By Joseph R Lewis Dungeon Age Adventures OSR Levels 6-7
I’m popping this one earlier in the queue, cause it deserves it!
This morning, the forces of Law and Chaos clashed at Castle Yennagor. The battle raged all day, but as darkness fell, a cataclysmic explosion destroyed most of the castle and leveled both armies. Now, as night claims the vale, flickers of life return. Survivors make camp, flee the field, or continue the fight. Scavengers creep over the dead. And one question remains unanswered: what happened inside the castle?
This 37 page adventure details the parties journey through 28 possible vignettes in the aftermath of a battle between law and chaos. A rollicking good time full of situations that are full of gameable content supporting by a useful format and great writing. This is the level 6 adventure you were looking for!
Ok, so, you know all of those adventures in a ruined castle that was the result of the forces of law and chaos fighting a climactic battle? Well, this is one of those. EXCEPT, this one is on the battlefield right out front and the castle JUST exploded (as they are want to do when Law & Chaos clash in a fantasy setting.) What this gives us is a kind of point-crawl around the battlefield, with the castle at the center, and lots and LOTS of bad shit going down all Deep Carbon Intro style. And I fucking LUV it!
This uses the Dungeon Age style, which I find quite effective. It’s triple column, and easy to read. We get a brief title for each “encounter”/vignette, like “Tattered Shipwreck” or “Weeping Women” and then a little section of descriptive text. A sentence or two that relates the general scene that could be read-aloud. After that we get bullets, with bolded keywords starting them, describing the major points and a few sentences elaborating, perhaps with some of those words bolded as well for more follow up information. A separate section details treasures. It’s an effective style which makes it easy to scan the text and pull out information, and is relatively dense, using the three column format, with about three “situations” per page, sometimes less with artwork. NPC’s and some monsters get a few words of disposition (alien, playful, hungry for flesh) or (critical, judgemental, impatient, hungry) to help the DM with their personalities during the encounter. This is the less is more philosophy, that I love so much, but with enough text that the DM is not fighting through an abstraction, as , I think, the OSE house style is sometimes criticized for.
Writing here is very good. Here’s the entry for Screaming Men. “Screams echo across the smooth, glistening mud. A huge well with slick vertical walls descends into the soft wet earth. At the bottom, a dozen people battle against a writhing mass of red tentacles and golden eyes. A dozen corpses lie trampled at their feet.” Note the use of adjectives and adverbs. Echo. Smooth, glistening. slick & vertical, wet earth, golden eyes. You really get quite the evocative scene description for so few words. It springs to life, framing the rest of the encounter in everyones head, DM and players alike, for the scene to come. This happens over and over again, with Lewis doing a fantastic job of painting these pictures in so few words. And then switching over to a little more direct writing, with less descriptive text, for the follow up information. You’ve already got it by that point.
And then there’s the encounters proper. Or, situations, I think, is a better term. In that above example we’ve got soldiers from both sides fighting that thing. Of course! The two forces, the common soldiers, working together against a common threat to ALL men! It’s a classic set up. And I do love me some classics when well done. Oh, and one group is mercenaries in the service of the chaos side and the other common soldiers of the law side. So the chaos dudes attack the law dudes when the horror dies. They’ve got a contract and reputation to uphold! And the horror is … well, a horror, with a great attack and his eyeball can serve as a magic item! Yeah! That’s all i want in life!
And this goes on, in encounter after encounters. Dudes getting impaled on stakes. Old women piling up corpses. Thieves looting bodies. Dudes fighting over a knife. There’s supporting material for travelling and a good wanderers table th tmakes sens, both of whic hare handled breezily and effectively. I’m down man!
And then there’s the castle. Where the paladin dude is rolling around on the floor fighting the chaos wizard dude, both struggling over the golden skull of a saint. And pleading for help, making promises. As does the skull … if you kill them both then he’ll make you a saint … with appropriate powers! An appropriate reward, I think! So much here is sooooo good. A necromancer constructing a body horror from the dead. A angel of battle come down to looky loo, as a golden ball of light. Slithering half-vampires crawling over the dead and dying sucking dead, while an aristo one looks on and offers to turn you in return for some services. Win friends. Make enemies.
