By James A Youhas Just One More Fix LLC OSR Level ?
The Hasting’s Party is a celebration of triumph against the elements and of survival in one of the most inhospitable places for mankind to live. It is a moment to remember the community and sacrifice it takes to survive in a harsh world, but is there something more sinister beneath the surface?
This 22 page sandbox adventure “details” a small winter mountain village and the feast they have every month .. as well as the cave of a witch. The basic architecture of the adventure is good, but it fails on almost all of the details.
First, let’s cover what I mean by it has a good basic architecture. I’m stating this in relation to a sandbox adventure … which I wish more adventures of this type would choose to be. More than a specific plot, and specific encounters, it is presenting a situation that the party finds itself in. Iedally the adventure then provides the DM the resources they need to handle the situation in response to the parties interactions with its various elements. In support of this there might be a little background information on whats going on, the location/village, etc, the people in it and what they think/generally react, an event timetable, the lair of the bad guy, and then some support tables, like what are the names of the people for that random house you just busted in on, and so on. You’re giving the DM the tools they need to react and go with the flow, riffing off of what the party does. This adventure understands that basic format required of a sandbox adventure and lays out the parts of it well. There’s a short little background, describing whats going on, and a little section on themes that I found nice. Essentially, four bullet points with instructions to “pull the adventure back to these elements/insert these elements in situations.” Hey, that’s great! Being so important to the adventure, I would have located those themes on the DM reference sheet included, so they were always at hand, but, hey, how many times do you see an adventure explicitly tell you “try to make your riffing related to one of these elements” in an adventure? Never? Once? Yeah, I’ll take it.
It is unfortunate the, that the specifics of most of the sections are not handled well by the adventure.
Let’s start with the village. It’s a fucking die drop. Do the die drop to make the village map and then use the map to help define the relationships between the various families in the village. Why do this? This is a finite location. It’s not like you’re making an “empty house generator” or planetary design generator. It’s one specific location, whats the purpose of a die drop table? Extra work for me? No thank you. If you insist, because of “replayability” then stick the same thing in the appendix and give me the specifics of a situation in the adventure. The singular can be concrete, it doesn’t need a random generator.
The witches cave is a one pager art piece, with nice detail, and a two or three sentences describing each room. Most of which, skinning, butchery, rendering, are pretty gruesome. And, beyond that, pretty boring. There’s not really much to investigate. A random table determines if there’s someone in the room, an escaped child or a monster. And there’s no real treasure to speak of. AT ALL. I mean, NOTHING. The The family relationships are likewise empty (because of that die drop shit) and the wandering in the wilderness and exposure are generic and flavourless. It’s just all lacking the details to bring it to life. There’s a little time-table table (ug, because of the die drop) but it’s really just “how many days until the next feast!” There’s no real events in the village, or things to do or things that happen, or drama, except for It’s Feast Day! And once that happens then its pretty obviously killing time.
As a result we get a very flavourful set up, with a mountain spirit, a pact, an interesting, if familiar, thing going on … and then almost nothing specific to support it with. At best, you get “this family is suspicious and this one is not.” and little else. Hooks are generic and forgettable “looking for someone” stuff, although, there’s nothing wrong with a “you come across a mountain village in your travels” inserted in to an ongoing campaign.
There is, obviously, a lack of level ranges given by the adventure, . There are a lot of 3HD monsters though, A LOT, so, maybe 6-7, given that the main baddie is a 10d12 HP monster?
You know, there is something else I like. It has a consequences section. Again, mostly abstracted and of little use, but there is one part. The witch is a spirit of winter, and will be reborn with the next winter. That’s nice, but better, the characters will, anytime they are in the winter wilderness, get a shiver up their spine. “The quiet moments of a cold and frozen death are where [the witch] lives” Nice!
So, decent gameplan but poorly executed.
This is $5 at DriveThru. There is no preview. Naughty Naughty! Put us in a preview and a level range, so we can figure out if we want to buy it?