Bandits Below!

By Eric Moss
Bugbear Games
Level ?

A seemingly innocuous store front, Just don’t look below the floorboards!

This seven page adventure uses two pages to describe ten rooms, about evenly split between a building above ground a small cave/dugout below ground. The above ground portion seems more natural, while the below ground portion is lacking in anything interesting at all. This is, essentially, a one page dungeon padded out with extra text and blank pages. That’s disappointing, as is the rather basic premise.

There’s not much going on here in terms of plot, which is ok. The hooks are basically “you’re in the shop and something happens”, which is pretty much word for word what the hooks says, “something.” Or, you’re sent to find a kidnap victim. I’m not really upset at this, but, it also feels like “some bandits using this store as a front” could use a little more to it. I don’t know, a paragraph describing their extortion schemes or something. 

The front itself is a tad interesting, but could be better. You’ve got a grumpy old man with an eyepatch running a general store. I’m imaging a run down one, anthough tha’s not mentioned. He’s a coward and lets the bandits use the stor as a front. Again, I think maybe a little more, in the intro, could have been good here. He’s got money troubles or a sick mom or something, a little bit more depth to him. In any event, in times of trouble he gets the fuck out of dodge, which is a great realistic reaction … something the upper level/front business does well. In the back room you’ve got some tables with some bandits hanging out playing cards. I’m imagining something out of the Sopranos, although there’s not anything more to it than “three dudes in a back room playing cards.” Still, again, this is a realistic kind of thing and I like it. It feels right. I could have used a bit more description, to get a vibe going in the room tha the DM can then communicate to the players. We’re not talking about the need for a lot here, just a few more words, maybe one sentence that describes the room/social club. In a similar vein, we’ve got two dudes sitting out the “special guests” room, guarding it. That’s all we get, they are in a foyer, with it being undescribed. I imagine them sitting in a chair, reading a newspaper, the legs up or some such. It’s good that I’m going there, that my brain is making up these little scenes … but the designer could have added a sentence to bring that vignette more fully to life. 

When the adventure moves out of the front store and down in the basement dugout, then the wheels fall off. It’s just a room with a couple of bandits in it. Bandits ambush in the room that has the entrance trapdoor in the ceiling. How, in what I assume is an empty room? Sure, i can put some cratesin it or something. Or, the designer can provide one sentence more about the room that brings it to life. And not even the minimal brain spike from the upper floors are included in the basement … it’s just dudes in a room. 

There’s just nothing here to work with. It’s padded out with nonsense, like, the backroom has goods for the general store that the guy legally acquired. Ok, sure, what’s the point in the legally aquired thing? It’s not going to make one difference one way or another. The padding and more conversational 5e text style (and it looks like it’s done in one of those 5e adventure templates) doesn’t provide anything to work with DURING the adventure and just detracts from the scanning.

As a small single location for the party to adventure in, a quick raid on a storefront bandit lair, it’s small. And that’s ok. But the lack of entanglements, or things in the room to work with, or evocative writing to help more fully bring the adventure to life is really dragging it down for me, no matter the small concessions to the more realistic bandit behaviours on the first and second floors of the building.

This is Pay What You Want at DriveThru, with a suggested price of $1.–Bandits-Below?189260

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4 Responses to Bandits Below!

  1. squeen says:

    They didn’t even completely finish the cover.

  2. OSR says:

    To be fair it says for “character levels 2-5” on the cover. Or is Bryce’s “?” an indication of doubt rather than not reading it?

  3. Jonathan Becker says:

    Is this really what passes for a level 2-5 adventure in 5E? Half a dozen bandits spread out over two levels?

    And Alexander wept having no more worlds to conquer…

    *sigh* I am currently learning 5E in order to help my kid (whose buddy wants to start running a 5E campaign). My son…11 years old and reading the 5E PHB…tells me the text seems written to make him “lazier.” Re-reading these 5E reviews makes me think his impressions ain’t wrong.

    Ah, well.

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