(5e) 1-6 Skeletons in a Stable

By Steve Wright
Deus Ex Minima
5e
level 1

Why are there so many skeletons in this stable? What secret does the town chandler hide? Who is asking all these questions?

This eight page adventure uses four pages to describe a stable with some skeletons in it. What was I expecting? I was expecting more of what’s actually hinted in the marketing and the content … short & punchy. There’s not enough here. I know, Surprising, isn’t it?

How much of this site is performance art? Surprisingly little. What you get here are the expressions of my inner child. That’s someone who’s not generally let out in public unless I’m sleeping with you and it’s time for the seasonal 11pm Sunday night ennui. But, these feelings are honest. The hopeful,  high expectations. The crushing disappointment. Expectations are a terrible thing. You can’t have the highest highs without also feeling the lowest lows, can you? Generally it’s the case that I expect the best of what I’m reviewing, with very few exceptions. And because of that you get what you experience on this site: crushing despair when it’s nothing nearly matching those expectations. High standards? Nah, good sir, simply standards in a sea of product that has none! They only seem high when compared to the quantity of what doesn’t make the cut.

Which leads me to marketing. I’m a sucker for marketing. I’ll go for the weird thing on the menu, every time. With the extra tentacles. You’ve got a speciality cocktail menu? Yes, bring me one of each. Not every experience can be good, but every one can be magnificent. Like Mulder, I want to believe. “The booklet has everything you need to meet …” “Skellies included!” Great for a one shot, Setup, NPC’s, story hooks, maps, loot, all included! Help with NPC names! Ideas for future encounters!  Well, you know what Obi Wan says about a certain point of view? I guess they cut the scene where Luke screams profanity at Obi Wan for the deception. Do we accept a certain amount of puffery in marketing? Do we accept that we’re going to be lied to? How much is ok? Where’s the line? If it’s ok for the publishers to puff their marketing, then is it really any surprise when the non-jaded are upset by it? Life is a game baby. You get to puff, but you have to expect pushback. And then as a publisher you get to be mock outraged. You should probably check first, to ensure your neighbor is growing vegetables and not roses. Cause you don’t fuck trivially with the neighboring lord who grows roses.

Hook! That’s what it says! Hooks! “You heard something in town.” “You were sent by a patron to deal with it.” “You stumble out of the woods and need a rest.” Hmmm. I think we have misaligned expectations here. That is pretty much word for word what the “hooks” are. Three very generic idea, used a million zillion time before. The most basic and simple of things. 

“Hmmm, I can’t say the product contains complete sentences … let me see … Leverages the full power of the Unabridged dictionary to present exciting and dynamic hooks! … that’s it! That’s the ticket!” 

Ultimately, it’s a stable with some skeletons in it. The tactics, puffed up in the marketing, are that they relentlessly attack anyone who enters the stable. “They have no particular tactics”, we’re told. Well, I feel cheated. There’s a house, next to the stable, expensive looking, Unbroken windows. You can’t break in to it though, you’re prevented from doing so by magic. 

And this is all too bad, because other parts of the adventure are quite intriguing, at least in as much as revealing what might have been. The wanderer table is a good one, terse, with giant snakes dropping on the last person, bugbears holding people up, and bandits lost in the woods. The two chandlers in town hate each other, one paying to cover up things his dad did, another paying to find out what the other guys dad did, and the innkeep buying info to keep those two from each others throats. And it takes about as many words to describe it as I used here. Terse.

So, there’s nothing here, but there are hints of what could have been, Instead of four pages of content the adventure could have had eight pages. The stable, tactics imagination and and encounter depth could have been greater. The hooks could have involved the town. The town could have been given six paragraphs instead of three, to expand the rivalry/triangle a bit more. 

But that’s not what we got. Insead we got puffery and a note that this adventure requires the addition of a DM to bring it to life. 

That’s not an excuse.

This is Pay What You Want at DriveThru with a suggested price of $2. There is no preview, but, as PWYW, I guess it’s free.

https://www.drivethrurpg.com/product/310491/16-Skeletons-in-a-Stable?term=skeletons+in+a+?1892600

This entry was posted in 5e, Dungeons & Dragons Adventure Review, Reviews. Bookmark the permalink.

17 Responses to (5e) 1-6 Skeletons in a Stable

  1. Dave says:

    Zombies/skeletons mindlessly going through the motions of their last or most repeated actions from life should be the new “they attack”. Even if predictable, it gives players something to play around or plan around.

    Here that would give you skeletons who try to stable and brush travelers’ horses, until something doesn’t go as they “expect” and it all breaks down. That’s a start.

    Then actually detail the house so you can break into it and figure out what’s up. Maybe the pater familias is/was a necromancer, now decomposing in his favorite chair but with his family and servants still going about a mockery of their past lives. Could have his eyes pop open and cast a spell, but I might go for the pathos and slow burn of having him be the only one who’s really dead. Just some spellbooks and papers to loot and a rare reversal of the boss fight at the end trope.

  2. Anonymous says:

    “Skeleton TACTICS” on front cover.

    “They have no particular tactics”

    I’m lolling at the balls on this guy.

    • Bryce Lynch says:

      I know! it’s like he’s the greatest huckster ever!
      “Now, unlike most cars, this here au-to-mo-bile comes with FOUR tires! That’s something you just don’t get on some and is a sign of the higher quality …”

      • How much of this site is performance art? Surprisingly little.

        I thought for SURE this was how this was all going to go down. Trite hooks, vapid advice, and wandering monster tables obviously generated by online generators set to “whatever, bruh”. Hmmmm….even when someone SHOULD just be jerking Bryce’s chain by now they aren’t. Damn it.

  3. Sir Man Who Looks at Covers says:

    What an absolutely qmagnificent cover! Pitty the content doesn’t live up to it.

  4. Venger Satanis says:

    You would have been better off staying home and playing Dead God Excavation, instead.

  5. PyroArrow says:

    It’s cool that these expanded 1 page dungeons are getting reviewed! I’m still waiting for a thorough review of “Ravenloft: Prey of the Black Wolf”! I had both my 1st/2nd and 5th Edition groups play test it and want to see what the reviewers are saying! It is surprising I haven’t seen one anywhere yet!

  6. PyroArrow says:

    Here is where you can view my Weekly Gaming Summary posts for each of the Ravenloft PlayTests, so anyone can see how they went:1st/2nd Edition (just had 8th session, 7 summaries posted):
    https://bit.ly/2Y30MBA

    5th Edition (Finished in 5 sessions, so 5 summary posts):
    https://bit.ly/2Y2TDkY

    There are edited down story chapters so you can see fully how it went as well.
    Let’s wait on commenting about them until after Bryce posts the review!

  7. PyroArrow says:

    Opps! Sorry for the multi-posting! It was glitching on me and the ‘post comment’ button would disappear without me able to scroll down to see it and I thought my post was not posting!

  8. Ron says:

    Might be an interesting thing to put on the outside of the Judge’s Guild “House on Hangman’s Hill” maybe. Just as a prelude 🙂
    That cover does have an exciting “The only good bug is a dead bug” and “Service guarantees citizenship” vibe. Or maybe “Adventure Awaits!”

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