New Realms Publishing
On a mission to request aid from the Enchanter Tyrion, your band of volunteers will be traveling along the Weatherstone Road. A well traveled route, there are few travelers on the road now and what you do find isn’t friendly. And then there is the lurking menace, the monster that has come to dominate the fears of travelers and locals alike, the Beast of Briar Creek.
This seven page adventure has two encounters in it, in a linear format. You walk up a road rom your village to a wizards tower. Get attacked on the road. Visit an inn, maybe. Maybe get attacked. By kobolds. Cross a bridge with a monster under it. End.
So, it has read-aloud and the read-aloud is short. It’s not the best read-aloud, but it doesn’t suffer from things like describing room dimensions or other problems. And it is clearly making an effort to paint a decent picture.
The DM text after the read-aloud tries to describe a situation for the DM. It has a paragraph or so of things like a mud-bogged road, and so on, and then says something like brown blobs attack from the trees. If I squint hard I can maybe see what the designer was going for. What is comes across as is “you’re on a muddy road and some blob monsters come out of the woods and attack.” I think though the designer may have been trying for something else. Let’s say that instead of free-form text the DM text was a list of bullets. The first one said. Something like “the road bogs down in mug, travel is quartered. Shoes get stuck in it and come off feet. People slip.” and then another one that said something like “2/3d across the valley blob monsters come out.” or something like that, or more. Then you’ve got a little scene. The DM is going back and forth with the players. The mud is reinforced. They are trying to avoid it, or keep their shoes on, or wipe the mud off when slipped. Maybe even some muddy puddles that LOOK like the blob monsters. Now you’ve got a little more than “you are walking down the muddy road and get attacked.” Certainly the text doesn’t preclude the little extras I mentioned, but it relies on the DM to add it. The bullets, extra detail, etc instead give a clearer picture to the DM of the environment and encourage further play without necessarily being prescriptive. Which is assisting the DM in running it at the table.
A lot of the intro text is abstracted. The weather is foul. The crops are rotting. The water has gone bad in places. Rumors of monsters in the night. Village elders held a meeting. This is all abstracted. Old man Crawford’s well went bad his plow ox died after drinking it. 3 weeks of rain and the fields are waterlogged. Old Man Martin is again going to the wizard for help but Crawford is distraught and wants his help, gummit! This cements things in a way that abstracted text can never. There’s buy in.
Finally, lets talk price. I’ve been thinking about this lately, and I think I’ve mentioned it before. This is $2 for seven pages (which includes the cover and legal statement.) There are five encounters, one of which is just a “leaving the village” read aloud and one of which is just “visit an inn.” Further, a third one might not happen if you skip the inn, do it right. Is it worth $2? G1 is a good adventure, is 8 pages, and was $17.50 in 2019 dollars. And yet I see people bitch about $2 adventures that have 50 rooms in them in a good dungeon level format in 6 pages. There is a bias, I think, against short page counts. We expect shit to be padded to hell so we don’t accept a short $2 adventure. Which means it has to be padded to hell to justify a page count to justify the $2. That’s not cool. Cool things can be short. I will say again, I wish DriveThru had a no questions asked return policy.
This is available on DriveThru for $2. There’s no preview. Otherwise you wouldn’t buy it?