Annihilation Rising

By Lloyd Metcalf
Fail Quad Games
Level 5

Monsieur Nerluc clings to the local mountainside. Villagers tell frightened children that the monstrous form of earthen stone is just a natural rock formation. It’s a lie they’d like to believe themselves. Monsieur Nerluc is, in fact, the lord of all tarasques, and strange cultists seek to waken him. If they do, his age-old toothache will begin to throb, and he’s going to be horrendously angry.

This sixteen page linear adventure is everything one comes to expect from a 5e adventure and nothing as one would expect from an OSR adventure. A quick 1e conversion cash grab, it’s full of skill checks, inspiration, low treasure and long read-aloud. Joy.

This is a drop-in adventure for use when you need a quick break from your game. Of course, it’s set in the designers home system, Altera, has a strong “French influence”, the setting features ley lines, and there’s supposed to be a bunch of tarrasques, with the one in this adventure being their king. So, you know, seamless drop in to your campaign world! Seamless doesn’t have to be generic but the more idiosyncratic your ideas the less seamless the adventure, obviously. Or, maybe, not obviously, since this adventure goes there.

I use the word “adventure” loosely. There is really no hook to speak of and it’s just some linear encounters after that. After meeting some hippy cultists on the road you go up a mountain trail to tail them, get caught in an avalanche, get a task from some griffons to kill a troll, get carried to the top by them, and fight the head cultist. Dishes Done!

There’s no real hook. There are a few rumors and an actual nice bit of advice to throw in some earthquakes leading up the adventure. I like that advice, the more continuous integration of adventures rather than obvious stand-along adventure modules … but I do note that it runs counter to the advice that this is a side-trek adventure to thrown in when you need a break, etc. But, the main point here is that there is no hook. There’s no reason for the party to follow the cultists they find at all. They seem happy and I guess it’s their talk of waking the tarrasque that is supposed to que the party? Do gooding? It’s VERy tenuous. 

The first cult encounter is another bright spot. Hippy cultists rather than the dark brood that most cultists in fantasy tend to be. Hippies are more like real life … which is scarier and more relatable. I think Hack ‘n Slash did a take on this in Hoard of the Dragon Queen. It was good then and is good now.

Read-aloud is LOOOOONG. The entire thing is low on loot for a 1e Gold=XP adventure. The text continually makes reference to skill checks, inspiration, and other 5e mechanics. Clearly, a 5e adventure that just had stats replaced in order to sell a few 1e copies as a cash grab. I LOATHE the cash grab side of conversions. They seemed to plague the earlier spate of reviews in the early days, as designers just slapped a 1e, OSRIC, or LabLord label on their two encounter Pathfinder linear suck-fest. 

Oh! Oh! And that Avalanche? You either die, get buried alive, or make 3 DEX checks for 6d6 damage each time. And if you fail one you have to make a second check or get thrown off the cliff. Is this adventure serious? 

Clearly, just a quick 5e stat-converted to 1e for cash. And a sucky 5e adventure at that. That avalanche is a doozy! It’s too bad, I was really looking forward to a more historical take on the tarrasque. Serves me right for having expectations. In fact, if I ever rename the blog it’s going to be “Misaligned Expectations” or something like that.

This is $4 at DriveThru. There’s no preview, otherwise you wouldn’t buy it.

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11 Responses to Annihilation Rising

  1. squeen says:

    I am left wondering: did the cover art inspire the adventure, or was it the other way around?

    • Good question, but i would guess the later, from the fact the Tarasque seems to be a french folklore inspired one, pointing to a direct connection with the “french influenced” setting of the designer, instead of the more typical D&D look & fare.

  2. The Middle Finger of Vecna says:

    What the hell is this fascination with the tarasque? I don’t get it.

  3. Ron says:

    Misaligned Expectations can either be your rap name, or the name of your punk band Bryce. Have the 1e/5e (converted for both) thing ever worked? I know the “feel” is supposed to be the same, but man the games are different in my mind; granted I’ve played a lot more 1E (decades) than 5E (like four times) 🙂

  4. Slick says:

    “Misaligned expectations” is right, the cover looks like the lair for a Skeletor/Mumra-esque cartoon villain. I figured this one would be full gonzo.

  5. Robert says:

    Bryce, have you ever thought about creating a glossary for some of the terms you use in your reviews, like EHP, Gonzo, Kegel, etc?

  6. Anonymous says:

    Regerts? 🙂
    Evil High Priest was always a confusing one. I played 1E and that always seemed an OD&D acronym to me.

  7. Robert says:

    Thanks! EHP has been the one that has been escaping me. I was able to figure out the other ones myself. Well, I *think* I got Kegal. He meant Kegel’s Manor. I did a search of Drivethru for that one.

  8. Ron says:

    Your welcome! (Stupid phone, that Anonymous was me, sorry about that!)

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