By Nicolas Roman Self Published S&W Levels 1-2
Yeah, it’s another entry without a cover, so you get some Et Tu Brute.
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!
Highborn serial slayer Julius Wavestone has fled civilization and taken refuge in a hidden sea cove! Hunt him down and claim the bounty, if you can defeat his supernatural allies. Else your lifeless bodies shall feed the waves, the ides, and the seal itself
This three page adventure features nine rooms in a sea cave featuring some sea/water themed encounters. It’s got terse writing, some evocative things going on, and a decent degree of imagination that many adventures lack. It is everything that those twelve page shitfests want to, or should, be: a baseline adventure. It could also add a sentence or two to most of the rooms and maybe a little preamble section. I appreciate the low page count, but, also, do what you can to beef up other areas, maybe?
Ok, so, I’m at about the midpoint of reviewing the entries to this contest. They have all been pretty good so far, but, also, I’m at the point where I’m saying “Man, another entry?!” So, yeah, Fuck Me. 🙂 But, also, it was an absolute DELIGHT to come across this one! The title is magnificent and is everything I ever needed in life to perk me back up and keep me charged up! Julies Wavestone Keeps on Killing! Fuck yeah he does man! Fuck yeah!
The conceit here is that Julies Wavestone is a nobleman and serial killer/psyco killer. His dad, the marquis, wants him back, dead or alive. Love it! Dad loans you the families demonic seal(!) to help you out. The seal likes to make bargains: answer his riddle and he coughs up a magic item. Fumble the answer and the 8HD demon seal eats you. Ouchies! Personally, I might make the deals he does a little more flexible than just coughing up magic items, and maybe include a few more riddles than the three offered up. After al, you’ve got the page count. I might also have included something besides stats for the seal: a description and some mannerisms, since he’s going to be going along for the ride.
And, speaking of Wishes being Fishes, the beginning is a little abrupt. Basically, there’s a sentence saying he’ll give you title to a village for doing the job, and that’s it. I might give him a mannerism, maybe two sentences about the village. (I love the party getting a village title at level 1-2 … think of all the hooks that provides!) And, more importantly, some lead-in to Julius. Some rumors. Some examples of his killing. Something to really bring home that title to the adventure. Again, you’ve got the page count. And it doesn’t have to be long and involved. Maybe just an outline, a paragraph or two, some bullet point ideas of his misdeeds. In the last adventure I reviewed there were great omens leading up to the the keep adventure that were quite brief. Something like that, but with Julius, or maybe even a little more.
Our encounters here are … a bit unique. By which I mean they have a shade of set pieces to them. Which, again, I guess I shouldn’t complain about. I mean, I gave people nine fucking rooms, I should expect them to make them memorable. And, besides, I’m not even sure it’s fair to call them set piecy. But, they certainly are the fuck memorable! Maybe that’s what I mean? Which is a good thing? I don’t know. I dig them. Encounter one is with a swarm of piranha trying to eat your oars and rowboat. Who the fuck doesn’t love piranha? Same with spiders; spiders need to seem like the things you find in bed at night and not “the monster from the monster manual.” Piranha! And, we’ve got some notes about dumping rations in the water to satiate them. No word, though, about how many rations a body counts for … Other memorable encounters involves a pit full of giant crabs with a ledge around it, the crabs battling and cannibalizing each other, or, an upside down pirate ship replete with the required skeletal crew … who are willing to make a deal! A little more personality here might have helped this entry, but I’ll take it.
Writing is decent, if a bit TOO short. “Millennia of shifting tides have painted striated bands of color on the cavern walls. The splintered remains of a rowboat lie at the cave mouth.” and
“A narrow walkway winds around a circular pit filled with hundreds of mutant rainbow crabs battling and cannibalizing one another, their opalescent carapaces reflecting and intensifying light.” Both of these are pretty decent. I might have done something a little more with the rowboat description, but, overall, pretty good, I just think that, instead of this one sentence description, the designer could have thrown in a second sentence and still been ok. The page count is low AND the descriptions are already very terse, another line in each room would have been ok. Still, “Slimy black cave slugs lap at milky-silver liquid trickling down the tunnel” does bring the D&D!
Our capstone entry, with Julies, is a little brief also, for something like this. Basically just a fight. I think I would have enjoyed a little more foreshadowing, or something a little more involved from Julius.
Still, overall a pretty fucking decent effort and better than the vast majority of S&W stuff I’ve reviewed!
Also, the only other work by this designer is a book about Centipedes. Because he just really likes centipedes and thinks that the books don’t do them justice. All right man, I can get the fuck behind that! Rock on with you and your centipedes!
You can snag a copy here:
Thanks for the feedback, and I’m glad it was able to brighten your day! I was very much trying for a ‘minimum viable product’ here, though the minimum of length rather than time or effort. Now that I know what ‘too short’ looks like, I can start to find a happy median.
I do have some other work, ‘The First Rat Bank’ one of the winners of JB’s Year of the Rat contest, though that won’t be formally published until JB puts out the book.
(Oh, and the Centipedes book had some submissions of mine, but was by no means my exclusive work!)
Wow! This was really great! I read through the whole thing in one sitting. This would make a great one-shot.