Coquina Keep of Clown-nihilation

Adam Hawkins
Self Published
Levels 3-5

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!

The CKC is a magical coquina stone tower that floats along the sea coast on a wide barge occasionally making land fall. Sometimes it will randomly teleport unexpectedly across the sea or inland, such as appearing in the street in front of the Cs favorite inn. It was made by yet another mad wizard known as the Keepmaster for no particular purpose by to terrorize coastal communities with an invasion of lizard folk clowns when it washes ashore.

The rest of you are L 0 S E R S! Adam C Hawkins understood the assignment when I announced the contest. You see, the rest of you submitted an entry based on my direct illocutionary force. Adam, though, understood the indirect illocutionary force, what I meant. So confident was he that he included his address, for the inevitable mail containing the prize. He knew that I would have to review the reviews, or at least read them all. And, thus, he created something that he would then force me to read … and took the opportunity to torture me. Adam truly understands the masochism inherent in the tenfootpole outlook on life. He wrote a jokey clown adventure. 

Five pages. Nine rooms on a three level tower. Ignoring the intro, the real fun starts with the wandering monster table. Flying Baseball Bats. Crabby Old Men. Lizard Folk Clowns. What’s a flying baseball bat? I have no idea. Or, for that matter, I have no idea what a lizard folk clown is, there’s no description of either of them. The crabby old men, though, Do get a description. “What are you doing out  here? Stay out of our keep! Respect your elders!” In my hubris, I would like to think that these are a homage to me. Also, I didn’t get the play on words, at first, with the bats. I though they were baseballs bats, like the club. Now I think they are baseballs with wings. Modern lit is great, we are told, because of the different interpretations once can have of the same text, so, you know, Joyce and the Coquina are the same. You think I’m kidding but I’m not. I’m serious. Only Joyce got the suckers to buy in. 🙂

Room One! Assorted dead ocean fish (grouper, mahi-mahi, tun, sailfish, nursing sharks, eels, etc) are hanging on lines from the rafters of this room. They are hung individuals, tightly together, and at different heights, blocking vision across the room. They can be parted like walking through a beaded curtain.” Well, fuck. That’s not so bad. I mean, nice imagery there! I get it! And, it’s gonna fuck up the party; they are gonna get scared and probably fuck shit up! Also, there’s three jellyfish in there, so, nice integration of a “trap” in to the environment. It feels right. 

Okay! I’m in the groove! Let’s see … room two is … a magic shop. Room three is a snack room with a magic popcorn machine. Room four has meditating clowns asking “What is the perfect number?”  Room five has … a clown car full of lizard man clowns. Room six is a naked teleporter room. Ok, I got it. 

Also, I feel seen. The final boss is a wizard who wear the Talon of Weknaw Jr, his right thumbs replaced with a birds leg and talon and that holds ap uslating black pearl of doom that he throws at people, Sphere of Annihilation style. Everyone does know, byt now, that I immediately cut off my own hand, as a player character, and pluck out my eye at the first sign I may have found any part of the terrible twosome right? And, I mean, who DOESN’T lust after the Sphere?

Alas, Adam, your descriptions for the rooms need some more work!

You can snag a copy here:

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11 Responses to Coquina Keep of Clown-nihilation

  1. Maynard says:

    I think this one wins if it made Bryce laugh half as much as I did reading this review.

  2. The Author says:

    Thanks, Bryce, for taking the time to review everyone’s contest submissions, including mine. Your critiques are awesome and always entertaining. My adventure is a beer & pretzels game; low on atmosphere and does not take itself seriously. It’s just meant to be fun. I did not try to make a soufflé when given poor ingredients and not enough time to bake it. Instead, I gave you a microwave burrito, but hopefully everyone thinks it is the best microwave burrito they have ever tasted. Happy gaming everyone!

  3. Mithgarthr says:

    This one should win just because of the warning about play-testing. 🙂

  4. Stripe says:

    I seriously considered entering one that was just everything Bryce says not to do. A “kill monsters and take their stuff” grind. Put the whole dungeon behind a “roll to notice” check (e.g., roll perception to see if they notice the entrance). Long paragraphs of backstory for the rooms, which would be empty. Long descriptions of stuff that everyone would expect in a room and any GM can improvise (e.g., listing all the utensils in a kitchen drawer). Overwritten read-aloud . . .

    • Gnarley Bones says:

      Single column format.

      The adventure starts with the PCs guarding a caravan.

      • Shuffling Wombat says:

        But what are they guarding? A travelling carnival, specialising in terrorising obscure hamlets, led by a 15th level illusionist wearing a ring of anything the party tries doesn’t work. Ten pages of backstory (in italics), and two pages of boxed text to be sung to the players.

        • Gnarley Bones says:

          I seem to recall there was a proposal once in the Comments, made only half-in-jest that we deliver write the anti-Bryce all-time deliberately bad adventure, plop it up on RPGNow and watch the 5-Star reviews roll in.

      • Stripe says:

        At least a page—in italics and a “ye olde” font—for read aloud introduction to tell you you’re guarding a caravan going from point A to B.

        The caravan is loaded with Sword +1’s and Shield +1’s.

        Several paragraphs of backstory for the goblin wolf riders that just attack.

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