The Brinkwood Thickett

By Matthew Evans
Mithgarthr Entertainment
Rules Encyclopedia
Levels 2-4

The Princess of Petals has been kidnapped! During the annual Birthmonth celebration of Brightbloom the town of Brink is swarmed by giant wood spiders. The foul beasts attack no one, but they abscond with the maiden chosen to be this year’s festival princess. She must be saved, but the kidnapping goes much deeper than expected…

This 26 page adventure features two mostly-linear mini-dungeons of about fourteen rooms each. Unique magic items can’t save a massively overwritten adventure featuring mostly combats. It reminds me of the bad old days of the early OSR adventures.

Twenty-six pages of triple column text. For an adventure with two dungeons, one thirteen rooms and one fifteen rooms. And, lest this think this is one of the modern “appendix heavy” adventures, it is not! It’s using those 26 pages to almost universally concentrate on the actual adventure. And, so, where does that highway go to? How did we get here?

Letting the days go by. Specifically, padding. There are weather rules in this. Almost an entire page of triple column text detailing the weather. Glorious glorious padding, telling us that rain two days in a row should mean that the rain on the second day should be the trailing edge of the rain on the first day. Chrome, the like I’ve not seen since Block Mania.

Or, perhaps, three solid pages of wandering monster tables for the wilderness! Not tables, per say, but more like three pages of large text blocks detailing the encounters in Heavy Wood, Light Woods, Wooded Hill, Meadows, and Cursed Lands. A simple encounter with a black bear, or stirge attacking is, at a minimum, eight lines of text long. Eight lines. To say something like ”they attack.” I’m not fucking kidding. “The party is swarmed by 2d6+1 stirge” takes eight lines of text, what with the blank line padding, stat blocks, and text. THAT’S how you get to 26 pages.

There’s a column of read-aloud to start the adventure. Which totally takes away your agency. During a village festival a bunch of giant spiders roll in to town and kidnap a village girl. You get to fight, but you are webbed quickly and the read-aloud covers all of the events, from them rolling in to them taking the girl to them leaving again. So, by the time you get to actually do something it’s all meaningless anyway. Then you get told to go save the girl. No reward, or anything. Just Go Save Her, but Ms preachy pants at the church. This is all drudgery of the worst sort! No supporting village information, nothing to engender you to the townfolk. Just nonsense.

So, you chase these giant fucking spiders for a day, in to their lair underground. You wander the fuck around down there for a bit until you find the room that says “Oh, they left again via this tunnel.” *sigh* I guess somehow you know that they took her with them. Whatever. I’ve given up caring. Spiders attack. Spiders Attack. Spiders Attack. *sigh* 

You continue to follow the spider trial, I guess, until you get an elf village. They control the spiders and had them take the girl. They are going to sacrifice her because their shaman said to. Because their stream has dried up. Yeah, yeah, they sent some dudes up stream to find out why but they didn’t come back so organizing a giant spider raid on a village of humans, kidnapping a girl, and doing a blood sacrifice seems like the right thing to do, for them. Like, WTF man? I get it, elves are asshole, but this is some degenerate wild elf shit, and not in a good way. Oh! Oh! Also, goblins are good guys in this adventure and gnolls mostly talk to you. The ELVES are the asshats. Along with a wood drake you led the gnolls to the source of the stream because he knew that their pet rust monster would eat the metal pump, destroying the stream, and cause havoc with the leves, which would cause them fuck with the humans. Got that all? The wood drake thought it would be a lark, the elves are idiots, and the goblins and gnolls follow the modern trend of being friendly. 

I don’t know. Four paragraphs of fucking text to tell us tha a false door opens a pit trap and a fountain with a secret door and a two sentence room description.

This is my fucking life. This is D&D. I remember these days. I remember my early days of reviewing. Of excitement in the OSR community. Of people creating things with lots of enthusiasm and whose visions didn’t not reach the page in the way that accurately communicated them to their audience. I should have thought that, ten years on now, that would no longer be an issue. I was wrong.

