Keep at Blood Red Falls, D&D adventure review

By Victor Dorso
Angry Dwarf Games
1e
Levels 5-7

[…]  In recent times, the clans have closed the mines due to a lack of demand for ore. The closing of the mine had reached the ears of the dreaded Spriggan Chief, who for years has terrorized the countryside by raiding and slaughtering villages.  The vile warlord has taken over the keep, enslaved the village of Blood Red Falls and nearby settlements, forcing the inhabitants into slavery, and also put a strangling hold on all rivers traffic by enforcing punitive taxes on anyone wanting to pass by. Due to these action, All the inhabitants opposed to the brutal leader have banded together to offer a large reward for the capture of Bloodaxe, dead or alive. 

This 56 page single column adventure features two towers, each with five levels, and about a hundred and fifty rooms. It’s minimally keyed and is nothing but stabbing.

Ah, the noble commando raid. Go to place X and kill Frank. Also, the place is stuffed with monsters. G1 did a great job with it, creating a dynamic environment with a minimal amount of superfluous text to create one of the best modules ever. This ain’t G1.

Revel in the majesty of: “1 – Spriggan archers are in this room hp 24 armed with Short bow and short sword. Sleeping in a bunk”  or perhaps your party should turn their attention to this little gem of a room: “This room has a desk near the door, a bed on the far wall and a table with 4 chairs in the center.” No? Then how about: “This room is empty but obviously inhabited by the piles of straw & furs on the floor .”!  This is the splendor of our achievement! Call in the airstrike with a poisoned kiss …

I’m not really cherry picking that much. The vast vast majority of the rooms in this adventure will be presented in this very boring manner. Minimally keyed, or, perhaps, one breath beyond it. Gnolls play a game at a table. What kind of game? Not mentioned because the description is abstracted. Not knucklebones. Not Papers & Paychecks. Just “a game.”

The encounters in an adventure are the heart and soul of it (generally.) It is what the DM uses to bring the game to life. As such it is the designers job to provide the DM with something to work with. SOmething more than “1 gnoll asleep.” It IS the DMs job to bring the adventure to life, but it’s the designers job to give the DM something to work with to do that. Imagine a dungeon that just had the monsters randomly rolled. Room 1- 3 kobolds. Room 2- 4 orcs. Etc. If I publish this is it valid to, upon pushback from the suckers, claim that it is the DMs job to bring it to life? And yet, we seem to accept this. I have no idea why.

The rest of the commando raid aspect fails as well. There’s no real overall map, just the cover painting, to give you an idea of how things are laid out for an assault. There’s a village on the other side of the river, somewhere, but fuck if I know how it relates to the tower, there’s no map and the text is unclear. If the baddies see the party they ring a bell and the whole fortress comes alive, but no details beyond that of an order of battle, or de escalation, or anything related to cat and mouse. 

The first four pages are read-aloud to set the scenario up.

There are long LONG blocks of italics to dig through.

Most of the text is written in a “if the party searches then they find …” or “If you search the cage then …”

And, ultimately, it’s just an adventure full of stabbing things. A minimally keyed stabbing things. 

Prisoners, with names? Bah! Better to just let there be a fuck ton of whitespace after the prisoner entry rather than give a name or personality.

This is clearly someone’s labour of love. They had a vision in their head of how to run it, what it looks like, and they love it and want to share it everyone else. I admire that. But the designer has no idea how to actually write an adventure for OTHERS to use.

This is $25 at DriveThru. The preview is the first six pages. As such you get to see the read-aloud to start the adventure and that’s it. The preview should show some of the actual encounters, so we can judge if we want to buy the adventure. Further, the level range is only on the cover, it should be the marketing blurb also.

https://www.drivethrurpg.com/product/307589/Keep-at-Blood-Red-Falls?1892600

I have resorted to drinking bourbon now. God how I hate bourbon …

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6 Responses to Keep at Blood Red Falls, D&D adventure review

  1. squeen says:

    Gigantic margins for the single-column!

  2. Sevenbastard says:

    $25 for 56 pages and the cover art sucks. I would have hard passed at that alone. I mean $25 will buy you a nice bottle of bourbon and money left over for a railroad DCC adventure that at least has a cool cover.

  3. Knutz Deep says:

    It’s currently marked down to $5 but not sure I’d want it even ay that price.

  4. Anonymous says:

    Great review Bryce! Hopefully tons for the author to improve on!

  5. PyroArrow says:

    When this was KickStarted, it included a CD-Rom with VTT stuff. I need to pull it out and see what is on it. I didn’t want to break the seal just yet because I am running another campaign set on the Isle of Dread, right now! So, I assume there are more maps on that CD-Rom, and maybe monster and other tokens, along with player handouts.

    That said WotC should have made CD-Roms with VTT stuff for the O.A.R. Book series from Goodman Games!

  6. Bigby's Affirmative Consent Lubed Fist says:

    This is the splendor of our achievement! Call in the airstrike with a poisoned kiss …

    I’m totes het, but I would marry you because of this reference.

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