Altrair’s Hideout

By Maitre Corbeau
Self Published
Level 3

A nice inn, a warm fireplace and someone to bet your precious coins, what could be better to start an adventure that this ? I offer you Altrair’s hideout, a quest filled with puzzles and tricks, deceptions and big rewards… maybe ?

This eight page dungeon features eight rooms. It’s a funhouse dungeon. I am filled with the regrets of a thousand lifetimes. The mourning of the deaths of all possible futures given the choices of the past and their inevitable consequences for the predestination that they lead to. If you’re feeling like I feel then run your life like it’s a dance floor. And if you need a little heat in your face, that’s what I’m here for. 

A Request! For 5e! It’s not clear how many more of these I’m going to handle. I’m not devoid of sympathy for the 5e designers, but, it’s also not my life’s mission to provide individual feedback. Hmmm, maybe I should start up my design consultation/feedback thing again. Maybe, one thou a pop? Like they say, fifty though a year will buy a buy a lot of beer, And maybe even some shades. And maybe some therapy?  Or, I could finally get the brakes done on my truck and the rotors on my car. Now I’m just rambling. If you’re feeling like I feel throw your fist though the ceiling! Some people call it crazy but I call it healing.

It’s not clear I recognize D&D anymore. Time counts and keep count. The seasons change, as do people. Well, except for me, from the day of my birth Gilgamesh was called by name. But D&D? … This adventure features one combat with four thugs. They surrender when reduced to a third of their hit points. Which, I guess is nice to see since I usually complain about fanatic opponents fighting to the death. They also deal non-lethal damage, which, I think, is a trend these days? At least, when I play 5e, I get chastised for my “I stab him 76 times in throat with my pocket knife” style of play. So I think it’s a thing. And since this is my blog and the rest of you are just undigested bits of roast beef, that’s all that counts. And keeps count. 

Seriously, that’s the combat.New readers just arriving will now think I’m some kind of kick the door in and kill the monsters guy. A thousand times No! But, man, a bit of the old ultra-violence keeps things interesting! When it’s not the only note in the cymphony.  (<—Ha! Get that one you fuckers!) What ever happened to fire and torture? Who wants to start … oh, hey, that’s a really great idea! 

Ok, fuckers! Who wants to be an asshat with me? You gotta be a HARD piping OSR player. A team player, engaging, not a wall flower. Thinking outside the box  murder fucking hobo par exelance! It’s gonna be fucking great! And, it will distract me from reviews like this one.

Look, man, this dude don’t deserve me. He’s just some designer from Quebec writing adventures in French & English. No doubt they love D&D. And some dickhead somewhere told him to send his adventure to me for a review, maybe. That person is a dick. And, I’ve got a soft spot for the Quebecois. I don’t know, preserving some unique culture shit while getting fucked over by the rest of “friendly” Canada and their martial law bullshit.  Is there some pro-Quebec slogan that isn’t from de Gaulel?

It’s a funhouse dungeon. Eachroom is a puzzle. There’s one combat. The number seven repeats in most of the puzzles, which is fun and i support. You see, you’re in a bar and play some wacky game involving 7’s and multiples of 7’s and that theme repeats inthe dungeon, with a stair of 77 steps trapped in the same way. And seven mirrors each with phantasmal killers. And the seventh door the right one. And … you get the idea. I’m supportive of the repetition

But, the actual dungeon? It’s a linear set of rooms, one after the other. The DMS’s mao is labeled one through seven while the rooms in the text are not labeled with numbers but just names. 

The read-aloud is not overly long but it does over-reveal, with things like “some of the steps do not have footprints on them. “No. We do not say that. We say there are footprints on the steps and thenwhen the players ask we reveal that some steps do not have footprints. We do not over reveal information in read-aloud since the back and forth between DM & player is the sould of the game.

