Nightstone Keep

By Ed Greenwood
Frog God Games
Levels 4-6

The characters will be able to explore the ruins of the keep, which have become a plant colony, and attempt to wrest a powerful treasure from the clutches of the araunglyd, a gigantic sentient fungus. The araunglyd will attempt to thwart the players at every turn, using its drone-like minions to harass and hinder them as they go.

This 23 page mess describes a keep with … 10 rooms? It is ABSOLUTELY a fucking mess. I think it might be another Aliens-type adventure, like Arachnophobia by Usherwood. Take Greenwoods expansive writing and combine it with Frogs utter incompetence when it comes to editing and you’ve got a very special product indeed. This thing is like it’s been through 6 passes of a translator, one of which was old english. There’s a fungus monster in the keep … and he’s got some minions? That’s about as much as I can dig up.

I don’t know who’s to blame. I suspect Greenwood for his writing style and no one at Frog pushing back … and then also an “editor’ … who I suspect didn’t read it at all. That’s the only excuse I can think of. I remind you that the Frogs put out an adventure with the wrong cover .. an no one ever seemingly caught it. It’s cra.

It’s got be be pretty fucking egregious for me to say something, and I’m saying something. “… connecting to underground areas in the Mainmain Cellarcellar beneath.” That’s not an infamous Bryce typo. That’s a$8 adventure with an editor attached. That’s not the only example. This shit happens all over the place. The Speartongue monster has “Hit Dice: 32” Not, that’s not a hit point mistake, as in it has 32 HP. It bears no relation to reality. Someone just put in 32.

The fun starts almost immediately. As you approach there are two birds atop the keep that attack you. This is a four paragraph encounter, for some fucking reason. It starts with this little gem “A mated pair of carrion graw nesting atop the keep see any characters approaching. The graw can’t immediately be seen from below, as they lie on its roof with wings spread and heads down, peering out through the gaps where merlons have fallen away. The graws will swoop to attack as soon as any character moves into the open.A mated pair of carrion graw (giant predatory birds) nesting atop the keep see any character character him” That last sentence looks like notes or something, that was expanded in to the text, maybe, that appears before it? It just ends, with the “him”, without punctuation. And the fucking adventure does this all over the place!

And the format Oh boy. It’s not room/key. There’s just a big bold heading, like “Throne Room” … and then four or five paragraphs of text explaining what is going on. Or “Main Cellar” or something like that … with seven paragraphs of text. From that you have to read it all and figure out what is going on. It’s fucking nuts. It’s not even wall of text, its something else. I have no fucking idea what to call it. No one spent ANY time trying to massage this thing in to something useful. It’s like you tries to have James Joyce write the pre-flight checklist for an airliner … sure, it’s kind of neat in a weird way, but its utterly useless for the purpose of which its intended.

This adventure, for 4th-6h level characters in a game where gold=xp, has 25sp and 148gp of treasure, as well as a Gem of Vitality … which heals you for 1d4hp every round and can bring the dead back to life. It has no downsides/curses, etc.

This is $8 at DriveThru. The preview is four pages and only shows you one page of text … the one with the start of the bird encounter on it.

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12 Responses to Nightstone Keep

  1. Grützi says:

    I have Seen this Thing Aa a 5e Module. Maybe it was converted to sword &sorcery. Could explain the gold = XP mess

    But even then the Rest seems to bei pretty Bad even without the XP mess

  2. Andrew says:

    Frog God seam to be specialists at verbose, confusing publications.

    I avoid their Kickstarters in the same way as I avoid the Black Plague.

  3. Bigby’s Affirmative Consent Lubed Fist says:

    Sounds like this is Ed’s riff (by which I mean ripoff) on ‘Pod Caverns of the Sinister Shroom’, without any of the wit, weirdness, and charm.

  4. Dave R says:

    There’s a salvageable adventure concept in here. Ruined keep overgrown by a plant colony is a cool start; I would reverse the part about “drone-like minions harassing and hindering as they go”.

    Instead the players need to be brushing past and pushing through massive plants in every room, that shudder and wave more than is natural, but don’t attack. Then they reach the center and see the massive gem half wrapped in fungus. (Why yes, it does detect as magic.) If they take it out and try to leave that’s when all those plants animate and attack, and you reverse the normal dungeon crawl dynamic of seeing how far in you can press before deciding to turn back. Now you’re at full health and spells, but your decision is whether to carve your way out through unknown opponents, or leave the treasure.

    So it’s a slow start, a slow burn, but a ten room dungeon isn’t too large to do that with, especially if this is a change from how your dungeons normally work.

  5. HDA says:

    As soon as I saw the word “araunglyd” I knew it was Greenwood, ha! It just has that Realms sound to it.

  6. Melan says:

    So Verbose Ed has not changed one iota since his 90s heydays. Kinda comforting in its own way. He is the living symbol of a design approach that might be best described as corpulent, and which features pretty much everything that’s crap about 2e-era D&D.

    His FR intro adventure, Beneath the Twisted Tower, has the honour of being the first game product that made fourteen-years-old me exclaim “What is this shit?!” (For those who have read that stinker, I am thinking about the utterly humiliating “heel” encounter.) That boxed set was also the first product I returned to my FLGS.

  7. Thomas Vanstraelen says:

    Looks bad but Greenwood’s crapsterpiece still has to be The Darkness in Shadowturrets, a high-level dungeon adventure for SotDL that is basically a corridor-like series of rooms each with a door in and a door out. Stuff to prevent you from flying and from teleporting and of course every creature attacks on sight and in the end you get double-crossed because reasons.

    Easily one of the worst adventures in the last few years and a strong contender for the Laziest Attempt by Famous Designer Award.

  8. S'mon says:

    These reviews are hilarious! >:D
    I agree with others, sounds like Ed hasn’t changed a bit. I guess with the 1e Grey Box they kept him on a tight leash. All downhill from there sadly.

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