(5e) Secrets of Mistcutter Isle

by Rick Maffei
Goodman Games
Level 5

Mistcutter Isle has always had a dark history. For years the isolated isle served as a haunt for pirates and smugglers looking to hide their ill-gotten gains. But before that, legend has that the Isle was home to a race of savage, sea-dwelling creatures that enslaved other races. Somewhere on the Isle, it is said, is their hidden temple. Such tales were not always believed, but recently sailors have seen unusual purple lights in the sky above the Isle. Something is happening, and those with long memories fear that evil is afoot. Do the adventurers dare investigate the secrets of Mistcutter Isle?

This 28 page adventure details a sea cave complex with about seventeen areas. Editing mistakes and a formulaic approach make it bland.

Let us imagine you had a formula for making an adventure. You drew a map. In each romo you placed a monster. You also place some obstacle in some room that the monster is not impacted by. You do this for each room. You call this an adventure. 4e did something similar where there were these big set piece rooms with terrain modifiers and some kind of magical effect. It felt generic in 4e and the formula approach feels generic in this adventure. Oh, not every room is this way. Some just have a monster. And some just have the trap/obstacle. But it’s close enough.

There’s this naga and she’s luring adventurers to an underground temple so they will trigger traps so she doesn’t have to. Mistake one: luring adventurers. God this is so overused. Isn’t there any other reason for things existing other than this? What happened to just being evil? And having loot? In fact, there are two decent hooks that in no way involve the bullshit “luring.” The navigators guild hires you to map the island, for navigation purposes/threats, and a nearby town sees purple lights coming from the isle and “that can’t be good. Better find someone to look in to it.” I’m not a big fan of “hiring”, but the navigation guild stuff is a great pretext for getting in to trouble, and more realistic than hiring mercenaries. The “we see purple lights and that can’t be good …” thing is at least more interesting than the usual “hired by archeology/wizard/sage” boring of stuff. Which to be fair, is present also; I just don’t mention that shit anymore. If the designer doesn’t make an effort then why should I?

The read-aloud is in italics. I hate long sections of italics. I find it difficult to read more than sentence, and sometimes less. Bold it. Box it. Offset it. Just don’t fucking put it in italics. It’s hard on the eyes and comprehension.

Editing is terrible. I mean REALLY terrible. I mean more than the usual terrible editing, which plagues RPG adventures. In this case numerous mistakes creep in. “The area B colossus …” There is no colossus at area B. There’s a big statue elsewhere. Do they mean that? The map has shaded areas to indicate flooding …which don’t make sens to me AND are wrong. The text refers to six, nine, and ten as flooded … but six is not shaded on the map. But room one is. And the flooding text, combined with the map notations are supremely confusing in and of themselves. I still can’t figure out what’s flooded when to how deep and how deep if not. Are they entirely underwater? Who knows. I spent some time looking for a map of a specific dead-end hallway that referred to “areas a, b, and c on the map”, but there was no map with a, b, and c on them. Then, finally, on the least encounter, I saw that they had a full page map for the last room. ANd inset below it was a little map for the dead-end hallway. NOT a good editor.

This is on a small island. There are a number of encounters, five or so. There’s also a wandering monster table. The encounters are essentially just entries from the wandering monster table that’s been expanded to fill a lot more text. There’s just no meat to them. Fight a monster, big stat block, move on.

Encounters details why the monster is here. What it thinks and feels. How it got here. Why it is still here. It’s history of past battles. None of this is fucking relevent to the adventure. Instead of spending the word count on, tersly, describing an evocative environment it instead indulges in this trivia nonsense. 

Enter room. Listen to read aloud. Identify obstacle. Find and kill monster while avoiding obstacle. Get treasure. Go to next room. That’s no D&D. That’s a caricature of D&D. 

This is $7 at DriveThru. The preview doesn’t work. So you can’t actually tell the quality of what you’re buying beforehand. I can has sadz.


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2 Responses to (5e) Secrets of Mistcutter Isle

  1. “It was once a haunt for pirates and smugglers looking to hide their ill-gotten gains” – what and no tales of why it is not anymore, or rumours of treasures that might still be around?

    “But before that, legend has that the Isle was home to a race of savage, sea-dwelling creatures that enslaved other races.” – and when the PC asks “what race of creatures?” or “whom did they enslave?” is the poor GM sent packingg in a haphazard search somewhere between its notes….

    “Somewhere on the Isle, it is said, is their hidden temple.” – Would not people who defeated the “savage sea-dwellers” KNOW where their temple is if it was a major feature of their domination and consequently, NOT be hidden anymore? Ok, i might be jumping to conclusions, but the blandness of “hidden temple” as major feature/objective does NOT help any.

    How about the decayed remains of plantations, zigurats or palaces maintained by the labor of slaves and burned & toppled down in the fires of blood-earned freedom? We ARE talking of slavers, so PLAY WITH THE THEME, WRITERS, it ain’t so hard….

    Also, what the heck is a mistcutter?

    • A Fogcutter is a classic beach cocktail made primarily of white part rum, brandy, gin, orgeat, orange juice and lemon. Some, usually older, versions have sherry in them as well for an additional sweet note, but to modern taste it’s likely excessive.

      Presumably a Mistcutter is virgin version. Orange juice, lemon, almond syrup and likely a dash of tonic or bitters?

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