By Sean Sexton Self Published 5e Levels 5-6
I’m only doing 5e content by special requests these days, so, this was a special request.
Nearly thirteen years ago, a powerful magic gripped the Darkside Brewery and sealed its doors. No one went in. No one came out. A few days ago, those doors reopened, releasing a silver mist that temporarily aged all it touched. Yet nothing else emerged. What happened to all the workers and visitors within? What could have caused the silvery mists? How could the doors have remained sealed for so long, and why have they reopened? Do you have the courage to figure out what happened within the Darkside Brewery? Gather your allies and find out!
This 24 page adventure features a brewery with five rooms and about twenty features to interact with/explore/kill, etc. It’s modern D&D. Read-aloud is a bit long and the formatting is trying a bit too hard, but, overall, not a bad adventure if you’re in to that type of thing.
I’ve come to a realization, while reviewing this. Modern D&D is actually a Supers game. It’s set in a modern era, with modern stuff, but with fantasy trappings and being driven by a “fantasy” rule system. This thing is set in a brewery. More modern world trappings. They use a water elemental to create the pure water for their brews. Uh huh. It’s an escort mission with a renowned alchemist to go in the brewery. There’s restrooms inside the brewery. There’s a couple of magical brooms & mops that clean the place. You work for 100gop, or, maybe, a potion from the alchemist. Or you’re just a do-gooder. This is the modern world, but with a fantasy vibe. I fucking HATE magical renfairre, and I hate supers. Makes sense.
Also, three kobolds in a coat show up. That’s so great, right? It’s supers. Ok, so, I’ve got to get over my “the bad guy left seven priceless paintings in order to test intruders” biases and do an objective review of this thing, though I loathe the setting.
So, five big rooms. Each one has multiple “things” to interact with in the rooms, so about twenty or so things going on in the adventure. Room one is a good example of this. It starts with a couple of “DM notes” sentences giving a little brief overview of the room. Then there’s a LENGTHY read-aloud. Finally, there’s a small section of DM notes; “the goal is to escape this rooms …” and then an overview of the various room elements … in this case a couple of pages of NPC’s. Then, finally, there’s a little bit of advice for the DM.
Our main read-aloud over-reveals. The FIVE PARAGRAGHS should make that obvious. We get various descriptions of NPC’s and what they are doing. This is wrong. I get it, you want to set a scene, show the party the chaos of what’s going on. But a long read-aloud is not the pay to do it. I will never ever ever ever pay attention to long read aloud, as a player. I will zone out. People complain all the time about lack of player attention. Pulling out phones. Because the content is not focused on them. You make your read-ahort and snappy, giving an overall impression … and then follow that up with information for the DM tto respond with when the party starts asking questions. “What are the people doing?” “What do I overhear?” What’s going on with thoe doors. Etc.
Ignoring the half elf reporter and three kobolds in a coat, we turn to the NPC’s. It’s clear that theyere is a strong attempt. Little brief description. Someone is a bit yelly. What they want and what they know. Not bad. Given the number, could use a summary sheet in order to run it.
I do, though, appreciate the DM notes in this section, or, rather, the advice for the DM. We’re presented various room elements and then the DM advice, at the end, is what ties the room together. We learn in the room contents that there is a door guarded by three dwarves, that goes deeper in to the brewery. The advice section, though, tells us various ways the party can get through the door … which then ties in to the NPC’s. If you’re gonna stick a large open-ended challenge in an adventure then putting in a little help for the DM, for how you constructed this thing to go, is a helpful thing.
The formatting, though, is trying a little too hard. There is, again, clearly an attempt to do the right things here. Boxes. BUllets, font sizing, bolding,e tc. I’m not MAD at it. But I do think it’s ineffective. Ultimately, all of the formatting, and different colored boxes and other attempts to bring clarity end up resulting in a more confusing mess because of all of it. This is a common mistake in overcorrection. Trimming the text up should help quite a bit, and calming the various color schemes for the fonts and boxes. You want something that is easy onthe easy to grok, but brings clarity to the text. This format is complex and causes the brain to fight it.
I know, right, damned if you do and damned if you dont?
A decent enough first effort for this designer. The core adventure is the standard 5e stuff, but the interactivity and setting embraced. If you’re gonna go, then go all the way, and this designer does that.
This is $3 at DriveThru.