By Metal Turtle Games Self-published Generic Level ... 2?
What would happen if inhabitants of the stars visited a fantasy world ?
This 24 page digest-sized adventure has a few pointcrawl locations in the wilderness and a four-level pointcrawl dungeon with about 24 rooms. It’s fairly plain, in spite of it’s gonzo nature, with little in the way of evocative descriptions. Interactivity is lightly implied, but in the abstract. There’s just not much to this, in spite of the length. Also, it’s more “weird cultist” than alien, but absolutely has tech and aliens in it.
Villagers hear sounds in the woods and see weird figures in the fog and call in the party. There are four pointcrawl locations, once of which is the four level cultist dungeon, and another location which isn’t on the pointcrawl map. Basically, an alien shuttle has crashed and some cultists, in the dungeon, have captured a few of them. The village, Cowshire, has five locations, each with a single sentence description. “Market: a regular market with a huge choice of beef street food.” Cowshire, The Laughing Cow tavern, a wide variety of beef-based street food? I can get in to that. It’s the consistency of the theming that inspires the DM to push things in their own game and dig in to it. I might wish for some off the wall examples, especially in a gonzo/alien adventure, but, the designer is certainly on the right track with theming, at least in the village.
There’s a vampire hunter in the tavern. He’s convinced he saw vampires the night the sounds were in the woods. He tries to convince the party to buy garlic to protect themselves. That’s the extent of his description. Maybe a a bit lack lacking again, but the core of a good encounter is there and I’ll take that over too little or too much. Further, it ties in to the first couple of encounters in the dungeon proper.
The wilderness pointcrawl is really just three locations, and maybe a fourth, the shuttle. The shuttle isn’t on the map but the crash can be seen from another location. What’s weird here is that the descriptions seem out of order. I’ve seen this in a couple of other products, only a handful though, and it’s weird everytime I see it. What if you put the main encounter first, the dungeon with its four levels and its twenty rooms, and then listed the other wilderness encounters, each of which took, like, half a page? That’s what this does, putting the main dungeon first after the village and then following up with the minor locations. And then the shuttle appears BEFORE the location where you can see the shuttle. It’s out of order, and weird. I don’t know if this is just convention, staring me in the face, or of there are actual usability issues in this. But it’s weird, in any event.
There’s no stats, and no real treasure to speak of. Well, there is, but it’s mostly text descriptions. “These are very valuable books” and things like that. A blaster pistol. An alien multitool without a description beyond “useful to the party.” And a giant statue worth 1,000,000,000gp if you can get it out of the dungeon. And eyes worth 5000gp each. And that’s not on the lowest level. It’s weird. Stats are “as bandits (b44)” I assume that’s the basic book? Which one? I don’t know. And that’s the GOOD stats. There are a couple of new creatures that don’t even get that treatment. It’s listed as 1e/Basic, etc, but there’s not really anything here to tie it to any system other than that confusing “B44” thing.
Encounter descriptions are very basic setups with not much more. There tends to be something interesting going on in most rooms, but the descriptive manner is somehow a major turn off. I can’t quite put my finger on it. The second room has a group of vampires living in it, not evil, they steal cows to drink their blood and will talk to the party. Another rooms description though is ”In the middle of the room, there’s an area of the ground with a lighter tone. This part of the ground is actually a trapdoor covered in stone, hiding a pit full of deadly spikes (save against breath or die).” it’s very basic. Very matter of fact. Mechanically based, with little attention paid to the descriptive or evocative elements of an encounter. Thus there’s a nugget of goodness in many rooms, but not much to inspire the DM to run it well. “This old library has miraculously survived many catastrophes and the passage of time, at least for the shelves and a few books.” Well, ok. At least it’s not overwritten? But those descriptions could be massaged in to something more evocative, I guess is my criticism. “This room is full of tentacles, some passing by, others looking for an unknowing prey to catch and strangle.” Ok…. well … what does that mean? I mean, nice, I guess, but … I’m just, I’m not sure what to do with it. I guess i could do anything with it, is my point, and I think a good description needs just a little more grounding. “12 orcs” is too open-ended as a description. “Rowdily dicing”, when added on, gies me something to work with. The descriptions in this seem closer to the “12 orcs” side of the house. Not exactly minimal, or maybe they are? But not concrete in the way I’m looking for in an adventure. Something to wrap my mind around during play, to kickstart the imagination and then take it and riff off of it for the current circumstances.
This is $3 at DriveThru. The preview is seven pages. You get to see the entirety of the village of Cowshire, and the first nine rooms of the dungeon. This should be more than enough to give you an idea if the style is something you’ll be in to.