(5e) Tides of Blood

Christopher Walz
Level 6

Menthias Dolgutha, a Coreanic priest in Mithril, has received a vision of the Silver Bastion, a fortress used by the knightly Order of Silver during the Divine War, rising from the Blood Sea. Searching Mithril’s libraries, the priest discovered the fortress was built before the titan Kadum was defeated and imprisoned at the depths of the sea. The Silver Bastion was overrun with titanspawn as the last remaining knights stayed behind, allowing others to retreat to the mainland. Menthias believes a Coreanic relic, the Brightshield, may still be hidden in the once-lost castle. Will your heroes be able to brave the dangers of the Blood Sea and contend with the Heartseekers of Kadum to wrest control over the powerful relic?

First, some secret shame. I have a Patreon! It’s got free adventures, commentary on adventure design, and random musings about RPG’s, etc. And, it does help me buy adventures to review. It’s at https://www.patreon.com/join/tenfootpole?

This 37 page adventure details a small over-ocean voyage and a ten room fortress. It’s nothing more than garbage combats. Encounter after encounter. Room after room. “Combat!” “Roll for init!” “They attack!” Oh, and the baddies? A cult. Wow. Really. A cult. How original. I wonder how long that took to come up with?

My plan was to check out some NON-Dmsguild content. To see who out there was raging against the dying of the light and jousting against the windmills of corporate licensing agreements. Don’t get off the boat man, don’t get off the boat …

This hunk of junk claims to have content supporting all three pillars of D&D play: social, exploration, and combat. I have no fucking idea what Social and Exploration mean in 5e circles these days, but if one were to take this adventure as canonical, not much. There’s not exploration to speak of, unless “I go in to the next room” means exploration. The social seems limited to … the quest giver? Some generic sailors on a ship you take? It’s all combat. Your quest-giver is interrupted by combat. “There’s bloodtained on the docks!” yeller a commoner. Uh huh. Blood tainted. Because people talk like that. Feels more like a”throw a combat in early” garbage advice being followed.

You sail to an island to follow up on the “a cleric hired us” hook. The DM rolls weather occasionally. “Players can think weather is boring, liven it up” says the adventure. Yes, that’s because simulationist shit is boring. I got four hours this week in between 60 hours of assistant crack-whore trainee work and you’r chukcing “light rain” at me, and taking up a significant page count doing so? Or, maybe, the forced combats twice a day. Once each twelve hours you have an encounter/are attacked on the seas. Joy. That seems like fun. Then you get to the island and have more “fun” fighting room after room of creatures/cultists.

This sort of stuff is soooooooo boring. Combat is boring. Tactics combat is boring. Yes, I know some people like this shit. 40k is thing. Descent & Gloomhaven is a thing (I’m playing Gloomhaven in … 90 minutes from now. Dr. Nick the DOOMSTALKER. And yes, I just spoiled the game.Mayor McDickCheese, aka Nico Crystalhead the Spellweaver was just the first to retire]

Spot distances on the boat are short. Like 30-60 feet. Wasn’t it like 320 yards in 1e/0e? That’s because there is no more Combat as War, it’s all Combat as Sport. God forbid you do anything but use your Encounter powers and roll to hit. Everything on earth sneaks on board your ship as a wandering encounter. You gotta make DC20 insight checks to figure out the evil cleric is evil. Solid silver doors are given no value and not one word about looting them. The adventure is rife with the words “at your discretion you can …” Yeah, no shit. Roleplaying advice for NPC’s is long and  boring, with bonds and ideas and flaws straight out of the book, still generic and boring.

The monsters are all Blood Sea Mutant Killer Whale and Heaker Cultists of titspan Krathas and shit like that. Look at that fucking intro text, that’s supposed to get you excited about the adventure. My eyes are rolling so much I can barely read it.

The entire adventure is nothing but aggressively generic and focused on combat. In an attempt to be non-generic it focuses on “bloodspaned mutants” and other language that is just a different dimension of generic. There’s no details to bring anything to life. There’s nothing visceral. Specificity is avoided. It’s all just generic heroic language.

Next time I’ll try harder to find something not in DMSGuild.

This is $4 at DriveThru. The preview is six pages long. The last two pages are not TOO far off from showing you what you get in the bulk of the adventure locations.


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24 Responses to (5e) Tides of Blood

  1. thunderdave says:

    Intro blurbs with so many unfamiliar and without-context words exhaust me. I usually pass when I see so many proper nouns that don’t mean anything to me. Engage me!

  2. Gnarley Bones says:

    Another static image on the cover. Nothing is happening.

  3. Eric says:


    I don’t know if it’s the module being bad, or Bryce’s house style of non-editing.

    Ordinarily I wouldn’t care, but here Bryce is specifically calling out the “bloodsomething”, so its relevant.

  4. Gus L. says:

    “Menthias Dolgutha, a Coreanic priest in Mithril”

    What what?

    I hate nonsense fantasy names so damn much.

    Tides of Blood is a fun enough name though. I will write my own adventure with that name here – well at least the Intro.

    “Viscous, clotted horror laps at the quays and wharves along Sickle Bay. Fish choke in the sea of gore, rising to the surface to rot and you ship, like several others lies becalmed on an ocean of reeking blood under a punishing hot sun without hint of wind. The supernatural doldrums delay your voyage, and the stink from the poisoned sanguine sea promises to slowly drive you and your shipmates mad if you cannot escape to shore or find a solution to this sudden affliction.”