AND PLAY EITHER SIDE! You can be in the service of law or chaos when the thing starts. There’s a roll to see where you start out on the battlefield, on the outskirts, to add some fun!
This entire fucking thing is BAD ASS and exactly what you want for an adventure like this. Level fucking six babbbbby! You’re a big boy, time to put on your big boy pants and figure the fuck out what you’re gonna do!
This is $4 at DriveThru. A fucking steal! The preview is twenty pages, more than enough to get a good look at the format and encounters and tell if you want to buy it.
Color me confused. The preview, right there on page 2 says it’s for 5e, not OSR. 🙁
You get both:
> This product includes two PDF files: one for Modern or 5e-style games and one for Old School or OSE-style games.
Hi, the preview is the 5E version but the one purchase includes two separate PDFs, one for 5E and for OSE. I did most of the writing “system agnostic” and then did all the math at the end to make the two versions. I hope you have fun with it!
It’s a wonderful product; evocative and filled with choices for PCs where decisions matter.
Waiting for your longer campaign setting type product you mentioned once upon a time. I want to see how you tackle that with your ability to focus on interaction and the present without unnecessary digression that’s rare these days.
Thanks so much!
The next one will be Orbital Vampire City, followed by my Lankmar-esque setting of Carcassay
I’m intrigued by that setting announcement. Any more details on it? Will it have a format and page count similar to your adventures?
Otto, the Carcassay setting is massive, it is a filthy city located inside the skeleton of a Titan Rat full of rogues and cults, there are four districts with at least 20 locations each, plus a mess of wilderness locations around it, plus three small dungeons under it. The format will be the same as my other projects, but the length may be much greater. It will be full of weird suggestions and options based on the chaos of the playtesting!
I’m half way through and this *may* be my new favorite over The Black Wyrm of Brandonsford.
Bryce! Please review Dungeon Age’s longer adventure too! I think it is the witches one, I ased about it before and I really want to see how the format works over greater length!
JOE AS ALWAYS YOU MAKE MY PLAYERS HAPPY – FROM SPACE TOWERS TO TIME TRAVEL
Mankind knew that they cannot change society. So, instead of reflecting on themselves
THEY BLAMED THE BEASTS
Where is that quote from? It’s beautiful.
Looks TOO structured for my liking; I find this kind of thing a bit soulless, and the art certainly leaves something to be desired. But I’m sure others will enjoy running it.
That’s an interesting observation since I think the challenge with the product in particular is that the GM would need to be experienced in the need for a fair amount of judgement/ non linearity/ high level of interactivity
I picked this up last night and read through it. I have to agree with Bryce; this is just solid adventuring material. Parts of it remind me of the best of the old Fighting Fantasy gamebooks, where you can come upon a weird scene and what’s actually going on is sinister and unpredictable. It’s gritty high fantasy with a touch of the gonzo.
I think I’d like to run this where my players are neutral parties somehow stuck in the middle of the situation. That would maximize the number of different directions that any encounter can go. I think the zealots would try to press gang any neutral parties they come upon, which would be an interesting way for things to go.
This author is proving to be the standard bearer for superior 5e material. I’d agree with Bryce that the presentation is effective. I do have one reservation however: the format seems to encourage “all encounters are equal and need the same amount of space” thinking. In this case the central encounter of the leaders grappling over the skull, needs more room, more vivid description, explanations of how the combatants are communicating with the PCs (telepathy?), some rules for interacting with the magical waves, how the struggle resolves without PC intervention.
If we are looking for a superbly laid out adventure may I suggest Peril in the Olden Wood? Have a look at Haunted Village Wraith encounter for fine descriptions and use of mechanics. Malrex should be sharing the plaudits with the author (who has commented in this thread) for his layout and editing work. Prince has done his (thorough and entertaining) review; Bryce will doubtless follow after dealing with the most recent Killer Clown Carnival offering, or maybe he is brushing up the final sentence of his eulogy to Squirrel King Plumpkins.