By Davide Pignedoli
This fifteen page supplement has some tables in it that lets the DM generate a witch, a village, and some opposition to the witch in the village, as well as some witch events. It’s not an adventure but rather a situation-builder (in fact, I think the designer uses almost the same words.) I think it’s good at what it does.
I only review adventures … but sometimes I buy the wrong thing, mostly because it’s in the wrong category on DriveThru and I don’t really read the descriptions. And sometimes I’m feeling curious and go for something adjacent. Like this supplement.
A theme I haven’t touched on in awhile is how different adventures have a need for different sorts of organization. Exploratory things, like dungeons and so on, fit the room/key format really well. As free text they work less well. And room/key doesn’t necessarily work well at all in other, non-exploratory situations, like a social adventure. Understanding what sort of adventure is being written, or what a specific portion of the adventure is trying to do, is key to getting the right format … which in turn is key to helping the DM run it, a major goal of the designer.
And that’s what this supplement is doing: it’s providing the DM the tools they need to build a situation in a village that has a witch in it. There are seven or so tables that describe what’s going on in the village, organized via die drop. The die drop helps determines the layout of the village with the results of the dice being the structures and situations involved. Thus we get a little information about the village, the basic layout of the place, major features, the witch details, and who opposes the witch. The tables, taken together, are excellent as inspiration and for building a situation. And that’s what they are trying to do: build a situation. This ain’t Seclusiums “they have green eyes” bullshit. It recognizes the dynamics required to create tension, and therefore adventure. The booklet tells you several times that Things Have Reached A Boiling Point. The tables help with that. The opposition is dynamic on the tables. The witch events are dynamic. The tables are designed to strategically locate open gas barrels in a village where everyone lights their cigarettes with a blowtorch they carry. This is not passive. It’s meant to create a situation FOR PLAY and create a situation it does!
A couple of quirks about the supplement. It doesn’t go out of its way to get the party involved. It’s more like “you see a mob” or a burning building, ro someone complaining, or so on. Thus the hook tends to be curiosity, although the motivations of the witches allies and of the witches opposition may also lead to them trying to get the party involved. It feels natural … but it’s also one of the more … reachiest reaches in using the tables for inspiration. It’ also could have used a summary sheet of the tables. They are spread out over the book, one or two per page. The surrounding fifteen pages of text and art do a good job of adding content to the tables and setting up the appropriate vibe to get the DM in to the mood, as well as providing some examples of how, say, the village priest is an ally to the witch. That’s all great. But, if the core tables were on one page then it would pretty trivial to crank out a village on the fly when the party reaches it. Or even attach it to my DM screen or put it in my binder. Which gives me an idea … what if EVERY village had a witch in it with things boiling over? What fun!
I don’t have a problem with tables. I love The Dungeon Dozen, the rear of the 1e DMG is great, and I use tables sometimes to generate ideas for an adventure or a room. The brain tends to work best, IMO, if given a couple of things to work from. “Make a village to adventure in!” is a big ask. But, if you seed the task with a few random rolls, well, the brain is good at making connections between things. This recognizes that and takes advantage of it.
I’d have no problem paying for this as a supplement. It’s not an adventure, so I don’t feel I can slap a Best on it, but it’s certainly worth checking out if you want a village generator that gives you not Tavern Names and General Stores but playable situations.
This is $3 at DriveThru. The preview is five pages and shows you some intro/framing pages and then all of the core tables for the die drop. You’re seeing the core of the generation in the preview.
Thank you for this: I think I asked for a review a while ago. I have this, and a situation-generator is exactly what it is; the referee needs to provide some of the detail, and sprinkle a little magic to make it come to life. However, as a usable product, does it outstrip Witchburner, despite the latter’s more evocative writing?