By Peter C. Spahn Small Niche Games OSE Levels 1-3
[…] A few weeks ago, an adventuring company named Legacy Flame came to the Oldwood to reestablish a shrine to St. Galwren—patron saint of one of the fallen noble houses of the Kingdom of Nine. They erected a stone shrine near a Jaldtic burial mound and the leader of Legacy Flame, a warrior-priest named Father Krembers, performed an ancient ritual to invoke the blessings of St. Galwren. This ritual awakened several undead creatures that had been laid to rest beneath the old barrow . .
This 32 page digest adventure describes three wilderness encounters and eight inside of a barrow. Low on descriptive text and high on fluff. The concept is fine and the execution, if most pages are ignored, will do in a pinch. Spahn is interesting. When he hits well he REALLY hits. Think Inn of Lost Heroes. Or, we could write something mind numbing. He’s all over the place. This one hits somewhere in the middle.
Ok, so, hang on for this ride. Long ago the kingdom of the nine gets invaded and destroyed by the Jaldt barbarians. They build a burial mound on top of a destroyed castle. They don’t know it had a crypt under it. Of some important saint of the kingdom. So, yeah, they built their burial ground on top of a burial ground. Now, some fuckwit rival murder hobos show up, with a cleric on a holy mission to bring back worship of the saint, as we rebuilds shrines to him. Which causes everyone in the burial mound on a burial mound to come to life. An undead knight fights a barb lieutenant and his clan every night, and fails. Meanwhile, the undead barb king roams the roam, kills folk, and their zombies come back to the barrow to help the lieutenant fight the undead knight. Enter the party.
So, 32 pages. For what is essentially ten or eleven encounter areas. And how can this be? Well, that rival NPC party? They get a six page write up. That seems pretty lengthy to me. Expansive. There are, essentially, four things you can to in thie adventure. The rival party is one. The undead barb lieutenant is another. He gets a decent sized write up also. Then he’s got a few living people in his undead horde that don’t get much and then there are some bandits at the start who get essentially no write up at all. A little inconsistent here. But, perhaps, indicative of how important the encounter is? You know what the party makes of important NPC’s though, right?
There’s also the Victorian mania for complete inventories. Five horse two oxen and two wagons, with GP values. Or, a half page write up that lists everything of value, or no, at a campsite. Including “assorted eggs and produce (worth 10gp at the market,)
I turn, again, to the misplaced page count thing. A disproportionate page count, or word count, reveals a design that is out of balance. The designer is emphasizing, and put effort, in to things that are tertiary to the adventure. Instead of spending time on a six page backstory, what if instead that effort was put in to the adventure proper? There’s no long backstory here, but, the same concept of misplaced effort applies, I think.
Room seven is The Crypt of Honor. The description of this page long room is “This is the resting place of six renowned knights of galwren.” So, not a description. The sarcophagi get the following description “the hawk and sword standard is carved into the lids of their elaborate stone sarcophagus and a red ruby is mounted on each.” Not much a description. And so it goes. Elaborate is a conclusion. DESCRIBE it. That’s how you write a description, with specificity.
It’s an ok adventure that should only be a couple of pages long that is padded out to 32. I find that annoying. But, also, there’s nothing really wrong with the adventure. The undead barb warband, with the lieu, zombies, and few traumatized humans is pretty nice and a highlight of the adventure. I’m not really sure it’s going to result in much in-depth play beyond maybe one rp event that evolves in a combat, but, it’s fresh anyway.
So, it’s fine. I’m annoyed at it, but it’s fine.
This is $5 at DriveThru. There’s no full preview, just the quick one. Uncool.