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.