By Francisco Duarte The Keep Studios DCC Level 0
South of the famed city of Caster’s Crossing lies a jungle rife with dreadful perils and savage predators, known by the locals as Erset La Tari. Adventurers crave the bounty of treasure and powerful artifacts said to be lost in the depths of this treacherous place; many have lost their lives trying to uncover them. Now a band of conscripted prisoners are forced to best the horrors lurking in this dark place. Will they be able survive and perhaps unearth the prodigious power said to be hidden in the depths of the jungle deep?
This sixteen page adventure details twelve encounters in a jungle. Without much of a jungle vibe. Linear is what you get with a DCC adventure, with fighting and traps and an obstacle or two thrown in. The read-aloud and DM is terrible. Surprise. Not Interesting.
You’re the Last Hope, condemned prisoners sent on a mission and if you succeed you gain your freedom. That’s the last bit of interesting this adventure will have. You walk down a jungle path to the end, having you’re linear encounters, with the exception of a small clearing where you could also go right or left to have a single encounter each. I don’t know what I’m complaining about this; it’s what DCC is. It does get a bit tiresome though. Especially when it’s vanilla.
And vanilla is mostly is. Stray off the path and get eaten by a dog/tiger thing. Fight some snakes. How can giant cobra snakes be boring? Read on! Fight some things. Fight some more things. Jump over a sludge stream. Maybe go down to the bottom of a sinkhole. Can you tell my heart is not in this? It’s just … boring. De rigueur.
The read-aloud is LONG. Long paragraph long. And in the hated italics. If I accomplish one thing before I die (I just did a few life expectancy calculators, I have 40-43 more years; I clearly need to drink more) it will be to drive the hated italics from read-aloud in adventures. I know, it’s my own windmill to battle. Ok, so, Long read-aloud to bore the players to death. It’s in italics so it’s hard to read. And it uses second person. I fucking hate second person read-aloud. It’s just garbage. “As you walk along the path it gets narrower …” Is it really that hard to say that “The path gets narrower?” is that really that fucking difficult? Do people not realize the issue with second person in read-aloud? Is it not the obvious fucking sin that I think it is? “As you gaze in to the muck of the stream.” No. NO! I do not gaze, at anything, EVAR! I want to fucking make it through the adventure and “Don’t gaze at things” is like rule number three for adventurers.” It does NOT create an immersive environment. It does the exact opposite and breaks immersion.
The DM text is long. REALLY long. Like, at least a column if not three quarters of a page in most cases. And it’s just simple paragraphs, with no bolding or underlining r highlights or anything to help parse whats going. Oh, there is a “TLDR” section, which is a nice touch, but it’s not really meaningful to running the adventure. “The stream blocks the way and kills anyone who touches it.” Great! Where are the stream details? Buried somewhere in the following page of text.. *sigh*
How does it get this way? I think the first encounter has an entire long paragraph of text that tells of the ecology of the place, how the canyon was formed by the running stream. That has no impact on the adventure. It’s the Ecology of the Piercer, embedded in an adventure. It’s fucking padded out in the most annoying ways. “Although most local fauna will try to avoid the party, the Shardian Grass Cobras that flourish here are another matter entirely.” That sentence says nothing. “Should the characters decide to inspect the surround- ings they will notice two interesting elements, previously …” That entire clause has nothing to do. It’s just padding, obfuscating the meat of what’s to come.
Ok, I lied, there is a bright point. When the party emerges from the jungle in to the clearing the read-aloud DOES tell them what they see in clearing, ahead, and off to the right and left. This is a good example of what I like to call The Vista Overlook. When you can see a decent distance that encounter should tell you something of what you can see, to lure the party off track and provide assistance to the DM for the inevitable party question of “What do we see?”
There’s just nothing here. It should be a steaming jungle vibe, but that isn’t communicated at all, either in the read-aloud or the DM text. I now, evocative writing is hard. I know. I empathize. But a jungle adventure should FEEL like a jungle adventure, and not just walking down a long hallway killing a snake. In the end, I’m using this as a textbook to pull examples from for my book on how to NOT write something. Not, let’s go see if I can lower my expectancy a bit more …
This is $7 at DriveThru.The preview is seven pages, the first seven. Fortunately, the last page of the preview shows two encounters. Note the padded out text. The first real encounter, with the snakes, is one of the more evocative in the text. I think the read-aloud ruins it, as does the second person, but hip-deep brown grass under a blazing sun has something going for it.
Because it was on my Wishlist, that’s why. Yes, I’m still working through my Wishlist. Because STUPID, that’s why.