Purging Woth Nrld Oekwn’s Muddy Hole

By Jay Murphy
Vanishing Tower press
Levels 2-6(!)

A gasping faithful of the Grim Gauntlet, gripping bloodied mace in gashed hands, lies wounded in the forest. They have just crawled out from their failed mission within the “Hole”. A trio of fanged-mouthed humanoids killed their party before they escaped with their life. Robid has sworn to destroy this forgotten shrine of evil. Will the PCs help?

This forty page digest adventure describes about twelve rooms in about fourteen pages. There’s a small cave complex combined with a small weird temple complex … petty-god ish. Good interactivity and evocative writing combines with spotty organization. 

When I first looked at this I misread it and thought it was for OSRIC. As I was looking it over I thought to myself “Jesus, the OSRIC guys heads are gonna explode”! Then I looked again and it was 1e/BX/OSR systems. Ok. We’re talking a tone here closer to OD&D than 1e or generic B/X. Not really gonzo, but with a healthy, healthy non-standard monster and situation mix. “Petty God temple with Trogs” maybe describes the tone?

 The tone is very OD&D: lots of new monsters and new magic items … no book items at all. The situations are weird. A sickening yellow membrane across a doorway. A harbinger in the dungeon. Dismembered corpses scattered about … with the things you need to desecrate/shut down this temple. It’s weird mix of trogs and petty gods stuff … it sets a dark and ominous tone with the text.  A room is barren, with the heavy smell of wet earth. Corpses ripped up, parts missing, with maggots infesting them and maggot/wing/wasp things festing on them. The smell of ammonia precedes the pink slime monsters. There are weird alters and things in the dungeon to fuck with. It’s a good mix and sets the tone for “weird” without it being gonzo. 

Treasure seems light for anything but level 2’s … and the first monster encounter is with 11 2HD monsters in a room blocked by monsters … that’s gonna be rough for level 2’s. Blocking monsters can be a problem in older editions of D&D. Or, maybe, it sets a pretty strong level range if there’s no way around them or clever way through them. It also does some weird things with information in place. “If Bob is with the group he’ll tell the party that his buddies died in the next room …” Well, if Bob is with the party then they may have asked that before getting to this room. Having the Bob section tell us what Bob kbnows is far better than digging through the text for each room to ferret out what someone knows.

The organization of the text is …  inconsistent. Some rooms do a decent job or organizing the text for the DM. Room two has two dead bodies that have attracted Muckwings (stats for muckwings) (order of battle notes) (body 1 descr)(body 2 descr.) That’s a decent layout. You’re likely to se ethe bodies and then the monsters when you enter, and then you’ll search the bodies and the layout reflects that.

Another room, though, mentions the smell of ammonia first (good) but then monster stats. And then mentions a small hole in the floor the size of an apple. THEN it mentions the back wall being dominated by an upright stone coffin. Then it covers reaching in to the hole. Then the same paragraph covers the coffin and it opening. It’s all over the place. First things first then second things second. Jumping all over the place with your room text forces a complete reading for the room … which is not good at the table during play. Other areas tell us that pink slime encroaches out in the hallway from the room. Well, fuck, that a detail that should be on the map or somehow otherwise noted prior to the room so the DM can run it correctly. 

But, it’s certainly original. And full of evocative writing and interesting interactive encounters. And is non-standard as all get out. If you want something a little different then I’d Regert this … but the somewhat tortured writing in places and lack of clarity in others makes it a tough recommend on the Bryce Lynch “On the Best” scale. A scale which is unfair to original works like this.

This is $4 at DriveThru. The preview is GREAT. You get some art samples (which do a good job conveying a Darkest Dungeon tone and brining the monsters to life) and you get to see about seven of the room. Note room two in particular. Can you tell me what items the bodies have and if they are pertinent to the adventure? Check out room five and see how the bolding clases with the monster bolding … and that giant hand/head alter. Pretty spiffy!


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25 Responses to Purging Woth Nrld Oekwn’s Muddy Hole

  1. Oswald says:

    I ‘m sorry but I laughed like a middle schooler when I read that adventure title.

  2. squeen says:

    Byrce, you keep making a strong distinction between OD&D play and 1e—something that is fuzzy for me. Would you mind summarizing what that means to you personally?

    • OSR Caveman says:

      It basically boils down to

      • squeen says:

        Not sure that helped.

