Egophagous

By Maciej Krzyzynski
Sex Legs Games
Generic/Universal
Level 1

People are missing, people change. Some of them are coming back decades after their last contact with their friends, while others dream about being a slimey slug. One can blame the aliens, one can blame the goverment. One can even blame the shrooms, but are they really what they seem?

This 28 page adventure features a linear cave with ten rooms and some fungus skeletons/theme. Not evocative. Not interactive. Linear. 

Email, email, what what the email! Email, email, what what the email! Email, email, what what the email! We’re on to email requests! And more of the same. The Manifestus Omnivorous, which seems inspiring and like a good idea but turns out crap. And the Generic/Universal adventure … which seems like a good idea but turns out crap. And, really, all D&D adventures, which seem like a good idea but turn out crap. Is it, really, the case that generic/universal, or art punk, or [Punching bag system THIS week] is really that much worse than everything else? Or is it simply the case that everything sucks? And, what is suck? Is 80% from a bygone age now 50% today, because of the middle-class’s competitive nature, trying to desperately hold on to the gains that they’ve made? Whatever, my fucking blog and therefore my meaningless screaming against the encroaching void. Sisyphus is happy. 

L’dungeon is a cave. It’s got that freaky deaky “hanging fungus’ thing going on, much more Stranger Things in vibe than muchroomy from 1e/BX. It’s also fucking linear. So, no real exploration, just walking down the corridor from one cave to another and poking at something and going to the next room. I’m guessing you don’t even need a map. Linear adventures don’t need a map, at all? Or, could be pointcrawl. Or, a simple line with dots on it, all modern arty? GO TO THE NEXT ROOM. 

The text is padded in a conversational way. “When they ask the inhabitants about it, they will answer that …” Fun. You don’t need to do this. The world is not full of if/then statements. Don’t do this. It pads out your writing. It makes it hard to follow. Write sentences with the important parts at the start of the sentence, to make information easier to locate. Blah blah blah blah. Same old Bryce.

I guess I should actually talk about the adventure. It’s strange things. It’s set in the 80’s. But, yeah, you could set it in any time period or genre pretty easy. There’s a long backstory that means there’s a cave full of fungus/mushrooms. And the fungus shit kills people in the cave. And then it kind of pod persons them sometimes, and sometimes they return to the real world and think they are a real person. What’s that movie called? Anyway it’s that movie. No biggie its an “inspired by”, everything is, after all. So, sme vague “time travel” elements when people return to town after a hundred years or so, except, not really time travel. 

“The cavern seems to be really small.” We don’t use seems or appears in room descriptions. We dont use “Really” or “small”, we select more evocative word choices.

In one room, you get to it through a small hallway (the only room that is NOT linear on the map) and we’re told “It will most likely turn out that the PCs will not profit from returning to the previous room, because of the narrow corridor covered with the rhizomorphs.” and thus they will tunnel out through the ceiling. I don’t understand that sentence? Yes, it’s an EASL adventure, but, I really don’t understand that sentence? Why are they not returning the way they came and instead tunneling out through the ceiling?

In town, before you search the caves, you can talk to some people, while looking for the “missing kid” that serves as the hook. If you talk to Miss Crowley then “In the cave, the Heroes will be able to stumble upon the skeletons of a fox [chamber 5] and a bird [chamber 8]. They are already in a very bad condition and do not come to life at night.” AGain, I have no fucking idea what this means. She’s a vegetarian and serves them mushroom meatball sandwiches. And then we learn about the fox and bat. Huh? 

So, it’s a mess, right? Did I mention the ship that you can find in one of the cave rooms? I don’t know either. 

Long paragraphs, making information hard to find. Writing that is all added aout and uses boring word choices. Interactivity that mainly consists of “find the next exit door” and an overall “point” of the adventure that … doesn’t appear to have one? You just wander around? Where “wander” means “go in a straight line until the last chamber explains everything to you in a letter.” We don’t explain things in letters and journals. We explain things in the play of the game. 

This was clearly a labour of love by the designer. Just like the ashtray my kid made when they were two.

This is $3 at DriveThru. The preview is one page, showing just the map. So…. not realy a preview of the adventure then? And not showing us the writing so we can make an informed decision before purchasing … which is the point of a preview?

https://www.drivethrurpg.com/product/407935/Egophagous–systemagnostic-adventure-designed-according-to-the-rules-of-the-Manifestus-Omnivorous?1892600

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24 Responses to Egophagous

  1. D.M. Ritzlin says:

    I’m disappointed to learn “Sex Legs Games” was a typo.

  2. John Paquette says:

    “This was clearly a labour of love by the designer. Just like the ashtray my kid made when they were two.”
    Ouch.

  3. Gus L says:

    I think the “labor of love” idea is correct here. Also the many things suck one — even when the imagination and excitement are there. This suggests to me that people who write decent adventures might do some “good” by helping obviously excited new designers write better dungeons. Offer to do a reading of or playtest for someone new.

    ‘Cause I’d play a 1980’s kids on bikes/college documentary filmmakers/local teen Satanists explore the creepy space fungus cave campaign. Especially if it leads down to some kind of Shaver Mysteries underground full of flying saucers, rock books, and insidious subterraneans.

    • Jonathan Becker says:

      But do they really care, Gus? They don’t even care enough to design for a specific system. Why should they give a rip whether or not it’s been read by an editor or (heavens!) and actual proficient designer.

