(5e) Sinner’s Manor

By James Eck
Mind Weave
Level 1


This nineteen page adventure details a four level manor with about twenty five rooms in about five pages. It’s just combat encounters in a non-keyed long paragraph descriptive format. Combined, of course, with counter-productive skill checks. A few interesting details show some potential, but this is just Yet Another Garbage Product.

And I’m the asshole. I’m the jerk faced jerk because I protest the torrent of shit and vomit that erupts like a firehose in to my face. How bad is this adventure? It’s got three stars on DriveThru, THAT’S how bad. 

So, old manor house in a town. Abandoned for multiple centuries. Rumored to be haunted. Over the years people have gone in to never come out. Still standing intact. Some dude in the town is obsessed with it and wants you to investigate it out so he can move in. Inside are the seven deadly sins. You go from room to room, finding one and then fighting it. That’s the entirety of the adventure. A straight up hack right out of the worst that 4e ever produced. Maybe worse; those had terrain.

I’m pretty sure that 5e still pays lip service to the three pillars concepts. Combat, roleplaying, and exploration. This is just combat. Nothing more. Any joy or wonder that D&D has is entirely non existent in this adventure. There’s nothing to explore, nothing to interact with. It’s just rooms with combat.

Oh, I’m sure it THINKS its exploration. But there’s nothing truly to discover or interact with except the monsters. 

And the format, oh my. The section headings in the text are by floor, and then by room. So, First Floor and then a subheading Kitchen. Of course, the map is numbered and doesn’t have the room names. This means the room numbers are put in to the text of the paragraph and you have to look there. Further, those subheadings? There’s not one per room. The Serving Room, not described, is mentioned in the Kitchen subheading but not elsewhere. This is not an isolated event, most rooms don’t have any description at all and are just mentioned in passing.

Why are they mentioned in passing? Why, to pad out the text by describing the doors on the map. The north door is open and leads to the Kitchen, for example. You know, THE THINGS A FUCKING MAP TELLS YOU. 

A house, with windows, yes? That you can look in? The text makes a point of telling us repeatedly that kids throw rocks at the glass. Well, no windows on the map, or even a hint of them in the descriptions. There’s absolutely no thought at all that has gone in to thie as a real environment. Mostly.

There IS a decent idea or two. A fireplace has ashed out on to the floor and there are ashy bootprints across a rug, as if someone was pacing. Oh course, you see the someone probably before you see the bootprints, and they attack you immediately, so the impact is lost, but the idea for a creepy descriptive thing is a good one. Broken glass from windows on the stairs. Again, a pretty good detail. 

These little bits show some promise, but they are VERY few and VERY far between and do very little to redeem the lack of interactivity and terrible format.

And you don’t even get real treasure. You’re told to put in a CR2 hoard. THAT’S THE FUCKING JOB OF THE DESIGNER! That’s is LITERALLY why we’re paying you. (Or, well, turning to a pre-written adventure in the case of a $0 or PWYW adventure …)

Oh! Oh! I almost forgot! Skill checks! It’s full of useless skill checks! In fact, the skill checks run COUNTER to the adventure. In general you make a skill check in this to determine how some rando body you find died. And the details are creepy. But if you don’t make the skill check then you don’t get the creepy. Is that the point? To NOT creep out the players?  No, of course not, you want them shitting themselves with fear. But you hide that behind a skill check. 

This is Pay What You Want at DriveThru with a suggested price of $1.You get all nineteen pages in the preview, so it’s a good preview. Page four of the preview (page two of the text) shows you the long-form descriptive stye that is indicative of the writing in this adventure.


This entry was posted in 5e, Reviews. Bookmark the permalink.

12 Responses to (5e) Sinner’s Manor

  1. Robert, OSR Heretic says:

    But skill checks seemed like such a good idea at the time…

  2. Malrex says:

    I know that people want the blood, sweat, and tears of publishers–even if its a PWYW (i.e. which means free to the majority)…but this product looks like it has 7 fleshed out monsters and five magic items. I see supplements like that all the time for a price–or a monthly patreon cost. This product goes a step beyond those supplements though and has maps, an adventure–which sounds like it didn’t quite hit the mark (but a brief glance does show some monster tactics at least), and looks like the author did all their own art. Even comes with player maps, paper mini’s, and a few hyper-links. I didn’t read it, but it does look like the author at least put some effort into the thing.

  3. Skerples says:

    “but it does look like the author at least put some effort into the thing.”
    Nobody gets points for effort. Chopping down a tree with a herring is impressive… but if your goal was to simply chop down a tree, you’ve chosen the wrong tool. It doesn’t matter if your book took 1,000 hours to write if most of those hours were wasted.

    • Malrex says:

      “Nobody gets points for effort.” Well…I gave one.

      • Lord Mark says:

        Effort is the beginning of knowledge, and knowledge the beginning or immortal power. After all without the effort of contacting me as Vampirespam@hotmail.com how could anyone gain entry to my hidden vampire kingdom?

        In the case of adventure writing it’s the same – we are talking about creative endeavor and there’s always both technique and vision in any such thing (unlike vampire powers which can be yours for a mere pittance). Frankly blunt insult and insistence that a writer is doomed because their early writings are unimpressive is a way of mystifying this hobby and driving people off with snobbery and elitism.

        Whoever James Eck is he has the strength of character to offer his journeyman work up for free. It might sound dull to you, but he’s not offering a 2 page preview and a $10 price for this. That alone is a victory in this fallen age of money grubbing hacks. Save your money for things that matter, like vampire powers.

        • Anonymous says:

          Oooorrr….maybe James Eck could read this review, learn a thing or two about how to write an adventure that’s more useful at the table, and improve his skills as he continues to write adventures.

          But no. On second thought, you’re right. Let’s make sure everyone gets a participation ribbon. Just keep churning out the same dreck. It’ll all be fine.

          • LL says:

            It’s a meme, you dip.

          • Lord Mark says:

            One thing about being an immortal vampire who offers internet services is that you learn comity and kindness cost nothing. Rage and insult do not seduce the mortals into the eternal embrace.

            Likewise, castigating amateur creators for their amateur efforts is impotent nerd rage, an effort to insist one is the superior in what is ultimately a niche hobby reviled by most adults. “I wrote the best D&D” is not a brag that gets a job, unlocks the keys to vampire powers, or impresses very many. Blovating about “participation ribbons” like a FOX news hack does nothing to either improve yourself or improve the quality of writing by amateur designers.

            Certainly Bryce’s advice here is useful, and Eck should consider it, but there’s no reason to be a snide brute in imparting it. You have nothing to be snide about even if your dungeons are the most dragonish.

        • Ice says:

          Do u eat period blood

          • Lord Mark says:

            The secrets of the hidden kingdom, occult truths of the sanguinary empire cannot be shared with the uninitiated. Being a spampire lord one does not give away proprietary vampire secrets to vulgar wags in the comment sections of blogs. I suspect you seek forbidden lore from a well of prurient interest, your unseemly fascinations are no matter, but beware the irresistible power of modestly priced online vampirism!

            To learn the ways of the sangrophage you need to pay the price. In bitcoin or money orders.

    • OSR Fundamentalist says:

      Uh oh Bryce look out and hide yo megadungeon notes cuz yo about to get finna SKERPED

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *