The Witch Shack

By Mark Hess
Self Published
Level 2? 3? Not listed ...

They told you the place was haunted, but you just had to go in anyway.

This sixteen page “adventure” describes 30 random rooms in an extra-dimensional shack. That’s all it does. While it occasionally has some good ideas, it lacks interesting interactivity, consistently good descriptions, purpose, and treasure. Nope.

When this thing is good it’s quite good. The initial description of the Witch Shack, in the opening words of the adventure, are: “The Witch Shack is an adventure location that may be encountered anywhere, in any patch of woods, across a lonely field, on the far edge of some small town or village. It always appears as a rotting, falling down wooden shack. Made of old gray boards, the roof is collapsing and one side is already crumbled, allowing easy entrance.

It is always considered bad ground. No curious children play here, no young lovers seeking privacy, no rambling vagabonds looking for shelter. All kinds of ghost stories will be attributed to the Shack, someone was murdered there and it’s haunted; a witch once lived there and it’s cursed; etc.” That’s pretty good. And there are occasional other sections of text that are quite evocative, as that section is. But, the vast vast majority of the text isn’t.

And it has some decent ideas also. One of the rooms is: “Rusty Cages. Here is a large room like a barn loft, with cages hanging from the rafters. The cages contain children, some healthy, some starving. Some are dead, and of those some are dry skeletons.” That’s not bad, as an idea. It’s pretty classic folklore. The description isn’t really very good, but the concept is a decent one. Likewise a room bisected with a deep crevasse, spanned by an enormous spider web made of flayed human corpses. Oof! And the, there’s the spider: “A cursed child stalks the web as if he had Spider Climb, as the characters enter they see the boy vomit on a chunk of meat and then slurp it up as it dissolves. The child also has mandibles and four extra appendages hanging from his sides, limp and useless things.” That’s a great concept and not a half bad description either! When the adventure is doing this then it’s doing a pretty decent job. 

But, ultimately, it doesn’t do this, at least consistently. First, the adventure design is a cop out. You enter a room (with a decent description at that: “The main room is sparse, with only a small wooden table, a chair and a cold, crumbling fireplace. The roof sags heavily, the windows are boarded up and the floor is covered in layers of ancient dust. [p] From the main room a hallway leads into the shadows.”) But, then, you’re in a maze of hallways and doors. Every time you open one, even the same one, the DM rolls a d30 to determine what’s behind it. L.A.M.E. Just put in a fucking map, man. What do you gain from this kind of nonsense, besides the scorn of the payers as they roll their fucking eyes. This shit is a cop out. It’s like someone wrote “30 ideas for a room” and then wrapped it in a pretext to bring it in to play. Not. Cool. And, of course, you just can’t go back. You have to search for the exit. Each failed search roll means weird time has passed on the outside, potentially sending you in to the far future, or trapping you in the house forever. Ok, War Game, I guess the only way to win, in this adventure that punishes you and doesn’t have treasure, is to not play and instead stay home that night from the game. Is that what makes D&D fun? Staying home? Pretentious wank fest of a concept. 

And most of the rooms are NOT up to the quality of the ones I cited earlier. “A corpse, someone from the local village who has recently gone missing.” Well, gee, that’s exciting. Maybe some details on state and condition? No? Just gonna leave it abstracted like it is? “Your own childhood fears!” *sigh*, enough said on that one, although, I’d like to see the DM handle my eternal search for meaning in a world devoid of it while battling the ennui that results from it. 

Anyway, there’s a witch in the witch house. A classic crone with a hairy mole on her sagging nose, as per her description. That’s it. Then the stat block starts. I guess she attacks. As does the White Wolf in the cold room. A does the snack man in the snake man room. Just a brief description of the monster, not the scene, and the implication that they attack, without any roleplay notes or anything else. Boring as all fuck.

This thing is an empty shell. It’s an empty pretext with a few good room concepts and a few good room descriptions, but with nothing to hold it all together, and not enough of either good concepts or well executed rooms to make it remotely worthwhile. The rooms are passive, with no potential energy. TOo many of the descriptions are abstracted instead of specific. While it does a good job remaining terse, it does not do so in a good way. 

This is Pay What You Want at DriveThru with a suggested price of $1. The preview don’t work, and there’s no level range given. Naughty naughty! I don’t like either of those!

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3 Responses to The Witch Shack

  1. Man who likes to point out small typos in an attempt to be funny says:

    Good on them for putting a snack man in a snake man room, tough. Bet the players won’t see that coming …

  2. BubbaDave says:

    I am the snack man
    I am the walrus
    Goo goo gachoo

  3. Bigby's Affirmative Consent Lubed Fist says:

    The Witch Shack is a little ol’ place where
    We can fight a snack man.
    Witch Shack, bay-beee!

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