By Ken Spencer Frog God Games S&W Levels 5-8
Wow, those apes are angry! […] Yet, as the months have passed the Sleeping Fire has corrupted the grey apes. No longer content to simply tend weedy gardens, they have taken to raiding shipping far and wide, taking loot for their own use, prisoners to work as slaves, and sacrifices for the Sleeping Fire. No longer castaway soldiers, they are becoming fiendish warriors and loyal servants of an evil flame that longs to awaken. Its heat burns in their veins and clouds their minds, and these piratical apes are so very angry.
This 28 page adventure describes an island with some ape pirates and a “dead” fire god. It clearly had ideas about what it wanted to be when it grew up, but they don’t mesh together, its not a good site-based location, the organization is poor, and it suffers from the Frog’s usual lack of anything resembling “care” when it comes to mistakes.
So, island with a volcano on it. Barren landscape, scrub, rando lava/steam eruptions from all over the island. And a jungle. And it’s got intelligent apes on it. And they are pirates. And they use viking longships. And the volcano has a “dead” fire god in the temple in it and there’s a group of fire plane people hanging out there. Nice ideas. I can see where they are going.
But then comes the execution. Everything is just so … meh. “Ape City” has about five buildings, barracks and slave pens and the Home Of the Pirate King, essentially a six room hut that is described as “each room decorated with the best items taken from ships the apes have captured.” Well, colour me impressed! I can see now where all my advice on specificity and mapping has been in vain! There’s just nothing there, in spite of the description being a column long. Just stick in trivia, and explanations and call it a day! There’s no soul to this, or to any other area in the adventure. Just these abstractions of description.
And anything actually interesting id buried in what amounts to a wall of text. Paragraph after paragraph with backstory and explanations of the history of the island and the thing and why things are they way they are. The best example is probably The Beach. It has six or so longships all piled up on it. And each one get a decently long description if its backstory and who it belonged to and other trivia associated with it. But there’s no purpose to it. There’s also a slave hut and a guard hut, which at least provides some interactivity, and one ship has a couple of wraiths, but that’s it. It takes a page and a half to describe all of this nonsense … to no point. It’s just writing for the sake of writing. You know, writing in order to be read instead of writing in order to be used: Sin #1.
There’s this time travel thing that’s supposed to go on, with three different time periods. It’s mentioned twice in the DM notes in the beginning and then that’s it. No other details of guidance or inspiration at any point during the adventure. Why? Was it cut in editing?
Speaking of … the Frogs do it again! Location after location is not shown on the DM’s map. Merman cave. Jungle. About a half dozen other locations. None of this shows on the map. The fucking island is only 3 miles across … maybe show it and/or provide an overview of what the island looks like/major locations and the like? No. Just slog through paragraph after paragraph.
You’re level 5-8? Enjoy tha 5k treasure in the evil temple. And maybe another 5k from the pirate king. I don’t know, I guess that’s enough. It seems super low to me though, for level 8’s.
I guess, once upon a time, the Frogs put out good stuff? Now it just feels like someone is going through the motion. Be it the house style, or layout, or editing, or just bad wiring, the mistakes, the adventures just feel unusable. That’s the reputation that ALL adventures have: unusable. And they have that for a good reason. Example 1: this adventure. I’m not going to slog through the fucking walls of text in order dig for the info I want/need. I’m not going to try and make sense of what is supposed to be going on. I’m going to instead toss this in the junk heap and run something else that IS written well.
This is $10 at DriveThru. The preview is three pages, which is a travesty for a $10 adventure. It shows you nothing of the writing. Your best bet is to dig in to the backstory on page two and let that be your guide as to what to expect in the adventure.