    • Vlok’thek, Trispil of Klorp, has risen again from the ruins of X’olvlokk, where once he fell in battle against the forces of D’N’Kluk. Ancient Norflottr of the Yiangdamuur of Traal, he seeks to unearth the mysterious Dwuk’bluppr, lost in the Ciammerung of Daal’k, and unleash its cryptic malevolence upon the N’N’DRPX peninsula. Only a band of heroes has the F’nnrk to take on so mighty a Trispil! Will you vanquish Vlok’thek and save all of Q’nnngh, or crush all of Qlorpf’oomathath beneath its eldritch might? The choice is yours (but the module only supports the former).

      • Bryce Lynch says:

        You’ve been reading too much Venger. Or Forgotten Realms.

        • Evards Small Tentacle says:

          Nah, that’s every troll lord module there is.

        • Some day I am going to write a module based on everything you despise and unleash it upon the OSR. I have yet to determine whether I will conjure it forth from the pit or assemble it from corrupted parts of The Best modules like Melkor.

          I see it now when I close my eyes. 4 pages of introductory flavor text. Nothing but sewers leading into underwater adventures. Tinker gnomes pouring forth from the mountains. The enemies and treasure are kafka-esque in that they have statts and gp value but it is uncertain what they really are. The first part involves the party waiting upon a band of 20th level LG GM PCs. Infernal riddles befuddle and vex the players as they are forced to make a moral choice about killing orc babies…until you find out it is all an illusion by an evil wizard.

          Sewer-Cove of the 100 gp worth of treasure. Coming this fall…

          • Bryce Lynch says:

            As I hate hell, all Montagues, and thee, Prince.

          • Steading of the Boxed-text Giant Kent.

          • Reason says:

            A group of seven men approaches. They are following the road east, and are making good time, neither tarrying nor running. Their faces are expressionless. One is dressed as a cleric of some sort, and another is dressed as a traveling drummer. The others could be peasants or serfs going from one location to another for the harvest season. Each carries some sort of weapon. It is plain that they are not soldiers by their haphazard way of walking. They do not seem to be joking loudly or singing as they advance…

            -all encounters AND rooms to be filled with information about what is not happening or present, Forest Oracle style.

          • This room was once the Throne-room of F’nk’muk of Blaargh, Argst’rrrtr of Cháalmur. Lavish banquets and ceremonies of ages past could have been held here for long ages. Three hardwood tables were said to stand upon a purple carpet of sheep-skin, upon which stand nine pewter dishes and a ewer filled with medium quality wine. It is said that in the Age of T’ynnnnk, a Blorpflllltr came and took the 10000 gp worth of treasure from this place, leaving it a featureless 10 ft. square room.

            No treasure.

          • Gnarley Bones says:

            The hook must be that the party is hired to guard a caravan.

          • Bryce Lynch says:

            Incorrect. The use of the work ‘is’ implies interactivity. The party WAS hired to guard a caravan. Please, no more implying that they have free will.

          • Gus L says:

            I call mine “Against the Hoarde of Slayer-Khan Maximumus Orc’k”, subtitle “Chapter One of the Orc’k Epic an Adventure for several Player Characters”, second subtitle “Orcs in a Hole”.

            It’s a 65 page six room linear tomb adventure where you fight 7 orcs, and a carrion crawler to rescue a “townsfolk who is secretly a polymorphed titan dragon” who will of course betray the party.

          • Edgewise says:

            The map is a long hallway interrupted with a succession of square rooms. Boxed text tells you not only what you see, think and occasionally do, but sometimes it dictates what you say in response to the NPCs. But you don’t say much, because each encounter is a fight to the death.

            If the PCs try to leave, they find that the last door they passed through has turned to a solid rock wall. The GM is instructed to send packs of ghouls and wights with amulets of protection from turning, in case things slow down.

            Room dimensions are in the boxed text, but the room inhabitants are mentioned at the end…while monster stats are all in the appendix. Each room has a full backstory on the historical influences of its various architectural features within the game world. But no GP values for non-standard loot. Actually, all treasure consists of potions of lycanthrope control and +1 swords. There are no lycanthropes.

            350 pages for 4 rooms. One column of 6pt. medium grey text on a faux-scroll background. It’s called The Hallway of D’z’i’z’a’z’z, and there is no fucking preview.

          • @edge


          • Shuffling Wombat says:

            Do not worry, Clarice is coming.

            A wonderful film, but surely that cellar scene would have been improved by the presence of three giant rats and 2000 copper pieces.

          • Edgewise says:

            PoN I know that’s a Silence of the Lambs reference but I’m otherwise in the dark. I suppose that’s where I’m supposed to wait for this lotion.

      • Gus L says:

        Apostrophe are so 2014. For real cutting edge Elfgame nonsense It’s time to bring in the leader punctuations. The BBEG in my new game is named D@rk/Lord; Badd(mann). All the cool kids are doing it this way…

  5. Planet Algol says:

    “A priest has received a vision of a fortress, used during a period of warring gods, rising from the Blood Sea. This fortress was used by the knights of the Silver Order when they defeated the titan Kadum and imprisoned it in the depths of the ocean, before it was overrun by Kadum’s spawn. The priest believes a powerful relic may still be hidden in the fortress and seek adventurers to brave the dangers of the Blood Sea and wrest with Kadum’s minions to recover the relic.”

    Fixed it. Who do I send the invoice to?

  6. Stu Ordano says:

    This sounds like an adventure taking place in the Scarred Lands campaign.

    • Jeff V says:

      I believe the “Slarecian Vault” on the cover means it is a Scarred Lands adventure. It’s their version of DM’s Guild.

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