The Golden Four

goldenfour

By Steve Willett
Polyhedron Games
AD&D 1e
Levels 5-7

A lost compound for four enterprising adventurers has been recently uncovered and the party must travel to it and plunder its wealth whilst looking for papers and articles of historical interest.

This fifteen page adventure is a bit different than the other Willet adventures. It’s a brief overland journey followed up a two-level minimally keyed castle with a dragon in it. The minimal keying keeps the stream of consciousness/wall of text to a minimum. While minimal keying can work, it goes too far here.

The entire intro and overland, as well as a general castle overview, fits on one page with the 43 room keys fitting on a second page. Three pages of maps round things out with the rest of the pages being devoted the dragon’s treasure (one page) and the rest being an appendix with monster stats. So, without maps, about two pages of content.

The intro, overland, and general castle description are in the style that Willet generally uses. These are large free form paragraphs full of a kind of abstracted outline for the adventure. “Set encounters before reaching their goal include brigands, a pair of owl bears, a band of bugbears, a dryad and a mother bear.” Those encounters are then followed up on in the next paragraph with a couple of sentences about each. It’s very stream of consciousness and conversational and not all all in a format conducive to running at a table, live.

The keying takes “minimal keying” to the logical extreme. The two level castle is essentially a ring road corridor with rooms off of either side of it. Typical room descriptions are “Officers Quarters”, “Water closet”, “Stables”, and “Bath.” Props for including the room name AS the description. That’s something I wish more adventures did. After all, I think we all know what a Stable looks like and don’t need the adventure to provide us wither read-aloud or a DM description of a stable. The descriptions, the content added, should focus on what’s unusual about this stable, and by unusual, I mean actual contribute to the player’s experience. Steve ‘Bloodymage’ Willett’s descriptions take this too far though.. When ALL of the room descriptions are simply a room name, maybe with a treasure description ot “(behir located here)” then we need to ask: what’s the added value? Randomly printing room names and randomly assigning monsters is something that can be done with a dozen online generators, as well as the 1E DMG.

I expect an adventure to be more than that.

I think I’ve now reviewed all of Willett’s adventures. This is by far the most coherent of them. Folks interested in BloodyMage’s work could read the “main” page of this and get an idea of what his other adventures are like and, if so inclined, have a minimally keyed dungeon.

This is available at DriveThru.

https://www.drivethrurpg.com/product/103120/The-Golden-Four?1892600

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1 Response to The Golden Four

  1. Kubo says:

    I remember playing this adventure with the author at a convention back in 2012. Players were expected to arrive at the castle and directly attack the sleeping dragon. Although there were a lot of castle rooms to potentially explore, the rest of the castle was an afterthought. He felt that a 1 or 2 word room description was sufficient for the players at the table, which may be the case when characters are simply taking inventory of the rooms after the dragon battle in the process of taking over and dividing up the castle for themselves. If you have players that like to explore, this adventure is not for them.

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