By Remley Farr
A medical shipment to the swampy town of Strade’s Gallows takes a turn for the eccentric when the party happens across enigmatic shrimp-men who begin to worship them as gods. Can the party solve the mystery of Strade’s Gallows’ ailment, or will their new disciples botch it all up?
This 55 page adventure (most of which is actual adventure and not index) details the goings-on in a small village, and a ruined fort nearby. The first chunk is very social and sandboxy, as the party explores the village and gets involved in some small intrigues. It leads to the sunken ruins of an old fort and the forces behind what’s really going on. It’s got way too much text and needs edited and formatted WAY better for comprehension. Still, it’s nice to see a 5e sandbox.
It starts with the party killing a Kua-Toa god, and its worshippers switching faith to the party. And someone in the party then slowly mutating over several days in to a new god. This is mostly farce, with the Kua-toa treated like simpletons and doesn’t really impact the adventure except as Yet Another Thing Going On.
I’m a fan of a lot going on, but the worship/mutation raises some interesting theological D&D questions that are, perhaps, best unasked. Visions of characters recruiting cults to mutate themselves come to mind. In any event, the entire worshipper thing is mostly ignored, and really could have used some more words to guide the DM … especially around the ability to control followers, etc.
The adventure has, essentially, two parts:town & dungeon. The parts in town are very social. There are several subplots going on, that could be confused for false leads. These are covered in one page each, which is GREAT presentation style. Everything on one page and easy to find. The idea being that the party nose around town, learn about the subplots and get confused in the main plot and so on. It’s all very social and I like the concept a lot.
The second part, the dungeon, is more linear. Taking place in the ruins of a sunken fort, it has little “adventure areas”, clusters of rooms, connected by a hallway from the last area and another to the new area. Not exactly sterling design but at least its not completely linear.
Both section, town and dungeon, suffer GREATLY from the editing and formatting. The writing is not particularly evocative, but the bulk of the text is irrelevant and gets in the way. Multiple paragraphs of DMs text per room make figuring out what is going on, on the fly at the table, hard to hand/scan. Better use of bolding, whitespace, and indenting would have helped a lot. Or, better yet, removing about?’s of the words. There’s just way way way too much writing for each room. Short, punchy, let the DM fill in the rest.
There is, of course, mountains of backstory mucking things up also. In spite of a magic item called “Gerald the Hatestick”, a sentient staff, it’s mostly flavorless. I find the simpleton kua-toa thing weird also … have they full on turned in to farcical creatures in 5e?
One day the 5e designers will learn to edit and things will improve. One day. This feels like the designer got bogged down in putting things in they thought they needed instead of concentrating on what they had. “I have to have read aloud” or “i need lots of explanation/backstory.” Instead the effort should have been on flavor and the ability to scan at the table.
This is $6 at Dmsguid. The preview is four pages. In spite of that, the writing style is full of display. Just imagine all that writing for each room.
In all fairness, how are these 5e adventure designers supposed to learn any style other than this? Sounds like this guy at least has his heart in the right place. I’d rather play this than anything out of Kobold WotC.
Another triumph for Bryce: product investigated because of his review, then bought. Having
read the adventure now, I think it is good review. The author’s style seems chatty, leading to verbosity; the cardinal sin of mixing key descriptions and plot is made; and yet there are ideas that could make a fun adventure. The referee will need notes to run this at the table; I prefer a clear succinct summary at the beginning of any module. Could be great with the right group.
Fishing for Gods in Strade’s Gallows was the 2nd adventure I wrote, and I’ve peeked into other publications since then, mostly to take a gander at editing and layout. I’ve checked lots of Lamentations of the Flame Princess publications out, mostly due to their layout and formatting (The Cursed Chateau is damn near perfect in its layout).
I’ve also learned how to shut the hell up in narrative ramblings and just get to the point.
Kudos for the review. I learned a lot from this one, and my most recent publication is a much more polished piece in terms of layout.
I bought Everyone Plows the Graveyard Farm; my read through verdict is that this is a strong adventure. It is much better organised than Fishing for Gods, with location keys more minimal. Some interesting factions, and no railroading the PCs into supporting the “good guys”. A wide range of humanoid races used, which I guess is a 5e trope. I’ll ask the boss for a review.
I would also recommend Fishing for Gods: it is gloriously anarchic.