- By Keith Salamunia
- Levels 1-5
… the adventurers are hired by a mysterious benefactor to aquire parts in a remote region, that ultimately leads to a seige to hold off an army of the undead.
Well, this is a thing.
This 24 page adventure contains a series of nine related one page dungeons. You collect some objects for your patron, and then defending a city from an undead army. The dungeons are linear and not written very well, but the art is nice. That makes sense because I’m pretty sure the designer is an artist.Any, the entre things is handwritten so … art was placed over usability.
Rule 1: It’s gotta be usable at the table. The font used in this is either a handwriting font or its actually handwritten. Either way, usability suffers. If I have to fight the text to get the adventure out then, well, I’m not gonna fight the text, I’m going to move on to something else. I get it. Artist. The One Page contests are full of artists. Cartographers are, on rpggeek, classified as artists. Great! Form + Function, right? (or so says Helmut, the proprietor of the Form+Function furniture store where I shop) Except when it doesn’t work, and it doesn’t work here. Hero needs to remember to keep his head down and designers need to remember that legibility is important.
The maps are linear with about six to eight rooms each. Do I need to explain why linear maps are bad? It doesn’t since the entire adventure is linear. Do adventure one. Then two. Then three. Keep going. No freedom. No original thought. For your convenience, consumption has been standardized.
The writing is the usual stream of consciousness stuff that one expects from the majority of products, with little thought given to organization or editing. Focusing in on the first dungeon, we get such gems as: “Family crypt full of coffins. When door is open Zombies will arise. If they are defeated a modest amount of treasure is in the coffins.” Note the multiple if/then statements. The back of my noggy noggy brain (all gone for beer and tobacco) is working on a theory that this and the linear nature or the dungeons and adventure as a whole is related to the same thing. A must happen before B. That is how adventures work, right? That shows up in map, the adventure plot, and the motivation for zombies and quantum nature of their treasure. I put three things to you, gentle reader. First, the quantum shit annoys me. Second, it is related to the original sin of linear plots. Third, it is sloppy writing that pads out the descriptions with filler words, clogging it up like an Elvis colon full of fried peanut butter and barbiturates. There IS treasure in the coffins. The zombies animate when the coffins are fucked with. The world exists outside the actions of the party.
Room four, in the same dungeon, is … something? “After unlocking The door ‘n, playas find an old coatroom.” First, quantum and padded again. Second, WHAT?!?! Playas? ‘N? WTF is that shit. It does continue with with one of the better room descriptions: A couple of old coats hang on hooks, the wallpaper is peeling, and everything smells damp. Tree roots are growing through the raimenents(? sp?) of the destroyed bathrooms. I don’t know why bathrooms are related to coat closets, but, whatever.
Room eleven tells us that a guard chamber contains old beds for warriors. Two ghouls still guard the room even in death. Nothing usable is in the room, except for a small bag of coin under the bed. So … the first clause is irrelevant, just say there’s a bag of coin under the bed. Again, padded, and another example of a writing style that is loose and not thought out or edited.
The final room has the ghost of Lady Eris, a spellbook, a ruined philosopher’s stone, and a Deck of Many Things. A) NICE FUCKING JOB! Decks are wonderful and more designers should put fucked up magic items in adventures, no matter the level. The Deck represents everything wonderful about D&D. Free Will, good and bad effects, pushing your luck. Second, the goal of the adventure is to retrieve the Heart of Eris. I thought it was a gem, but I can find no reference to it, except in art which shows a red rock. I guess, though, it’s the heart of the ghost? Not clear. And Not Clear is Not Good Design.
The other dungeons are similar, and range from actual dungeoncrawls, like a tomb, to a wilderness, town, or castle defense section.
You got your art in my peanut butter. Normally I wouldn’t care, but, in this case, the test sucks. Mostly not particularly evocative, illegible, and unclear.
This is Pay What You Want at DriveThru with a suggested price of $1. The preview is six pages. It shows the art style, and page four show you the first dungeon (which is why I concentrated on it in my review.) It’s representative of the dungeons, but, again, there are more event-drive “one pagers” as well.