The Infected Village

By Marcus Lock
Parts Per Million
Worlds Without Number/OSR
Levels 5-6

No movement, No sound, barely a wisp of air. The village appears empty, with no sign of struggle, no violent death, in fact, no sign of the villagers at all. All there appears to be is an empty space as if the people were teleported away and, in their absence, in the time they have been gone, strange shapes seem to have almost sprung out of the ground. Growing upwards getting bigger, the shapes are familiar, but the size is wrong. Mushrooms just don’t grow that big. 6’, 8’, some as big as trees, almost blocking out the sun. Multi-colored and grouped together around the village. The strong earthy smell of growth is almost overpowering. There is a mist filtering through the tree-sized mushrooms…

This thirty page digest adventure features 15 “locations”, using six pages to do so. It makes me question all of the life choices I’ve made to bring me to this point in my journey. 

Look, I’m a happy go lucky kind of guy. Live and let live, Bryce always says. You see that hill over there? That very next one? Right behind it is a shining city under blue skies. We merely need to stretch our legs and walk the distance and we’ll be there! Rage, my cynic friends! Rage against the dying of the light! 

A magnificent adventure today! Look at that cover! How could there not be a shining city under it?! Blue skies await! 

Look at that product description! Joy! Oh, no … wait, it’s not joy. Hmmm, it’s pretty much telegraphing what is going on. I mean, the villagers turned in to mushrooms, right? That’s obvious to everyone? It’s not just me? So … it’s going to be obvious to the players just as soon as they step in to the village … or even see it from a distance? “No signs of life in the village, no dogs or fires or anything, but there are clusters of 6-footish tall mushrooms scattered around in clusters.” 

What follows is a study in tedium.

Essentially, there are no encounters in this adventure and there’s nothing to do. I’m not counting fighting. There’s plenty of fighting. The DM text does say “role-playing within a village environment”, but, I don’t think we’re using a common language at least as far as it applies to the term roleplaying. I’m cool with other play styles. I mean, I don’t want fuck-all to do with them, but, hey, if you like them then engage all you want. But I despair over is the loss of meaning. “I like to play D&D” means nothing any more. It could mean literally anything. And this adventure is NOT my definition of D&D.

Basically, you walk in the village and get attacked. You fight some mushroom people. You can look around in some buildings, but, they are all empty, with minimal descriptions. “Roberts family, 4 children.” a great many of them say with a generic description above them all of a dusty building not lived in for quite some time. There’s no specificity. And it wouldn’t matter if there were because there’s nothing going on in the village. Some giant mushrooms to look at. “Giant mushrooms.” is about all the description you get for them and there’s no interactivity. Get attacked by some mushroom people. Yeah! Find a hole in the ground. Great. There is absolutely NO interactivity in the village. No mystery to solve. Nothing to find. Nothing to explore. And then the “dungeon” starts with it’s eight-ish rooms. Again, no interactivity. You can go right or left. If you go right you find guard mushrooms and the hive mind aggros all mushrooms to your location. If you go left you find mushrooms that attack you and the hive mind aggros all mushrooms to your location. Each location is essentially just a description saying “There are X mushroom people of type Y at this location.” with a long stat block then mixed in and a note at the end reminding the DM to agro all of the mushroom people. 

There is no treasure.

The hook is that the rumors are that the village is empty. Or a merchant hires you because no caravans have come. And the village is at a cross-roads. But no one has explored it all. Cross-roads is not out of the way. But weeks of dust, and un-looted general store implies that it is. Giant trees spore you once you get close. Maybe. Or maybe they don’t? They take weeks to develop. The text says hey are not developed. And then it says they spore the party. None of this shit makes any sense.

Wandering monsters contains such evocative entries as “small pack animal” and “herd beast.” 

This is D&D. This is what a large number of people think D&D is. Because it IS that to those people. Just like Critical Role. That IS the definition of D&D for a great many people. The majority, now, I assume. Or D&D is “the DM is telling a story through the adventures” bullshit. Or D&D is mini’s combat and combat-as-sport. But this isn’t D&D. You might have fun doing one of those things. I’m genuinely glad you do. But, at some point, we must agree on the meaning of the word “egg.” If you offer me poached eggs and serve me dried maggots for breakfast then I think it’s fair to assert that I have a right to be disappointed. 

I find adventures like this so perplexing. How do you put something like this together, with the obvious quality in layout and art, and NOT know what a D&D adventure is? Surely you’ve seen them before? But I guess not? I mean, otherwise, why would something like this exist? Do people care so little for what they attach their names to? I mean, I’m an asshat and too much of a perfectionist, having attached my name to nothing, but this is the other side of the spectrum. 

