Parasitic infections, stylishly cursed armour, amateur veterinary surgery, unreliable incendiary devices, edible mushrooms, spells unheard of, a wizard in need. Disgusting glory and lost limbs await you within the Sleeping Palace of the Feathered Swine
This is a cute little thirteen room cave adventure that manages to out-Lament most of the adventures published by Lamentations. A cave with excellent descriptions, gross stuff, interesting encounters, and enough of that Lamentations GRIM without going overboard in to cannibal corpse territory. Absolutely worth checking out.
The hook is, to quote “Find the wizard Felix Longworm cowering by stones and a mournful tree.” There’s another sentence that describes his former mission (removing cysts from the swine) , and then two short paragraphs that describe the process of removing the cysts. Given that the hook is one, maybe two sentences long, this is GREAT. In fact, I would suggest that the actual hook is only the first sentence and the second sentence the entirety of the “DM Background” crap that usually, in some overblown form, plagues adventures. It really doesn’t take much to get a party into an adventure in a good way and this is an excellent example. It piques their curiosity. They learn they can profit, in money or spells or equipment. Sold, AMERICAN!
The actual text of the room descriptions/encounters is divided into roughly three parts. First comes some initial impressions, followed by some DM text that elaborates on the impressions, and then there’s a small outline of the room at the bottom, showing the general shapes, entrances and exits, etc. This is an interesting format that has some similarities to that used in the more recent Maze of the Blue Medusa. These formats recognize something important that most adventures do not: it’s meant to be run by the DM. The layout/style/whatever is directly targeted at the DM, at providing them what they need to run the adventure. I’m not necessarily advocating with the particular choices made in this adventure (although I do like it) but rather lauding the choices made to aim the writing at the DM.
Adventures are technical writing with a very specific purpose. Aid the DM. Further, they’ve got a very hard problem: planting the encounters seed in the DM mind where it can grow. I mentioned above that the first part of the room descriptions are the initial impression. This is the seed pod portion of the encounter. “Dark entry cavern, rocks and shit and nothing too special. Sells of cold, stale air. Your eyes feel dusty.” It’s these feelings and impressions that are critically important to the DM. Important to lodge the room ideal in their head so they can expand and grow it, organically and on the fly, as the characters encounter and explore the room. Feather Swine does this well, keeping these impressions short and flavorful and evocative. The DM text that follows could use a little more formatting and editing to make it a bit clearer and easier to read, but that’s a pretty petty complaint.
Feathered swine presents interesting little situations. Press your luck situations. Curiosity situations. Lots of little things to get the players to risk their characters. In one room there are some holes in the walls. Crawling in to one of them gets you pulled in, all horror movie style, by the creature inside … unlike the first two holes with goodies.
Ooey ooky monsters well described. Horrific situations to encounter. Weird objects to bring back home. Easy to run by the DM. Imaginative, with a lot in common with the Weird Environments modules from Psychedelic Fantasies. Absolutely worth checking out.