(PF) – Fen of the Five-Fold Maw

By Brian Berg & Skip Twitchell
Total Party Kill Games
Level 7

… delve deep into the Sorrowfen, an ancient swamp infested with lizardmen who have suddenly risen to threaten the beleaguered nearby village of Wyverglynn. The village needs aid from a aged witch that lives deep in the swamps and sends the heroes to seek her out. But will the swamp devour them before they can come to the aid of Wyverglynn, or will the fervored tribe of lizardmen within flay them alive?

ONE HUNDRED PAGES. FOR TEN LINEAR ENCOUNTERS. Words cannot describe the feeling in my stomach. THIS is what D&D means to people?

You go to a village in a swamp on some pretext. The villagers are having trouble and send you a witch in the swamp. From there you go to see a lizardman tribe who, of course, are now evil. You fight a big hydra-thing and then get chased back to the village, using chase rules.

So, yeah, obviously it’s overly verbose. Lone read-aloud. Long DM text. Mega long stat blocks. Lots of backstory and history that are irrelevant. The first encounter, an ambush on the road, takes seven pages. For a simple combat with some lizardmen and their pet frogomoth.

Getting to the village, the gates are closed and you need to roll to talk your way in. Roll badly enough and the guards attack you. A town guard attack is not automatically bad, but, in the content, it is. It’s a Roll To Continue. You MUST make your rolls in order to be let in to town and continue the adventure. Without success on a die roll the adventure is over before it begins.

There’s some chase rules The adventure says “After you complete your 24th chase challenge …” Seriously? 24 chase rolls?

It has some good ideas. The town guard not letting you in someplace is good. Making it a blocker isn’t. After all the party is 7th level and has considerable magicks at their disposal to turn this in to a fun exercise in working around the gate guards. There’s the potential for a GIANT maxx combat at the end, with at least a hundred lizardmen. This is the pretext for the chase; getting away from them. But … what if they were 1hd or 2hd lizardmen? Then it could be written as a pitched battle, letting the party stretch their legs instead of a bludgeon used to force a linear chase scene.

The party is sent by the village to go talk to the swamp witch. Turns out she’s a disguised hag. Sometimes she eats people in the swamp, but she also helps lost strangers and helps the village out. This is GREAT. Playing up that aspect would have been wonderful. It’s one of the reasons I like being able to talk to monsters in a dungeon, it presents another angle to play. Instead she’s obviously got a kidnapped girl in the hut and serves you a stew of fingers and toes. Well, duh, guess she’s evil, lets gack her. L.A.M.E. The town rumors are good also, in voice of the locals and fit in well. One of the hooks is also nice: someone in the party likes a beer and it not available anymore, you need to go the village to find out why. That’s a nice one to integrate in to play and is something to motivate a PLAYER. The other two, with a insane halfling and being hired are the usual dreck.

I just can’t get over how wordy this thing is. You can’t find anything in it, long stat blocks and meaningless text clog the thing up in a ridiculous manner.

This stinking pile is $10 on DriveThru. The preview is one of those “flip book” things, showing you the general page layout but nothing of the content. https://www.drivethrurpg.com/product/143829/The-Fen-of-the-FiveFold-Maw?affiliate_id=1892600

And at fucking $10/pop for crap-ass PDF’s I’m going to have to put up a donate button or Patreon. This fucking shit is getting ridiculous.

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9 Responses to (PF) – Fen of the Five-Fold Maw

  1. osveltosvelt says:

    >One hundred pages for 10 linear encounter
    One hundred pages. 10 linear encounter.
    My brain is just too rattled to process anything else in the review after reading that.

  2. The Dungeon Analphabet says:

    Don’t do this to yourself. Review a few Call of Cthulhu adventures instead–

  3. cerata says:

    I’m just bemused by the “Laying Waste Compatible” logo. It’s good for an adventure to state upfront whether it uses psionics, PF’s kingdom building minigame rules, or some other subsystem that has actual consequences for the setting or the adventure’s structure. But a critical hit subsystem? Really?

  4. It’s interesting that this adventure has gotten rave reviews elsewhere. I don’t think most reviewers can see the text bloat/usability/show and not tell aspect so critical to good adventures at all.

  5. At first, I didn’t see the harm in having lots of background text. But once I started to think about it, I realized that, in medieval settings especially, history is more often made up than hard science. And besides that, history is usually empty vapor compared to the current situation.
    Leave history to the Knowledge rolls, which nobody will ever voluntarily make.

    • Much more to do with usability and playability than setting. Walls of background text that the players will never know and interract with is useless. Pickled drow in a jar? cantrips scrawled on walls by slaves to use to lessen their suffering? Ten times more effective than any wall of text explaining all of that.

  6. Jeff says:

    Thanks for the review. Reading the rave reviews this product was getting, I was starting to doubt my sanity! My main disappointment is that there is a pretty good adventure idea at the heart of this product, but it is completely obscured by the walls of text.

    Also, if word count is apparently no object, why not have an adventure summary or something at the start, so it is at least clear to the GM what is going on?

    Please do add a donate button. I’ll send you the 10 dollars.

  7. It hurts seeing you like this old friend.

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