Temple of the Six-Limbed Lord

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. 


This entry was posted in Reviews. Bookmark the permalink.

15 Responses to Temple of the Six-Limbed Lord

  1. Yet another review of the woke folk before dipping back into Cha’alt? Tsk tsk, hoss. Fuchsia Malaise beckons!

  2. Anonymous says:

    I am curious what of the work is the authors and what is the company? So many great authors have written for them but the output is the authors worst work?

    Milton, Stewart, Giest Siew and countless others

  3. The Heretic says:

    Maybe this was originally written for Mork Borg?

  4. Kaique says:

    Man I really like well used random tables. But sometimes it looks like an osr plague or something.

  5. Melan says:

    I think situation-based adventures have their place (I personally like them a lot), but they are tricky to convey correctly in writing – much trickier than actually running them at the table. The “translation” can easily slip into railroading (even if the original game had none), or vague “here is a thing” style shenanigans, which is what this adventure looks like. Could it be that the author had played a good game, but then didn’t succeed at translating that experience to a module? Are there playtest notes or a list of playtesters?

    Random tables are great, but random tables have a specific place and purpose. A lot of these post-OSR adventures (and it looks like this is one) retain features like procedural generation, but only have a cargo cultish understanding of their function. Repetition without understanding, a bit like how 2nd edition AD&D retained a lot of 1e features, while no longer grasping their actual meaning. I see it a lot with stuff like Troika and Warlock! stuff. Something is there… but not *actually* there. If that makes sense.

    • squeen says:

      Not only does that make sense, it’s brilliant!

    • nroman says:

      I’ve been encountering similar stuff of late while editing other people’s adventure drafts. There’s cargo-cult behavior outside the post-OSR circles as well, especially around read aloud, GM text and keying. They’re vestigial.

      I’ve been running courtly adventures at my table recently, and the situation-based adventure setup seems the best way to format those, since it’s expected that dynamism and fun play will emerge from the players colliding with the situation. Of course, that requires adversary rosters, factions and for the GM to have a strong understanding of how it all fits together and breaks apart. That seems to be the part that’s difficult to translate.

      • Bryce Lynch says:

        Right. There’s nothing wring with the situation stuff, in principal. But they continue to hang on to THE OTHER WAY, the things they think are de rigueur.

        It’s a different play style, and a very popular one, and one that I think is less fulfilling, but it’s a thing in its own right. Just implemented poorly nearly every single time.

    • Yes, that makes sense to me.

    • Graham says:

      There’s a Traveller scenario ‘The Mystery of BT-SHT365’ which was reviewed by Seth Skorkowski on his YouTube channel that reminds me of this adventure. The impression that one gave was much the same. The scenario’s author had taken their rough notes of a campaign and re-wrote them as a ‘scenario’.

      When he was asked about the many glaring issues with what was published. Plot railroads, missing GM information, nonsensical NPC actions etc, the author responded that they were simply giving the GMs room to improvise!

  6. Anonymous says:

    Often the two are conflagrated . Look at wotc staff and 5th edition. They think its the same. Room is good but you need tools and procedures

    • Anonymous says:

      “Conflagrated” you say?! Let me use this temporary pulpit to denounce all book burning of any kind, no matter how bad the adventures within are.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *