenes and nothing more. They are unfulfilling. If the monster is the centerpoint then you get a bit with the monster and nothing about the environment. All this is a collection of ideas and nothing more. Here’s an ideal for this thing. Run with it. These are not adventuring locales. For every good rumor there are sixteen meh ones that don’t do anything r are not special at all. 

“On the second morning, no matter where the party has stayed early in the Morn, a stench is in the air, smells of beer, wine and unwashed ass, a visit from some locals. A crowd of about 27 smelly peasants Say…”

Empty.

Great fucking imagination, but you need to sustain it to the logical end to create an actual adventure. As is, it’s performance art.

This is $3 at DriveThru. There is no preview. 

https://www.drivethrurpg.com/product/398450/Terror-in-the-Old-Fell-Forest?1892600

Posted in Dungeons & Dragons Adventure Review, Reviews | 4 Comments

The Fall of Silverpine Watch

By Scott Rehm
Angry Games Inc
5e
Level 1

While escorting a merchant through the alpine forests of Asternia, the heroes find that the titular fortress, Silverpine Watch, has barred it’s gates to travelers. Inside the fortress, the heroes must deal with undead abominations risen from the Watch’s former garrison and the vengeful ghost of the Watch’s commander.

This 102 page adventure features a small garrison tower with 24 rooms. The designer justifies the page count by calling it an adventure for first time players. The basic outline of the adventure is not terrible, but the format is terrible and the descriptions depressingly flat. I can’t imagine trying to run this thing.

Ok, so, no, it’s not 102 pages for 24 rooms. The actual adventure begins around seventeen, or maybe page twenty f you ignore the fluff meeting each other shit. Or, page 37 if you ignore a brief overland journey full of tutorial play. And, then, it send on page 68, so those 24 rooms “only” come in at 31 pages. Hey hey hey! Only about a page a room! Of course, in reality, some get two or three pages and an empty room just takes up a column. Just. The rest of the page count has the monster stats, some magic items descriptions, and maps and handouts and pregens. Sure, handouts are fun. Soak em in tea and burn em! But, also, ahem how about a little extra work on the adventure?

I’m supposed to say nice things about an adventure first, but, I find that hard to do here. Because I am so offended. I think what I’m most offended by is the implicit assertion that More is More, when it comes to an intro adventure. Describe everything. Provide excruciating detail nd advice to the DM on what to do and how to do it 

I cannot think of a more terrible way to introduce someone to D&D. By setting expectations that you need to know all of this, that you need to read and be familiar with all of this? That you need, what, sixteen thousand hours to prep the adventure, in order to run it? Or, worse, take forever reading a room, at the table while the players are waiting, to read and understand a room … while they bored and think thats what D&D is. 

I am aware that people think I’m fucking idiot. _I_ think I’m a fucking idiot. But, shit like this is the reason WHY I harp on this shit so much. I don’t know The Angry DM. I don’t follow them. Presumably they have a decent audience and, I guess, are a decent DM. There is no way in fucking hell that they would use this adventure, as written, to run a game, could there be? No, surly not. So, instead., they wrote something that they would never use, in its current form? We do not learn how to play D&D by making each room in to a book. The fucking 1E DMG existed in a time in which there was no internet. There were not Tv shows and podcast and a million twitch streams and youtube channels showing people how to play D&D. If you want to know how to play D&D then you learn how to play D&D. I find it hard to believe that ANYONE would wander in to the Angry DM’s website, find this adventure, and be like “Yup, thats it, I know nothing else but Im gonna grab four other people and play D&D!” We must assume that people read English and will take a bathroom break when needed. Because otherwise we get something like this. Something SO padded out that it is impossible to run. SOmething that leaves the impression that you need billions of hours to prep and adventure and that running it will be an arduous task. 

And, notably, it does this without creating any sort of an interesting environment. The degree to which each room is described is … interesting. It’s using an general overview statement and then some bullets, but, it’s all facts based and EXTREMELY bland. It’s meant, I think, for the DM to riff on. But it comes off as uninspired and mechanistic. 

