By Lord Eldrad Wolfsbane Self Published B/X Levels 1-5 (Quite the range, eh?)
You all meet in a a loud and smokey tavern! It’s a sad time for the quaint village of Valehaven. For the bawdy son of the portly mayor and his foppish and foolish friends have went missing. The foolish group of young adventurers went North into the Old Fell Forest some two weeks ago. They sadly and alarmingly have not returned. Dark and ominous tales are whispered about the foul Old Forest. The party is hired by the portly mayor to find out the whereabouts of a foolish group of adventurers far to the north into the Old Forest. The mayor Miles Kaxzwell is a pale fat balding winy self righteous type of man who truly believes himself far superior to others as he is of noble blood! His “son” and his adventuring party of his friends, left a few weeks ago and nothing has been heard from them since. The people of Valehaven don’t seem to be sad at all.
This 28 page digest adventure is a series of scenes. It’s cute, if you’re in to reading things. This isn’t really an adventure. It’s more a series of ideas, strung together and not really in a form to run.
Eldrad is an idea machine. He does a great job coming up with things and jotting down terse and memorable things about them. You got the whole “get hired by the mayor to find his son and friends” things from the intro blurb, right? One of the rumors is “We hopes that mayor’s son and his friends don’t come back! They was knocking up the entire village! Even their own sisters, aunts and cousins!” Also, the mayor has fifteen sons. Also, he has multiple wives and gets rid of them Henry 8 style. THis theme is repeated everywhere in the small town. Also “Barracks: Here is the upstairs of a gigantic warehouse and store is where the barracks are. Various distant kin to the mayor and hangers On our employees Town guards. Talk around town if they’re very corrupt.” Thus, the repetition builds to something that even the most dense party can’t ignore. But, hey, there’s gold! It’s a fun little thing. I like it a lot. The town goes on to describe the local temple, with the line “He had quite and impressive torture chamber where he does inquisitions parties for the nobility as he tortures people for the crowd’s amusement. It is all work for the gods!” Uh hu uh huh … getting the picture? DId I mention that staying in the stable csts 2cp a night and the poorhouse only costs 1cp a night … ? Eldrad does a really good job. Everything really works together to paint the scene.
The writing, the evocative imagery, is really well done, when he engages in it. “A mysterious stone archway opens the way into the forest wall of the Old Forest after a day of travel.” Or, maybe “The Old Forest has huge ancient pines so big that it would take 20 men to surround one of these trees. The light is dim and the ground covered in pine straw. A few chatterings of birds above is the old sounds of life. The old cobblestone road continues into the bleak dim light. From above, giant pinecones rain down and one smashes one of the militiamen causing his head to explode and gore, brains, blood, eyes and teeth splat onto everyone and everything around! Giant Squirrels are protecting their territory!“ So, yeah. And, if you find the diary of a certain halfling out in the forest, a dead halfling mind you, and bring it back to his beloved in town then … “If Matilda Berrywine is told about the death of Tommy Took, she climbs to the top of the local temple and jumps to her death.” Yeah. Eldrad knows what he’s doing.
But, also, man, the thing is a fucking mess. The maps are handdrawn and then, maybe, a photo taken of them? They are blurry as fuck. And the garden in town? “It’s guarded by a wood golum named Oak tree Edd who will chase anyone away from the garden who don’t belong.” And then there’s “The Pit: The mayor brings in monsters from all over as well as adventures in most of the time on Lucky townspeople to fight to the death for gold and betting. The arena can hold a thousand people in its seats.” The vibe is all mixed up. We go from local hick inbreeding to a community of thousands with magic wood golems at the garden. It’s mismatched.
But, alas, all is not well in Eldradville. Could it be the treasure? “Treasure: EP: 2000, GP: 1000, Magic: Axe +1” Certainly, not awe-inspiring … Well, though, we are a just and merciful reviewer .. .how about the monsters? “30 zombies” Hmmm, while I’m enamored with the number 30, and thus the implication that this is NOT combat, I’m afraid that just will not do. And points to the main problem. Or, one of them anyway.
The road not taken is that this is just a series of scenes. You walk down the right path and encounter Z. Then as you sleep X happens. Then you meet B the next morning. This is, then, a home adventure. The kind you scrawl on a piece of paper two hours before the game because you need something. I think we can do better in a published adventure, yes?
But, more importantly, Eldrad doesn’t follow though. FOr while we get all of these great bits in town, about one great bit per location and several more scattered through the text … he can’t seem to sustain this. Thus a barrow complex has three barrows, with one bit per barrow. Sure, there are three numbered location, or six, or whatever, ut only one concept. It’s not a dungeon. It’s a scene. Everything is a scene. Everyone is a point in time with little to connect it. If it were Moria it would be three scenes and nothing more. They are unfulfilling. If the monster is the centerpoint then you get a bit with the monster and nothing about the environment. All this is a collection of ideas and nothing more. Here’s an ideal for this thing. Run with it. These are not adventuring locales. For every good rumor there are sixteen meh ones that don’t do anything r are not special at all.
“On the second morning, no matter where the party has stayed early in the Morn, a stench is in the air, smells of beer, wine and unwashed ass, a visit from some locals. A crowd of about 27 smelly peasants Say…”
Great fucking imagination, but you need to sustain it to the logical end to create an actual adventure. As is, it’s performance art.
This is $3 at DriveThru. There is no preview.