I weep. 

Day after day. Week after week. People who don’t care. On a good day I’ll tell myself that they just don’t know what they don’t know. I don’t understand how they don’t know it, but, it’s clear they don’t. Why else then? 

Because there is no shining city just over the next hill. All the clouds are grey. It’s just people. People muddling through life. Doing the best they can. Which is substandard 99% of time. And no one really gives a shit, one way or another. There is no hope for a brighter tomorrow.

And yet, we must imagine that Sisyphus is happy. 

This is $4 at DriveThru. The preview is the entire thing. So, at least there’s that.–A-Worlds-Without-Number-Compatible-Adventure?1892600

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13 Responses to The Infected Village

  1. Knutz Deep says:

    Get this man some adult beverage of his choice. Stat!

  2. Maynard says:

    You’re doing God’s work Bryce.

  3. Jonathan Becker says:

    Your weeping and gnashing of teeth echoes my own. You are not alone in your misery, nor in your (perhaps misplaced) optimism.

    You are also correct: this is not D&D. They can say it is, but it isn’t. Unfortunately, there’s no quality control. No overseer. No D&D FDA. And people who would try to warn people away from this trash, this dreck, this highly polished shit on a stick are shouted down as “gatekeepers.” Clearly, there are no gatekeepers…the gates have been thrown wide and every idiot has been invited to the party. Even the ones who clearly know little about the party they’re attending.

    If a well-heeled gentleman shows up at your cocktail party and starts throwing drinks against the wall to see if they’re “stain resistant” (because he saw such lunacy on a television commercial) should he be shown the door and invited not to return? Yes.

    The analogy directly applies to people who watch a show like Critical Role and think it is D&D.

    Stamp this turd “do not buy.” Start a new tag “not an adventure.” Or even “not D&D.” Because it’s not. It’s something else. It’s a garbage with high production value. It’s style over substance. It’s shiny crap.

    I was going to comment on your last (“Tomb of the Alchemist”) review that it’s not the gin. Don’t blame the gin! I love gin! There’s just not enough gin in the world to dull the pain. Find some vermouth, mix yourself a dry martini (5-to-1 ratio), always shaken, add three large olives (one for someone you love). This helps. It helps…but it doesn’t cure.

  4. samurguybri says:

    I was watching the “Collabs Without Permission” host interview people after the recent cinema event of the start of the the new Critical Role campaign. I’ve never watched Critical Role and had no idea what they were talking about, but the people that were being interviewed were MY PEOPLE. Nerdy as fuck, they loved the crazy stories and weird in jokes that come out at the table and all of them played the game. They like story and are willing to throw themselves into character and get into the the game. A great asset for any table. Moreover, they want mystery and stuff to play with and wonderous things to happen. They may not be into the lethality or emergent narrative based games, but I think they would hate this module as well. They want roleplay and interaction, especially with NPCs. There seems to be none of that that there. This looks like crap and not just because “it’s what 5E is now”. Adventures are tailored to suit a crowd, but a good adventure is still a good adventure. I think they deserve quality play. These shows ignite curiosity and we do get some folks trickling over to neo-old-style games who start in 5E. I think a lot Bryce’s agony can be attributed to Sturgeons Law as opposed to simply 5E suck.

  5. Anonymous says:


  6. Shuffling Wombat says:

    I have a tentative theory: when he was very young, Bryce permitted an elven bladesinger at his table. He has been paying his debt to society ever since.

    • Bryce Lynch says:

      Fuck you! Fucking bladesinger bullshit!Just name the fucker drizzel durden and get your fucking ass in to the fucking dungeon.

      This is why I am devoted to B/X. Fucking min/max fuckwittery kept to a fucking minimum.

  7. The Heretic says:

    All clouds are gray. All cats are gray. Get your Cure songs right!

  8. Kubo says:

    Don’t these adventures sound like the adventures you’d write for your friends as a teenager (I.e. a basic setup followed by mostly fighting encounters with different monsters)? Yeah, why the heck are these for sale? It took me 7 or 8 years of active RPG playing and DMing to finally write a solid adventure myself that was both balanced and interesting. I think people are pumping these adventures out shortly after they are introduced to the game and without much actual game play before publishing. Glad they are excited about RPGs, but let’s get real. Their ideas and creativity are not worth much, if anything.

  9. Yora says:

    “And yet, we must imagine that Sisyphus is happy.”

    I mean, you’ve been doing this for ten years now and still not slowing down. :p

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