By Louis Kahn
Starry Knight Press
Long ago the brave knight Inara Marteen, Paladin of the Light, sacrificed herself to save this world. She lost her life leading her holy order’s charge against an invading horde of demons from the Planes of Hell. Inara fell in combat, where she single-handedly defeated the demon lord known as Soul Eater, driving it and its infernal minions back through their demon gate. There in the fires of Hell, banished for 100 years, Soul Eater sat and stewed on its defeat at the hands of the warrior maiden. A century has passed since that fateful battle and now, free from the bonds of banishment, Soul Eater has returned to this plane to exact its vengeance, first upon Inara and then upon this realm! Finding her tomb, the demon and its minions set about to defile it and destroy her rest, and her legacy. Upon waking from her well deserved eternal rest, Inara’s spirit is angry, defiant and seeking vengeance of its own! Sensing a party of goodly adventurers near her barrow mound, her spirit has reached out to you, worthy adventurers. Can you save this realm from demon invasion and help a noble knight to rest in peace? Will you answer the Eternal Knight’s call?
Heroes are down the hall. No worries, common mistake; we’re the murder hobo division.
This is a fifteen page dungeon adventure with eight rooms on a linear map, only two pages of which actually describe the dungeon. A ghost begs you to clean out the demons in her tomb. It has a page long read-aloud, the rooms descriptions concentrate on physical descriptions and “trivia porn”, the monsters are just thrown in as an afterthought. One might, euphemistically, say that the DM did not successfully translate their vision to print. AKA: it’s a prime example of shovelware crap.
You come to expect things, for better or worse. You try to not be controlled by them and keep an open mind, but, seeing certain things over and over again … things like “eight rooms in fifteen pages.” Short encounter count with a long page count could mean it’s a non-traditional adventure, or has a lot of supplemental information. Or it could mean its crap. It turns out, it’s usually crap. You see a page long read-aloud. It could mean … well, no, a page long read-aloud is always bad. I guess, theoretically, you could have one attached to a magnificent adventure, maybe because the designer was trolling, but it’s the case that people who write page long read-alouds don’t really understand what published D&D adventures ARE. What they are supposed to be. This adventure has a page long read-aloud. It has things like “you find you can’t move” in the read-aloud, all so the party can’t nuke the ghost delivering the read-aloud. Which doesn’t matter because you can’t hurt the ghost anyway.
Looking at the room descriptions things become clearer. Go back and read that first paragraph again, the publisher’s blurb. Here’s the description for room three of the dungeon:
“The western door from Area 1, above, opens onto a 65’ long corridor leading to a 5’ wide metal door opening onto a 20’ square chamber. The room’s walls are covered in faded murals depicting Inara’s trials and triumphs. They show her childhood on a farm, her joining the guard of a local priesthood, and her rise from a squire to a full-fledged knight. The final scene is of her kneeling before a priest who places a tabard over her head. The tabard bears the symbol of their order: a longsword with a pommel and winged cross guards of gold, and a blade wreathed in holy fire.”
First we notice the thing begins by telling us what’s on the map. Which room leads to here and the hall/room dimensions. Again, seeing that is never a good sign. The designer doesn’t know what the text is for, what its purpose is. But then notice the description or the murals. In depth. Detailed. And serving ABSOLUTELY NO PURPOSE IN THE ADVENTURE. It’s fetishism for a creation, just as the publishers blurb is, just as the ghost read-aloud is, just as the room descriptions (murals, more murals, oh boy …) in other rooms are. Someone loves their creation a little too much. There’s clearly a backstory here that the designer likes/loves. I dream about things also, like announcing I’m quarterback for the New York Jets when I’m inevitably captured by aliens and forced to fight to the death in their gladiatorial games. (FUCK polo!) The danger, that this designer has fallen to, is that your backstory is the emphasis. It’s all trivia. No one cares. There are no hints of puzzles yet to come, or interactivity, it’s just useless trivia.
Speaking of, the monsters are a masterpiece. There are things like “this room is occupied by 2 class A demons.” or “in this room are 4 dretch.” What passes for a masterpiece is “this room is being ransacked by a lone babau.” Not cool. They are demons. They are presented as static things, like a vase. “In this room are 4 dretch.” What the fuck is that about? Creative? No. It adds nothing. No smell, no ransacked room, they aren’t doing anything.
The high point of the adventure is a silver tea service and a platinum snuff box, both of which are decent mundane treasure. The magic stuff is boring though, and it takes a paragraph to communicate that a “wand of acid arrows” shoots acid arrows.
I always want to believe the best of people, but I find product like this very disheartening. I think it’s great that the designer put it down on paper and managed to publish it. That alone is a significant accomplishment. But, giving them the benefit of the doubt, whatever vision they had didn’t make it to the page and it’s just another product clogging up the bowels of the RPG adventure market.
It’s $5 on DriveThru. The preview is four pages that don’t really show you anything except the linear map and the first half of the ghosts page long read-aloud, on the last page.https://www.drivethrurpg.com/product/214866/SO1-Eternal-Knight?affiliate_id=1892600
“I always want to believe the best of people, but I find product like this very disheartening. I think it’s great that the designer put it down on paper and managed to publish it. That alone is a significant accomplishment. But, giving them the benefit of the doubt, whatever vision they had didn’t make it to the page and it’s just another product clogging up the bowels of the RPG adventure market.”
You’re getting soft, Bryce!
Seriously though, it’s always a good to see a reviewer acknowledge that a human being created what they’re reviewing. Even when those bowels are profoundly clogged.
Sounds like all this adventure is missing is a plucky DMPC tag along which happens to be a flumph.
“A century has passed since that fateful battle and now, free from the bonds of banishment, Soul Eater has returned to this plane to exact its vengeance, first upon Inara and then upon this realm! ”
And then you get … 4 dretches in a room.
Seems to me that this could have been a really great adventure. Inara knew that the banishment would only last a century, and her “tomb” is actually an intricate trap designed to lure in Soul Eater and deal with him once and for all. Only something went wrong (doesn’t it always) so now a party of brave adventurers / useful idiots needs to enter the tomb and fight the demons, whilst somehow avoiding being squished by the tomb’s own traps and spirit guardians.
Meanwhile the demons are defiling just as hard as they can, transforming hapless villagers into dretches and generally corrupting anything and everything they come into contact with – which includes the PCs, if they aren’t careful.
Your idea, up to the last paragraph, is decent but it a “seen it 100 times before” thing.
The last paragraph, though, kicks it up an order of magnitude in to rock star territory. Defiling demons! transforming hapless villagers! And into Dretch even! Corrupting everything! Including the party! (Nah, not saving throw corruption. That’s boring. How about “who wants a staff of the archmagi” or vorpal sword or XP levels sort of corruption? An appeal to the players pwer fantasy and corruption! ALL HAIL DISCORDIA!
That would be better. Can you work the Flumph in somehow?
a dretch claws and howls at what appears to be a sealed sarcophagus, Ignoring the party until interrupted.
The sarcophagus is decorated with strange abstract symbols and made of an unknown metal.
If the dretch is disposed of, any good aligned character laying hands on the sarcophagus will cause it to open revealing Flumphzor the flumph servant of whatever her name was. Flumphzor can provide the party with advice on how to trap the demons. Any time a pc interacts with Flumphzor role on the one liner table below for a quip:
Something like that.
SPOILER ALERT: The knight was the flumph all along!
A flumph in a Hat of Disguise!
A page-long read-aloud should be considered a hand-out. No way I’m gonna read a page worth of crap.