By Jonbar Merciless Merchants OSE Levels 5-7
Shipwrecked upon a deserted island the party soon realizes they are not alone. Populated by intelligent and savage red haired apes, the heroes must fight for survival and find a means for getting off the jungle island. These hungry apes are eager for the taste of man flesh and are ruled over by something not of this world that thrives on hunting and terrorizing intruders within its domain…
This 39 page adventure details an island with an evil ape. And a pyramid. And a volcano. Alas, no tribesmen. I’m left with an overwhelming sense of “meh” as I review this. I’m not excited about it. It’s seems staid. Maybe that’s because the formatting and writing style remind me of those middling days of TSR, beyond the wall of terse and just prior to the Shit Fest it became. Those days of Meh.
Ok, so, island, 20 by 30 miles. Tropical. Yeah, it’s fucking Dread. I’m not sure anyone can do a tropical island anymore without Dread coming up. Yeah, it’s got an evil ape, this time a demon ape. Yeah, you’re not really there for any reason (which is cool, I guess? Islands seem like work. Maybe I don’t grok the cargo carrying capacity of ships?) Besides the evil demon ape that most things on the island revolve around, there’s also a giant cro, a stone pyramid, and a small cave/tomb, each with about ten-ish rooms.
Ok, so, good things. There’s a huckster selling a map as a hook. ““Look, why wouldn’t you want your own island that you own? Eh? For 5,000 gp, I can give you this deed to that island. I even got a map straight to it! Imagine….beautiful sands, the soothing waves of the sea, jungle birds and friendly monkeys? You just need to build your dream home…or perhaps a castle for heroes such as yourselves. What’s not to like? What do you say? 5,000 gp is a screaming deal…..” Sold! American Tobacco! I’d be in. That’s the way you say We’re Playing D&D Tonight Bitches! Your soul has to be dead to not swallow that hook. In fact, I’m gonna say that’s my litmus test. If you don’t follow that hook then you don’t get to play in my D&D game. The notes tsay that the deed is fake. Pffft! _I_ think it’s real, and saddling the players with a disease ridden island full of carnivorous apes, disease, pirates and the like is great! Level 5-7? Sure, we can start some domain play! The other hooks are blah blah blah hire the party shit. LAME!
The island is … meh? I mean, 20×30 miles, with like three features on it. I guess you can see them from the ship if you sail around it? I don’t knoow. DOesn’t say. But, it’s also not a hex crawl. Sweltering Jungle Island doesn’t come through in the island description or wanderers, but whatever. Also, the evil demon ape is supposed to be kind of omnipresent onthe island, but I don’t think that comes through on the thing either? ROll a ‘1’ on a a d10 for a wanderers, and then get a 12 on a d12 for the demon ape? Meh. I don’t know. The whole island just doesn’t seem to be a place. Empty With No Place To Go And Nothing To Do is the impression I’m getting.
Descriptions are … Long?I don’t know. I guess I get what they are going for. It’s not uncommon for them to be half a column, with multiple things going on in each room. But it comes off as busy. Here’s the first paragraph of one of the room: “The groaning and rumbling stone sound begins to echo away as the platform settles into the center of a square chamber, creating lazy dust swirls. Pillars stand on either side of passages that lead into darkness set in each wall, decorated with pictographs of various creatures (apes, colorful birds, snakes, etc.) that live on the island. Huge blocks, covered in hieroglyphics, create the walls and floors; the open shaft the only escape from the surrounding oppressive stone. Stone ledges along the walls hold vials, urns, decanters and other implements and tools organized neatly upon them with a layer of dust. Writings are engraved overhead of each of the four exits.” So, yeah, get it? Groaning stone. Lazy dust swirls. But, also, I’m bored. I’m not excited. Length? Writing style? I don’t know. I just really don’t give a shit. At All.
And I don’t mean that in a “Oh my god, every moment of this adventure must be the greatest moment of my life!” sort of way. Not set piece after set piece trying to top each other. That would be fucking lame. But the entire things just leaves me Not Excited about it. All of the encounters are just kind of there, and present, but nothing more. And not in a Regerts kind of way.
Which is a good transition. Best Of generally means I’m excited to run this! And Regerts gets close to that but generally has some flaw. This. I don’t know. I mean …
Here’s the description of the evil demon (literally) ape: “hulking and shaggy haired ape beast, with rusty colored fur and gray mottled skin. Long muscular arms end in wicked claws and the mouth has large, sharp fangs framed by curving horns. The legs are short, but powerful, and are able to grip limbs of a tree or grasp prey. Their stench of their matted unwashed bodies is almost overpowering and their eyes burn baleful dim intelligence.” I mean … meh?
Props for taking one demon front the MM and making an adventure surrounding it. Good idea. But it just doesn’t come across in any way as an active adventure. Or something that you want to run.
Or something that you want to play in.
The PDF is $10 at DriveThru. Le Preview is fourteen pages. The last few show you most of the encounters on the island, with just the three mini-dungeons left out. It does a good job of showing you the writing style, for the most part. Also, I just fucking didn’t care for this thing AT ALL.