There’s also some very confusing text, especially in the upper levels/outside the dungeon. This may be an EASL issue, which I am generally very forgiving of. “The stone floor underneath the arch is trapped …” except this the first time we’ve heard of the arch, there’s no map and no arch mentioned anywhere. There a rtap food in an abandoned house AND in the shed in the garden … and I’m not sure which one goes to dungeon, or if they both do, or what. Or maybe it’s the same hatch? It’s not as big a deal as I’m making it out to be, i mean, after all, there’s a fucking door to the dungeon and the party enters it, right?

I’ m less forgiving of the abstraction. One room has cool looking magical weapons. That’s the desccription. Nope. You have to DESCRIBE what they look like, in way that makes people think “cool”, rather than putting that work of fon the DM. In a related note, there’s the usual “characters worst nightmare attacks them” shit. I hate this. I know, its supposed to be meaningful, but it never is. Just come with a phantasmal killer concept and shve the character in to it all Pyramid-head style. Any time I see an adventure want to engage in any “tell me what your worst X is “ I roll my eyes. 

There’s also a decent amount of magical set up. Like the baddie having a magic bell that alerts his thugs, or a ready made scroll of major image to conjure a vampire illusion. It begs the suspension of disbelief. 

So, eight-ish puzzle with one combat, generic abstracted treasure, and nothing else. *Yawn* 

Oh, wait, one of the hooks is that Luke, the local priest, lost a bunch of money gamblng. Money that was not his. I love me a dirty hook! 

Did I mention the bad guy is a doppelganger that makes himself look like a princess? Have you EVER actually rescued a princess D&D, or were they all poly=d dragons and succubi and doppelgangers and the like? In my next campaig … or my new secret project, there’s gonna be a fucking princessin every dungeon. And lots of carnivals.

Man, you don’t deserve me. You didn’t do anything but ask for a review. But, then again, I don’t deserve this, either, do I? Or, perhaps, deserves got nothing to do with it in a search for meaning in a universe devoid of it? We want an explanation but there is none coming. Ever.

This is free over at the designers Patreon.

This entry was posted in 5e, Dungeons & Dragons Adventure Review, Reviews. Bookmark the permalink.

37 Responses to Altrair’s Hideout

  1. More 5e garbage. Please, for the love of god, stop. I’m not asking much. Yes, there is plenty of crap in the so called “OSR” but the typical play style that is prevalent in modern gamers makes me want to drink myself into oblivion. Please don’t make me drink myself into oblivion. Just say no to 5e. Just say no

    • Anonymous says:

      I really don’t think that’s an issue with 5e. There are plenty of good adventures and innovation to be found in 5e. The issue is that since anyone can publish anything nowadays, it is statistically inevitable to have more poor examples. And since 5e is the modern version, I guess most publishers write for it. So again, statistically inevitable to find more poor examples.

      I would hate for Bryce to quit reviewing 5e. He is one of the last non-gatekeeping reviewers out there and gives each adventure a fair review regardless of system. And many 5e adventures he reviewed did quite well. At the end of the day, do you want to read a system review or an adventure review? Are these reviews about how good or bad 5e is, or about how good or bad the adventure is?

      • Anonymous says:

        You don’t understand how statistics work. If the n is larger the ratio of crap to good does not change, in fact it becomes more likely the ratio is a representation of reality. 5e adventures get the reputation they deserve, so do adventures for other systems that have shit adventures, not vice versa.

      • While I can admit that there are 5e adventures that do not suck, how much chaff do you have to sort through to find the ever so rare wheat? Too much I’d say. 5e does encourage a certain type of play style that leads to a LOT of crappy adventure design. Also, and this is a big one, Bryce started this blog as an old school adventure review site. That’s the entire premise. 5e isn’t anymore old school than Pathfinder is? Why review this garbage?

        Of course, it’s his blog and he can review whatever the hell he wants and he can tell me to fuck off for stating that he should ignore 5e but that’s not really the point because as I said, this blog was started specifically to review old school material and it’s been a beacon for the review of tons of old school material that otherwise never would have been looked at.

