Tony Garcia Voxelhouse B/X Levels 2-4
Rumors that a necklace with magical powers was stolen by a group of thieves and taken to the sewers of Crinsomwater. Brother Frederick of the Order of Worshipers of Transformed Lead is giving 400 gold pieces to recover this artifact.
This is the first issue of a bi-weekly (!) seven page zine, which uses six pages to describe an adventure: The Lost Necklace. It has eleven rooms in a sewer system and uses two pages to describe them. “Describe” being used in a loose manner of the word. Lacking meaningful content, this is a “get the red key to open the red door” adventure.
You got the picture from the intro: magic necklace stone. Party hired to go to the sewers to find it.
The town here has 920 residents, fourteen towers and a rather extensive city sewer system, since the eleven rooms here are in the sewers and are described as just a small part of them. And by “sewer system” I mean “a couple of descriptions mention the smell of shit but otherwise they are just normal old dungeon rooms.” A depressingly large number of rooms, almost half?, contain the line “roll for a random encounter in this room”, just as a nother room states that there are 1d6 zombies and another states to roll for a random treasure.
I have to ask: why do this? What value does a random roll add to the adventure? In the case of a wandering monster its obvious: this is a push your luck mechanic. Some items might have a random effect, that makes sense also. But why make a static encounter random? Why not, as a designer, create a treasure to be placed in the dungeon instead of relying on a roll on a book table? Isn’t that what we’re paying for, the designers creativity? The improper usage of randomness in old school adventures is an article tat needs to be written. I’ll make a mental note to do it and promptly forget.
The adventure is padded out. “If the group decides to attack then combat must be started, the adventure tells us. Well, yes, that is how things work. “You can investigate this room or continue through the door”, the read-aloud tells us in many of the rooms. Well, again, yes, that is how D&D works. These sorts of things just pad out the word count of an adventure, or, more precisely, steal words that could otherwise contribute to an evocative adventure. The adventure, of course has the obligatory paragraph of “This is set in our game world but as the DM you can adapt it your game world.” I should hope this is obvious to everyone. Again, empty content that could be used for ADVENTURE! How much effort was spent on these parts, the padding, the de rigueur, the randomness, when that effort could have been spent on the actual adventure?
In the sewers you come to a door with a skull lock. You need to find the skull key to open the skull lock and find the cross key to open the cross lock, later.*sigh*. Find the red key for the red door was a trope from long ago computer rpg’s. Actually, this feels more like a choose your own adventure, but whatever. It’s extremely simplistic design. We never do find out what the magic necklace does that you are sent to get; its just referred to as a magic necklace.
The town is called Crimsonwater. This is because when it rains the ground looks like blood, thanks to the mud. THIS is a good detail. It’s not just dropped in the bs backstory/background and not emphasized through play in any way, at least not in a way that te DM could integrate it well, but this is the kind of specificity that brings an adventure to life.
It is the sole example.
Keeping up any kind of publishing schedule every other week is going to be a full time job. I wish the designers well; if they can do it then they should let me know how so I can also.
This review is now being cut short because Prince Vultan, who is never more than a foot away from me all day every day, is incessantly pawing at my leg, telling me it’s time to pet him and brush him. How can ignore someone telling them to love them?
This is Pay What You Want at Drivethru with a suggested price of $1. The preview shows you the entire adventure, so it’s a good preview, telling you exactly the type of content you’ll be getting so you can know before you buy.
Meaningless random tables- your lazy designers tool when they have no concept of how to build a framework.
Super interesting review! Shows promise! The bi weekly nature of the zine could show great strides in design. Go go author, you got this
Fetishization of random tables is one of those OSR memes that got out of hand just like “FANTASY FUCKING VIETNAM” and “combat is a failure state”
Combat as failure state is real though
Anon1 didn’t say it *couldn’t be* a fail state—clearly, given the “FANTASY FUCKING VIETNAM” part. He said the exaggeration of it got out of hand.
Combat isn’t *always* a fail state. Sometimes, I fight because it’s fun. Or for vengeance. Or bloodthirst. Or to set an example. Or because it’s the safest and most direct method. Or just because I feel like it.
Just like how Bryce gets out of hand most of the time (but, again, not *always*) when he talks about having humans instead of humanoids (e.g. orcs) as fodder. Or, including plain +1 and “book” magic items.
Again, not *always* (or even *usually*), but plain and book items should be sprinkled *along side* the interesting and distinct. Just like how orcs and goblins instead of humans should *sometimes* just be plain ol’ cannon fodder.
Sparingly. Don’t exaggerate the opposite.
Man, even I could put out an adventure consisting of “roll for random” encounters on a bi-weekly basis. Maybe even a weekly basis!
Hell I will generate d100 zines right now
But which key opens the monk lock?
If you want to keep your dungeon safe maybe don’t advertise what key opens what door. It’s like printing your home address on your house key.
Maybe trap the skull door so the skull key triggers it and really the monkey key opens it.