Castle Roan

By Chantel Jones
Self Published
Levels 1-3

In this adventure, the heroes face a group of Daragons to save the Kind and his family! [sp]

This 23 page adventure features a three level (plus basement!) dungeon with about seventy rooms. It’s minimally-keyed, and shows a shocking lack of care, to a degree that is new even to me. It’s in the running for the worst I’ve ever reviewed.

What if I open a restaurant. In the back I microwave frozen burritos that I buy for 30 cents each from ALDI. I don’t do this because I am trolling. I do this because I think that this is good food and it’s how you run a restaurant. As a stranger, you come in and order a burrito. It is as you would except given its a 30 cent microwave burrito from ALDI. That I charge $10 for. What is the social contract between you and I? As a friend/family, we might be supportive. As a stranger, what are your obligations to me, both directly when speaking to me and indirectly when talk to another about your experience in Sheboygan Japanese Cuisine, which features microwaved burritos from ALDI? Asking for a friend … 

There is a seemingly lack of care to this adventure which is bad enough that I thought this might be an art project. Note the misspellings in the publisher’s blurb. “The heros” and “Daragons” and “the Kind”. (that’s the king, and dragons.) The pregen characters spread across multiple pages, as it page breaks were inserted randomly, some starting on the same page another ends on, thus complicating printing them out to hand out to players. The stat blocks are walls of text, with weird indents. Randomly scattered through the text, and I do mean randomly, there are paragraphs of monsters labeled “Encounter 1”, with a stat block for, say 28 goblins. Just here and there, insperspaced between the room encounters which are labeled “room 1” “room 2” and so on. Not to worry though, the actual stats blocks are missing for some creatures. Two column text from word perfect just drifts on to a new page instead of being formatted in to something decent. 

Challenge wise, this adventure for levels 1-3, we get encounters with kobolds, goblins, elves, a room with 100 skeletons, a  6HD weretiger, a 10HD hydra, and a room with a 7HD white dragon, a 10HD blue dragon and an 11HD red dragon. You and me both buddy; I certainly have no fucking clue, especially given you need the rod in that room to save the Kind and his family. 

It’s minimally keyed. “This room is empty.” or “Giant Rats, No Appearing:15 (stat block)” or “This is the throne room.” That’s it. Those are your descriptions. “On the south of the room are a bed and two nightstands.” Minimal keyed. Laundry list contents not related to the adventure. Interactivity like a room with fifteen pools each of which does something ala B1. Rooms stuffed full of treasure, coin and especially high level magic items. And no, nothing is gong to stave off that weretiger, hydra, or dragons, so don’t get any ideas that it is on purpose.

This may come as a shocking surprise, but I would never want to discourage anyone from writing an adventure. You have to write to get better. My angst stems from my entitlement issues, and expectations. (Hmmm, can you have entitlement issues as a consumer, or is that not allowed and/or encouraged as a consumer in a market economy?) But Jesus H Fucking Christ man, don’t you, as a producer, have some obligation to the rest of us to produce something that you actually give a fucking shit about? Don’t you have some social obligation to the rest of us suckers to know what the fuck a restaurant actually is before you open one? 

This could be a product from the early days of gaming. A map, filling all spaces with weird mazes and such like that famous Greyhawk map photo. Minimally keyed encounters ala Vampire Queen. A typesetting nightmare like Walking Wet and other manually set adventure products. 

This is $10 at DriveThru. The preview is four pages. Go stare in to the abyss for a bit by looking at it.

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28 Responses to Castle Roan

  1. Ron says:

    Jim Kramer did those “Adventures from Middle School” which were fun reads. When I saw this cover I thought this might be a similar product. But he gave away the adventures in that line for free, so I guess not.

  2. Jonathan Becker says:

    Perhaps this was written by a child and published by her parent?

    I only say this because my 7 year old wants to do the same thing. I gave my older boy an illustration job for an adventure my buddy had written (the images my buddy used were all copyright TSR, if you know what I mean). I told my son that I’d give him a cut of whatever “profits” the PDF generated. So, of course my daughter wanted in on the action.

    She quickly whipped up an adventure of her own. 3 pages, stapled together. The first page is the cover, a rather abstract looking tower. Page 2 is a map. The map has illustrations of monsters and traps, and arrows pointing to rooms that say “10,000” and “1,500,” etc. (this is, presumably the number of gold coins a party cold expect to find in the chamber). The third page just says: “The End.”

    I STRONGLY considered scanning my daughter’s adventure and throwing it on DriveThruRPG. Charging $5 or $10 to see what people would pay, throwing some money in my kid’s pocket, letting her see how it all works.

    It looks like someone beat me to it. I mean…isn’t that what this is? The work of a 9 or 10 year old? Look at that illustration on the cover. This has to be some kid messing around with their parent’s desktop publisher or something, no?

  3. Jonathan Becker says:

    Anyway. I will try not to simply fill the internet with crap stuff my kids make. It was a passing fancy I had. This review gives me an idea that such fancies would not be appreciated by the general public. Even if *I* find my kids’ work to be rather charming and imaginative.
    ; )

  4. Evard’s Small Tentacle says:

    Truth in advertising? Just state that the product was written by a 10 year old. I am sure you’d still get some sympathy purchases.

  5. Anonymous says:

    Sorry for requesting this I guess

  6. Gorber says:

    The author is not a child. The author is quite prolific. The author has half a dozen titles available on DTRP. They all look pretty similar to the one under review here.

  7. Anonymous says:

    DriveThru needs to review adventures BEFORE they place them on their site for cash!

  8. Anon says:

    Child, teenager, ESL, extreme dyslexia, some other kind of disability, or just a weirdo… Who cares? If an adventure’s cover is a crayon drawing with a sentence about “Kinds” and “Daragons”, the author is not going to deliver.

    Yes yes, I knows. There are diamonds in the rough. And it’s good to be optimistic and believe in people. But this is the equivalent of going to Sloppy Chantel’s Microwave Burrito Stand, ordering the microwaved ALDI burrito, biting into it and getting disappointed. You’ve got better odds just spending your time and $10 on lottery tickets instead. Or better yet, on an adventure that actually shows signs of, if not quality, then redeeming elements.

    If you really must… just keep it to *one* obvious cover-page typo, tops, you know?

    • Jonathan Becker says:

      @ Anon:

      The problem is, if you ONLY judge a book by its cover, you’re still (these days) often buying crap. Crap with slick production values (look at the average review here…great covers!), but still crap.

  9. Hexapanther says:

    I think you should request an interview with the writer to find out more about the him or her…

  10. pjamesstuart says:

    Is this another form the ‘Unbalanced Dice’ creator? Who may or may not be Kent in one of his myriad schitzoidal forms?

  11. squeen says:

    Bryce, unfortunately I think you are the “filter” for quality control and expectation in cases like this. A trustworthy reviewer is all the consumer has in their corner.

    You, and just a few others, are the Ralph Nader/Consumer Reports of D&D.

  12. not anonymous but no cute name either says:

    Wow, what’s truly amazing is that the comments sections for this adventure contains some of the same writing style and weird typos present in the actual adventure. Ironic!

  13. Knutz Deep says:

    Hmm, maybe we should stat out a new monster, Daragon! What kind of creature would it be?

  14. Melan says:

    There is now another one of these on DTRPG for $10.

    Business plan: an easily produced module series sold at an artificially high price because Bryce, at least, will be compelled to buy them.

  15. Gorgar says:

    Chantel Jones isn’t a child, which is exactly what I once thought. I found out when they/he/she were scheduled to be a guest at a local convention. Anyway here’s their/his/her website

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