The Bone Place of Dreib

By Rob Alexander
Medium Quality Productions
Levels 3-4

You are alone. It is dark. You have never read a book. There is something in here with you. On a hill above a deserted road there is a rocky crown, and in that crown is the Bone Place of Dreib, and in the Bone Place (so you have heard) is a temple of the ancients full of treasures wondrous and diverse. Why it is unlooted and undefiled? Probably the stories about the place, the ghosts that come if you sleep too close, and the list of grave-robbers who never came back. But the stories are probably bullshit, the ghosts probably just nightmares, and the grave-robbers rank amateurs. You are don’t care about that shit. And you have this dream every night. A dream that you are alone, that it is dark, and that you have never read a book. You are down there in the earth and there is something in there with you. It is a million years old and it is not your friend.

Dude, this thing is weird.

This twenty page adventure details about thirty locations with a non-traditional (or, maybe, ultra-traditional?) undead thing going on. And fear. And primitivism. And … well, it’s just weird man. And I mean that in a good way. It’s could use a little more theming, I think, in order to communicate a vibe to the players better. But what there is, here, is very interesting and as freaky as anything I’ve ever reviewed … without it in ANY way being gonzo or alien. 

Check out the fucking marketing blurb on this thing. At first I thought it was just some modern adventure, from the “never have read a book” thing, and then I see it’s OSE and I look at my other Medium Quality reviews and I’m like, ok, I’m taking a chance. And man, thet fucking blurb delivers. That in the dark thing … that million years thing. But, it’s not ALL that. Ok ok ok ok ok ok ok, I’m gonna cover this shit.

The place has three parts. First, there’s the “outside”, or maybe the preamble. Imagine the Ol Zeke shit in Death Frost. There’s this giant mesa and a path cut in to ala Petra, and outside of the mesa and path are some shit. A little hut. A graveyard. A little section off to the side, elsewhere, with two fresh graves but NOT in the graveyard. We’re building energy here, preparing the party for the vibe to come so they can shit themselves when stuff starts to go down. A hand sticking out of the ground that grips back if you grab it. Skeletons in the graveyard, if dug up they have vaguely animalistic features. A couple of fresh graves off to the side, I guess they didn’t find the loot they were looking for. And a gap in the mesa, 6 feet wide, flanked by pillars with a stone lintel engraved with DREIB in foot high letter. Uh … ok. Who’s up for the paths of the dead?!  

That section, along with the rumors and hooks, makes the initial vibe setting. There’s a creature in the dark, and weapons simply don’t work. There’s a creature, under, that should not be woken. That’s what the ancients sealed the place up. If you overturn the great stone THEY will come and drag you underground and that will be the end of you. Vague shit. Scary shit. Less is more and the parties imagination starts to run. Oh, and while I’m not a big fan of dream shit, there’s a crawling through narrow tunnels naked and afraid in the dark clutching a primitive torch and a sharp antler. Fuck yeah man! That’s a fucking vibe!

Part the second: you come through the crack in the mesa and it’s hollow on the inside and big. Giant rock in the center, a boulder, and like nine or so tunnels that go in the rock. These are tombs, but, also, that’s a little misleading. Let’s start with “hey, its a cave a we buried a dude in the back” at the middle of the spectrum and branch out both directions from there, but absolutely trending to the more primitive side of things. (There is a more traditional tomb or two, but not a fancy one. More of a burial place, I might call it.) Caves, tunnels, some narrows, ornamentation of some sort in most, mostly primitive. You got me? With some undead. 

Undead like a leg and pelvis sticking out from under a boulder. If you fuck with it it gets up and kicks you, maybe kicking off YOUR leg. Or a ribcage that launches at you. Ar a mass of skeletons under the big boulder that form up to kick your ass. Or ghostly bodies wrapped tight in white burial shrouds, attacking like worms? Or maybe the ghosts of those people, dressed the same way? We’ll call that the more traditional of the encounters. 

Because there’s also a spider thing, with hooks on its feet and vaguely human like face, squeezing through small tunnels, slicing off a limb or head and then retreating to eat it … it’s quiet the rest of the day. Or worse, the thing in the tunnels .. .which is really just vague.

And let’s cover that third part now. The Prehistoric Tunnels. The alter of man. The alter of the stag. Tight, your light doesn’t seem to give off much light at all. And something, in the dark, reaching for you. Clawing. Stabbing it makes it retreat for awhile, but its always present in the dark, always coming back. 

Learn to genuflect baby, that’s gonna be one of the most important skills here, to appease some shit and keep the restless spirits happy!

I’m down with this fucking thing. Except … I am an unhappy boy on the descriptions. It’s using a brief summary paragraph with keywords bolded, and some keywords in parens to describe things. So, in the primitive tunnels we get “Headless man-figure (made of wood and clay, with crown and staff as if a king and an excessively erect phallus)” Yup, i agree, that’s what it looks like. And I’m down with this description. Terse, brief, evocative; works for me. But, the encounter areas themselves don’t tend to get descriptions. There are some general notes about packed earth and the like, but I think almost all of the rooms could use an additional sentence about the actual room instead of the things in the room. That vibe of the location needs to be better communicated. And not having it is a major downer, I think.

Like, so much so I’m not going to Best this one. Oh, and also, I can’t find the entrance to the Prehistoric Tunnels? I don’t know here they are?  But, sure, this one is close. A little more work and it could have been.

The Spider-Thing is a hairy black spider, 8ft across with

all its legs splayed. The legs end in cutting hooks. Its

central body is a black sphere, and though you look

close enough there is a humanesque nose and mouth…

though the latter has all the wrong teeth.

This is $3 at DriveThru. There are two previews available, the seonc shows you the prehistoric tunnels. Good stuff, and enough to make a purchasing decision.

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2 Responses to The Bone Place of Dreib

  1. Brandon says:

    Seems like a winner for me. Got it, and liked what I’ve read.

  2. Thanks Bryce for another detailed review.

    Entrance to the the prehistoric tunnels — yeah, I messed up there. It’s under the altar in A9, which you can figure out from the text but it’s not obvious. I’ve uploaded a revised PDF now.

    Description of the locations — I may have come unstuck here between the atmosphere you wanted and my attempts to adhere to the terse OSE style. On top of that, in my head the tunnel rooms aren’t that distinctive apart from their shape, size, and contents — their similarity (which doesn’t condescend to human desires for decoration or variety) is part of their feel.

    Longer term, I’ll look at revisiting that part of the text. In the mean time, I’d be keen to hear from anyone who runs this adventure — could make the tunnel rooms work, descriptively?

    “very interesting and as freaky as anything I’ve ever reviewed” — My trick here was something I learned from Patrick Stuart – before and during writing and design, I spent months reading about prehistory, underground places, and funerary customs. Then I created the space without thinking about game terms or D&D conventions much, so that the distillation of all that real-world stuff, processed through my brain, poured out into the adventure site. I’ll maybe blog about this at some point, and share my reading list.

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