“B2 As Oona and the party chat, they round a bend in the road and find their way blocked by a fallen tree. The dense forest and rough terrain make it impossible to drive the cart around the roadblock. [useless text follows, then …]

  • As the cart rounds a bend in the road, the party spies a dead tree trunk fallen across it.
  • Oona draws Dapple and Mist to a stop.
  • If none of the heroes take action after a moment, Oona tells whoever appears strongest to move the dead fall”

This is the wonder of D&D, folks! I support the general format, minus the useless text, but, the dead presentation is not worthy of the name D&D. The text, the descriptions of what you see and what is going on, should inspire the DM! It should plat a seed in their head, that their own imagination takes over and runs with. That then facilitates the description to the players. “A dead tree trunk fallen across it” doesn’t do that. You don’t need read-aloud to do this, but you do need to craft an actual fucking description that DESCRIBES. The descriptions, throughout the adventure, are quite piss poor. (WHich is a little weird, because the magic items ARE decently described. “Four ounces of pink liquid that tastes like honey in a small bottle, flask, or jar.” or “Armor made of overlapping layers of hardened, red-brown leather. The leather is embossed with magical runes and studded with enameled rivets.” For a healing potion and +1 studded leather, these are great descriptions. Short, terse, and makes you intrigued. 

And, you know, there ARE some decent bits in here. Ghosts make an appearance in this, and the DM is instructed “Ghosts exude an aura of cold and darkness. Consequently, whenever the ghost is nearby, the heroes feel a noticeable chill in the air and any light sources they are using, includ- ing light spells, are slightly diminished. The effect is small, but noticeable and has no effect on the rules.” That’s great use of foreshadowing and environment effects. Of course, it’s buried in  the text, in a place you’ll never find/remember to see it, outside of the room keys, with no cross-reference to it (a common problem here. “The dagger, which is the key plot point, is located here. It is described elsewhere.” Seriously?)

Treasure is noted as “The drinking horn is a valuable treasure.” or “the moonstone is a valuable treasure.” Without noting how much cash I can get for it at the local pawnAmerica. In fact, the main plot point cursed dagger is not really magic at all, even though it IS, and is a central plot point. 

The thing is weird. Good ideas and descriptions, tossed in willy nilly, an attempt at formatting that fails completely because of the LACK of understand how to write an adventure for publication.

Oh, also, you’re fighting undead and stirge in this. And dogs. “If you are not comfortable with the idea of the heroes killing starving dogs, keep the dogs alive at 0 hit points and have them flee.” No comment is made by the designer on killing innocent insect thingies like stirge, though. I guess only cute starving monsters deserve life. 

“Some words and phrases appear in bold to call out encoun- ter elements that will be described in more detail in the en- counter’s text.” I think I know when to go to the bathroom by myself without being told. 

“After Oona makes five death saving throws, she stabilizes on her own.” *sigh*

“As long as at least one member of the party has a light source, assume the room they are in is sufficiently well-lit for their activities. It is not necessary to keep careful track of the radius of the light provided by different sources.” *sigh*

“The heroes can hear the clunk of the lock mechanism as the ghost telekinetically locks the door.” Because that’s how I want my ghost to work. He locks locks with telekinesis. How about the fuking door is just locked and he floats through it, since he floats through it anyway?

The Angry GM might be a perfectly good GM. I don’t know. But what I do know is that being a good GM and being a good writer of an adventure are two different things. Being good at one does not make you good at another. Easy to use/scan at the table/terse. Evocative writing. Interactivity. And calling it a First Time Player adventure isn’t an excuse. We don’t pander AND that’s not the right way to teach someone/lessons to be learnt about a published adventure. Which is too bad, because the core of this adventure is decent.

Posted in 5e, Dungeons & Dragons Adventure Review, Reviews | 21 Comments

Call of the Toad

By Markus Schauta
Gazer Press
LotFP
Levels 1-2

Chroniclers believed that the cult of the toad was destroyed during a witch hunt in the 12th century. But they were wrong. Cultists performed their hideous rituals in one of Bruckstadts stone mansions until 1613. With an old diary at hand, the player characters search for what is left of the cult and approach amphibic horror which threatens to annihilate them all.

This 28 page digest adventure features a linear mausoleum tomb with about sixteen rooms in it. It vibes well with the low-magic/real world intensity of the LotFP genre. And, while linear, it does a decent enough job with format, descriptions, and interactivity to somewhat make up for its linear nature.

