Island of Blight

By Thom Wilson
Throwi Games
Levels 3-5

The Red Priests of the Snake God suffered a crushing blow to their plans when they failed to take the small town of Thuil. Reeling from their defeat, they have returned to the deep jungles of Nolgur-Wul to regroup. The human villages outside the jungles know that it is only a matter of time before the Red Priests and their minions return. Now is the time to take the fight to them, deep within the jungles! The characters are urged to delve into the depths of Nolgur-Wul to track the Red Priests back to their clandestine temple where it is said a serpent queen, maiden of the Snake God himself, leads the growing cult. On the trail of the fleeing Red Priests, the adventurers find that a mysterious blight has recently begun to destroy the western jungles, villages, and all life within. What starts as a quick investigation becomes an unusual and deadly puzzle. More importantly, is this blight the Snake God’s doing or something completely separate?

This 28 page adventure describes a little overland journey and about forty indoor locations in three locations on a small island. Generic writing, generalized abstractions. In short: it’s boring.

Ok, so, there’s a bunch of vegetation dying in an ever increasing area. You find some abandoned villages, maybe. You find an island with some ruined buildings on it. There’s a bunch of notes and zombies scattered around. In the basement in a machine that’s generating the blight and the notes, deciphered correctly, help you set the levers to turn it off.

It’s got some monsters reference sheets. It’s got some cross-references. Ultimately though it’s boring. There’s a kind of generalized abstractaction that ribs the adventure of anything interesting. Instead, there’s an emphasis on history and explaining why the way things are. “This rock is here because someone kicked it down the stairs three hundred years ago.” That sort of thing does not create interesting play opportunities. That sort of thing does not inspire the DM to run a fantastic room or encounter. It’s boring.

“Wonderfully decorated doors lead to areas B8 and B10”, the text tells us. The second part is clearly just telling us what we can see from the map. The first part “wonderfully decorated” is a great example of that abstraction. It’s a conclusion someone might draw rather than what someone might observe. This is TELLING instead of SHOWING. Lapis & amber inlaid bronze doors with minurettes and palms … that’s showing instead of telling. That text inspires the DM and then leverages the DM to add more while the previous text instead burdens the DM to come up with it all from scratch. 

The text must inspire the DM, that’s what I generally mean when I’m talking about evocative text. Text that shows instead of tells. Text that enables the DM to add more rather than requires them to add more.

On top of this the text is padded out with trivia. A secret door is easy to find because it was left partially open when some residents of the temple fled from a blah blah blah. Or, “This escape passage provided Kahleemar with a way to leave his bedchamber quickly or hide from unwanted visitors. The escape tunnel is completely dark” Well that’s all fucking great. By which of course I mean, completely useless at a gaming table. There’s no furniture because cultists stole it. A rich and deep history of a location is not the same as a location that’s evocative, interactive, and easy to use. It’s maddening to see all of the trivia included while being faced with the abstracted descriptions. 

And then the monsters and other important facts are buried deep in room text. First things first: it’s there’s a giant flaming eye of sauron (lower case) in the middle of the fucking room then fucking lead with that in your description. THATS what is going to stand out. Burying it in the second paragraph is dumb. “Oh, uh, sorry gang, there’s actually a giant flaming sauron eye in the room” or a long pregnant pause while you read three paragraphs of room text in order to give a description to the players? Neither you say? Damn fucking right. Obvious things should come first. 

Oh, I could go on and on. Maybe five or six thousand in treasure for a 1e adventure at levels 3-5? This is a do-gooder adventure, light on treasure. The villages you find along the way are boring abstractions. There are lots and lots and LOTS of notes lying around fr the party to find, in order to solve the final puzzle. The titular blighted island has three primary exploration areas on it … and the main one comes before the two minor ones. There’s not real explanation of the slight spread or “the blight line”, crossing over it, etc. Just a note, buried in a later sidebar, on how to apply disease rolls. 

JABA – Just ANother Boring Adventure.

This is $5 at DriveThru. The preview iw four pages. It shows you four pages of a monster reference sheet. This is a bad preview. Show us some room encounters for Vecna’s sake so we know the quality of the writing we’re fucking buying!–TG2202?1892600

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9 Responses to Island of Blight

  1. shaneward says:

    What would “srs” stand for?

  2. shaneward says:

    Yeah that preview needs to be way more helpful. Because of your reviews I’ve basically set all my adventures to be a full preview

    • SolCannibal says:

      What i find particularly fascinating about the “full-size preview” reference sheets is how they offer us incredibly descriptive, evocative and informative gllmpses like “frogmen”, “EVIL frogmen”, “demonic imps” and two chiefs called Gubuloogo and Ooglubool (races, no idea). Such creative chops at work….

  3. Pyroarrow says:

    He just ran a recent Kickstarter saying he won’t start the module until after it finished for a release in November of 2019! Talk about a rush job!

    Also, they released, “X1.5 Dead Men Tell No Tales” by Thom Wilson & Mike Badolato, so this is another one you can review.

    On another note, I see Jeremy Reaban reviewed, “Adventures Great & Glorious” by BRW Games, & would like to see your take on this as well!

  4. Steve Williams says:

    Taken from the Kickstarter page linked above, an explanation of the ‘sensory descriptive’ style of adventure writing:

    ‘GM Note: Highlighted notes for the GM about the area, usually in one or two sentences.

    Quick View: What is seen in the area with a quick glance or short look.

    Detailed View: Details of what is seen with a longer look (not a full search though).

    Prolonged Search: What is found with a thorough and lengthy search of the area.

    Smell: What can be smelled in the area’

    The bit that really got me was the explanation of smell… Genuinely, if you either feel the need to explain these terms or have these terms explained to you, you should perhaps consider whether adventure writing or GMing is really your cup of tea.

    355 backers.

    • Grützi says:

      I tried something similar with the icons in “The cistern of the three-eyed dwarves”.
      The goal was to help DMs parse content faster, while giving them more information in a shorter time.
      So i can definetly get behind this attempt 🙂 Still I think putting a bullet list in every description is kind of overkill. With the icons you could tell at a glance what is what … with words you still have to read them… especially if, like the kickstarter says not every point is included in every list.

      And yeah .. if you need to have smell explained to you you should be far away from a gaming table … somewhere safe where they keep sharp objects awayfrom you.

      • Steve Williams says:

        I suppose I’m being glib because my occupation has required me to teach English to kids with additional needs. The use of visuals, white space, reduced word count, bolding and all the other lovely things that can be done to help transmit information easily are now second nature. I suppose I shouldn’t belittle people who at least try…

        • Grützi says:

          You shouldn’t belittle anyone … except the french … Because… I mean come on Look at them little buggers thinking they’re important and stuff. Hilarious, really. ;-p

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