By Fiona Geist, David McGrogan, Zedeck Siew, Adam Koebel Free League Publishing Forbidden Lands
This eighty page booklet has four adventures from four well known designers. I’m going to review this one differently, doing one review post per adventure, in an attempt to give their fair due, something that I think is missing in my previous anthology reviews. This is this third installment, and the general comments from the first, regarding publisher style, still apply.
Temple of the Six-Limbed Lord (Siew)
This seventeen page non-adventure is a general description of a situation, with some ideas about a village of monkey invaders. None of which my taxonomy allows to be defined as “an adventure.”
It’s Monday morning! The shine is shining, the birds are singing, I had a super fun weekend planned, I’m not hung over and I’m only ten pounds from goal weight and fifteen from that mess jacket I’ve always wanted. I even forgot it was time to write a review, which makes it a very good day indeed! And then I remembered …
What if, like, some monkey tunneled in to our world, man? And what if they were like, invaders man? What about that? And what if they had, like, this giant monkey statue that they and their soldiers used to kill people and convert them to their monkey man religion? And, what if, like, there was also this monkey dude who was an outcast and the rightful high priest? Ok, you get the idea. It’s not an adventure. It bills itself as a “village”, in Forbidden Lands type of adventuring site vernacular, but it’s not even really that. It’s too abstract for that. It’s just an idea expanded to seventeen pages.
We start with … a mess. It’s meant to be an overview of what’s going on. An introduction. An orientation. It is not. It is almost incoherent. It’s almost like there’s a longer work, somewhere, and bits of paragraphs are plucked out of it and pasted in to a couple of pages to make an introduction/background section. There’s a role to be played by leaving things mysterious. The imagination needs room, after all, and given the room it will fill things in by itself. But There’s a difference between leaving room and seemingly random facts plopped down on the page as a background that you’re trying to make sense of.
It then offers some advice on how to frame the monkey invasion for your campaign. It suggests taking the wandering table, provided, and sprinkling it in to your own game. Each session replace one of the entries on your wandering table with one the entries from this which are, of course, monkey invasion themed. Hmmm, good advice. I like the stuff the tries to integrate itself in to your world, especially over time, instead of the typical one and done episodic stuff. More immersion=Good thing.
And then the real shit show begins.
The monkey soldier compound. Six towers with a central platform in the center. That makes for seven locations in this “village.” And what does one of these descriptions look like? How about “The barracks rings with shouted roll calls and the clanking of scale mail. Clerks waddle the corridors, tails picking up scrolls fallen from their full arms. The palace is abuzz. Troops make ready; their sergeants tasked with exe- cuting Ngajaputri’s newest stratagem. Roll a D6 on the table below.” Yup, that’s it. A description that only room after empty room in the barrier peaks could love. It’s a fucking abstracted concept. That is ALMOST the entire description of a major war tower of the enemy. Just a fucking concept. And by almost I mean that there’s a second paragraph: “Inside, Ngajaputri paces her throne room. She leans over her war table. Its mahogany cracks and warps and stains – a diorama of the world, updated in real time, as scouts in the field annotate their maps.” Well now, that added a lot, didn’t it! This is, essentially, about as much description, or less, than the great houses of the drow from D3. “Like, hey, man, you could have this tower, and, like, there could be monkey soldiers in it! Yeah! That’s it man!” There’s nothing to this. At best, its inspiration for the DM to create their own game, or run some kind of Fiasco like story game.
And then there are the table. The random tables. Proving once again that a fuck ton of people making RPG’s don’t the fuck know how to use a table and the what the fuck they are for. Basically, each tower gets its own random table, because, OSR< right? OSR has random tables! Look everybody! It’s Darth Vader! You recognize Darth Vader right?! Dance monkey! Dance! Table 1: where could the monkey compound be located, six entries. Bottom of a lake. On an important road. In the middle of a river. Just more ideas. Hey, one of the towers seems to have a jail cell in it! A ten entry table to help the DM pick a prisoner for the jail cell. *sigh* They are all like this. Hey, you know what works better than a table when you are creating major parts of your adventure? Actually creating that part of your adventure and then riffing the rest of the adventure off of it, as the designer, and focusing the editing around it to integrate it in to a complete whole. Or, I mean, you could just slap down a bunch of tables, creating ideas to inspire the DM to create their own adventure, and then slap “adventure” label on it.
You know, whatever. For an asshole that claims language has no meaning anymore I sure get pissy when it actually happens.
Anyway, the weakest entry so far. Next review: the last entry. Please baby jesus, let it be better. Please.
This is $10 at DriveThru.