The Exfiltrators

God is dead and everything is sex.

By Lance Hawvermale
Hawvermale Paper & Pen
Levels 5-7

One of the doomed souls within Velgate Prison is innocent, but the only way to free him is to infiltrate the prison. And if that task isn’t difficult enough, what’s far more challenging is getting out.

This 42 page adventure is a prison break in an inescapable panopticon prison. The designer has no idea how to format an adventure. It has wall of text, mixes important data at random in to random bots of text, stacks the cards against the party, and, to top it off, the product description is inaccurate.

I once had a boss who was the most incompetent person I’d ever seen. I mean truly a fuckwit. He stayed on the job two years. The lesson learned is that you don’t have to be good at your job. You have to be good at GETTING a job. This adventure raised $2000 on kickstarter, with 100 backers. Any of you creators struggling with the quality of your product, the crippling self-doubt that comes from creating, need to learn a lesson from this product. Marketing baby, who gives a fuck about quality.

The ‘quality’ in question? It’s a mess. I don’t even know where to start. Room four of the prison describes the control room. That’s where we learn that the prison has only twelve guards. Because, obviously, if you needed that information you would not look in the “prison overview” section but rather in the control room entry. Clearly.

This club has everything. The hooks are mixed in to the long background text. Page long NPC’s.

This kind of shit happens over and over again. Worse, the descriptions for EVERYTHING are long and full of fiction writing. “This room is the prisons dark heart.” *yawn* How about justifying itself? “The door has been reinforced by strips of laminated horn so that any check to open it is at -4.” *yawn* People don’t hear the door chime/doorbell, but they always hear the door being broken down.

Speaking of … The prison is a panopticon. The party is searched and everyone disabled and scanned by magic. The ambush has illusions, a spellcaster wearing a ring of inviso, massmorph attackers, and other gimps. The walls take a 50% penalty to climb. It just goes on and on and on. You WILL play the adventure the way the designer intended! He’s going to be sure of that …

The opening ambush is three pages long. A column of tactics. Long NPC stat blocks. The entire thing feels more like a late 3.5 adventure than an OSR one. “You see what appears to be a weary traveller.” That is both a common way to write and a shitty one. Wasn’t there a good blog post about “appears” somewhere?

Finally, and just to show how petty I am, you don’t break in to free an innocent. You get captured. The entire blurb is wrong.

Abort! Danger! Abort!
This is just badly written and designed dreck. I will again use the most stinging rebuke I know of: Why would you attach your name to this?

This is $7 on DriveThru. The end of the review shows you the three page ambush and half of a LONG NPC description.

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13 Responses to The Exfiltrators

  1. Anonymous says:

    The author does have a back catalogue of work: G2 What Evil Lurks seems well regarded, H1 The Bonegarden has mixed reviews. However you are certainly being consistent, as you did not like his
    Dungeon Adventures (issues 62, 67, 80).
    I agree regarding the advertising blurb not matching the adventure: I was anticipating a stealthy incursion into a prison, and then trying to find records so that the right prisoner is released. Then maybe the PCs bluffing their way out. Instead it seems to be a quest to stop a gate being opened for servants of the War God. And you are dragged along for the ride.

  2. I must confess that my favorite part of the review was this… “God is dead and everything is sex.”

  3. squeen says:

    Heh. Had a bad day yesterday. My favorite football club got knocked out of the Champions League. Left the utilities enabled in a new car and killed the battery.

    Reading this made me smile in a twisted sort of “misery loves company” or “kick the dog” sort of way.

    Thank you.

    As god is my witness, if I ever finish my “project”, I’m hiring Bryce to look it over before I let it into the wild.

    Also, I have know idea where he finds the time and money to review all these things.

  4. squeen says:

    Oops! know = no Apparently I’ll need to hire a proof-reader too.

  5. Well, Bonegarden is, I think, in the best of here? I think this is worthy of Worst Evar? Making the author unique by all accounts. Clearly professional editors help!

  6. Kent says:

    I would like to know what your reading level is. I imagine as with Zak Smith it is about the eleven year old girl level. When you visit a restaurant, if that is not too intimidating an experience for you, you will complain unless the menu reads simply:


    Anything more detailed and you will throw a tantrum.

  7. “this club has everything”. Bryce you are a gawd.

  8. Anonymous says:

    I am one of the hundred backers, and the hard copy has arrived (well before the promised date). I am far from convinced the plot hangs together. The initial ambush, which has echoes of the one in the Lady Rose (Dungeon #34), is likely to work. So the PCs are all packed off to individual cells, with no time in any communal area. So how do they have interactions with each other, let alone all the heavily detailed NPC prisoners? They can talk to their immediate neighbours, courtesy of the guards who can’t hear anything but can see through walls, but nothing more. The (verbose) text lacks important details about the cells e.g. strength of locks, any barred windows. And a Deus Ex Machina pops up in the form of The Boy in the Box whenever anyone gets off script.
    A suggested fix below.

    • Anonymous says:

      Taking a leaf from the excellent Red Prophet Rises might help here. Perhaps the new Chief Jailor is organising gladiatorial death matches (as a blood sacrifice), with all forced to watch. Then there would be chances to interact with fellow prisoners. Mind you, it all sounds a bit like Death Race; if you are borrowing from a Jason Statham movie to salvage a module, you’ve got problems.

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