By Olle Skogren Self Published ACKS Level 6
This is an entry in my Wavestone Keep adventure design contest. Which I held to combat the crushing ennui I feel when reviewing too many bad adventures in a row. The challenge was to write and short adventure, eight pages, inspired by the concept and marketing tagline of the Wavestone Keep adventure. Now, to combat my crushing boredom, and the perfectionism which prevents me from working on larger projects, I’m going to review the entries!
Be scared of the water, the current and the ocean too! A frightening tall building of hard material moves around the seas, disgorging its killer shipment of reptilian reprobates wherever it chances to beach itself!
A fearsome tower of stone prowls the salt-drenched coast! It appears at dusk to disgorge hundreds of rapacious lizardmen who carry off treasure and captives never to be seen again. By dawn, the tower is gone. Deliver the coastline from the terror of the tower! Earn a barony through your bravery or see the coast descend into poverty and piracy because of your failure!
This seven page adventure features a tower on the back of a giant snail filled with … more than 480 lizard men! Yuperoo Buckeroo, this is thing is an ACKS adventure and is brining the mass combat, potentially, to the adventure! Decent flavour, takes advantage of ACKS … It’s a fine adventure for pitched battles and mass combat. I guess, anyway? I don’t know how to review those.
Ok, so, big tower going up and down the coast raiding villages. Surfaces at night, all submarine style, and about 500 lizardmen jump off and raid a village until morning. It’s a tower, riding on the back of a GIANT snail. The adventure outlines raiding the tower at night while most of the lizardmen are out raiding (hence, the room keys), as well as attacking the tower/snail with a ship/siege gear and meeting the lizardmen raiders with your own army. These are nice touches for a sixth level adventure in ACKS where mass combat and ship combat cou;d/should start being a thing. I don’t know how the fuck to review that shit, though. There’s a bout a page to support these things, along with some notes about what happens if the party succeeds or fails at stopping the raiders. Including, you get your hex given to you by a local lord … and the old hex owner comes back with an army to take it back!)
So, it’s got kind of a sandboxy nature to it, at least in that it details the coast, the raiding, the mass battle and hex owner shit. Assuming you take the battle to the tower while the raiders are gone, this is where the traditional room keys come in. The rooms are pretty minimal, basically one big room per tower floor (six in total, with a few more off to the side I’ll cover later) and generally having about thirty lizardmen in it. They are tormenting some captives by throwing pebbles and ud at them in the dark. Or, in the infirmary: “impatiently recuperating. All have an arm or a leg in various stages of regeneration. Some are chewing on amputated limbs. One squats by a shield used as a flat bowl and stirs a mix of blood and crushed seashells.” So, we get a little bit of evocative writing and a little situation in each of the rooms to help the set the scene before th big pitched battle starts. Just enough, I guess, to provide a meaningful pretext that this is something other than a bunch of big fights. I mean, it is, and, I don’t mean my comment in a shitty way. It is what it is. If you’re gonna raid a tower full of lizardmen then there are gonna be some big fight and the room descriptions DO provide a little bit of flavour before that starts. It also does other little things like noting sounds and lights for adjoining rooms, and, has a great little encounter with a lizardman champion looking for single combat … and who could become your henchman if played right. Awesomesauce! And that encounter also has a little giant clam mini-game with snagging treasure from three of them and not alerting the big room of lizardmen below by using sledgehammers, etc, to get in to them.
There are some nice magic items also. The hair of the undine, which causes one to show up if you are drowning to help save you … and who dies of a broken heart if you DO drown. Awww, that’s sweet! And a magic sword, +1/+3 vs pirates, The Corsecuter! I do love me the name!
There are elements to the adventure that repeatedly stress the more open ended nature of this one, trying to be of larger scope and/or support a slightly different style of play, getting in to the domain area, than a typical low level adventure. I appreciate that a lot, including a scrying stone bowl that one could, presumably, cart off. The lizardman henchman, taking the giant snail captive and exploiting it, and/or somehow taking whats in this and stretching it out a bit to fit more naturally in to your game as several villages get raided, rumors swirl, etc.
I think Olle does a good job here. I think. As a “normal” adventure it would be a little lacking because of the large pitched battles. But it’s not a “normal” adventure. It’s taking the party in to the start of domain play, which should be happening around sixth level anyway. I just see this shit so infrequently that I have NO idea how to process it. I THINK it could maybe support the beginning of the adventure a little more, the investigation of the ruined villages, the lizardmen raiding them, a build up, etc, and maybe a couple of battle events for a big pitched battle? I don’t know. I don’t know. I don’t know.
This is Pay What You Want at DriveThru, with a suggested price of $1.