You don’t hear me talk much, anymore, about the use of humans in an adventure. The overuse of humanoids, and creatures, I think takes away from that air of the fantastic and wonder and danger that should pervade a good RPG game … as if the PC’s are always somewhat in danger. And, the human factor helps brings to life that the real enemies ARE the humans, and their infinite capacity for assholeatude. This maps a decent amount in a lower-magic world, at least as compared to Forgotten Realms and the ilk, a genre that Warhammer and LotFP have centered themselves in quite well. For all of its “set in germany during the 30 years war” description, it doesn’t rely on that at all and could be an excellent first adventure, instead of cleaning out spiders from an old ladies basement.

The party gets a boring old diary that mentions, at the end, a giant gold frog idol and a cult, buried alive to die, along with a magic book. It does this well and leaves open multiple hooks, from priests destroying an abomination to magic users wanting the magic books to that fat gold idol. Much in the same way that “tha local wizard dies two hours ago, lets loot the tower before anyone else does” has a built in hook, so does this diary. A fine thing to go investigating for a variety of reasons! The cult aspect, a trope wearing thin these days, is not played up too much, its more of a personal worship kind of thing, and integrates well so as to not tiresome.

The first two encounters, above ground, are illustrative of the other rooms. 

In the cemetery you approach the mausoleum. It’s described as: “Burial house with a bronze

dome, discolored green by the centuries and knee-high nettles growing on the walls.” Just a sentence, but it does a great job of setting a scene. A burial house. Bronze dome. Discolored green with age. And then the addition of knee high nettles! Perfect in not just describing the object but setting the context in which it’s being viewed! That extra little bit adds so much to painting a complete picture and forcing the mind to come alive. This is not a one-off. While some are better and some worse, the evocative writing is generally of a high quality, exactly what I would expect. 

We transition to the second encounter, inside the mausoleum. There are four NPC’s, each wonderfully described in just a sentence, using that NPC keyword format that I like so much. “Stine: Blue eyes pierce out of a dirty face, croaking voice. Brave, defiant. Can’t stand being ordered around. If she is humiliated, she takes merciless revenge.” This tells us so much more than those descriptions that take paragraphs to describe someone. Its all relevant to running her, both now and in the future, as a dynamic encounter. And, in fact, it is! They are camped out in the vault, the hole in the ground present that takes you deeper. What are you willing to give her to prevent her from cutting your rope? This world is lived in. You’re not the first to get somewhere. There are dregs hanging around … a mainstay of the early days of bandits hitting a party when they come out of a dungeon. There’s even a little table for her reactions. Pay her roff, threaten her, fight her … it modifies her reaction to the party and further events she might take place in … from cutting the rope to just leaving. And this degree of more interesting interactivity continues in other places in the dungeon. It’s not the usual trap, or monster. It’s a situation. And situations are MUCH more interesting. 

This is all supported by a formatting that is quite good. They start with a name, and then some bullets for the major “first seen” things in a room. They don’t over-describe whats going on, but leave room for the players to follow up with questions. Keywords are bolded and followed up with in the ensuing text. It’s not the extreme version of this in the OSE adventures, but a more gentle type. It does a GREAT job of supporting the DM … and scanning of the text for ease of play. 

There’s the occasional miss or two. The map IS generally linear, and so there’s not much in the way od a true dungeon crawl experience. And, sometimes, a confusing sentence or two, like a room with only the text “In this room the book The Call of the Toad has been hidden. It’s empty now.” uh … sure buddy. Or, the inclusion of a random table where none is called for … a misunderstanding of what tables do in OSR D&D.

But, for the most part, I’d call this a better LotFP adventure than LotFP produces. Sure, there could be a screw-job at the end, but overall, it’s not relying on the garbage that Lamentations has turned in to. 

I’d run this. I may not run the fuck out of it, but I’d run it.

