A Blaze in the Northern Sky, adventure review

By D.S. Myers
Self Published
Old Sword Reign
Levels 1-2

An introductory, mini-dungeon crawl

This 21 page adventure has a nine room dungeon that takes two pages to describe. It reminds me of the early OSR adventures, where generic text was in generic adventures. 

The clue, gentle readers, is in the marketing blurb. “An introductory mini-dungeon crawl.” That certainly gets your juices flowing, doesn’t it! I can’t wait to run this! If you can’t be bothered to even market your adventure, just a little bit, then why would we think that the inside of the adventure would be any better? I hate marketing also but I do recognize you have to play the game.

The map is symmetrical. Just one hallway with two central rooms and six rooms having off of the hallway, three on each side, mirror images. *sigh* No complexity. No tactics. Just go from door to door and stab the goblins. Stab stab stab. 

There’s a 4hd ogre, a 5hd winter wolf and a wraith in the dungeon. For a party of levels 1 & 2. I get it, you can run away in the OSR. But in a symmetrical dungeon without tactical options? What exactly are you supposed to do? 

You meet an 8th level cleric on the (very short) trip to the dungeon. I guess he doesn’t give a shit about all the dead farmers in the burnt down copse of trees you encounter? 

“The local ranger fought and killed 3 goblins before succumbing to his wounds.” and “the dead rangers wife will gift them his elven chain mail and magic +1 sword named Fortune.” 

THIS IS NOT HOW YOU WRITE A FCKING ADVENTURE! Give the fucking dude a name. Give the fucking wife a name. DDon’t call him a ranger. Call him the local hermit, or weird loner, or whatever. He’s te scruffy dude people in the village avoid who smells like piss and then kills a bunch of gobbo’s when they show up. Jesus H … add some fucking specificty. 

I fucking hate my life. I FUCKING HATE IT. 

Two pages for nine rooms. “A large pile of anima bones near the entry door” That’s what passes for part of a description. “Large”, the most generic term there is. Generic words. Generic descriptions. No specificity. “Sh’Nakt’s pet winter wolf guards his treasures here. Sh’nakt raised the beast from a young age and it is loyal to him.” This is the height of evocative text for this adventure. The goblin, who you never have a chance of learning his name, has a name and the fucking dead loner dude whose wife give you his stuff doesn’t. 

This killed me. This is what broke me. This shit is what turned me from your average normal everyday happy go lucky D&D consumer in to the fucking idiot I am today. Thisi s the stuff I encountered when I discovered the OSR. Everyone said these adventures were great. Specific recommendations fot specific products … which were all written like this. Expansive generic text.

Yeah? Well Fuck You too. Why should your lives be any better than mine? If I have to sit through this fucking shit why should you get a pass just because I’m engaged in some curation. Yeah, no fucking shit my reviews suck lately. 

Ok, look, I’m going to try and turn this around. I’m gonna have breakfast.

This is a classic example of misplaced effort. When you write an adventure you need to focus your energy. If your adventure text is two pages long and your supporting pages are nineteen then it might be the case that you should spend some more time on your adventure text. A map of the countryside (present here) is a great addition! Except it should actually offer something to the adventure, unlike in this adventure. As it stands, it adds nothing and is just another art piece. The actual text of the encounters  should be something you SLAVE over. I mean, really agonize over. Are you sick and tired and looking at the words? If not, you’ve not spent enough time polishing them. You want to include specificity, not detail. You want evocative settings tht spring to life. You want encounters full of potential energy and possibilities. You want interactivity beyond stabbing. (And beyond talking, which is also relatively easy to achieve) Why is the ogre being controlled with a collar of control? Why isn’t he in charge? Or an ally? Or anything other than “magic item controls him?” “Smells of burnt hair and flesh” is a good description. You need more like that. You need to build on that. Agitated is not an evocative word for wounded goblins. 

Agonize over your creation. Pretend that this isthe only thing for which you will ever be known for or remembered by, by even your family.

IMAGINE, don’t design. 

This is $3 at DriveThru. There is no preview.


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8 Responses to A Blaze in the Northern Sky, adventure review

  1. Fuckin hell. For an adventure named after a Darkthrone album I was expecting a lot more…

  2. Anonymous says:

    But also Bryce if I was the author? I cant wait to see what they do next this feedback is gold.Keep going Myers!

    The overview vs adventure text is a good one hu. Only example I can maybe think of as an outlier is Operation Unfathomable

  3. Eric says:

    Level draining undead vs 1st level PCs? yeah-nah-nope.

  4. Anonymous says:

    Removed for DriveThru.

    • Stripe says:

      I would say that’s probably a bad move by the author.

      Now everyone thinks the author read this review and took off running with his tail between his legs like a scalded dog. You know Bryce has to dig that because he’s a total a-hole.

      The best thing to do is the same thing many other scorched authors have done—and won themselves customers by doing so. Take it on the chin, publicly say, “You’re right, and I’m going to do better next time.”

      Case in point, the “Fire in the Hole” review posted on April 7, 2021. The author, Derek Jones, got singed a bit (nothing like this immolation), but here’s what he said: “If the limitations of the adventure stood out to you to the exclusion of the positives, I’ll take that as a sign I need to dig deeper as a writer. On the other hand, my wife says you’re mean.

      I made the whole thing available as a free preview solely due to following your reviews.”

      DJ’s wife is right and all Bryce’s regular readers knows it.

      The second reason you don’t pull your product after Bryce torches it is because you’re going to make sales with this advertisement. People are going to buy this to see how bad it is, I guarantee it.

      Maybe I’m giving myself a pep talk for when Bryce disintegrates my first effort . . .

    • Anonymous says:

      It’s still on DriveThru under a different link, and now cites the review.

  5. Stripe says:

    Well, at least there’s a level range on the cover.

  6. Jonathan Becker says:

    I fucking LOVE this review.

    “Pretend that this is the only thing for which you will ever be known for or remembered by, by even your family.”

    I’m taking that shit to heart. We should all write/design like that.

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