By Amanda P Hopeful Weird Wanderer OSE Levels 1-3
A request! I’m going to be working through several of these that I received while running the contest reviews.
4 days ago, three village youth went camping to prove their courage during a midsummer festival. 3 days ago, they failed to return. Can you brave the haunted forest and bring them home to safety?
This 36 page digest adventure features a small hex crawl with a tomb having around eight rooms. It’s got some great encounters, but takes a long time (36 pages …) to get there, with some wonkiness in the room descriptions. There’s clearly an effort at formatting well, but it falls down where academic meets practical.
So, village holds a big festival once a year. As a part of it, teens go camp in the forest overnight to prove their bravery. Three of them go missing. The elders hire the party to go find them because Frank the woodsman is incopetent, evidently. You hex crawl through a small setting until you find a tomb where the kids are, as well as an undead dude who’s a bit delusional. Got it? Ok.
The nice thing about this adventure are the various encounters … which is nice to hear. 🙂 There’s a little event table for the festival that’s got some interesting things on it. Oldersters quilting, telling stories … as a way to integrate rumors. The butter sculptures at danger from a clumsy stilt walker. Local cats terrorizing the fish fry, a bone carver making a carving while they do it. Guards dicing,and arguing, not noting a drunken group starting a fire. Nice little situations for the party to find themselves in. And that’s the key, little situations. I know, I know, a situation, so what? Or, better, what’s the difference between that and a typical encounter. We’ve got several things going on in them, a little chaos, and no real solution to follow. In fact, no real imperative for the party to get involved at all. Something is GOING ON, outside of the parties involvementin the world around them. And that’s a good thing.
Our random forest encounters are another good example. A fog rolls in, full of ghosts strumming harps and playing hoorns, parading down the road. Carnivorous trees that imitate the sounds of young voices to lure in people. A grove … blooming with too many flowers. The bog witch, who rescues people from the bog in her little rowboat and loves to gossip. Fun little interactive elements, more than just 1d6 giant rats.
The “major” hex encounters also follow this formula. We’ve got an undead knight pinned to a tree by a lance, asking to be released, his ghostly steed nearby. He’s a friendly fellow. Or another ghost haunting an old smelter site …full of business advice … his downfall.
And that’s about where things end. Once we get to the tomb, proper, things fall down fast. With one exception, the final encounter, it fails to deliver the situations that were the hallmark of the adventure thus far. We devolve in to just normal old room stuff with normal old dungeon stuff. Static rooms. Broken crates. Partially open sarcophagus. Static. Yawn! There’s a nice thing or two in it, such as river snakes in a horrible moving pile on top of a well-dressed skeleton wearing a gold circlet. But for the last encounter, it’s just a dusty old tomb with some freaky shit in it at places. The last encounter, an undead dude playing a harp with two of the kids in thrall, gets a full page or two of detail and there’s a non-violent option to end things. Which is great. Sure it is. It feels like EVERY intelligent foe in this adventure has a non-violent option. I’m down for neutral undead, having just seen Caveat, but, hey, sometimes the undead just need a little blood to make the flowers grow. It follows the theme, I think, of intelligent foes, no matter who they are, deserving “life” while the hack shit are the unintelligent blob monsters and the like. So, good? Yeah And bad? When there’s too much of it, sure. Don’t get me wrong, I love the extra options
It’s also full of small inconsistencies, like a floor described as having frescoes on it … covered in boot high murky water. Well, how do you see that? Or read-aloud with “As YOU approach the festival grounds YOU smell …” or, a casket with a body in it … and her cloak ismissing. How do you know its missing? How do you know she ever had one? Just little things like that, continuity errros, almost.
Formatting is meh. I mean, it’s great, it uses one of my fav formates. A brief description up top, some bullet points with major items listed with la little sentence each. Nice! Except the “up top” test and the bullet points are done clumsily. Whats important is not always mentioned first, or high up, or in a methodical fashion, or in a useful fashion. At what point do you tell the party the room is flooded up your knees? Higher up in the description or lower down in it? And the NPC description, trying to list traits and wants, etc, are almost OVERLY formatted, like they take up TOO much space, making them hard to reference and follow. But, still, these are errors in executing the plan, not in the plan itself. A little more work in this area and those things could be ironed out rather well.
It’s an ok adventure. I think the dungeon is too static, but I do enjoy the outdoor encounters and specific imagery IN the dungeon at times. I get what its trying to do, even if I do think tha the kids situation is never really communicated well, or in a meaningful manner (their love triangle, whathappened to them, etc.)
This is $5 at DriveThru. The purview is fifteen pages, enough to see the hex crawl and village, but not enough to see the examples of the dungeon, proper.