Of Men Who Are Monsters

By Tyler A Thompson
Sad Fische Games
Beginning Characters?

[…] Most robbers and bandits will balk at the notion of anything near a fair fight and pick their prey accordingly.  This is not so for Robber Baron Karl Duval. Duval and his crew are known to target travelers, caravans, and brigades of essentially all sizes, from the poorest wayfaring peasant, to the most modest and well-guarded merchant, to even wagon trains carrying Imperial troops and supplies.  Far from foolish and reckless, such attacks are quick, organized, and surgical in their tactics- never mind staggering in their ferociousness and shocking in their brutality. Gaunt, cruel, serious, and a voyeuristic sadist, Duval now resides in a fortress somewhere in the wilds of the Valley.  He must be put down.

This fifteen page adventure details a bandit camp/area with about 100 bandits. No real surprises in the description, but it’s a mess in relating and organizing information.

In this game/campaign you represent petty lords and their retainers, which takes care, nicely, of the reason why the local lord isn’t involved. They are. It’s you. Down in the valley there’s a robber baron who’s got a small fortress (wooden palisade in the woods) and control of a small village that he uses for slave labor to keep people fed, etc. There’s your adventure. A general description of the village and a general description of the fort.

And by “general” I mean general. The thing is written as, essentially, free text with a subject heading every now and again. “The Blinds” and “The village” and “The barn”, for example. Under those heads will be a couple of paragraphs, or columns, of information about those subjects. If I had an idea for an adventure and If I were putting together a 15 page outline of it and sending it off to someone to actually write it then it might look like this adventure. The text is both general and specific, with not much organization beyond some simple headings and a paragraph break. The detail is abstracted. There are villagers, some broken, some full of rage, but that’s all we know. That they exist and there are about a hundred in total. The robber baron is a cruel man and his men engage in abuse of the villagers, with a DM note that it is the game masters discretion on how to depict that. It’s all very general with little in the way of the sort of detail that can bring something to life.

The wandering monster table is a good example of this. “You are attacked by large predators” or “you encounter a small animal.” Uh. Ok. “You have an encounter with a merchant who has something interesting to sell.” You can see how there’s very little in the way of further prompting, the sort of specificity that can make an adventure come alive. Not two paragraphs, or even two sentences, but a different write up with specifics.

Random things I find annoying that pale in comparison to the horror of the free-flowing text descriptions: no bandit talks or reveals information. They are all resigned to their fates. Seriously? You’re telling us where the camp is in exchange for liquor, cigs, and being let go, not pledging your eternal soul. The map of the “fortress” (which is much like the Steading) is in a kind of greyscale no greyscale format which is about impossible to read. And the entire thing is in .docx. Uh … print to PDF much? I’m pretty such Word docs continue to be one of the primary virus transmission methods; I almost didn’t open the doc because of that.

It DOES make sense, from a “yeah, this is what a bandit lord would do” kind of way. A little rigor in the men, some officers who have not completely nought in, slave labor in the village … but there’s just nothing more outside of this to justify its existence. Which is too bad, I think the concept of a Birthright type of game could be cool.

This is Pay What You Want at DriveThru with a suggested price of 50 cents.


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One Response to Of Men Who Are Monsters

  1. squeen says:

    A M$ Word document? I wouldn’t touch it with a ten foot pole.

    (oops, pun not intended).

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