It’s got some good magic items. A spoon that makes things edible. A pendant with the word GLORY on it that does a phoenix/immolation thing ala breaking the staff of the archmage, unique swords. It’s a highlight of the adventure. 

The only one.

This is $5 at DriveThru.–The-Brinkwood-Thicket

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10 Responses to The Brinkwood Thickett

  1. Mithgarthr says:

    Well damn, haha. I’m not surprised when you don’t like something, but I didn’t think you’d hate it *this* much, lol.

    I will at least argue a few points…

    “This is all drudgery of the worst sort! No supporting village information, nothing to engender you to the townfolk. Just nonsense.” That’s all covered in RC1 (which you reviewed), as this is meant as a direct sequel. Similar explanation for the “padding” weather information; these two modules (and the two that will follow) not only have their main adventures in them, but are slowly building information on the setting they’re placed in as a DM would need said info. Is that how everyone would want info presented? Obviously not, ha, but that’s what I was going for.

    As for the no-agency-read-aloud, the module does also say “fuck it, play it out if you want.” Sure, the encounter’s weighted so that it’s probably going to end the same way the read-aloud goes, but there’s no reason not to play it out, and it has text supporting that idea. Also, same with the head cleric sending them on the quest, sans reward. If played as a sequel to RC1, this makes sense. If not, the DM will have to come up with a reason why the PCs are chosen (which would involve a reward). This is also spelled out in the module text. Both situations are essentially “Here’s how it’s likely to play out, but if you want/need something else have at it.” Both “railroad” situations tell you to do it how you want, they don’t say “this is how is HAS to be.” I think a decent DM should have no problem working with that, so I fail to see an issue here.

    Also, I wouldn’t call the goblins nor the gnolls friendly, they’re just not murderously aggressive. How they act is up to the PCs/reaction rolls.

    Anyway… working on RC3 now. Can’t wait to see you rip into that one. 🙂

    • 3llense'g says:

      A decent DM would have no problem doing many things, but why would they give you their money then? After the positive buzz around RC1 I was super excited for RC2! Also, if it’s a direct sequel, building on the information from RC1, that should mean LESS padding. Also also, making it a direct sequel makes the module much less modular, making it pointless as a separate entity.

  2. Anonymous says:

    I think this author entered Princes contest?

    I wonder if he incorporated your feedback from RC1, his comments were much more enthusiastic. That said, Prince might have a lighter touch

    • Mithgarthr says:

      I was indeed in the No Art Punk contest, and definitely took advice given in critique of RC1 (both there, here, and on Dragonsfoot) into account with this one. Malrex has given Brinkwood a read and gave me some awesome feedback on it (he hated it much less than Bryce here did, haha), so I think it’s perhaps not complete trash. And hey, my group had a blast with it. 🙂

    • He did and I probably have, especially for a contest. That being said, Bryce didn’t hate the first one nearly as much:

  3. EOTB says:

    This *is* how most people play D&D. It isn’t a case of people playing a different way, and failing to translate how they play to the page. I.e., it’s not something that’s going to change ten years on because of identification and communication. People are going to translate how they play D&D into their products forever, which means products in this style will always exist and there will always be an audience for them.

    This isn’t to say identifying them as this type of product is pointless – it helps those who don’t play this way avoid products written this way.

    • EOTB says:

      I’m not so much talking about this module, per se. But the idea that the style discussed in the review will ever go away.

  4. Jacob72 says:

    I actually like the premise of this adventure and would buy it to use as the basis of one of my own. 28 pages for two 14-room dungeons does seem an awful lot though.

    • 3llense'g says:

      I agree on both points. Half the page count should be more than enough. As for the premise, I’m pretty sure you can write your own adventure based on what’s in this review.

  5. Anonymous says:

    All. Princesses. Are. QUEENS!! *hack hack*

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