      Just more shit-ware for cash. 5* rated at DriveThru!

      • Gus L says:

        @JB – People trying to get rich in self-published RPG pdfs are facing a real uphill battle to even become an RPG centenaire. While one or two fools may decide that they are gonna make a living writing RPG supplements based on seeing a huge KS, it can’t explain the amount of “dungeon” adventures that fail in the same ways. Even if this goes gold on DTRPG (only 6% of product or so make it even that far) and the designer takes home a glorious $975.00 (before taxes) over the course of six months – a year … not much of a pay check.

        So I’m pretty sure people care. Especially with something like this that looks like there’s been some real effort put into it. Using a Dyson map, minimal keying, some random generators, and clip art is one thing – this is something else.

        The other possibility is that this is doing exactly what it’s meant to for a scene based game. I suspect that’s how it’s intended to work, a series of images to make you go “whoa” as you play through it in a couple of hours without much in the way of rules. Even if that’s the case though, I believe that designers like this can and want to make things better and have something to learn from older style dungeon design.

        • Jonathan Becker says:

          I would be more inclined to share your optimism regarding the sincerity/motivations of the designer if the adventure wasn’t written for the “generic/universal” category. To me, this signifies either clueless ignorance or cynical cash-grabbery or both.

          But it’s well-documented that I’m a cranky geezer.

          • Gus L says:

            Also notably a cranky geezer.

            I was having a discussion with someone about “systemless” adventures and the distinction between some of the mid-OSR products that used that label with stats like “As Bear” or “AC as Plate” vs. the sort of thing with no stats. I don’t love either, so I guess I think system matters? Still, the first makes sense in the context of everyone using basically the same thing and being comfortable with conversion.

            The main argument I heard in favor was that it lets you reach a larger audience … so for sure someone is spinning that line. I just don’t think it’s true — I note that things with “OSE” on them sell better then things with “B/X”, people who are either buy stuff they have heard of or buy stuff for their system.

            So I’m thinking clueless.

        • PrinceofNothing says:

          Indeed, someone should organize a contest, with guidelines encouraging engagement with the subject matter, and then critique each entry so people may be improved, before making the collection freely available so newcomers have a basis for comparison.

          • Adventure Bundles says:

            Assuming I read correctly behind the lines and you indeed talked about No Artpunk. Although I don’t share your negativity towards artpunk (to that extent at least), I appreciate the product for the exact reasons you mention. I read these adventures as a newcomer to OSR and they help immensely while I write my next adventure.

          • PrinceofNothing says:

            I’m glad. I hope they do you much good.

      • Gnarley Bones says:

        I’ve always assumed these outfits make dozens of dollars on their products.

  4. Anonymous says:

    they put the Copper Seller logo ON THEIR COVER IMAGE WTF

  5. directsun says:

    Dear Bryce,

    How do you type with boxing gloves on your hands?

    From,
    directsun

  6. Concerned Citizen says:

    Does Bryce have an anti-Slavic bias? Adventures created by Polish, Croatian, and Russian creators seem to get regularly trashed there.

    • Avi says:

      I cut all ties with this site when he required a blood test and a detailed 4 generation genealogy to review my stellar misunderstood 500 page adventure…

      ARE YOU OUT OF YOUR FUCKING MIND???

    • Bryce does not have an anti-Slavic bias. He does have a bias against shitty adventure design. Perhaps someone can tell our Slavic brothers that they should up their game and produce something that’s actually good. I’m sure some of them can do it. I’m not being patronizing here. I have to believe that at least some of them have the capability to do it.

    • Qwert says:

      It’s a daft question, but if it helps set your mind at ease: I’m fairly sure Bryce is American, and he’s expressed a lot of appreciation for adventures by Hungarians. “But they’re not Slavic they’re Magyar!” I know, but the chances of an American knowing or caring the difference are pretty damn slim. I have never seen any sign of bias in Bryce’s reviews other than what is strictly relevant to the material itself, like personal preferences and such.

    • Anonymous says:

      The question is rather do Slavs have a bias against making good things?

  7. Anonymous says:

    People these days

  8. PrinceofNothing says:

    “Is it, really, the case that generic/universal, or art punk, or [Punching bag system THIS week] is really that much worse than everything else? Or is it simply the case that everything sucks?”

    You are in luck, NAP 2 has an essay on just that topic, hopefully it makes enough sense. The idea is that most things are indeed bad, but that in particular some forms encourage more engagement with and understanding of the subject matter while others encourage less engagement and less understanding. In addition, you can make an argument that some games are so sanded down and simple that there’s not much to work with on the tactical/game front, and by a process of self-selection, you aren’t going to be getting many thank-you notes either.

  9. samurguybri says:

    I’ve really enjoyed reading Game’s Omnivorous “Mouth Brood”. While very sci-fi it is a really solid site-based adventure with tons of things for the players to fiddle with. It’s basically an alien terrarium that been sealed for a millennia and now has emerged from a receding glacier. The fiddling and discovery is high and it feels like the player can learn from the ecosystems inside how to survive and use them to their advantage. The dome is really geared for sci-fi explorers to catalogue what’s in there as their job, so there’s not a lot of traditionally treasure. I want to run it for my DnD hexcrawl, so I may have a wizard charge them to gather reagents and such from the space.

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