By Deven Ozturk Deren Games Legends of Avallen Introductory Adventure
As a new draftee into the local guard, you are called on to investigate the otherworldly happenings that have your community on edge. Will you take this chance to rise up from your humble origins and begin your legend?
This thirty page adventure uses about fifteen pages to describe three scenes in which the party goes through the motions of an adventure. 70% of this is read-aloud. It has an interesting map layout, but is nigh unusable due to the text … which is exactly the opposite of what it was going for.
This is the introductory adventure for a new RPG. I’m guessing, based on the way the text is presented, that it’s meant for new RPG players, perhaps riffing on the success of the actual play videos that seem popular right now. Thus there are rules summaries, sections introducing players to mechanics, pages of up front advice for the DM to tell them how to be a DM, and so on. I’m going to skip all of that.
The adventure, proper, is essentially three scenes, once you get your “introduce your next characters” scene out of the way. You find an inn on fire and rescue people. You interview some people in town, and you fight an imp in a building. It takes roughly fifteen pages for all of that to happen and nearly all of it, let’s say 70%, is in italicized read-aloud. It’s also offset in blue background boxes. Long sections of italics are impossible to read. The eyestrain is terrible, and yet adventure after adventure uses this. Why? Because they say another adventure do it. And thus someone elses new adventure will also do this. It is a never ending nightmare. I understand the desire to make the read-aloud standout, but this adventure also does that in a more effective manner: by using a blue background box. Of course, 70% of the adventure is blue background box, but … whatever.
Or, no, not. The read-aloud is so long because it’s literally EVERY word the DM says. Including DM words to the PC like “ok, now introduce your characters” or “make a strength test,” All of this is mixed in to the read-aloud text. I get it, new players, new DM’s, but this the way you run that railroad. Not f you ever want anyone t ride on it.
Further, it fails as good read-aloud. The scene setting is not evocative at all, concentrating instead of mundanity. Ir further tells the party what they think “You feel relief when you see …” This isn’t an adventure that the party participates in, it’s one in which they watch it. That’s not interactivity. That’s Giovanni. I’m not making this up, about 70% of the text is read-aloud.
Further, the adventure, scene based and with only three, with those read-aloud issues, doesn’t really present an interactive element for the party. Oh, sure, you get to kind of decide what you want to do in the inn, but it FEELS like the party is just going through the motions. “Oh, now is the time in which I get to roll a die and determine if I can open the window.” and so on. Observers in a choose your adventure movie with maybe three opportunities to click “left of right” to determine your choices.
NPC summaries easy to read and have a nice section on mannerisms and appearance. They are about three times longer, in general, than they need to be, but the mannerisms and looks tend to be shorter and have something you, as the DM, can work with. Trim th fat and keep the good stuff.
The maps, also, are doing something interesting. Imagine a battle map, but with little text boxes around the border with arrows pointing to specific portions of the map, with notes on how to run that element. A kind of shorthand summary of what can be done, or pertinent facts for that thing. It’s a nifty idea that recalls The Fall of WhiteCliff (WhiteChapel?) and takes a nod from one of the better elements of one page adventures. As a summary, and reference, it does a good job.
But, thirty pages for three scenes? 70% read-aloud? NPC’s in their own adventure with limited interactivity? This is just too much of a “now, on to the next scene I have written for you!” for me.
This is free at DriveThru, as is the rules summary for the game.