Tooth and Nail

By ELW Green
Lead Filled Games
Level 1?

Nerovia is a land existing in a world of nightmares. This ancient place struggles against spirits, disease, and the unknown. The people are busy surviving between lunar cycles and harvest season. The winters are long. The mountains are steep. Sorrow so clouds this land that the shadows lead the living. This adventure offers a rousing mystery in the forested mountain settlement of Brynmawr. Whether its’s the roaming hunger of the Hunter Beast, or a foul plot to murder an otherwise harmless baker, there is something afoot in Tooth and Nail.

This sixty page adventure details a small village and a few intrigues going on around it, in a sandboxy/open-ended manner. It’s got some good specificity in it and is not bad for what it’s trying to do, from a design standpoint. It’s also horribly overwritten with a formatting that is DISASTROUS for running the thing. Like, it’s a fucking novel instead of an adventure.

The concept here is pretty simple. You take a village, stuff some NPC’s in it, and then throw in four or five things going on that the party can get in to trouble with, with a few “adventure sites” supporting them. Where ‘adventure site’ is defined as a small lair dungeon with three rooms, repeat four or five times. There’s nothing wrong with that concept, it’s a time-honooured one. I think I prefer these things to support another, larger adventure. In other words you go to the dungeon and you use something like this as your home base, with the local trouble adding some intrigue during what would traditionally be downtime play. 

You start out in the inn, waking up in the common room the next morning after a night of drinking. Super! Nd the innkeeps wife is like “Wake up Jorge!” … except Jorge is dead, face down in his bowl of porridge. Supporting this are rumors of a ghost near the town well, and of a huge beast in the forest that villagers have seen. A couple of people are missing and the town is on edge with now what looks like the third murder in a short time. The local preist is working his dander up. Let’s toss in a handful of colorourful NPC, including an asshole sheriff, and you’re ready to go!

There’s some good specificity in the descriptions that bring the NPC’s to life, as well as the adventure sites. I think this is one of the harder aspects of writing an adventure, so I’m happy to see this in place. But the implementation here is ALL wrong.

We’re looking at 6o pages to get all of this out to the DM … and it slots in at 164 meg … meaning we’re getting image pages instead of text pages. And those NPC’s? They take SEVEN pages to describe, about two to a page. Listing just their name up top in bold, rather than their role also, making reference hard. They are relatively focused, and there is a summary at the rear, on one sheet … but the summary, in particular, is quite poor, not mentioning the essence of their nature or their quirks/knowledge well enough to run off of it. This is an issue. The village will live and die by it’s NPC’s, in terms of player engagement, and that just can’t be done with the way the information is presented.

And speaking of presentation …

This is a wall of text. I mean, literally, a wall of text. IDK what the format is called, but the right and left side of each paragraph are justified to a fixed length, resulting in an endless scroll of information, page upon page of text, presented as a wall. This fucking shit is IMPOSSIBLE to wade through. Some in long sections of italics, making it hard to read. Other just … a wall. 

Inside of this the actual specificity that bnrings the adventure to life, and the specificity DOES do that, is lost. In response to the death of the philandering baker, Milos, the villagers might say something like, “Yeah, Miklos can cook …” and so on. These little bits are GOLD, but are lost inside of theinpenetrablewall that the formatting brings to the table. 

Further, shit is scattered around. Info is on the rumors tables, in the various NPC descriptions in various site locations … putting it together in to one cohesive whole is going to be a pain. I had to read and reread in order to get certain pieces of information. One vital clue, the body of a boy, was lost to me unless I scanned the text for a third time. That won’t do AT ALL.

So, the basic concept is a good one. The actual DESIGN of the adventure is fine. But the formatting, and the wya the information is presented, is an absolute fucking disaster. Once you get past that you get a set of relativy mundane.common things goin on  the village for the party to resolve. Not 60 pages worth. Certainly not 164meg worth. And NOT worth slogging through in order to run it.

This is $10 at DriveThru. There is no preview, so fuck you if you wanted to take a gander before making a purchasing decision.

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One Response to Tooth and Nail

  1. Anonymous says:

    To all adventure writers: “Wall of text” = not worth my time! Please buy, read and learn from either a NG adventure, Castle Xyntillan by Gabor Lux or the Waking of Willowby Hall by Ben Milton and the many other examples on Bryce’s “The Best” list!

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