The Hall of a Thousand Bones Part 1 – Approaching the Cathedral

By Jean-Claude ''Raznag'' Tremblay
Le paysagiste de l'Imaginaire
Level 1

Will you be brave enough to explore the ruins of the Forgotten Cathedral to find Orane’s Scepter? What mysteries are hidden in these places?

This twenty page adventure uses seven pages to present a single ruined room with seven encounters spaced around it. A page per encounter. Of nothing. I have a hard time believing this is actually a thing. But, I’m looking right at it.

So, a page per encounter, right? Must be pretty awesome! 

No, of course not. What’s the opposite of that? “Approaching, several skeletons can be seen prowling the ruins! These are equipped with shields and swords! They are very aggressive and will attack on sight!” Magnificence! They are all like that. Barely there minimalism. There is nothing to this that “1d6 skeletons” doesn’t also accomplish. Oh, wait, no, I lied, there is more. A treasure list for them that only a Victorian could love! “Sword (1 each) Shield (1 each) 1 Helmet, 1 leather purse (empty) 1 Belt” I am dazzled. I am amazed.

The map is hyperlinked. Like I said, one big above ground ruined room. There are seven icons scattered around it, on the map. A goblin head and so on. You click on the head and it takes you to “Graveyard.” So, absolutely no chance you’re actually going to use this map during play without literally toggling back and forth between the map and the encounter you are on. You know, the encounter that says “Seven skeletons attack relentlessly and on sight!”

I do NOT have it in me this morning to deal with this crap. Under what fucking theory of adventure design is this a thing? What is being used as an example to model this on? There were, what, like TWO adventures that used this format, Palace of the Vampire Queen and one other, before the theory moved on? And this is what we get these days?

This is Pay What You Want at DriveThru, with a suggested price of $1. So, no preview.–Part-1-Approaching-the-Cathedral?1892600

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9 Responses to The Hall of a Thousand Bones Part 1 – Approaching the Cathedral

  1. Anonymous says:

    His maps are much better than his adventures. I think I have most of “The Dungeon That Never Ends.”

  2. Artem of Spades says:

    >>>Jean-Claude ”Raznag” Tremblay
    >>>Le paysagiste de l’Imaginaire

    Jokes about French pretentiousness just write themselves.

  3. Stripe says:

    Thanks for the review!

    If someone could get through to this guy, he would be an good addition to the OSR. The art is good and the layout is okay, and he can write well enough. ESL isn’t an issue. All these things are 6-7’s out of 10.

    He clearly loves what he’s doing. It’s just that doesn’t know what to write.

    Every time I read one of these I feel even worse for never finishing anything. I mean, people pump out raw sewage all the time and I can’t bring myself to publish a 16 or 32-page adventure.

    • Stripe says:

      I forgot to drop the link.

      This is what I’d recommend to the author “What are RPG books *for*, anyway?”:

      You have to understand that first—then you can pick up what Bryce is laying down.

      • Glenn Robinson says:

        What a great link – that you for sharing it!

        • Stripe says:

          An excerpt:

          >Like, [authors] detail an orc tribe, in enormous detail…
          >and it will *all be exactly what you would expect from
          >the words ‘orc tribe’.* They’ll be fierce and warlike and
          >brutal and love violence and live in a cave and have a
          >thuggish chief who likes throwing his weight around
          >and a creepy shaman who’s always demanding more
          >sacrifices and *you could have thought of all that
          >yourself.* It boils down to ‘this orc tribe is a tribe of
          >orcs who look like orcs and think like orcs and act like
          >orcs and fight like orcs’.

          This is the part that got through to me. As I first read it, I though, “But, *MY* orc chief is REALLY brutal and his shaman is REALLY creepy!” Literally. I was in the process of making an orc tribe with a chief and shaman when I read this and it hit me like a ton of bricks.

          Yes, you have to write how badass and stuff they are, but what’s important is that there’s some *distinctive* aspect.

          So, I made my orc chief honorable in a Klingon sort of way. He’ll always keep his word, etc.

          The shaman? The creepy evil-bad stuff is all an act to trick the orcs. She’s actually an undercover elf in illusory disguise—a nice one who hates “yucky stuff.”

          • Anonymous says:

            I think it’s worth considering the other side of the coin as well – once you’ve grasped this idea, you can exploit it as a sort of shorthand. For example, in ‘WG4 The Forgotten Temple of Tharizdun’ by Gygax, one of the wilderness encounters is a warband of orcs living in a cave. He keys up the entire 12-or-so room orc cave complex, complete with a map, guards, patrols, tactics, and a full order of battle, in about three-quarters of a page.
            Thus you can either go tall, taking a basic idea like ‘orc tribe’ and adding a twist or gameable details and specificity, or go wide. Using ’20 orcs (standard treasure)’ in a 20 room dungeon key is lazy. In a 100 hex wilderness key it is efficient.

      • Jonathan Becker says:

        I was going to write the same thing.

  4. Anonymous says:

    Speaking of bones!

    Demons bone s review by pstew still incoming?

    Curious to hear your thoughts

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