(5e) The Webbed Herring

By David Stapleton, Michael Looney, Keegan Brown
LNC Sages
Level 3

Deep within the forest there are rumors of fell canyon, a place of danger. A small stream runs out of the forest. It is said that following this stream will lead one to this canyon. Whispers have come to the ears of the party of dark crawling things, ancient cults, and shrubbery.

Uh …

This eleven page adventure features seven “rooms” in a small canyon that are described in three pages. It’s just combats, with not even the pretext of a plot. It baffles me how these things come to be. 

That into up there at the start, the publishers blurb that I attach as the first thing in all of my reviews? That’s all there is to this as an intro. That’s your hook, and your reason for adventuring. 

There’s a small canyon with high walls and a stream flowing out of it. Inside are seven chambers. Each one is, essentially, the exact same. You go in. The DM reads four or five sentences of some read-aloud that is meaningless. There’s an obstacle where you have to do some kind of check or fall prone. When you fall prone then either spiders or plants rush out and attack you. Next room is basically the same. And the next. And so on.

I must say, the dedication to “check for fall prone” is quite unusual. I wonder if the designer knows there are other things in D&D? In fact, I note that this wondrous work too the efforts of THREE designers. 

I can’t get over this thing. How ridiculous it is. There’s window dressing. Fish bones. A symbol, broken bones and an axe in a tree. They have nothing to do with the adventure. Because there is no adventure. It’s just go in a room, check for prone, and have a fight. 

Tactical mini’s. This is it. This is what people think D&D is. No wonder. No exploration. No roleplay. No interactivity. Just this. 

I remember a comic. A collection of frames, much like Far Side. One had a goldfish bowl. Two fish inside were looking at another who had flopped out on to the table. “Freedom. Terrible terrible freedom!” says the one on the table.

This is the internet. This is DriveThru. This is lower barrier to publishing. This is the ability of everyone to share their enthusiasm and creativity with everyone else. For better. And worse. 

There are a wide variety of play styles, but, is there some essence that makes D&D what it is? Some platonic form that can be pointed to? This is D&D. This is not D&D. 

Is everything meaningless?

This is $2 at DriveThru. There’s no preview. Otherwise you wouldn’t buy it.


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7 Responses to (5e) The Webbed Herring

  1. Melan says:

    I do like the introduction. A good module would not need more. What follows is obviously bad, but for an intro, I would take it.

  2. Jacob H says:

    But…. what’s the hedge whip?!

  3. Anonymous says:

    The intro paragraph mentioned cults – are there any?

  4. squeen says:

    What’s the Webbed Herring?

  5. David Stapleton says:

    Thanks for the feedback. We did overuse the fall mechanic. A failure on our part to look at the overall picture rather than each area individually.

    I agree that there isn’t much plot, but there isn’t meant to be. Are conception for these adventures is to be “campaign agnostic”. By that we mean that we see these as something a DM can drop into a play session when the players have gone in an unexpected direction and he or she needs some sort of filler or stop gap. It is a “tactical mini”, not because we think that is all there is, but because we think that there is sometimes a need for one.

    There is a bit of plot, or at least we intended for there to be. The axe and skeleton were not intended to be random, but a clue as to the dangers ahead. A man with an axe started to chop down a tree and got killed by the awakened tree.

    The symbol and the fish bones were a silly sort of Easter Egg based around the fact that we were using awakened shrubs, or shrubbery. It’s intended to be a reference to the “Knights who say Nee” scene from Monty Python and the Holy Grail. ( https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0e2kaQqxmQ0 ) The symbol is intended to represent the Kanji character in the name of Japan pronounced “Ni”. The bones of the fish are from someone trying to cut down the tree with a herring. Silliness, we agree, and perhaps we were too obscure.

    I do thank you for your kind words about the text of the introduction.

    We obviously failed in some of our goals, or at least failed to meet your expectations. We will gladly refund your purchase price.

    David Stapleton
    LNC Sages

  6. OSR Caveman says:

    “Is everything meaningless?”
    Whoa Bryce I come here for reviews and shitposting not deep reflections on the universe

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