Plague, War, & Famine 1

By Peter Rudin-Burgess
No levels given

Can the characters save teh(sp) starving city folk? Can they defeat the impending invasion?

This fourteen page adventure details six scenes in eight pages. While not exactly linear it has more in common with modern plot-based adventures than a more open older style. It’s also an absolute MESS in presenting information. One of the worst.

It’s listed as OSRIC … but it also makes reference to the players using their skills and players with strong social skills and using first aid skill, etc. This would lead me to believe that it’s a conversion … ah, yes, I see now on DriveThru that it’s available for a slew of other systems. The usual conversion issues are present: no fucking treasure means no XP and the combat, if used, tends to be forced. Neither are good in OSRIC. The OSRIC gang would probably be ok with the adventure, mechanically, since it’s only mechanics are some stats for some new monsters. But there’s also no level given on the cover or in the publishers blurb or anywhere in the adventure, except for it saying “this is an introductory adventure.” I guess that means level one’s?

This is more of an adventure outline than an adventure. The first scene and last scene are required and then the middle three depend. There are two abandoned ships in the harbour locked together and your mission is to tow one back. Thus the three additional scenes: if you board ship one, board ship two or just tow ship one back. Each of the scenes consists of MANY paragraphs, over a couple of pages, describing “first this and then this” types of things in a very abstracted way. I mean, Bloody Mage/Stink in Golanda abstracted. It’s all very high level, there’s a lot of it, and it’s not organized very well. The delete key is a designers best friend, and removing text and highlighting other things with bullets, indents, etc would have made the different sections, and important text stand out more. I really do mean the comparison to, say, Stink in Golanda by BM … this adventure is just barely there in the most abstract way.

The first scene has the party in a hold listening to a combat above them as they come in to port on a ship. Then they get involved in a food riot and given their mission to go out to See A Ship In The Harbor and tow it back, since it contains much needed food for the city. “At some point someone accuses the party of stealing food or cutting the food line” is the extent of the food riot and food line description for the town. Like I said … REALLY high level and then it’s combined with A LOT of information, most of it superfluous. 

Each “scene” has an optional combat, so a kind DM can ensure that NO combat happens in the adventure. It’s all “the floating could attack the parties ship” and so on. At one point there is an opportunity for the party to get in to a fight with about 400 2HD/3HD bug-monsters on one of the ships. That’s something you don’t see everyday. It’s handled terribly, but I applaud the “We done fucked up!” opportunity. It’s in the last scene, the return to port, that critical information comes to light: there are bug eggs hidden in the flour on the ship they’ve come to tow back. At least I think there are. The adventure says about as much “there are bug eggs in the flour; it’s their plan to get them in to town that way”, but that’s it. Nothing more. Further, it mentions several times that the ships are tuck together but gives no mechanics or words of advice AT ALL on how to unstick the two ships, even though it’s likely to be the parties first line of questioning. 

And did I mention that the tug you take over has 96 slaves below deck rowing? I guess this was Zweihandler conversion? I tend toward a rather pragmatic style of D&D play, but even as a player I usually don’t let slavery go unmurder-hobo’d unless the DM fiats my inability to.

I don’t understand the decisions that adventure designers make. I suspect most are just overly enthusiastic about their creations. Which is great, but I wish the final products were better. It’s not one of the worst I’ve seen … but it’s a breathe away from being one of the worst.

(I should note also that I’m pretty sure this is an English as a Second language adventure. There are some misspellings and grammar issues, but while noticeable they don’t make the adventure unplayable in any way. The long form text descriptions and abstracted adventure do, though.)

This is $3 at DriveThru. There is no preview. And what do we say when No Preview comes a calling?–War-1–OSRIC-Compatible?1892600

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7 Responses to Plague, War, & Famine 1

  1. Shuffling Wombat says:

    Once bitten, please bite me again multiple times. To put it mildly, you didn’t like Gemsting Caves, a previous effort from this author. Are you undertaking a penance?
    This is indeed a Zweihander (WFRP2e clone) conversion. It is reasonable for a WFRP adventure to be a little more wordy, talking is the default rather than swinging swords. The best WFRP adventures describe interesting dynamic situations, with a variety of approaches open to the PCs. Alas this is a guided tour through the referee’s prepared story. (There is a preview for the Zweihander version.)

  2. Ronald Redmond says:

    Phew, what a review. I gotta say, I dig the cover… the flag may be anachronistic, but that’s a great ship/water scene. Also “I usually don’t let slavery go unmurder-hobo’d” is one of my new favorite sayings. I think you play only IRL Bryce, but if you ever DM or play in a Roll20/Skype game that I can get in on, please let me know, pretty sure we have similar playing styles! 🙂 One of these days maybe I’ll talk you into running a PbP on Unseen Servant, but I know time is always limited. 🙁
    Be well and thanks for the review!!

  3. Hamburgler says:

    So reading this I gots to wonder if Bryce has read a scene based adventure he likes? Is there some 3.5E – 5E creation one can get excited about with a branching scene structure? An adventure path that isn’t linear? A storygame style series of dramatic scenes worthy of the name?

  4. Anonymous says:

    Great, Now I have New Orders Blue Monday stuck in my head.
    Btw the next line”I can and shall obey” vs “I can; a shallow bay”?

  5. Dave says:

    On the adventure outline thing, a good rule of thumb for an adventure writer: if every GM who runs it is going to have to work up the same material, the writer should go ahead and develop that for us. Even some products I otherwise like fail at this. Qelong for one, I got a lot of mileage out of that as a campaign setting, but major keyed areas on the overland map being left to the GM to work up was an aggravation. And after looking for other people’s work to copy online, I wonder how many GMs actually ran it rather than only reading it. I found online evidence of only three runs at the time, and one was a single session in a planehopping game. Apply whatever multiplier you like for games played but never mentioned online, that’s still pretty low for a reasonably successful and well reviewed module.

    Thematically, it sounds like Do Not Let Us Die In The Dark Night of this Cold Winter does “save the starving village” better in every way. I’d be interested someday Bryce to see your review of that. Though it may not meet your criteria; it’s an adventure written up as it’s own system or subgame. So you get your stats and special action based off your D&D class, but then you’re resolving looking for food or firewood or whatever using the book’s own independent system. Good idea well executed I thought, but possibly limits it’s wider appeal.

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