  2. Beoric says:

    Ahem. From the Canadian Emergencies Act, for no reason:

    “AND WHEREAS the Governor in Council, in taking such special temporary measures, would be subject to the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms and the Canadian Bill of Rights and must have regard to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, particularly with respect to those fundamental rights that are not to be limited or abridged even in a national emergency”

  3. I’d hate to see Bryce totally quit reviewing 5E adventures… that’s how he found my work, and I’m a much better writer for it. In fact, it’s entirely thanks to Bryce and the folks on this blog that I ended up trying more OSR-style writing, which I hope has contributed positively to the overall body of OSR material in turn.

    There are 5E writers out there who want to improve their craft and just don’t know how, or they’re being taught by poor example from big-name publishers. Shadows on the cave wall, and all that…

    Some advice does get wasted on writers who can’t or won’t implement it, but there really *is* only one way to find out whether the effort is wasted, or whether it profoundly and positively impacts someone’s writing career (no matter how obscure this writer might be).

    In case Bryce feels like he’s grinding his face into an unchanging concrete wall, I’d like to raise my hand as part of the latter group.

  4. I don’t care about any adventures written for WOTC D&D. The alleged good ones are so despite being chained to the zombified corpse of real D&D, often ignore commonly enforced rules, and would be better if written for literally any other system depending on what type and flavor of adventure you’re going for.

    • Even if written for… Mörk Borg? 😉

    • PrinceofNothing says:

      I encourage you to check out my reviews of Joseph Lewis, Ben Evans, Stephen J Jones, Ben Gibson and Oswalt’s work for my sort of perspective on 5e although since I appear to be living rent free in your head you might have already done so and just forgotten.

      5e is not my system of choice, but to its credit a lot of good people (not perverts/grifters) came into the OSR via 5e.

      • thearcanelibray says:

        Prince! I was trying to be a bit silly and playful, not attack you. But I never was great at making friends on the playground. Anyway, I do read and appreciate your reviews, and your adventure writing/curating. Maybe I should have led with that before I started slinging Mörk Borg jokes. They’re easy to sling. Okay, I think we’re at the part where I let you throw a dodgeball at my head and then ask if you want to be friends.

        • PrinceofNothing says:

          Hah, I wasn’t aiming at you 😛

          • thearcanelibrary says:

            Oh! Well, in that case, you’re still welcome to live rent-free in my head. But you have to ask Bryce if he wants a roommate, first. ?

          • (This whole time I didn’t get how the reply structure works on here, but now I can see that I simply do not know who is replying to whom, hahahahaha!

            For example, the self-proclaimed sockpuppet below who is speaking an acronym-laden language I am too old to understand. ? Is this person screaming at me, at Prince, or at the void? Is it even worth finding out? ?)

          • PrinceofNothing says:

            Replies are idented to the left. I think it’s me now. I probably should have caught onto the direction of the trolling as it was too coherent and made too much sense but it’s fine.

      • >getting worked by a name gimmick
        I thought you were based but you’re actually cringe, like the YDIS guy

  5. Anonymous says:

    5e is where reviews are most necessary, because the dreck is piled so high how else are we to find the diamonds in the rough?

    Further, 5e reviews are more entertaining, I really do like a viscous assault on a mediocre adventure and Bryce you have the sharpest tongue by far.

    On a pure design note, 5e as a system isn’t really an issue if you play to its strengths. It encourages a hyper focus on character stories and complicated combats. Kind of an anti-synergy if used with six players, the usual mat, minis, etc. I’ve had really satisfying games with all speedy theater of the mind combats and a max player count of 3. Really helps give everyone their spot in the limelight.

    • Anonymous says:

      I agree – I don’t think the problem is 5e as a gaming system (which is way closer to old school D&D than 3e or 4e could ever be) but the fact that 5e has attracted way more new players and therefore many new DMs and writers.

    • PrinceofNothing's Non-Sockpuppet says:

      This. I have noticed an aversion for combat involving more then 5 opponents, possibly as a result of 5e’s longer turn resolution but it nowhere suffers from the same problems as something like D20/4e. The problem with 5e is mostly cultural, a sort of strange entitlement is being cultivated among the fanbase along with an explicit modernism that never benefits a hobby or IP in the long run.

