By Stephen Yeardley, Thilo Graf AAW Games 5e Levels 7-8
When a sacred dweorg festival is raided by the drow, with hundreds slain and even more enslaved, abducted, and turned into undead servitors, a deity weeps. When the divine tear becomes a flood that puts to rest the undead, the party has the chance to follow the legion of living dead on sturdy dwarven kayaks through the caverns, riding the Dead Flood of Dwfn Eir-Grøn. The undead and their drow masters are stranded, briefly, but can the party prevail against a sheer endless legion of the living dead, punish the drow and rescue the few hardy survivors that remain?
This two page adventure is actually one battle. I know, I know. So let’s talk about it. That, not this, I mean.
I remain interested in shorter adventures. I think there is a lot of potential in them. They are not overstaying their welcome and the shorter format should enforce a kind of discipline on the designer. Let us not forget that G1 was only a few pages long! Further, modern adventures flow a different way than classic OSR ones. Gone are the exploratory elements, and, therefore I assert, the longer page count that even G1 has. You should be able to, I think, create a modern “plot” adventure, with just a few encounters, in just a small handful of pages. Imagine that, a hook, investigation, and your 5 page lair dungeon all in just a few pages. Form + Function, recognizing that 5e/3e/Pathfinder are different than a OSR exploratory thing. I’m interested in such things and thus I torment myself looking in to them.
Thus, looking at a 2-page 5e adventure, you can see how my rosey worldview worked. Decent production values, a couple of pages, sure, I can imagine a possible world in which this is a good adventure! (Wasn’t there a system of D&D where you could worship an idea rather than a god? A possible worlds paladin – In some possible world, this action is good! *smite*)
It is not good. It is a “4e adventure.” Meaning it is not an adventure at all. It’s a fucking Warhammer game.
I fucking HATE warhammer games. If you want to play mini’s combat then go fucking play warhammer, or blah blah blah one of the fucking clones. Or make the fucking advernture for 4e, the officially recognized “i don’t want to play D&D I want to play minis combat” version of D&D. It sucks the fucking soul out of D&D.
You’ve got this map. It’s, maybe, 20 squares by 30 squares. Underground, I guess, in caves, with a bunch of water scattered around in it, representing a river. There are five encounters. SE, SW, NE, NW, and center. Original design, isn’t it? Like, no effort at all? You enter on kayaks on the western side, driven by dwarf commoners. Otherwise someone might have to drive the kayak and not get their AOO, or their 5’ step or whatever. At each encounter is one bad guy. They don’t help each other or interact in any way, in spite of being, I don’t know, less than 80’ from each other? You know the deal before I even write it. “I’m a 8th level drawven gravesmiter assassin with beads of force and a penchant for my description revolving entirely around my battle tactics.” There is NOTHING to this adventure EXCEPT the battlefield notes and the opponents. NOTHING. Pure fucking fantasy battle mastabutory wankfest. Mini-dungeon my ass.
The backstory is lame; I know, fluff is subjective, but, when did the drow become masters of the undead? I guess theming doesn’t mean anything anymore. You’re just looking for a villain of CR9, or whatever, and Drow came up.
This adventure does ONE thing interesting. Every square on the map, except the water ones, every single square, has a zombie in it. Ostensibly you are trying to save them by pushing them in to the river, which is actually a flood caused by a gods tear, which acts as a gentle repose spell, which lays the (dwarf) zombie to rest, which is the goal of mission, to “save” as many dwarves as possible. I mean, it’s Warhammer, but it is an interesting battlefield thing.
It took two people to write this thing. Instead of a long backstory, instead of a quarter page of artwork, but not write an actual adventure? Why advertise it as an adventure when you could advertise it as “four hours of nonstop hacking zombie action in the style of your least favorite 4e adventures!”
Oh, and that river, the one that acts as a gentle response spell? That, my friends, is a classic example of “explaining why.” It’s a gods tear, you don’t need to have a book fucking explanation for why. It kills the magic. It kills the mystery of it all. Wonder is no more. Another example has the drow using three different book poisons on the dwarves, so as to, I assumer per game rules, give them all three levels of exhaustion. I fucking hate this book shit. Infinite possibilities and and we get a 4e battle with book explanation for wondrous things.
This is $1 at DriveThru.
Speaking of DriveThru, let’s look at how much life sucks by examining the Rule Systems=OSR, Product Type= NonCore, Adventures.
Adventure of the Week – Just a plot hook, it looks like.
Dead Girls in Sarkash Forest – Emmy Allen thing. Looks like a digest procedural thing, and, being for Mork Borg, has the required “I used an “interesting” giant font. I may end up reviewing this.
Geppetto’s Folly – A filbar thing, so, you know, not going to be good.
Casa Matildo – In spanish. Good for them. But not fodder for me.
Some one page dungeon, but in Russian.
MAPS YOUR PARTY WILL DIE FOR 2 – I assume not actually an adventure
Dungeon Crawl Solo – Ug. Solo.
Another Voxelhouse in Spanish. I might have to learn spanish. HOLA. BUEON GIORNO
“Adventure of the week”, one in French and one in ENglish, both just plot ideas.
Some kind of zine, collected from someones blog
Zero level players guide from Starry Knight. Bun me 293 times, shame on you
A one page Mork Borg adventure
14 Zweihander “adventures.”
So, maybe, one thing to look at, the Emmy Allen thing. And this is a good week. 90% of “adventures” are not actually adventures and 90% of the ones that are are total crap.