This is $3.5 at DriveThru. The preview is the first eleven pages, and shows you several rooms. More than enough to make a judgment call on buying it.

https://www.drivethrurpg.com/product/406534/Call-of-the-Toad?1892600

Posted in Dungeons & Dragons Adventure Review, Reviews, The Best | 10 Comments

Under the City

By Simon Carryer
Simon Carryer Games
B/X
"Low Levels"

Few suspect the depths of danger, depravity, and adventure that can be found Under the City. Maggot-men, sewer gators, oozefolk, basilisk cultists, street gangs, psychic toads, and more

This six page dungeon contains six levels, one per page, with about twelve rooms per page, or around seventy rooms. Essentially a collection of one page dungeons, it does a decent job in setting up interesting things going on, but, presumably due to length constraints, fails in any meaningful descriptions. Also, it’s better than most one pagers and better than most traditional adventures. So, you know, you could easily do worse than running this.

I want to believe. I want to believe in the short format adventure. In something that doesn’t overstay its welcome but manages to delver hit after hit in the encounters it presents. And thus my forays, again and again, in to that pit of despair known at DriveThru, endless searching for the treasure that I just know MUST be there. This is pretty close.

The pages are in landscape and central to each one is a little isometric drawing of the dungeon levels. This helps. A lot. You get to visualize little elevation changes and major features in rooms, like a giant demon skull. Thus the room descriptions, which we are going to be getting to in just a bit, are augmented by the visuals on the map. And, while this has always been the case in a good “top down” map, the iso maps, a decent one anyway, do a better job of displaying the levels and providing the extra Umph needed. In a one pager, anyway … cause dense exploration maps with good keys still trump everything I’ve seen so far. 

Okey doke, so, we get absolutely NO intro text to this. In fact, we get almost no explanation at all on what is going on. You have to learn through reading the text. The wanderers on level one are 1d6 dead men or 1d5 merry japers or Blind Betty. WTF?!!? Read on, in to the keys, to learn more and get the context you need to run it! Which is all “orc rebellion in G1” … and I find fine. Not everything needs to be spelled out ahead of time.; telling the “plot” through the keys is fine. It will break down eventually, but, in something like this, I’m more than happy to learn, through a key on level two, that the dead mens leader is, in fact, dead, and buried in a tomb and still provides sound advice and leadership to his (bandit) gang. And thus the keys build on each other, over time, to provide more than the sum of their parts. That’s A Good Thing(™)! 

Multiple entrances in to the dungeon, from the town above. (L1 is a sewer, and I’m gonna be fine with t since it’s the first level of something deeper) And multiple ways down, all outlined briefly. Wanderer tables for each level. Rumor tables fr each level. This all takes about one half of the first column for each level, leaving the rest of the three column text for the room keys.

So, yeah, Blind Betty. The Merry Japers. The Dead Men. This is all text fucking book ways of doing monsters. They have fucking names. THE troll, not A troll. You WANT to know more. The very names give them life and something to springboard and riff off on town and with the NPC’s. That’s the fucking way you do things! And did I mention there are cross-freferences? To the man-maggots?!

And the actual encounters tend to be fully of interesting things. Or, perhaps, situations and NPC;s. One of the rooms on the first floor reads:

7. Old Church, Lower Basement

• 1d3 Dead Men (1HD, axe 1d6)

This is the meeting room of the Dead Men, the city’s dominant criminal enterprise. Ostrato, a city official, is here negotiating a bribe. 

200gp is hidden under the table. Stairs deeper further into the dungeon.

So, name to help orient (although, this could be better, Less factual and more evocative … especially given the criticisms to come) and then a monster, with a stat. I’m fine with all this, except, perhaps, the lack of an AC. If you’ve got a special attack it’s integrated in, like: “1 Man-maggot (2HD, filthy mouth 1d4 and save or be paralysed for 1d6 rounds)” Then a little room “description” with something generally going on if there are people present. You can get a sense of the better rooms, of which they ar a pretty large percentage, from that encounter, with the city official. Something IS going on, but it’s the bare minimum. 

And this is the good and the bad of the adventure. 

There are no environmental descriptions. You will never get more than “crypt” as a description. Or “cramped tunnel” or some such. Some rooms delve a bit beeper, but, still, only in a surface manner.

“9. King Garibald’s Tomb

Niches along the east wall contain skeletons, 36 in total, each with a silver coin in its mouth. The King’s coffin sits atop an inlaid catafalque, and mosaics decorate the floor.” (ant then some more shit when you open up the coffin)

Somewhat generic descriptions. I suspect that a few more adjectives and adverbs thrown in would help quite a bit, ala, what did I just review? Vault 19? Yeah, prob. Short, but not bland.

Also, did I mention the interactivity/situations? Sure I did. If you retreat from an encounter with the Wax Men then the next day you get framed for murder in town … cause they look like you! Situations. Interactivity. Just like that city official. Only with about a sentence or maybe two more, each. 

This isn’t the promised land. It’s close, but not these. You’d need to add a sentence or two to each room or some such, for example, to bring it to life. How he does that, while still keeping the levels to one per page and the room count to twelve or so, I don’t know. For those of you without the sould os a dreamer, I’m sure it will be fine.

This is Pay What You Want at DriveThru with a suggested price of $3. 

https://www.drivethrurpg.com/product/407420/Under-the-City?1892600

Posted in Dungeons & Dragons Adventure Review, Reviews | 10 Comments

Imperial Vault 19

By Jospeh R Lewis, Harper Lewis
Dungeon Age Adventures
OSE/5e
Level 3

A grieving widow in the forest begs you to save her baby. A hedge witch has taken the infant down into an old imperial vault where she uses the child’s Chaos tears in alchemical potions. And who knows what old treasures might still be hidden in the vault? Unless it’s not that kind of vault…

Okey doke fuckers! This is part of my new leaf! No longer do I review only terrible ass shit with a surprising turn now and again when something good somehow drags itself hulk out of the cesspool of DriveThru. No! Never again! Now I attempt to review good things! This adventure is good. Ok, that’s done. I can move on to my next project … hmmm, learn photoshop. Hmmm, ok, time to write more I guess …

This eleven page adventure uses four pages to describe eight rooms in a linear pointcrawlsish type dungeon/cave thing. Good formatting. Good descriptions. Good interactivity. And good friends … ahhhh! But, no seriously, I wish more people were not a problem and write shit like this.

And what is it? Just a shitty little adventure. And I don’t mean that in a bad way. Sure, every adventure in the OSR (and, this is a duel adventure, two versions, OSE and 5e, so … ) should be great exploratory things with The Unknown lurking behind every corner and all of this looping design map shit and all that jazz. And I know full the fuck well that is NOT how people play D&D. You fucking boss and teh customers have been asshats all fucking day long and the group is coming over in an hour to play and you need an adventure NOW. So you jot down some notes and it looks a lot like one of those little lair adventures that every fuckwit on earth is writing and publishing and you play some D&D tonight and people drink beer and stab the king 137 times in the throat and everyone has a good time.

And that’s what the fuck this is. Eleven pages. But, really, only four, with eight rooms on it. And there ain’t really no fucking map. Just like a little pointcrawl thing, with each location leading to the next location until you find the baddie at the end. And that’s fucking fine. Do you know why? Because this adventure doesn’t have its head up its ass. It’s eleven pages. A couple of intro pages, a licensing page, a couple of new monster pages a new magic items page. It’s not ten pages of backstory and a one page dungeon and its not using eleven pages to describe three rooms. The balance here is about right for what it is. If you gonna do a little pointcrawel then make some new monsters and new magic items and make it good. And Joseph R Lewis/Harper Lewis do that. (Are there, really, two of them now? Do they even exist as people? Has anyone every met a joseph R lewis or gamed with them or even seen a message on a forum from them?)

Ok, so, first fucking line of the adventure: The ancient world of Harth withers beneath its dying sun…but it’s not dead yet. Yeah? Fuck you. Fuck you to EVERYONE who has ever writtem more than this to describe their game world. I can run that fucking place. It full of possibilities. It’s full of imagination. Ancient world. Harth. Withering. Beneath a dying sun. A thousand literary allusions. But, it’s not dead yet. Pick up that fucking sword, Thomas; I attack with a rage the dying of the light! 19! Do I hit it?Fuck, it’s my dad. FUCK!

