By Matthew Evans Mithgrathr Entertainment B/X Levels 3-5
The elves of Gul Nalore keep to themselves, so it was a surprise when a delegation came to the people of Southshore asking for help. Things must really be bad. But, are they bad for who you expect?
This 42 page adventure features a dungeon with sixty rooms and and a lot of words that I don’t give a fuck about. Two days of my life I’ll never get back again. Is it as bad as all that? Sure. Why not?
Ah, the elves. One wonders how they have survived so long. Maybe they give birth like seahorses or some shit and continue to exist just because there are so many of them. Because, of course, they are fucking idiots in this adventure who can’t seem to do anything for themselves.
There’s a lot of bullshit in this adventure, so hang on. Ohs nos! Them orcs that live nearby are killing folk … and the kids haven’t come back! Please go ahelp! You find the kids, dead, and a yellow orc tribe shield. WHich was left by the black blade orcs stirring up trouble. Blah blah blah, kill some orcs and make peace again between the orcs and humans. And then hear a drunk miner talk about some lizardmen on a boat. And then see some flyers from the elves who want some people to go kill a dragon for them. Seems they love Love LOVE their giant golden elk and a dragon has moved in and started eating their one true loves. But they can’t kill it because they are fucking idiots. Err, I mean, it lives in the mountains that they are forbidden to enter. *sigh* whatever. Ok. Inside we find some turtar’s in the dragons service .. humanoid turtles which will eventually include four TMNT’s. The dragon turns out to be a wyvern with a ring that gives him a 16 INT …given to him by his adopted Red Dragon mother … who doesn’t appear the adventure unless you kill her adopted kid so she can punish the “heroes.” Ok, so, anyway, the wyvern isn’t a bad fellow, he just wants to eat the giant grubs that live in the dungeon … but they are gone now, because of some serpent people who moved in to the dungeon. And elk taste better. He’s eating one now … want some? SO, maybe, kill the serpent people and convince the elves to live in harmony with the wyvern. Unless you ate their elk friend. Ahhh, a callback to the orc situation … find the hidden thing going on and convince the “Good Guys” that the monster is actually good. Oh, shit, I forgot, the serpent people are actually transformed evil human cultists. Cause thats the only acceptable bad guy anymore.
Our overland map features text that is hard to read. Like “I used a yellow font over a yellow background color” hard to read text. The formatting it triple column paragraph in the style commonly referred to as “Wall of Text.” All of you fuckwits bitching about the OSE house style will be condemned, in your own personal hells, to reading this shit. Yeah, I think paragraphs are great. And, when dealing with a novice writer who doesn’t know what they are doing, the OSE style will, I believe, result in a better product than this wall of text shit does.
Let us begin the wall of text example. I shall cover just the first sentence of many paragraphs. This is the actual adventure text, not the summary. This is what you are supposed to run from. And I’m only listing the first sentence of each paragraph. “The road from Nefford to Southshore is only 15 miles, but most who journey between the two towns usually stop midway at the village of Waddleby to patronize The Sore Foot, which is generally regarded as a nice establishment.” [blah blah blah] “When the PC’s arrive they’ll find that they’re the only customers there.” blah blah blah. They’re met by a red-haired boy that looks yto be a dozen years old “blah blah blah. Inside, the PC’s are greeted by the Bbarkeep Theodon Wenz. blah blah blah. After the charatcres have had a chance to secure rooms and order their dinners, the front door flies open and the child from outside (name Timmy Schmitz) is led in by a man dressed in leather armor and wearing a green waistcoat. Blah blah blah “Alright everyone, lets make this easy says the man as he takes a few more steps to allow his masked companions to file in behind him. Blah blah blah.
I’m not going to keep going. I fucking hate this. First this happens then this happens then this other thing happens then this other thing happens. Paragraph after paragraph. COlumn after column. Page after page. Room descriptions full of passive sentences. History in the text. Justifications in the room descriptions.
Just go stab some people. But don’t stab the wrong people! Otherwise you won’t get a +1 shortsword.
I don’t know. Same old shit. Tricking people. And, more importantly, punishing them when they fall for it. That’s lame. Whatever. It’s not as bad a the fucking “and then this happen and then this happens” wall of text shit. Let us consider this a record of the wreckage of my life.
This is $5 at DriveThru. The preview is 24 pages. Enough to get a good sense of the adventure. God help you.
“…evil human cultists. Cause that’s the only acceptable bad guy anymore. “
Sad but true.
Not to defend this adventure in particular, but isn’t this the opposite of Bryce’s old complaint of overusing humanoid antagonists when humans will do just as well (or better)? The stuff I buy has an over-preponderance of orcs or whatnot. Cultists are passe but cultists transforming themselves into snake people is fun at least on the face of it. I guess I don’t understand what “the only acceptable bad guy anymore” means when every adventure I see is stuffed with dumb humans-but-not.
Consistency doesn’t live here anymore.
Yeah, what’s next?
Will he complain that there are too many OC magic items and the adventure needs more swords +1?
There is something to be said for limiting the amount of OC items to a nice handful to maintain consistency with the original game. We love the dopamine hits of novelty but staple items are staple for a reason and if I want to put something in my campaign, it helps if the treasure is something other then allegories for the authors dissapointed father or the like.
The ancient warrior Bryce hath finally succumbed to the depredation of the dreaded MUCHO TEXTO.
Press F to pay respects.
Bryce: “… when dealing with a novice writer who doesn’t know what they are doing, the OSE style will, I believe, result in a better product than this wall of text shit does.”
Excellent suggestion for adventure writers to consider!
Loggorhea or machine code. Scylla or Charybdis. A novice writer will use the wrong adjectives that will not allow him to paint an evocative picture of the room.
The whole “elves are bothered by a dragon (wyvern) moving into the land of their beloved giant golden elk and starting eating them, but can’t kill it because the mountains are forbidden to enter – so they call outsiders to infringe on their holy/taboo instead” setup does sound half-cooked bordering on raw.
It COULD turn into something fun & interesting if MUCH more thought was given to that whole setup – and telegraphing maybe the elves are not being clear or honest with all the details, among other things.
I honestly have little trouble with it. Forbidden Lands Where Man (Elf) Was Not Meant To Go are a very powerful mythological archetype. I’d buy this rationale from a race as steeped in millennia-old antiquated traditions as elves are.
Good review. Thanks!
Oh, I meant to say that I really like the cover!
Also, it makes me wonder if there really is a pile of coins that big in it and how much gp/xp it gave.
According to the preview: 1000 gp, 8,000 sp, 15,000 cp, a “decorative oak leaf” worth 10,000 gp and a couple pieces of jewellery to the sum of 25,000 gp. Not bad XP-wise but the distribution is odd.
“humanoid turtles which will eventually include four TMNT’s. The dragon turns out to be a wyvern with a ring that gives him a 16 INT … wants to eat the giant grubs that live in the dungeon”
I like these elements. That’s got potential.
“the serpent people are actually transformed evil human cultists. Cause thats the only acceptable bad guy anymore. … But don’t stab the wrong people! Otherwise… Tricking people. And, more importantly, punishing them when they fall for it.”
These are the hard pass deal breakers for me. Sounds like the designer almost stumbled into a decent faction play scenario, then threw it away because he had an idea of how the adventure should go. But there might be hope for him if he changed his evil ways.
RC1 had such promise. Now we’re up to RC3 and the reviews are worse for each entry.