By Kevin Conyers Flooded Realms Adventure Press OSE Levels 1-3
Fear the waves, the tides and the sea itself! A fearsome tower of stone roams the oceans, delivering its deadly cargo of lizardmen wherever it happens to land!
This eight page adventure, written in three weeks, features nine rooms in a floating keep full of lizardmen. It’s a pretty standard affair, with little to either recommend or condemn. Meh.
Wavestone Keep keeps on giving! We have a late context entry here … from the designer of the original Wavestone Keep! And the verdict is: it’s meh. Which is good news! That’s a massive improvement! This is the kind of adventure that I find the hardest to review. Nothing really to gripe about or praise, so I narrow in on a few points. And I’m going to do that here. I wouldn’t run this, but, if it appeared in one of the Lair Compendium adventure booklets I also wouldn’t go out of my way to slam it.
So, we’re going to take a look at a couple of the room entries. Here’s the first one:
“The twin towers which flank the entry door. The are each 20’ tall and manned by two lizardmen guards. The guards stand on the roof of the tower. They are each armed with a throwing spear and a club. They have a 1in 10 chance to identify approaching ships as not belonging to their tribe, and a 4 in 6 chance to spot intruders approaching along the trail. Each tower has an alarm bell which they will ring, alerting their companions in room 4. After ringing the bell, they will attack intruders on the trail with their throwing spears before running down the stairs for melee. The entry hall is made of finely carved wavestone, and engraved with idyllic depictions of the sea, fishing vessels and sailors.”
It’s padded up. The first three sentences could be one, trimmed down. And then we’ve got a kind of reaction text that is also padded up. FInally, we have the description at the end. Normally, I want to see a description up high, first thing, but in this case the first thing the party is going to encounter is going to be the lizardmen, so they make sense to come first. Trimming up the text we could get to something like:
“Twin towers, 20’ tall, flank the door, with two lizardmen on top with a javelin and club. They spot intruders in boats 1 in 10, and on the trail 4 in 6. They ring an alarm bell, summoning room 4, then attack.” We’ve lost nothing in this, and it’s much easier to handle at play during the game. The final line, the description, is trying to be evocative but comes off a little bland. This is, I think, the hardest part of adventure writing, creating a terse but evocative description. The current one is a little abstracted and it could perhaps be improved with an actual description, using more adjectives and adverbs. (I note this is a theme here. Room two is “finely carved wavestone, and engraved with scenes of great navel battles between ships and sea monsters.” Again, abstracted.)
Room four is labeled as Barracks, with the description “Originally a barracks for the noble’s personal guard, now used by the lizardmen as a sleeping area. It is a roughly hewn room, containing a 9 sleeping mats. Kelp Tail sleeps in the section to the north, where the guard captain was supposed to sleep. At any time, there are three normal lizardmen here asleep. Kelp tail only sleeps here at night, else he is in 9. The door separating Kelp Tail’s area is made of a giant oyster shell. When sleeping, he keeps his Staff of Striking under his cot.” Again, note the padding, through repetition of the room use, and a description of “what it used to be.” Trimming this up we could get something closer to “Roughly hewn with nine masses of rotting seaweed nests. Kelp Tail sleeps in the north section at night, with his door made of a massive opalescent oyster shell. Three lizardmen are half buried in their nests, asleep.” Shorter, more evocative. I did this in five seconds; I recommend agonizing over the descriptions and working them to death to get something really evocative that captures the feeling you are going for.
Interactivity here is pretty minimal, with most things being combat. The wandering table has a few decent entries, like a giant sleeping croc or a kobold having stolen a silver piece, intermixed with some normal “just the monster” entries. I harp, sometimes too much, on good wanderers, but a mix, like this, gets the job done.
So, an also ran. Better room descriptions, cut the padding, and some interactivity improvements and this one could muster up No Regerts.
This is Pay What You Want at DriveThru, with a suggested price of $1. The preview is six pages, and you get to see some rooms, so, good preview.