By Joe Banner, John Gregory Technical Grimoire Games Tunnel Goons Level ?
A Tabletop RPG mud-crawl adventure.
This 32 page thing is not an adventure. It’s more of a region. Except it’s not. It’s more of an I Had Some Ideas For A Region And Here They Are. The digest doesn’t really even get to the region until maybe page 25. It describes some factions, in too many words, and describes a couple of locations using abstracted/generalized text, and then puts seven locations in the swamp in two pages and gives you five ideas for things that might happen. Maybe. It’s somehow related to the Bone Marshes.
Maybe this IS the Bone Marshes, after the situation in that volume is resolved? I don’t know. What I do know is that I’m greatly disappointed. The first 25 or so pages are really just some rules and/or rules adjustments for a 2d6 based system. It does introduce an interesting mechanic, the Mud Die. Playing the swamp gets you muddy. When you’re muddy you roll the roll die and that’s how many slots of gear are now taken up by mud until you clean off. That’s interesting and simple. It’s one of the hallmarks of both the OSR and the adjacent systems that they play with the more tedious aspects of the game. Inventory/weight is a critical component of old school, but tracking weight and encumbrance is a major pain given the GP system. How many GP is a pike, again? The revolution in systems like the LotFP “just write it down” slot system, and other techniques for torch and arrow inventory in other systems allow the core of the resource mechanic to be maintained while reducing the Papers & Paychecks bookkeeping mechanic.
But everything else … ug!
Faction descriptions take up about two pages each in a long text format that will make finding personalities, goals, and resources for each faction relatively impossible to find. Highlighter and notes. Highlighter and notes are the only way to solve this. In which case why didn’t the designer do this in the first place? Make it easier to find this information? Because they don’t know good design and are overly familiar with their own works, and thus don’t recognize the issue? People HATE pre-written adventures, and for good reason: they tend to be terrible to use. And if people are not using your adventure then you’ve failed at task one for a designer.
The wandering table is nothing but a list of creatures, they don’t do anything, which is a pain. Include a little extra to make life easier for the DM. Give them DM something to spring off of! Likewise the monster descriptions. “Flying scavengers operating in groups of two or three that prey on the weak and vulnerable”, so says the Marsh Vulture. That’s NOT a creature description. The sea-bear is as close as the adventure gets to describing a monster: huge, semi-hairess. The soul of evocative writing, that! “Zombie-like creatures with leech heads.” Well, ok, getting closer. But these don’t convey much if any useful descriptive detail to the DM.
The location descriptions for two of the main locations come without maps. Just text descriptions, which almost always SUCK donkey balls and they do in this. “There is a guard room with blue eyed simians” buried in one paragraph. How many? Meh, not told. Maybe that’s a feature of the system? I don’t know. But I do know that abandoning the traditional room/key format, for the exploration element of an adventure, is drought with peril. The actual swamp locations are seven, contained on two digest pages. And they are very abstracted and general. Nothing very specific, just as with the creature descriptions. Augmenting this is five ideas of things that could happen in the swamp. It’s all very “maybe this and maybe that” without much specificity to help a DM along.
It’s not an adventure. It’s not even a region to have an adventure in. It’s more of “here are some ideas that you could use to creature your own adventure.” And, I would suggest, it’s not even very good at that, not being bold enough to actually present ideas but just the META of ideas.
Nothing to see here folks. Move along. Move along.
This is $5 at DriveThru. And there’s no preview. Because why would there be a preview to see in advance what you are buying?