By WR Betty Rosethorn Publishing S&W Levels 3-5
[…] Every spring, two or three children go missing from the village, every summer a few animals disappear, every fall the harvest is plundered. The locals have begrudgingly accepted the fact that Hope Cross is cursed and wait in terror every spring for what they call “The Culling” to begin another year of horror. It is only through the short winter days and long winter nights that the people find any peace as they pray for the house to disappear as suddenly as it appeared.
This sixteen page adventure describes a two-ish level dungeon with 28 rooms in a classic folklore house of evil fey. Maezels in this case. They fatten them babies up and then eat them. There are some annoying discrepancies/things left out of the text and the writing could be more evocative, but organization is generally quite good. It has all the elements you need for a good adventure, but feels like it could use just a little more work to bring it up to Really Good levels.
The setting here is very folklore/fey, which I am fond of. You’ve got the bezels taking the role of the classic “goblin” type creature from folklore with real goblins serving as their slaves. They kidnap babies to raise and then eat, steal things from villages, experiment with stuff, much more Fairy Goblin Market type of fey than bestial stabby stabby humanoid in a cave type fey.
It’s got most of the support information correct. Good, in voice rumors. Wanderers are doing something and have some simple motivations. There’s non-standard magic items and treasure, and the magic that IS standard goes just one step more. So, a blue viscous potion of healing, for example. There’s a monster summary sheet. There’s a simple order of battle for the monsters to follow when responding to a party incursion. There’s a small table of Meazel & Kidnapped Child personalities. So, all of the minor stuff is pretty much taken care of.
The organization of the encounters is fairly good. General information up front. Bolding. White space. Things are laid out in the encounters in such a way that you can scan it quickly. There are also details thrown in, like a groove worn in the floor from a creature pacing for centuries. Specificity can create an evocative environment WITHOUT indulging in an overly verbose text. That’s good.
But it also has some REALLY dumb mistakes, mostly around what looks to be a Dyson map and how that matches up to the text. There are two room 27’s in the text, for example, and no room 28, as there is on the map. That’s pretty minor. But in other places there are trapdoors and grates and exterior doors … and it’s REALLY unclear where any of it goes! It’s not noted on the map and text doesn’t tell us the room number. It’s these pretty basic mistakes in, I don’t know, proofreading an adventure? That makes me say things like you should always have an editor. I think most editors are crap, but ta least you’ll have a second set of eyes on the adventure to prevent these kind of mistakes of oversight and mistakes of being too familiar with your own work.
It also fails, in places, to mention important room details high up in the text, throwing them later on. Again, I think this is oversight and sloppy editing by the designer (who is also the editor.) And, similar to this, it doesn’t do a really consistent job in providing an evocative environment. In one place there’s a cloth draped over a mirror, for example. This would have been an excellent opportunity for a great adjective or adverb to describe that cloth, one more word, or replace cloth with “burlap” or something. It’s something the adventure does in other places, but not in this example. Likewise, demonic visaged statues and so on. It just fails to CONSISTENTLY deliver that organization and evocative writing that I demand.
And you know what? It’s still not shit. I’t still better than 90% of the crap I review. It’s got a decent, if classic, idea. It follows through with the theming. It gets the support information correct. It just needed to be more consistent in its organization and evocative writing, and have someone proof it for bonehead logic errors.
This is $2 at DriveThru. The preview is nine pages and show syou the wanderers, the rumors, the first 23 rooms … that’s a good preview! I wish every product did it like that!