Night Crystal Pass

By Matt Kline
Creations' Edge Games
S&W
Levels 2-4

You’ve been hired by Silver Hammer Trading to investigate a river trade route, running through Night Crystal Pass, that has fallen into disuse. Unfortunately, the dwarves they send along as observers have their own agendas. And then there are the goblins… hideously transformed goblins.

This 23 page adventure describes an eighteen room small dyson map of a dungeon/temple along a river. The usual. DM text long and unwieldy. Read aloud fairly staid and misused. A couple of NPC’s accompany the party. They add nothing except a hidden victory condition.A pretty typical OSR adventure, with all of the implied meaning that phrase has.

Ok, you’ve got a six hour river journey ahead of you, with two tag-a-longs, and you roll for wanderers every hour. 3HD and 4HD wanderers. With 2d6 being the roll and 2, 12, and 7 being “No Encounter.” Yeah .. this thing is a little rough for level 2’s. 

Hanz and Franz go down the river with you to make notes on the journey. One wants to collect magic crystals and the other LUVS a dwarf goddess. That’s their secret agendas. So, they wander off at times, or can, to do their things. It’s not really an issue with party interaction. I would probably let them wander off and not care.  Until, of course, you get to the end of the adventure. THEN, if they are not with the party when you reach the town at the other end of the river, you don’t get paid your 1000gp. So, it’s a fucking escort mission with two dumbasses but you don’t KNOW it’s an escort mission. Easily solved by an up front DM, but it still pisses me off. It reminds me of that Cracked sketch about every escort mission ever.

Read aloud is the usual. Things are described as “large” and “low.” Boring adjectives and adverbs that do little to convey any real concrete impression of an area. “It looks like an attempt was made to …” that’s a conclusion. Conclusions don’t go in read-aloud. You describe an area in such a way that the players draw the conclusions about the area. That’s a big part of the fun of D&D, or any RPG for that matter. The discovery of something. If you tell them everything up front then it’s just a slog through combat after combat and you can do that in Advanced Squad Leader instead. Or maybe Gloomhaven. There’s also broken interactivity through oversharing in the read-aloud. The read aloud goes in to too much detail. Rather than present an opportunity for the party to investigate, and discovery, through an interactive back and forth with the DM, it instead just tells you the secrets up front. It’s fucking boring.

DM text is long, of course. Full of the history of the rooms, of course, that add nothing to an encounter. Full of conversational style of detail that makes it hard to scan. A page for a simple encounter with a couple of monsters and a barrell in the room.

This smells, at this point, of someone just cranking shit out for the sake of cranking shit out. That pisses me off. I feel cheated, as if our goals are the not the same. Someone seeking the lucre as opposed to doing the best the can because of enjoyment of the game. I come back to publishers who have done bad work, time and time again, because I’m always hopeful that they’ve improved their game. Some have! There are positive examples! And then there’s the people who are just cranking shit out. Tomorrow, I do something different, I hope!

This is $1.50 at DriveThru. The preview is the first four pages. Which is all filler. So you don’t actually get to see any of the encounters. LAME! Do you think, perhaps, I’m wrong? Perhaps I’m wrong and the reason for the preview button is to ensure that it is black text on a white background? No? Yes? I don’t fucking need this shit in my life on a Monday morning during a lockdown, or, to be frank, ever. 

https://www.drivethrurpg.com/product/309712/Night-Crystal-Pass-A-Swords–Wizardry-MiniDungeon?1892600

This entry was posted in Do Not Buy Ever, Dungeons & Dragons Adventure Review, Reviews. Bookmark the permalink.

8 Responses to Night Crystal Pass

  1. Beoric says:

    What exactly is the difference between “The Worst EVAR?” and “Do Not Buy Ever”? Is one worse than the other, or are they just bad in different ways?

    • Tom says:

      Heh, I was thinking the same. This calls for an interesting discussion: what sounds worse?

    • Slick says:

      I vaguely recall “DNBE” being reserved for adventures that are literal scams, Word docs of exposition being sold as “adventures”, or copy/paste conversions with zero editing, not just really really bad adventures but I may be mistaken.

      • DangerousPuhson says:

        The pattern I saw was always when Bryce decreed something “not an adventure”, but this one sounds like its just a shitty adventure, so who knows anymore.

  2. EOTB says:

    There seems a strong correlation between these types of issues and 1) the use of multiple cover fonts close together as if each were chosen without consideration of the others, and 2) the choosing of the most florid fonts possible out of more practical fonts.

  3. Dave says:

    A low level OSR party can punch well above it’s weight if they’re leveraging henchmen, wardogs or flaming oil. 3-4 HD wanderers is entirely appropriate if they’re lone or small numbers, less so in larger groups.

    “…to investigate a river trade route…”

    That’s cool. I’d play that. Nice raft trip down a river, pushing yourself off sandbars, watching out for sea monsters, knowing you have to kill anything big to clear the route and get the full paycheck, can’t just run away. That’s a cool adventure right there.

    Has fuck-all to with a dungeon complex though. I’ve ranted about this before, but what is up with adventure writers hooking you with some cool piece of terrain (castle, spire, cliff, waterfall, ancient giant tree, river trade route, etc.) then doing nothing with it and just giving you a regular dungeon map? I mean I still make and run underground dungeons drawn on graph paper, but at least I don’t pretend they’re something else. And when I do run surface feature I actually draw out the surface feature.

  4. Lord Mark says:

    You say this is a bad publisher that you’ve returned to again, hopeful for improvement – I like you optimism and as the Spampire King (I know I’ve been slacking lately, the death spell guy has been using up all the supernatural spam bandwith) I to am very much about self improvement … but reading these reviews, most recently some of the 5E stuff, I can’t help but wonder if these fountains of swill are unteachable.

    Immutable not because they are fools deserving of pity and kindness but because they are already monsters and cannot embrace change — convinced of the correctness of their styling and design. Is Night Crystal Pass “Do Not Buy Ever” dreck because of earnestly made errors or because someone believes that “B10 Kings Festival” is the greatest introductory module ever precisely because it contains a meaningless rescue quest into the cliched cave of humanoid raiders.

    • Ebbeneezer says:

      1) You mean B11
      2) B11 is by no means great, but certainly better then most other introductory modules, and a multitude of orc lairs that have come out since
      3) I think you don’t understand what an introductory module is meant to do, which is why Prison of the Hated Pretender is not very good

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