by Bjorn Warmedal
Recall: I like gonzo and spaceships full of slime people is certainly gonzo.
Of the eight Psychedelic Fantasies adventures this may be the weakest. It’s still better than most of the dreck published. It reminds me of Tegal, Vampire Queen, and perhaps most closely: Dungeon of the Bear. Random-ish things in rooms with a paragraph or so for each, that work out to be puzzles … if you have a broad definition of the word puzzle.
The adventure details the goings-on in a spaceship crashed in a swamp. The encounters fall into three broad categories. First, there are the inhabitants of the ship. There’s not really much direction given here, and most of them are in one room having a disco party. Secondly there are the weird levels, buttons, boxes, and pipes of the ship that fill most of the rooms. Finally there are several rooms that have things from outside the ship in them, tentacles from the swamp and the like. Most of the rooms fall into the second category: weird ship stuff.
Like Dungeon of the Bear, this adventure lacks evocative descriptions. The room descriptions are focused and not full of extraneous information (Yeah!) but they are not exactly powerfully written either. I’m not sure what the issue is. Passive descriptive text or some other problem. The imagery around the rooms is not very evocative though and that’s an issue for something that you need to fill to run well. I’m looking for a description to cement itself in my mind and be a springboard to further description that my own brain can fill in. The description needs to plant a seed that I can expand on. I just don’t get that here. It’s all slightly … bland. The core of the room encounters are fine, I guess. But they don’t come across as interesting, exciting, and something you want to run and experience.
I’m sure many folks will latch on to the Disco Room. It’s a room full of slime people drinking, dancing, and looking slightly depressed. As if they are trying desperately to fight off the melancholy by going through the motions. This room is desperate for MORE. Examples, a random table, 12 personalities that are a shade of “melancholy.” Alas, nothing of the like will be found.
PF has committed itself to bare bones presentation. I would suggest that may be a mistake in certain situations. In this adventure we get a map of ship that’s clearly been done in some line-drawing application. Boring, bland, and communicating nothing except where the walls are, it’s crying out for more. A little tentacle drawn in. A water notation. SOMETHING.
Maps is maps, and the DM still does need to bring all adventures to life, but the purpose of the product is to help the DM do that. This one doesn’t do as good a job of that as I’d like. It’s right on the edge of my “keep it or burn it” threshold.
This is available on DriveThru.