by Lloyd Metcalf
Fail Squad Games
In the midst of the expansive fen south of Lorview, Stonefar the chieftain rules the ogrish community of Gaundelfen. A great goblin army in the southern mountains plague the Gaundelfen and the surrounding hills defending their mines. The ogres maintain a sense of protection for the humans between the unpredictable goblin horde and their village. An unsettling symbiotic relationship has emerged from the precarious situation. The residents of Lorview take a little solace in the idea that their southern border is protected when they hear the heavy ogre drumming on the fen. Little thought is given to the Gaundelfen sacrifice or struggles, only that Lorview can rest easy without ogres or goblins razing the village. Now the ogres have come to Lorview, fleeing in terror from their fen. Smashing barns, eating sheep and spilling blood! Horror has struck Lorview as much as it has the Gaundelfen tribe. Who will stop this plague and find out why the ogres have come to Lorview?What can possibly be happening in the fen when powerful ogres flee in terror from their marsh at night?
What. The. Fuck. This is a 22-page mess of an adventure that has about one pages worth of content, not counting the maps. Formatting issues, confused action, and a writing style that tries to be lyrical when conveying information. It’s got an idea, and you can kind of make it out, but very little of the content in the product helps you run that adventure concept: a chase/hunt through a swamp.
The basic setup is that there’s a village on the edge of a swamp. At the far edge are some ogres, and beyond the ogres are goblin hordes. Thus the ogres provide a buffer … until they show up in the village panicked from all the undead suddenly in the swamp. Unknown to all, the ogre chief has found a fragment of the dark lords soul and is hunting through the swamp for more of them. What SHOULD be happening in this adventure is a hunt/chase in a swamp, at night, full of undead and panicked/fleeing ogres, racing to get the soul fragments/stop the corrupted ogre chief. That could be a pretty decent little adventure.
Instead it’s 22 pages of filler and too many words and background … and I don’t know what. Honestly, how all 22 pages got filled is beyond me, and I’m looking at the thing right now. There’s a map, 10 miles wide by 16 miles long, that the party is supposed to adventure on in one night. That’s a lot of space. There’s one encounter that actually explains what is going on, that can happen anywhere. The rest of the encounters (six others) are just simple undead encounters. “$ ghouls stand back to back” and so on. Seriously. They all fit on one column on one page. There’s almost nothing about fleeing bands of ogres, atrocities, evil/weird shit going on, or anything else that could be of interest.
The gre chief is just listed as being in swamps looking for the soul fragments (which show up as lumps of coal.) That’s it. No movement patterns. No supporting data, other than stats. Like I said, there is almost NOTHING present to support the core concept of the adventure in any real manner.
The problem here is not that this is a sandboxy adventure, or we need our hands held, or that the DM needs to add something. The problem is that only the barest concept of an adventure is presented, along with reams of extraneous detail that doesn’t contribute to the adventure. I generally hold the belief that most poor product comes from the designers difficulty in transferring their vision to the written page in such a way that a reader/buyer can pick it up and run with it. This is a pretty classic example of that. You can tell what the general concept is meant to be but there’s nothing here to help support that.
Also, a technical note:
The PDF was broken for me. There was a giant black square covering about 25% of a column on most pages. Some kind of layering thing, I think. I had to copy/paste the content/text under the square to figure out what was going on.