Line the second of this fucking adventure: A grieving widow in the forest begs you to save her baby. A hedge witch has taken the infant down into an old imperial vault …”Absolutely! Ab-so-fukcing-lutly! This is absolutely what has happened! A fucking woman in a forest, on a path, blood on the front of her fucking shift at the crotch. Fuck it, maybe she still needs some fucking placenta hanging out, and, I don’t know, maybe she’s holding some kind of kitchen knife. In shosck and going to get her fucking baby cause aint no one else gonna. Fuck yeah! That’s a fucking scene motherfucker! Fuck you and your your “I got hired by the local archeology guild to go map the vault and blah blah blah blah blah. “  That ain’t a fucking adventure. This is a woman on the worst fucking day of her fucking life. That’s a fucking adventure! 

And it’s a fucking witch! You know why it’s a witch? CAUSE THATS WHAT A FUCKING WITCH DOES! Witches steal your fucking baby and do shit with it. I seen that movie The Witch. I know what the fuck they do. This aint no kindly old misunderstood widow in the woods with her fucking healing herb crap. That fucking cunt is gonna fuck your husband AND steal your fucking kid! Better start some fucking gossip! But, no seriously. Yes! Thats what a fucking witch does. It FEELS right. Its what SHOULD happen. I don’t know what the fuck this call, in the Bryce Taxonomy of Everything Design, but it’s fucking important. And it fucking happens here … IN THE SECOND FUCKING LINE OF THE ADVENTURE.

Format is good. It’s the Dungeon Age format. Triple column that still FEELS easy to read and consult. Bolded words, underlines, more information later on. If I were writing  a book on styles (and, I am …) I would use this as a perfect example of a good format. There’s not a right way, but this is an interesting format and worth looking at and stealing from. Principals if nothing else. It’s easy to fucking scan and find things. 

And the entries all start with a nice little evocative description. Short, not overstaying their welcome. “An ancient stone road carpeted in moss runs down through the dead forest to a sluggish brown river.” Ancient stone. Carpeted in moss. Note the word choice. Dead forest. Sluggish brown river. Are you using words in this way? No? Fuck you then. You suck. 

Hey, how about an NPC description? You want a couple of paragraphs so you can roleplay it? You want their eye colour and what their dads job was? Fuck you. You’re not getting that shit. You’re instead going to fucking get what you actually need to run the fucking adventure. That fucking witch it “Intellectual. Cruel. Selfish.” A couple of keywords. You’re a fucking DM. Figure it the fuck out. Cause thats part of the fun of being the DM! 

I’m tired of writing. The undead skull of Sir Arkivald, a bold knight of old, has a 1 in 6 chance of knowing your enemies weaknesses. “By jove, give him what for!” Kick. Fucking. Ass! How about that dragons tooth dagger. Yo uknow what it does? “This dagger can pierce stone.” That’s your fuckign description. No fucking mechanics. Pure flavour. That’s what magic items are bitches! Wonder and majesty and full of possibilities! 

And on and on it goes, calling like a distant wind.

Hey, you, with the face! You wanna play D&D tonight? Go buy a fucking Dungeon Age adventure and play D&D tonight. This is everything that all of those shitty little publications want to be. All of those micro adventures and one night stands and little pamphlet things. THIS is what they are trying to accomplish. 

This is $2 at DriveThru. The preview is the full eleven pages. Because JosephR Lewis and Harper Lewis are not assholes. 

https://www.drivethrurpg.com/product/407365/Imperial-Vault-19?1892600

FUNGUS. The Mycotic Sprawl (intelligent, seductive). Throbbing, glowing, warm. Psychic whispers: “Join us. Sleep. Dream. Forever. Just breathe… breathe us in!” Highly flammable.

STONE ARCH

[ IN THE RIVER BANK ]

An ancient stone road carpeted in moss runs down through the dead forest to a sluggish brown river. Bone fragments litter the ground. In the river bank below a creaking black willow tree, the road ends at a scorched stone arch framing two black doors.

One day there will be peace. The Hous eof Saud and the Thousand Nations of the Persian Empire will hold talks. There will be food and homes for all. The rivers will run clean and the air fresh. And the major fucking publishers will stop publishing crap and instead people like Jospeh R Lewis will get the attention and laudations they deserve. Joseph R Lewis: Not a fucking idiot.

Posted in 5e, Dungeons & Dragons Adventure Review, Reviews, The Best | 22 Comments