By Christian Blair Self Published Generic/Universal Low levels
The adventure is themed around exploring an ancient temple in the middle of the desert, hiding dark powers and amazing treasure beneath the sand. Danger awaits around the corner, and the players must be wary of the wandering shadows lurking beneath their feet. While their mission may seem simple, and their reward great, the possibilities of certain death are always following close by.
This nine page adventure has nine rooms. Non specific, abstracted text. Boring. Generic/Universal is a warning sign: Stay Far Away.
Man, I don’t know what it is. Every time I see a Generic/Universal adventure I know it’s not going to be any good. They are all written the same way, as if being being specific about something will somehow make it specific to a system and therefore not Generic/universal anymore. Heavens to murgatroyd! Not that!There’s this abstracted way of writing that prevails in these. It seems universal. Get it?! Get it?! Universal?! What did you expect when you asked me to review this?
You approach THE SAND TEMPLE. After ten minutes you have an encounter and then explore the rest of the temple and actually start it. Your encounter is determined by rolling a d4.
We don’t do this. This is not a random encounter. This is not a table that you could pick multiple items from at some point in the future, like a wandering monster table. This is not the purpose of a random table. There will ever only be one encounter in that temple. So why the fuck have you put in a random table? Just fucking stat out an encounter. “A small room crumbles, revealing useful items.” This is what I’ve come to expect from Generic/Universal. “Useful items” What if, instead, you had just, as the designer, rolled on that table and instead spent a paragraph describing what happens? You know, actually creating an interesting encounter? Wouldn’t that have been better? FAR better? The use of randomness in an adventure, when it’s not called for, remains a pet peeve of mine. It shows a fundamental misunderstanding of what randomness is used for, and, a lack of understanding of what IS important … the fucking encounter.
Ok, so, we’re in a temple. There’s absolutely no description. All we get is “sunken a quarter of its size into the sand.” That’s in … a couple of paragraphs of text? We get generic background text on everything, and I do mean generic, but no temple description. Ok, sure, how about you wing it? Except for this “the entrance is found beneath an old carpet in the center of the temple.” Uh. Ok. So, I guess there’s furniture and stuff in this abandoned temple a quarter buried in the sand? It’s fucking weird. Toss the carpet in the corner, torn and fucked up. Or half buried outside. Or it’s what you buy from some dude in town or something. It just doesn’t fit, the juxtaposition of ruined and “everything here is normal!”
Ok, so, like, a column of text later we’re past the entrance puzzle and canget to the nine room dungeon, proper. But first we have some generic dungeon description. Like “Now, turned into a tomb
for eternity, this dungeon houses the memories of forgotten times, under the unbreakable will of forbidden magic.” That text is fucking useless. It does nothing. And, yet, text like that ABOUNDS in this adventure. In fact, that’s what makes up at least 50% of the adventure text. And, frankly, I think I’m lowballing things. It feels like 80 to 90% of the text is that kind of aggressively generic overview description shit. I’m not even sure you can call it an overview description. Abstracted background?
Let’s get on to the rooms!
“This corridor leads to the only exit of the dungeon. There’s no light at all here,” Yes, the fucking map shows that. And, yes, we all expect there to be no light in the fucking dungeon. Useless description. Useless padding.
“This is the only known exit out of the dungeon, other than the entrance. The exit is actually blocked by a massive pile of sand, which can only be removed in the presence of the Sun Engine. When the relic is nearby, the sand automatically makes way for the players to exit. This dark cave is inhabited by various Giant Scorpions (2-4). These are strong and deadly creatures. They can’t resist much damage but their natural armor means they can tank most hits. While they don’t deal a lot of damage on their own, their sting has a deadly poison that can kill easily.” So, again with the random number of monsters. Just stick a fucking number in, man. The only known exit. Great. Again,m useless overview/padding. It’s actually blocked by sand. Perfect. More padding. How about “Blocked by sand that parts automatically in the presence of the Sun Engine.” That’s fucking boring, but, also, I did it in FAR fewer words. And then the fucking monsters. We don’t say that the cave is inhabited by the monsters. We know that already. That’s why the monsters are there. And then this garbage description of them.. Just say Giant Scorpions and move on. Tell us about the cave. Give us something interesting about it. Or the scorpions. Or how they attack. Or how one of them looks like Nobboc. (That’s your reward for writing multiple examples of how room text could be laid out 🙂 Just do SOMETHING to rock me like a hurricane. Just something.
But, alas, no, that is not to be. Aggressively generic text. I repeat again, for those in the back: specificity is the soul of the narrative. You don’t have to do this with everything, but you need SOMETHING to hang your hat on. To spark the imagination.
This is Pay What you Want at DriveThru, with a suggested price of $3. The preview is three pages and shows you absolutely nothing of the adventure. Leroy Brown preview.