Wyvern’s Roost

By Richard Sharpe
Self Published
B/X
Level 1

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!

This eighteen page DIGEST adventure contains about nine or so rooms/encounters in it. A delightful romp in a simple lighthouse, its got some decent imagery and nice interactivity. A B/X adventure, in the most laudable sense of the phrase. It could also use a bit of a rewrite with the way it formats its entries to put important things first.

This is a retheme from another adventure, a bandit tower. But, instead of bandits we’re rethemed to pirates and a lighthouse … and it works well! A dude in town says he’s looking for wyvern eggs and there’s a tower nearby. You get there, avoid getting eaten outside, negotiate a troll cave, cross a rope bridge, make it up the tower to the nest at the top. What’s notable, here, is this being a Level 1 adventure with a Wyvern, a Troll, a and a Vampire … with only the Wyvern being an outright obstacle. And that leads to a wonderful tone, the kind most of us enjoy, where you’re not just hacking shit down but, rather, scheming and talking to the people inside.

The people inside who wear obvious keys around their necks for that big fat treasure chest sitting in the room. And have big fat ruby rings and earrings on, obviously worth a lot of money. Everyone should know by now that my favorite game as a DM is “how close can I get to luring the party in to attacking the actual Keep in B2?” … and other related issues. I love a friendly NPC with “next level loot here!” signs hanging around their necks! Especially when they are overpowered like the ones here are. 

The interactivity here is pretty good. We’ve got the obvious NPC’s to talk to, and the overall “grab the loot/push your luck but the wyvern is probably not a fight” thing going on. Nice traps, a rope bridge, and a decent secrets layout is all pretty good. 

Writing can be quite evocative in this. The troll’s goblin buddy is “Her erratic personality will rapidly shift back and forth from screaming rage at the troll for suggesting they eat their nice visitors to simpering, handsy doting on any adventurer who doesn’t violently recoil from her reach, and she is persistent. She only sometimes licks her toothy chops when looking at tasty exposed people flesh.” and “Chains the size of a person’s arm encircle the riveted, black iron coffin and run through its four handles. There is a sliding shutter door at the corpse’s eye level.” Not bad at all! NPC’s are well described and memorable without being over the top. Folk in the local tavern have rumors and are for hire. Rooms have decent, and short, descriptions to relate to players. A one-eyed troll with an acid-melted face is a win

Other things are great also. There’s a small amount of cat & mouse with the wyvern, in a throw-away statement, as the party approach the tower. Good non-linear entry in to the tower. NPC’s in town are good, as are the rumors. The various magic items are solid, including a hood that “A thin layer of elven cadaver skin is stitched inside like a lining. It’s peeling and flaking off the back of the mask. One time only, the wearer can transform into any person’s form whose facial skin is stitched into it.” Sweet! That’s what I want! To wear someone else’s face, literally and figuratively! 

Also, though, there’s the formatting …

There are a couple of things going on here that kind of rub me the wrong way. First are the room summaries. I feel like these happen BEFORE The encounter, before the read-aloud. And they get a little long. They are NOT done consistently, which is not what I’m bithcing about, but, also, they seem to be long and just appear. I’m on board with a general overview of how things are supposed to work inthe tower, etc, but, also, you can do it shorter and/or not include it at all in a short adventure and the let the adventure encounter keys speak for themselves. 

Then, also, some of the descriptions are a little cumbersome in how they are laid out. Like, that coffin description, with the chains. I think the subject, the coffin, probably needs to come first and then the chains. Unless the chains are just SO FUCKING HUGE as to the most obvious part of the room, then the coffin is. By getting all fancy with the description writing you’ve put the coffin in the secondary place in the description. First things first in descriptions. 

And, look, I get it that digest is a format near and dear to many of our hearts. I don’t thin it works well for a lot of text. More reference? Sure. More text/paragraph based? I don’t think so.

But, I’m just fucking quibbling. What this is is a great example of a B/X type adventure that is short. It feels like a good adventure, and like a good BX adventure.

(Richard, I declare you Not The Winner THusfar, thus making it irrelevant for me to judge if the page count, in digest form, qualifies.)

Snag a copy here:

https://www.drivethrurpg.com/product/392795/Wyverns-Roost?1892600

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4 Responses to Wyvern’s Roost

  1. 21st Centaury says:

    Nice work, Stripe!

  2. Stripe says:

    Oh, wow! A “No Regrets!” Thanks so much!

    Eight pages is eight pages whether you turn them on their side or not, right? 😉

    Had I known there were going to be so many entries, and that so many of them were going to be freaking amazing, I would *never* have submitted this. Plus, I didn’t really take the theme seriously, as readers can tell, so I’m a little embarrassed about that.

    Now that the review is out, I want to kinda explain how and why I wrote Wyvern’s Roost. It was never meant to be a stand-alone adventure.

    I often quote/paraphrase two of Goblin Punch’s posts, “OSR-Style Challenges: ‘Rulings Not Rules’ is Insufficient,” and “1d124 OSR-Style Challenges.”

    Basically, they say, “The OSR is problems without prescribed solutions.”

    One example he gives is: “Get over this moat. It’s full of crocodiles.” It’s so simple! At the same time, it gets the players thinking. There’s no prescribed solution.

    So, I came up with: “There’s an abandoned tower with a wyvern roosting on top.” Period.

    There’s no need for anything else. You don’t even have to have a buyer for the eggs or put anything in the tower. Don’t worry; when the players see an abandoned tower on the mount with a freaking dragon on top, they *will* want to investigate. It made for a wonderful night of B/X D&D on the OSR Pick-Up Games Discord channel.

    Well, I felt for the contest I had to draw the tower. Then, since I drew the tower, I needed to put stuff in the rooms, right? And, since there’s a cave, well, stuff has to go in there too.

    Pretty soon, I’m freaking out. The deadline is here. This thing is out of control. Digest format is no longer a good idea. Etc., etc., etc.

    However, now that the review is out, it was all worth it.

    I want to plug Flipping and Turning, an online magazine (I guess kids these days call them “‘zines” like they call playing dress-up “cosplay”). I have no affiliation with it, nor have I read any of them. But, they asked me of all people to write 500 words on my experience with Free Kriegsspiel (FKR) vs. the OSR. I agreed and expect it might be in the coming issue. Here’s a link to the latest, I think: https://smolderingdung.itch.io/flipping-turning-6

    Bryce, I’m a Patreon. This the only site on the Internet I frequent. I mean, the ONLY site (I don’t regularly read news, have no social media, etc.). I am so thankful for your reviews. It means way more to me than buying you a half a drink at the bar once a month, but if I ever fly to wherever you are, I’ll buy all night. You’ll have to tip the strippers, though.

    Also, on my blog, I tease my next project (which includes Wyvern’s Roost) a solo B/X game inspired by Grave of the Green Flame, one of your all-time favorites! I look forward to giving you a new solo game to replay over and over.

    • Bryce Lynch says:

      Rock on man! You got it! “It’s fucking tower with a wyvern on top. Deal with it.”

      Also, everyone, notice how the most intelligent and attractive tenfootpole readers are also Patreons? You too can be intelligent and attractive, if only you were to join my Patreon …

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