the FOREST that KNOWS your NAME

By N. Masyk
Monkey's PPaw Games
Level? Fuck your and your concept of “levels”, just buy my product!

The sun is out. Smoke drifts from cookfires. Loggers nap in the shade, or dice beneath awnings on ramshackle yurts. Nearby, raised voices. One petulant: “This path was to be cleared weeks ago!” Another, defiant: “You ask the impossible. I need more soldiers!”

This 31 page booklet is not an adventure but rather some ideas for a setting in a weird haunted forest. Atmospheric, the way inspiring content in a setting guide should be. Also, falsely advertised and not an adventure.

fuck you.

its not an adventure

it says its a pointcrawl forest adventure. twice.

its in the adventure category

its not a pointcrawl

its not an adventure

It’s a collection of rando evocative tables and descriptions for a weird insular/haunted/bloody forest. Dark ancient forest, make some blood sacrifice to get the paths to open up, even just a drop of blood. Weird forest people living inside, farmers and the like. Loggers who want to log. Ancient ruins. Weirdo “formians”, no two alike. 

Everything in this is very well described. It’s evocative. The writing is descriptive, generally without not overstaying its welcome, although it does tend to the longer side. Which, is ok in something that is not an adventure. If I’m looking at a setting guide, or regional guide, some kind of thing to help inspire me to create a game or an adventure in that setting, then longer form writing, and even paragraph-style writing, is ok. It’s not an adventure, it’s something else, and it doesn’t need to follow the technical writing/usage conventions of an adventure. A bureaucrat is described as portly, brittle, slick-backed hair. Always glancing from side to side. Rarely leaves the city, eager to get back to it. “You there! You look a warlike lot. Indulge these local louts’ superstitious nature and the nawab will shower gratitude upon you!” That’s a great description. It’s specific. It’s sticky; it stays with you after you finish it. You instantly know how to run him. A brief conversation snippet, related to the adventure, provides more than the mere number of words would indicate. 

And the booklet does this time and time again. The formian table creates weird giants: a hobbled left leg, bound in chains, with a pair of ravens perched on their shoulder croaking words of prophecy, with a voice like a golden trumpet that ruptures eardrums in fountains of blood. That’s a pretty good set of random things to build a legendary creature out of! Magic items. Farmer descriptions. Things found in the forest. All of the descriptions hit and hit and hit. Who’s hungry for some blood figs?! The juice is a bright arterial crimson! They fall to the ground with a wet sound, SPLORCH. Sweet! 

But, that’s all the fuck it is. A series of random tables with some other descriptive elements, like creatures and so on. This is a booklet that you can use to inspire you to create a setting. There is no adventure. I’m not even sure that there’s a hint of an adventure. There’s some kind of implied “loggers need protection” thing at the beginning, but there’s not even enough there to go forward on. There’s no goal. There’s nothing to solve. There’s no places to plunder, no ruins to explore, no mystery to uncover. Not even a Big Loot to plunder. WHich is weird. There’s this section in the back that looks like it MIGHT be locations. It says things like “a break in the trees” and then gives some kind of a description. But there’s no map. And they don’t really DO anything. I mean, hey, some weird description and a monster that attacks. Yeah!

IF this were an adventure, then there would be some great evocative writing, but I’d ding it for a lack of interactivity. Writing a good location description, or an interesting NPC, is useless without something going on IN that space. You need some potential energy. In the example NPC, I quoted above, he’s at least sending the party on a mission/hiring them. But, beyond three “hook” NPC’s you don’t get anything like that in any of the locations or with any of the tables. They are just static random elements. It reminds me a lot of Isle of Unknown where you’d just encounter some bizarre creature.  For no reason. And, while some of that it perfectly fine in an adventure, if the ENTIRE adventure is nothing but that then you have a very dull boy. 

And that’s what you have here. A dull boy. No potential energy because nothing is actually going on in the forest.

Well, I mean, IF it were an adventure. Which it is not. It’s just another filler product masquerading as an adventure in order to snag your filthy lucre.

