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 fourth and final installment, and the general comments from the first, regarding publisher style, still apply.
The Dream Cloud of E’lok Thir (Koebel)
This seventeen page of emptiness is another one of those dream bullshitty things. Not an adventure, maybe a toolkit to build one, and too high concept and lacking support for the DM.
I went to a Disney costume party over the weekend. I painstakingly researched The Absent Minded Professor and put together a costume, complete with “leather” chemistry apron. In a room full of pirates and animation characters I don’t think my outfit worked; I was just a guy in a tweed suit and hat. This adventure is me at that party.
I think, what was it?, part of Raggi’s Gran Quest adventures, there was one “Adventure” that was just a bunch of tables. “What color is the wizard’s eyes?” was one I remember. I think I mocked it by noting my own adventure, and linked to the Unabridged Oxford English Dictionary. This is that, with the typical dream bullshit layered on top of it.
You know the dream bullshit deal. No map, and going back the way you came leads to somewhere else because “Dream.” And a whole lot of asking the party “What is something you regret?” and then having the DM work that in to the room on the fly. Woooo … classy! And totally not something that has been in about a hundred “adventures” before this one. And don’t give me any of that Jusir-my-dick-tpion shit either. Yeah, I get what it’s trying to do. And, thanks to my generations bullshit my cynicism detector IS quite twitchy. But if you’re going to for this high concept Absent Minded Professor shit, in a room full of Disney characters, then you better fucking bring the goods. And the usual throwaway comments about “doors don’t lead back to where you came” ain’t gonna cut it. No half measures. You want to bring the Dream then you better sweet your ass off delivering.
“Roll a d66 on the 18 entry tables five times and pick one entry from each column to determine the wizards background.” Again, I will flog the horse, RPG designers don’t seem to know how to use a random fucking table. This is NOT OSR design. This is some kind of adventure toolkit stuff. It you’re writing an adventure, which this professes to be, then you, the designer, pick something. And then you integrate that background in to the entire adventure and theme shit and put things together in to a whole. “These entries should inform the dungeon in ways both vague and specific.” Uh huh. On the fucking fly. OR … and now this is a novel idea, YOU, the designer, could do the fucking work. You could spend a few weeks sweeting over it and put together something better than a bunch of randos can put together on the fly.
“No map, no room description, no paths to follow.” Right. Got it. Typical bad dream adventure nonsense.
“The foyer might take on the qualities of anything just beginning – the foundations of a home, the empty stage just before a play begins, the first day of school.” Uh huh. Or … [repeat after me] the designer could put this in, based the wizard they designed, to make something more cohesive.
“When the characters spend time in this chamber, choose one and ask “what is some- thing you regret?” then weave the answer into your description of the room.” *sigh*
Treasure? Oh no. How about “Treasures found here will shy away from violent expression, but otherwise any magical treasure could be appropriate.” That’s content worth paying for, right?
There;s I don’t know, twelve rooms? The description of the trophy room, the read-aloud, says its quiet like a library. The DM text says the wizard “was an accomplished student of the magical arts who uncovered mysteries, bent reality and endured the very special sort of hubris only sorcerers can suffer. The Trophy Hall is a reflection of accomplishments real and imagined.” That’s it! That’s your fucking guidance for running the trophy room. No notes. No ideas for the DM. That’s the fucking help that the designer has included to help the DM create this room.
So, not an adventure but rather an adventure toolkit. And a pretty shitty one at that, with almost no assist provided to the DM in creating something. Just some vague ideas about a room called Regret Made Manifest.”
I don’t know, in retrospect I might buy it for the Geist adventure, but that’s about it.
And FUCK YOU, gentle reader. There is room in my life for high concept shit. But not high concept shit that makes a half-assed effort.
This is $10 at DriveThru.
Now, onward and upward, to the next thing on my wishlist that I haven’ reviewed yet because it was too big/expensive/I knew it would suck, etc