      • Evard’s Small Tentacle says:

        5es problem is critical role- everyone now thinks good adventure design is story hour. The system is fine; in many ways better that 2e, 3e, 4e…(just needs more lethality which is a simple fix).

  6. Anonymous says:

    This was said.

    There are 5E writers out there who want to improve their craft and just don’t know how, or they’re being taught by poor example from big-name publishers. Shadows on the cave wall, and all that…

    Some advice does get wasted on writers who can’t or won’t implement it, but there really *is* only one way to find out whether the effort is wasted, or whether it profoundly and positively impacts someone’s writing career (no matter how obscure this writer might be).

    I second this! Raise hand hand hand hand

    Oh noes doctor oc what are you oh God no stooooppppp

  7. Beoric says:

    Quite aside from teaching 5e writers how to write better adventures, if you review good 5e stuff like Kelsey’s work, and as a result your readers to buy it from DrivethruRPG, it pushes up the “Metal” ratings. That hopefully means more exposure to people who **aren’t** your fans, so 5e groups start to see what a decent adventure looks like. IMO it is a huge service to the community.

  8. Gus L. says:

    There’s a lot of subjectivity in what’s a bad adventure — for sure a lot of 5E stuff out there that’s bad, just as a lot of OSR stuff was bad to, and a lot of TSR era stuff was bad. Judge’s Guild published some pretty bad stuff as well (Nightmare Maze of Jigresh – I’m looking at you!). For me the question of if and adventure is good or bad is less a question of if I like it, if I personally want to play it, but if it’s fit for its purpose.

    Does a 5E adventure work for 5E is really the only way to judge it with any kind of objective criteria.

    What is 5E’s current play style, where is it evolving too and from, why do so many people like it, and how exactly does one write adventures for it?

    I enjoy many of Bryce’s newer 5E reviews because it’s interesting to see someone else who cares about adventure design and has long experience with various RPGs trying to figure out exactly what those criteria for 5E is are. How much does a good 5E adventure share with a good 0E adventure?

    These reviews seem to have an eye to clear errors in presentation and how to improve similar work rather then the snark that it’s sometimes hard not to feel about a play style that seems very alien to folks used to play older editions. I hope that 5e writers read them and make improvements based on the advice, because a lot of new people are starting with 5E and learning to write adventures is tricky even for a play style that’s not in flux or supported by its publisher with 250 epics of generally poor usability.

    • Anonymous says:

      You implied Courtney Campbell, an ex-marine bernie-voter diagnosed with schizophrenia was a Nazi and have done similarly with numerous others and are continuing to do so.

      • Anonymous says:

        This again?

        • Not a Target for Prince of Nothing's Mental Illness says:

          I got curious last time Prince decided to attack Gus and I’ve read the exchange this nonsense is based on…

          All I saw was Gus say he wouldn’t buy Courtney’s stuff cause it was published by ACKs. When Melan showed up and started claiming that not wanting to buy ACKs stuff was some kind of sinister plot, Gus quipped that there were Nazi’s in 10ft pole’s comments.

          Only thing he said about Courtney was that he personally didn’t like guy based on something or other.

          So if Gus called anyone a Nazi it was Melan or Macris and for Macris at least … well … the best you can say about his politics is that he’s not literally a member of the NASDP from 1920 – 1945. Last time he was in the news it was for writing a viral essay right before Jan 6th with some bizarre argument of how and why Trump should overthrow the US government and become emperor.

          Gus is antagonistic, he’s had fights with Troika scammers as well … but problem here is that the “No Artpunk” folks don’t like Gus for either his politics or cause he writes good adventures, so they lie about him. Not sure why Gus bothers to comment here, but I guess he really does enjoy Bryce’s reviews.

          • Malrex of the Merciless Merchants says:

            I never understood why politics is brought into gaming discussions/forums. It seriously baffles me. Perhaps we should all talk about work next?

        • FolksnotlikingGus says:

          That’s certainly a generous if somewhat fictional reading of the events that transpired. Was he quipping in the dragonsfoot thread too?

          Or when he took down his blog for 2 years because of ‘prevalent destructive alt-right views in the OSR?’

          The answer is no. You are trying to spin this because you are guilty of what is described, and now, when your own rules of engagement are applied to your own behavior, you have no option but to resort to lies and deflection.

          You are doing it right now: ‘Look guys, I am one of you, I get into fights with the Troika guys. Those are the real baddies. Not me!’

          You are not hated because you write good adventures, or even for your politics, you are hated because what you do is hateful.

          • Anonymous says:

            He got in a fight about D&D once! He shut down his blog and then put it back up! 4 years ago! Criminal!

            The menace must be stopped. If only brave men could follow him around comment sections making up shit and crying about how naughty his is.

            If you don’t like the guy, don’t like the guy. Don’t turn this place into twitter or 4chan with your petty politics.

          • Gnarley Bones says:


          • MnkyBrs says:

            I don’t hate them nor find them hateful; this is the only place I heard them derided, and it’s exclusively by yourself.

            Gus writes good adventures and from what I’ve read of their comments here, gives good insight. It doesn’t hur that they don’t seem unhinged or an asshole; something that can’t be said of everyone who posts here.

            The forum post you keep complaining about (and you’ve linked it previously to call them out) doesn’t present the way you read it. I’d say maybe you should read it now that some time has gone by and you’ve had time to cool off, but that doesn’t seem the case. You’re still an angry boy.

            I’m sorry Gus stopped writing a blog you obviously enjoyed, but you aren’t entitled to their time and efforts and I don’t know why you feel you should be.

  9. IndependentObserverFrom1895 says:

    As a long time reader yet paradoxically first time commenter, I must say this is a tragedy. The tenfootpole community has finally gathered the courage to confront this frankly reprehensible behavior and what few ragged and ill-mannered miscreants have rallied behind the accused party cannot do so without injecting their rabid contempt of the mentally ill into their every word. Regrettable, but given their prior treatment of Mr. Campbell and others, hardly suprising.

    The defence states that confronting the accused in a comment section is uncivilized, and this is certainly true. But the accused is observably guilty of the very same behavior, and was free to exercise this for years, indeed it seems to be the very point of contention currently under discussion. It must be bliss, to live in a world where a moral standard is not something that must be abided by but merely a cudgel to be applied at one’s own convenience. The defence also proceeds to indiscriminately and reflexively slander, without a shred of evidence, upstanding fellows like PrinceofNothing, a pious, god-fearing man whose only crime is to have started a tongue in cheek charity making fun of some sub-standard adventures, which is all the more ironic given the charges against them. They simply cannot help themselves.

    As a keen observer of the human condition and part time foster-parent to a baby bird I rescued from an angry cat, I think it is a very positive first step that we, as a community, can finally confront the indiscriminate mud-slinging practiced by these perfidious hooligans, who cynically abuse the current political climate to vent their petty grievances. The dialogue thus established can only forward this site’s transition to the ultimate standard of social and distributive justice to which all institutions aspire. Think of it not, as ‘sperging in comments sections about people sperging in comments sections’, think of it as ‘socially responsible fun.’

    • The Middle Finger Of Vecna says:

      Wake me when we’re ready to get back to talking about adventures and not this silly, pointless wankery zzzzzzzzzz

      • The Heretic says:

        I don’t know, Middle Finger, he is a ‘part time foster-parent to a baby bird’ he rescued from an angry cat. That’ obviously gives him extensive moral authority.

  10. …Are you complaining about the martial law from when the Quebec separatists decided to take a hostage and kill the hostage, and then the (from Quebec) PM stomped them flat like God intended?

    Or are you complaining about the recent use of the Emergencies Act to get rid of a bunch of whiny jackasses?

    Because I promise you the Quebecois loved the second use, and deserved the first (and it worked out well. Quebec separatism has done a lot of things since, but that was the last time anyone involved tried violence).

  11. Anonymous says:

    Duck Canada, they treated natives to tanks

  12. Anonymous says:

    Real natives not white people

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