        If you go back and read his reviews from nearly 8 years ago, Bryce has been making a fairly consistent and cogent set of points about adventure design—ones that I was slow to comprehend. I know he has been alluding to something fairly recently with regards to OD&D and its “board gamey-ness”. And while I’m not interested in edition wars (here at least), I do want to understand what’s on his mind. For me, the shift from 0e (OD&D) into 1e (AD&D) was/is subtle…so I am curious.

        Also, is your name Bryce?

        • Muddy Waters says:

          I’m not sure about the board gaminess, but one difference is that AD&D (and Greyhawk before it) made character attribute stats matter much more than they had in OD&D, so players started caring more about player stats, starting with a strong character, and not losing that character. In OD&D characters were, at least at low levels, recognized as more disposable. AD&D also started a trend toward standardization and with it the “vanilla” that Bryce mentions. Instead of a fighter evolving into a ranger like character through the course of play in a particular DM’s world, ranger becomes one of many standard menu items to choose from. Initially though, the impact was different – all the items, spells and so on were new, so they (especially in conjunction with the much improved art) provided the sort of inspiration and freshness Bryce likes to see in modules.

          • squeen says:

            Thank you. Very helpful.

            It seems the personification of PC’s and theindexing/classification of their talents has had an irresistible gravity on the game from the very start.

    • Bryce Lynch says:

      Pre-trope D&D. And maybe pre-standardized D&D. It’s not true that OD&D is one way and 1e is another, but the trends were there in two eras, so it’s a shorthand I use. Things are more vanilla in the 1e era and more free in the OD&D era … there were substantially fewer resources to call upon.

      • squeen says:

        OK. Thanks. I”ve got it now. I’m still waiting for enlightenment on “more board gamey/winning mndset” vs. otherwise, but that can wait for another day.

        Also, my apologies to OSR Caveman—he had it right. I just got lost in the emotionally-loaded superlatives.

        Funny all this classification of terms, but, honestly, it helps me understand the style I prefer much better. (Now if only I can translate that new understanding into action and write/DM better!)

        • The Middle Finger of Vecna says:

          And there’s no reason why you can’t run 1e in a more OD&D fashion. Sure, there are more rules in 1e but when compared to later editions, it’s pretty rules light.

        • Bryce Lynch says:

          It’s the Gold=XP & resource push-your-luck stuff vs “enjoy” the DMs story

          • The Middle Finger of Vecna says:

            Agreed. Fuck the DM’s story. I don’t need to play through your novel. The players create the story through their actions.

          • squeen says:

            I understand that the 2 mechanism listed push you away from “story” (with emphasis on player-character-protagonists) and into a more “This a a games with rules. I am competitive player and I want to win this within that framework.”

            However, I am still a bit cloudy on the following (solely in Byrce’s head):
            a) Does 0e (OD&D) fall into the story-camp?
            b) Does 1e fall into the story-camp?

            My guess is that both DO NOT and that is a later “innovation” or change in game-style, BUT I suspect that the answer to (A) might be “yes” because of it’s loosey-goosey rule structure.

            Clarification on your thinking would be appreciated.

        • EOTB says:

          The shortcoming of disdaining previously published game pieces (magic items, etc.) is that many of those game pieces are effective and fun to use in play, and many players haven’t had the chance to use them in play. All of these are tools for players to use in figuring out their PC through play. Leaving them out of adventures is like leaving hammers and screwdrivers out of toolboxes for carpenters and only putting in exotic variations sold on home shopping channels.

          While always, always, always coming up with “new” versions of these might intrigue the reader-DM who needs a spark and creative kindling – the DM shouldn’t need so many sparks that the players are denied useful game pieces just because the DM is so familiar with them that they don’t pop DM-woody anymore when they see them on the page. The classic modules were a good mix of new content and useful familiar content.

          • Miyu says:

            I agree, a good balance is the best. Not to mention the general increase in bookkeeping for both the DM and players when you have to track and follow how a bucket load of new, potentially complex magic items work in an ongoing campaign.

  3. Jay Murphy says:

    Bryce’s link seems broken; https://www.drivethrurpg.com/product/285390/AA03-Purging-Woth-Nrld-Oekwns-Muddy-Hole?affiliate_id=414579

    Thanks for the super-accurate review of my first offering for those crazy D&D kids! Nice thing about PDF files, you can make changes and get them up to your customers really quick!

  4. Jay Murphy says:

    Bryce, how did you come across my adventure module? It hasn’t been out for more than a week. And haven’t even put out a press release yet.

  5. POD softcover edition is available on DriveThru! The one on Lulu is getting taken down.

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