By Emiel Boven Self Published B/X Levels 1-3
A forbidden temple hidden in the sewers, unbeknown to the faithful above.
This nine page adventure details a temple in the sewers with sixteen rooms that is dedicated to the god of decay and has rats in it. Joy. It’s got very little going on.
Someone thought this looked good. Story of my life. Let me botch, a bit, about this things. Or , more specifically, the genre of the Classic Setting.
I don’t really know why people still write adventures with sewers and rats and temples in them. There are about a bajillion of them. This is the same as the Orcs in a Hole genre. Why are you writing this? Because it’s better than the Borshak’s? Because it’s a new take on Borshak’s? I’m guessing there some kind of Appendix N bullshit going on here. (And, you know, I’m a philistone and don’t really give a fuck about appendix N. Either my shortcoming or what makes me a Quality Person.) You read about some sewer garbage in one of those novels and then get inspired to write one. Otherwise, I don’t know how so many fucking people would want to write the fuck about temples in sewers with rats. Oh. Wow. Let me guess. Some wererats, right? *YAWN* You are inherently writing something that WILL be compared to the other 10,000 examples of its type. Is it that good? What’s new about it? I guess, I don’t know, maybe if you’ve been raised on a steady diet of 5e/Pathfinder garbage then you think it’s interesting? And, of course, I mean, you’re inspired so you want to write. But, again, are you writing something interesting, or just another entry in to the giant cesspool of Also Rans?
Also, like, hey, I’m ot inherently down on the classics. I love the classics. They are classic tropes for a reason. They fucking work. And, you know, I love a kind of naturalistic thing. Things that feel right. Things that looks almost like tey are normal. And following a trail from your city adventure in toa sewer pipe, torch in hand, sewage, rats, fuck yeah, i could get behind that in a very naturalistic setting. Like the Sean Bean Frankenstein thing. That’s not this, of course. This is just generic fantasy filler.
So, what’s this one do differently? It’s got layout. Youknow, the Mork Bork thing where you spend a lot of time doing a layout (or, maybe it’s a template? idk.) and you select fonts and pay attention to the formatting. A clean layout, footer banners in a rever font/image. Boxes, text NICELY flowing around images. Maps with room descriptions on them. Bullet points. Little light notations in rooms. Monster stats on the same page. It is laser like in its focus on helping the DM run it. As are most of the layout-heavy adventures coming out of new school design corners of the internet. And it follows the layout gods even down to the cover font. Which is hard to read. Did you know that the ACTUAL name of the adventure is The Rot King? I didn’t. I looked at the cover and thought “Rat King’s Sanctum.” So, you know, I’m going with that. If you can’t be bothered with making a legible cover page then I can’t be bothered to go back and change all my references to Rat King to Rot King. Am I fuckwit? Absolutely. Did you produce a cover where I could make that mistake? Absolutely. Fancy fucking fonts will burn you every time. Oh, look, it burned someone else. Wow. I’m surprised. The one guy on the internet, in the entire world, who could be bothered to review this adventure got the title wrong.
Ok, so, layout. It’s easy to run. It’s also boring.
And I mean this in the way s that count, the evocative writing and interactivity. Neither are good. These are, again, hallmarks of the new school design movement. They do layout and then do fuck all for the actual adventure. You fight shit. That’s 90% of this adventure. Anything remotely interesting is nerfed. Shake ands with a statue and transfer your arm to it? Do it again to rever sit. And it has no meaningful impact on the adventure. None of the interactivity, what little there is, really makes a difference in the adventure. It just IS. And while I’m a big fan of things JUST BEING, it has to be done in the right way. Not just swapping your skin color from blue to normal and back again. We get a couple of prisoners in one room. One is Melvin the gnome, who doesn’t care about the other two prisoners and then there’s “the other two prisoners.” I am inspired. That’s literally all there is. Look, Idon’t need, or want, two paragraphs, but, fuck man, give me SOMETHIGN to work with! And that’s what this adventure does NOT do: give you something to work with. It’s just the same old same old generic abstracted content for a sewer that you’ll always see. It’s fucking boring man. Five gems and a jeweled sword. Yeah! I mean, *YAWN*. “Heavy bronze doors. Screaming figures line the walls.” That’s all youre’re getting. Its not altogether bad, but, also, it’s not really good. And that writing is, generally, the exception, not the rule, for this adventure. We also get “Storage: This room contains crates with root vegetables and dried meat.” Fun!
But, you know, it didn’t have to be bad. Maybe a little city lead in investigation thing, to get the party in t the sewer, in a mundane Frankenstein kind of way. Inside there’s a Gravelight Candle, that lets you be invisible to undead under 2HD; that’s a good item! And a room full of mushrooms with a body buried underneath it. Hey man, you didn’t go far enough. A whole body farm, with them sticking out, and mushroom garden with weird shit and msome reason to interact and dig in the room. That wouldh have worked! And, why not include an order of battle for the cultists? So they can react to incursions. Doesn’t have to be complicated, a sentence or two.
Instead, I went out with a boy who died.
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