- By Frank Schmidt
- Adventures in Filbar
- Level 1
This eleven page adventure presents nine encounters, in linear order, as the party passes through a mountain pass. Single column. Linear. Read-aloud telling the players what their characters feel. Forced combat. It feels thrown together.
I don’t know what to do. I told myself I was going to find the joy in D&D adventures. Concentrate on the positive, and just mention the negative off hand. And then, this adventure was the very next one I encountered.
So, I like the cover. I used to draw little stick figure army man battle scenes when I was little and have had a fondness for them every since. Man, I used to love those little plastic army men and their playsets. And the name is nice: Murder Hobo Inc. I’ve used the Murder Hobo idea as a kind of crutch for getting the party together. Never having seen each other before, they instantly recognize their bond with one another as fellow murder hobos. Those daring few willing to live life on the edge and with gusto!
And the party has a map of the countryside showing a safe long journey around the mountains to their destination city, and a little mountain pass that’s MUCH shorter with a skull and crossbones on it. What ho! No self respecting player would ignore telegraphing like that! Adventure awaits! It’s charming.
There are several elements to the encounters that also fall in to this charming category. Berry bushes with fruit that heals, for example. Far too often adventures only include bad things. Everything you mess with is dangerous and kills you, so the party learns to not mess with things. Interactivity drives D&D, and learning to NOT interact is not the lesson we want to teach. Likewise there are some hippogriff chicks to capture. With a sale price listed, I’d be much more interested in training them, and would have appreciated some advice in relation to that. Finally, there’s this tree with some bodies hung up in it, swaying. This imagery has always appealed to me as a DM. Scarecrows, warnings, etc, always give a kind of warning, a message to the players. His serves to both set the mood, providing some subtle subconscious atmosphere, as well as providing an explicit warning to the players: dangers ahead, be on guard!
And it would have done that here had it appeared BEFORE the dangerous encounters, instead of after them. 🙁
I can take barbs because of my taxonomy, but it comes from ruined expectations. This adventure is labeled “OSR.” Look, I know that no one can agree what it means, either literally, in the case of the ‘R’ or figuratively in what it espouses. But this isn’t OSR. Some will argue that yes, it is, because it chooses to label itself OSR. And by that it loses all definition and we are admitting that everything is meaningless. ‘I liked it.’ becomes the rule of the day, of life. You can have no expectations. Of anything. And that should be ok.
Agony and Ecstasy. To live free from expectations, and thus also the disappointment that it can bring. A utopian vision that each of us is charged with, to create our own brave new world. Of course, reality that is that we subject ourselves to the petty tyrannies of life all day long, for our filthy lucre, to hand over to someone else in exchange for a car, that arrives without wheels, an engine, and looks strangely like a bag of imitation doritos (empty), for the low low price of $36,400, financed at 7% over 96 months.
The adventure starts by telling us it is linear, literally, it tells us it is linear. The party must walk in the trail and cannot climb the walls or avoid the encounters as presented. The encounters are forced fights, with little more to them (with exceptions) other than “roll for initiative.” One encounter, the DM is encouraged to rearrange the adventure to make the betrayal of the party more effective. The read-aloud tells the players how their characters feel. And it asks for a DC14 medicine check in one place. What then? And streamed on Twich!
This is $1 at DriveThru. The preview is two pages. The second page shows an encounter, representative of the typical encounter. The first page, second paragraph of the “DM Background” section. Last sentence. Linear Adventure.
I believe you’d sworn of reviewing Filbar adventures before….and I believe it was for a damn good reason. I picked one up several years ago and they are the worst mundane dreck there is.
Adventures in FUBAR…
My impression too – damn Bryce, we readers are better at remembering the stuff you are supposed to hate than you do! XD
If Bryce was unable to expunge bad modules from his memory he’d have lost all motivation to post reviews years ago.
Fair point – but remembering bad series to avoid geetting them AGAIN would be good. or maybe he’s too nice for his own good, giving the benefit of doubt (and hope for an unexpected gem) even to consistent deliverers of dreck.
I am more and more thinking about putting together a little adventure and publishing it. Just to show that it really can’t be that hard to make something halfway decent.
But I guess, it then would get bad reviews because there is no proper guidance on what the players are to do at every step and that encounters are too hard.
What players are to do? Not sure if there has ever been a session I have ever GMd where players “did” what they were supposed to. Focus your energies on the “world” how NPCs and others react in simple and brief format, and let the spider web build itself.
As for encounters, it’s abouf having multiple venues available and giving players free agency and the ability to make bad decisions than an encounter being hard or easy. Add fun fidly bits and you probably have a great encounter. Running away is always an option.
Well, one has to try to know for certain, eh?
An intro warning people beforehand of what style of adventure & challenge to the players you’re aiming for might be of some help with assuaging some of those hard feelings too, i guess.
Worth a try at least, i think
If you want to look beyond the D & D world for models on how to put an adventure together, you might want to check out the modules GDW wrote for the post apocalyptic Twilight 2000 setting, most of those are quasi-sandboxes, where there is an overarching plotline for the PCs to get involved in and enough information to allow them to go ‘off track’ if that’s where their inclination takes them. It’s up to the GM to keep an eye on things
The mighty army of Adventures in Filbar offerings seem to suffer from extremely railroaded beginnings, and many are so linear as to be a gauntlet. Some of the better ones are hexcrawls, or have dungeons with branches, and are potentially usable. However if you are looking for the best the OSR has to offer, look elsewhere; I agree that they don’t really fit OSR expectations.