By Lloyd Metcalf
Fail Squad Games
The celebration of Firstfeast is upon the good folk of Westwego, and just as the smell of cakes and pies are warming up, you find yourselves among the bootlegging goblins of Brindle. Can you save Westwego? What about the celebration? What about the hooch!?
This 38 page adventure features a nineteen room dungeon full of kobolds and a small amount of outside the dungeon play. The dungeon environment is nicely varied and it feels like some effort was put in to creating encounters that would not just be “empty room with a monster in it to stab.” The read-aloud is clumsy and the room descriptions drag out for too long but the core elements are solid. It looks like the designer picked up some bad habits that need broken, but otherwise has good ideas.
It feels like the designer thought about each room for five minutes longer than usual, and that shows in the payoff. Everything in this is at least a bit above average (ie: crap) and most quite a bit. The hook included. The village religious feastday is approaching, but the tobacco and booze has not arrived from a nearby village. The pious church hates the sin of the booze & smoking, etc, but they LUV the taxes it generates, so they get the party to try and find the shipment/go to the nearby village. How’s that for a hook? It’s fun, embraces a little bit of medievalism (the feastday, the church) and also the hypocrisy. Further, it covers what happens if the hook is refused … the nearby village shows up and camps outside Westwego, hoping for additional protection from the bogeys that plague them. A hook refused, and offered again! Nice job on this. It drones on WAY too long for what you get/need, but it also illustrates how the adventure takes just an extra step … which turns it from generic to interesting.
The rooms of the dungeon, proper, also do this. The entrance cave has an ice cold stream (with some small rules for hypothermia) running out of it. It ends in a whirlpool, a passage on the other side. There’s a concealed passage under whirlpool (Yeah! Concealed! I love it when designers put something JUST around a corner. It rewards non-jaded play) that leads to the main cave lair. That passage on the other side has a natural pool in it … and piercers on the ceiling. It fits. It works. The pool/water is a distraction. The piercers fit naturally. The entire three room entrance areas FEELS right. Natural, mysterious. Things fall off from this high point as the kobold lair, proper, is reached, but it still maintains its above average effort.
I can pick this one apart on a hundred different points. The neighboring village is a goblin village. I’m not sure why this is. Making them goblins instead of humans doesn’t seem to add anything to the adventure and, as always, I think misuse of humanoids detracts from the overall impact humanoids can have on the party. They are also presented as comical. The same weird-ass New Jersey mob dialect that comic humanoids ALWAYS get, as well as comic antics. Again, I don’t get it. What’s wrong with stupid humans? This whole style is a turnoff to me, although I recognize its more of a personal preference thing.
There’s also some references to “throwing traps at the party” in the overland portion. I HATE this shit. It seems to break the player/DM contract and there’s an element of “guiding the story” inherent to it that I VEHEMENTLY disagree with. I’m ok with “1 in 6 chance per turn of a trap” but not “throw traps at the party until you feel like not doing it anymore.” Go figure. Or kobolds with perfect party knowledge who always attack under the cover of darkness in ambush while the party is resting. Yes, it makes sense … but the party should also be getting a detection bone thrown at them, at a minimum.
And there’s the emphasis on dimensions in the read-aloud, a pet peeve of mine. Telling us that a room is 20×20 and that a 15’ section of the floor is covered in pipeweed breaks immersion. COmmunicate the feel of the room and then RESPOND to the party when they ask how big a section is covered by pipeweed. “You walk it out, it’s about 15’ square.” There’s a back and forth between the DM and party that is a critical part of play, which when combined with the fact-based dimension read-aloud makes me down on dimensions and precision in read-aloud. The game should be about mystery and the unknown, not a flood of perfect knowledge.
The little vignettes go on a little too long, and most of the villagers could use a one or two line interesting tidbit to augment them, but, it’s not a bad adventure. It’s just not a good one either.
This is $6 at DriveThru. The preview is worthless, at three pages, showing you absolutely nothing but the table of contents.https://www.drivethrurpg.com/product/256996/Bogey-of-Brindle–1E-OSRIC?affiliate_id=1892600
In a earlier review, I argued that I didn’t mind having dimensions in the beginning to help the mappers out and so that the DM didn’t have to count squares for the bigger rooms–so, a time saver. If you don’t play with someone who enjoys mapping, then it’s moot. BUT, I can’t really argue with what you said above–“The game should be about mystery and the unknown, not a flood of perfect knowledge.” I think that is a solid point and great observation. I think that if I was to start adding dimensions, at least for bigger rooms, I would do it as a bullet point after the room description so they would have to work for that knowledge…it would enhance interaction rather than just giving them that “perfect knowledge”.
I find that players forget a lot of what you say if you throw too many details at them at once. If I throw in only some intriguing details, that usually motivates them to ask me the rest. For instance, if there are more than three creatures in an encounter, I’ll usually say call it “a small group,” and the players can ask me exactly how many there are.
More and more I like the idea of off-loading this to the map. Maze of the Blue Medusa used a graduated grid, which was kind of helpful. But I don’t see any reason not to add dimensions to any room large enough that the DM would have to count. And there are a lot of map relationships that would be much better if they were quantified (say a lot of the adventure is in a house; give the length and width dimensions for the whole house right on the map, distance to outer walls, distance between wall towers, and so on). Right there and ready to be used.
How and when to communicate this info to the players is another matter. But I have finally come to like giving it to them only once they have time to figure it out. Mapping is slow and takes a long time for the characters. Even if my players aren’t keeping an actual map (and they rarely do), their characters would still need to spend the time to get the dimensions with any sort of exactitude. Especially when they are doing it in the dark, by torchlight.
But, yeah, let the map do as much work as possible.
One thing I will say about Vengeful Satanist is that he is a more accomplished writer than Biblical moralist Bryce Lynch, that’s for certes. Lynch is a typical SJW and prude. Breasts and pussies horrify him and that is the only reason he is not a member of the DOMINANT TRANS gang of the OSR. The fact that women’s disgusting sexual appendages frighten him might lead some LEFT-leaning journalists to suspect that Vincent Bryce Lynch is TRANSPHOBIC.
Nice trolling shit-for-brains. Still doesn’t alter the fact that the module in question isn’t good. By the way Einstein, you posted this comment under the wrong module. Well done.