This is $5 at DriveThru.

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23 Responses to the FOREST that KNOWS your NAME

  1. Gus L. says:

    I wonder about the prevalence of these sorts of projects and their mirror twin, minimally keyed dungeon adventures that appear generated with random tables. From you description there’s obviously talent going into making this, but like those minimal adventures, it strikes me that the author might not have the best understanding of how Classic adventure design works while focusing on one or two of the maxims of OSR design.

    That is to see it looks like this regional collection of tables creates an evocative environment where “narrative is emergent” from player goals. “Evocative detail” and “the oracular power of the dice” filling in a larger “sandbox” with “faction play” and locations. All without really understanding that players lack the information to enter a regional sandbox without some prompts and that you need more then just random tables to fill fantastic space or how faction play actually functions?

    Like those 5E adventures without maps that toss walls of zonal description at the players and call themselves a dungeon crawl – I suspect these sort of lyrical setting descriptions love the idea of classic adventures and have read a primer or two,but aren’t too familiar with actually running them?

    • Anonymous says:

      Reminder that Gus is engaged in historical revisionism and trying to portray the old OSR as a band of alt-right racist.

      • squeen says:

        I’m not reading any of that here. Why bring that up other than to derail?

      • Anonymous says:

        He comes here pretending that it’s all one big happy OSR, while smearing Bryce and everyone else on his activist review site. Ok, but people are going to be reminded every time he posts what he does and what he stands for.

  2. Little aside Bryce, did you mean FOMORIAN, as in the grotesque giants with a bunch of deformities?

    Because last i hear FORMIAN is a race of ant-people – and i’m guessing a typo, since the sample description you gave sounds more like the former than the later.

    Though a race of misshapen giant ant-people could be fun i guess.

  3. Jonathan Becker says:

    If a person were to buy a piece of garbage masquerading as an adventure (like this piece of garbage), and then ask to have their money returned due to false advertising (because it’s not an adventure even though it SAYS it is an adventure…I’m reading the front cover and it clearly says “a forestcrawl adventure”), then would one be able to get their money back from DriveThruRPG?

    Just curious. Because then I’d be tempted to BUY this piece of garbage in order to give it a real review (“not an adventure”) and hopefully reduce it’s 4-star rating. But I’m not going to spend $5 just to do a public service for customers at DriveThru.

    • DTrpg Promo Team says:

      4 stars on Drivethru is already a bad rating. It’s like a Ivy League undergrad degree – you have to work to get anything less then a B+

      • Evard’s Small Tentacle says:

        But 5 star ratings are bad ratings too.

        • squeen says:

          Having a consistent standard from someone like Bryce (or in the past, Consumer Reports) is invaluable. The disinformation game is played by so many at every level of society, intentionally leaving us so often forced to just gamble with our small collective currencies.

  4. Anonymous says:

    I completely agree with Squeen “Having a consistent standard from someone like Bryce invaluable”. Reviews and ratings on DTRPG are unreliable at the very best. .

  5. Anonymous says:

    It’s hilarious that you link to the $5 on drivethru version so you can presumably use an affiliate link.

    This is free on, as is basically all of Monkeys Paw’s stuff.

    • Anonymous says:

      I think it’s pretty classy to pay for the material and provide the address that will drive some revenue for the author when reviewing the work. I read a lot of these reviews and Bryce has been pretty up front about the affiliate links and why he pays for what he reviews.

    • squeen says:

      “It’s hilarious that…”

      Why is that funny? Why doesn’t the author put it up free on DRIVETHRU also? Is an exclusive club?

    • Oh heaven forfend! Bryce makes a few pennies and channels pittance that into paying for new product to review. I guess that offends the commie pinko aesthetic.

      (Cue hand wringing) Won’t someone please think of the children?

    • Anonymous says:

      But… it’s not free on itch? It’s also $5 on there. There is a ton of community copies but those explicitly say they are in case “this game is something you’d like to try but isn’t in your budget right now.” Are you suggesting that we freely take from the CCs that are for those less fortunate than us?

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