Depths of the Croaking Grotto


By Dave Coulson
Cut To The Chase Games
Swords & Wizardry (and every other system under the sun)
Levels 3-5

A missing amulet sends the characters on the last caravan of the season bound for the frontier. Tracking the thieves turns into a dangerous journey through rough mountains, where predators and monsters lurk in the shadows of craggy peaks. Can a band of characters recover the missing treasure and return from the DEPTHS OF THE CROAKING GROTTO?

What makes the essence of a man?

This is a small hex crawl (eight locations) followed by an eight room cave, wrapped up in a nineteen page adventure. It’s wordy with a generic vibe that makes one wonder why this exists. Or, if I’m not being a dick today, “The author’s vision was not successfully communicated to the audience through the product.”

We start at the beginning of the middle part of the adventure. The party has already agreed to hire on to a caravan and find a missing amulet and they are already well in to the mountains. The designer assures us that this style of play is great. We should use a flashback to show how the party came to be hired. Not enough people do that, we’re assured. There’s a reason for this, sez I. It’s called Pretext of Free Will. What if the party doesn’t want to go on this shitty ass mission? What is the 50gp reward isn’t enough for them? What if they murder the dude in the flashback? Unless you’re running a con game. In which case feel free to hand wave past a few things. But flashbacks and In Medias Res is a dangerous proposition, fraught with peril. Unless you play one of those railroady version. Oh, wait …. More on that later.

You start at the scene of the ambush, at the caravan route in the mountains. A trail of stuff leads off. It leads SE. Each hex is 1 mile wide. Half the encounter hexes are NE. I don’t get it. This touches on some organizational issues as well. Some hexes have monsters that can see you in an adjacent hex, and swing by to attack. But this is noted in the hex with the monster in it. This means you get to check each hex nearby to see if there’s a monster that can see you. Maybe not a big deal when only 8 hexes have stuff in them. But you know what would have been better? SHADING THE FUCKING MAP. Hex 7 has a 1 hex alert distance? Shade the hexes around 7 so I know this from looking at the fucking map instead of having to dig through the fucking adventure looking to see what’s up. Fuck, maybe even embed the sight chances on the map. This is a prime example of how using the visual fucking aid can eliminate crap in the adventure and make life easier on the DM.

The encounters here are of the “monsters attack” variety, both in the cave and in the hexes. Manticores? They attack. It’s so boring. Sure, if you pause during the attack to offer a horse then they stop, but by that time I suspect the MU, with spikes in their ass, are not going to be in a talking mood. Inside the cave there’s a big pool of after in one of the rooms. After you enter a giant toad rises up and attacks. This is so shitty. Member Fellowship, and Mellon? Member how fucking with the water summoned the lake monster? Think how boring it would have been if it just started attacking. This happens over and over again.

There’s almost no real sense of exploration, mystery, or wonder. THe writing style is ponderous and wordy. The DM notes for room six indicate “The toad-men of this small tribe would bathe and be cleansed in the waters of this pool by Blundubba. Ultimately, the ceremony was nothing more than mummery and ancient phrases but it made the toad- men feel holy.” What the fuck is the point of that? DOes it contribute to the adventure? I’m not a fucking anthropologist. I’m a DM. You need to provide content that is SPECIFICALLY relevant to gaming at the table. None of this friend-of-a-friend you-might-be-inspired bullshit. It contributes or you make it contribute to YOU GET THE FUCK RID OF IT. The adventure does this over and over again with it’s conversational style. It’s exhausting and it hides anything of value.

Not that there is much. SOme frog men dancing on an island in torchlight, my description of which is about 10 times more interesting than the one found in this adventure. +1 long sword. +1 dagger. Hey hey now! I wonder how much effort and imagination that required to come up with! And there’s WAY too little loot for an adventure of this level for S&W. That’s because this adventure, even though it says it’s for S&W, is not a S&W adventure. It’s a conversion.

Your intuition tells you secrets, and then it tells you lies, sez my wife. While buying this I was presented with something like eight different choices of game systems. My spidey sense went off went off when I saw that. I’m not a believer in absolutes but I am a believer in hyperbole. Seeing an adventure for many game systems is a warning sign the size of a small moon. There’s some kind of correlation/causation/stereotyping caveat that goes in there, but ,it’s safe to say that this adventure fails to capture the spirit of any game system, being just a collection of generic words where insidious and repulsive toad creatures were called for.

This is available at DriveThru.

https://www.drivethrurpg.com/product/190763/TG0-Depths-of-the-Croaking-Grotto-SnW?1892600

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4 Responses to Depths of the Croaking Grotto

  1. Kent says:

    ==THe writing style is ponderous and wordy… What the fuck is the point of that? DOes it contribute to the adventure? I’m not a fucking anthropologist. I’m a DM. You need to provide content that is SPECIFICALLY relevant to gaming at the table

    Why don’t you just admit you write reviews for morons.

  2. Kyuss says:

    Oh great, the YDIS fucktards are here “contributing” amazing things. Yay!

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