Sloven Hills

By Eldrad Wolfsbane
Self Published
Back To The Dungeon
Level 3-5/5-7

At last! Details of who and WHAT the Witch Queen Mauug is! Can the brave adventurers defeat the Witch Queen Mauug and her Army of Monsters? Will the players foolishly try and take her on while she is in her own home territory?

Warning: I like failed towns/villages, and the one in this adds a lot.

This twelve pager, two of which are empty/useless, is labeled an adventure but I’d probably instead refer to it as a small region setting. It does a nice job of invoking a kind of forlorn atmospheric setting. Hand drawn pencil-sketch maps keep things simple to supplement the adventure, but it has an absolute dearth of treasure. None, in fact, magic or mundane. It’s for the “Back to the Dungeon” rpg, so maybe that’s ok in that system … but it’s still kind of boring. This would be a kind of cool little (desolate, despondent) region in which to locate some other adventure, allowing the party to experience the town, the rumors, and the machinations of the monsters.

The region is staked to three major areas: the town, the old manor lands, and the ruined watchtower. All three, together, have fifteen locations defined. The town is full of grumpy old Knights & Knaves Alehouse people. The old manor complex has four encounters, each with a different creature(s), while the Devil’s Watchtower has the remainder.

The locations all have this somber feeling of dread, or maybe despair, that comes through. Here’s a section from the introduction to the manor ruins: “Always dark in Sloven Bog as the trees evilly block out much of the light. The place is lonely during the day. It’s decaying ruins cry out to be lived in once again, but like all sad tales it shall never be.” There’s a group of giant scorpions in the abandoned family temple. “If left alone they will not attack as they have just fed on an entire family of unicorns.” All of the encounters, and descriptions, have this same sort of … I don’t know. Dread? Despair? The orphanage (of course there’s an orphanage in town!) has “over a hundred sickly pale children.” A regional patriarch runs it. She’s mean. She’s helped by her six grossly fat sons who scream at and beat the children. It goes on and on. I AM particularly fond on failed villages, and there’s really not an overabundance of detail here, but man I do love this. All of the locations have this appeal to a kind of iconic or archetypical element and I can really groove on that.

Having said all that … it could do a better job with language. It engages in telling instead of showing in places, like “This is a really scary area.” Hmmm, ok, but why? Likewise there’s a hag with a decent description “A Death Hag is a hag of great evil that haunt dark forest and swamps. Looks like a hairy rotten old woman 10′ tall.” Yes, that counts as a decent description. I like the rotten old woman, ten feet tall, shadowy, in a dark forest … but she lives there, in a bog. A little hag house description, just a sentence or two, would have been nice. That goes for many of the areas. There’s a forest, one of the few locations with no creatures, that could really use some “mist & sunlight rays” added to the description to bring it all home. Just a little bit more in a few areas could have really brought this home.

Anyway, this is a REALLY bare bones, single column affair. I think something like only two people have names, and the town is really nothing more than a tavern, a couple of places to get in to trouble, and some descriptions of how surely the people are. As a kind of idea kickstarter I like it, and may incorporate it as the “surrounding lands” outside one of my dungeons.

It’s $1.20 at DriveThru.

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3 Responses to Sloven Hills

  1. Gus L says:

    Sounds perfectly fine, but does everyone just charge a buck or two on Drive Thru now? This sounds like it’d be a perfectly delightful free thing from a blog or something. Is that not done anymore?

    • Graham says:

      I’ve seen a lot of one/two person game companies spring up on DriveThruRPG over the last few months.

      A lot of them seem to be people self-publishing their own variant of D & D.

    • Melan says:

      Things for sale tend to get noticed. They get buzz across multiple blogs and forums, are typically sold on broad platforms like RPGNow (Lulu is more fragmented in this respect), and people pay more attention to things they have paid for (or put an effort into acquiring, but that’s harder to facilitate). This is how people work, mostly.

      Coincidentally, I think Eldrad’s modules have a neat “this is my first AD&D campaign” freshness to them. They don’t always live up to the promise, but they have something to them that’s nice. They are also ambitious within their short page count – they try things like giving you a whole regional mini-supplement, or a multi-dungeon adventure, or a dungeon with a lot of levels. I have planned to review them myself, but haven’t had the time.

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