By Jeremiah Leppert Self Published 5e Levels 5-6
Something is plaguing the farmland around the village of Oxdale, out in the middle of nowhere. The beast visits regularly and carries off an animal, disappearing into the hill country north of the village. Word is that it is also buzzing around the new goblin camp to the northwest. It wasn’t too big of a deal until it tried to carry off a village youngling; now the mayor and the citizens want it dealt with immediately.
This 23 page adventure (a review request) details a cave with four rooms. Oh, and a goblin encampment. Everyone is friendly. Aren’t you happy you played D&D tonight?
So, look, I know there is no meaning anymore. I know that words have no meaning. I know there is no truth anymore. I got it. Came to terms awhile back. Except, fuck me, it still fucking grates on me. You know, call 4e Chainmail or call 5e Lasers & Feelings. I’d probably be ok. But nooooooo, the megacorps feelings are hurt and its brand is undermonitized, so we get Lasers & Feelings. (As the playstyle, even if the RULES don’t support that? I don’t know. Let’s not hang too much on that hook …) Chainmail might be a good game. I don’t want to play that though. And, especially, I don’t want to spend my money on it. If you just put “For Use with Lasers & Feelings” on the cover then I’d be ok. Again, I don’t care about your game. I wish you luck with Lasers & Feelings. I just don’t want to play that. I want to play D&D.
Ok, so, we’ve got a NG vampire. Yes, a NG vampire. He news to drink blood but only wants to drink animal blood cause he’s NG, I guess. We’ve seen this, what, in about three hundred adventures? The vampire who won’t drink blood? It’s the same as the good dragon and the evil princess trope at this point.
Ok, so, he’s NG and doesn’t want to drink humanoid blood. So, he builds some constructs to go find animals for him. Because he finds doing this himself distasteful. Also, he’s a gnome, so, we have to follow the modern gnome trope of being crazy mechanical engineers. As a vampire. Who’s NG.
So, you go to the cave where the townfolk previously tracked the beast to. Along the way you run in to a goblin camp. They are friendly, of course. God forbid you stab an intelligent foe in D&D. Great. You go to the cave.It’s got four rooms. In the last couple you meet the vampire. He’s friendly. If you upset him he demands that you leave his home immediately! Or he’ll call the police? I guess? So, I guess you can negotiate with him, go back to the village, and the villagers, goblins, and vampire dude all live together in peace and harmony. You’ve done nothing in the adventure.
Is this actually the kind of game you want to play in? I find it rather revolting. It’s as one dimensional as the games in which you only stab people. The only allowable foes are mindless, literally, or animals. And that NG vampire? As the fuck if. He’s fucking evil. His ranting, stealing, and threats make him evil. Further, his JUSTIFICATIONS FOR HIS ACTIONS make him evil. A haphazard pseudo-Kantian framing don’t change it.
So, 23 pages, Five encounters. Yeah. No.
So as to make this review not totally worthless, here’s your design Tip O’the Day: Important shit comes first.
When you write a sentence, put the important shit up front. Let us assume that, as in this adventure, we have a section with a page long room that has a column full of bullet points calling out details in the room. Which one of these sentences is better for a bullet? “If the party makes a DC 14 Perception (wisdom) check then they can tell that the pit floors slope towards the middle.” or …. “Pit Floors: A DC 14 Perception check reveals they slope towards the middle” See how, in the first sentence, you have to wade through the garbage, that EVERY sentence starts with in this bullet section, in order to figure out what you are rolling against? And in the second example we know up front what the party is rolling against? If they are looking at the pits then I can more easily find that “Pit FLoor” section and see what the details are for running it? See that? This is what we mean by bullets and bolding. It’s a technique to help the DM scan and locate information in the adventure. It’s not a goal in and of itself.
Ok, a few high points. The villagers call the creature attacking them a Dusk Claw, and give it weird descriptions. I though this was ging to be a normal monster with a new name, which I enjoy greatly. Instead it’s just a new monster, a construct, and the villagers identify it as a construct. Not so good. Give the creature a name and give conflicting villager accounts. Thats good.
We’ve got a wandering monster encounter with an eagle attacking a boar, and the boar putting itself between the party and he eagle to avoid the eagle. That’s a cute vignette and interesting way to get the party involved.
There’s this guard in twon who saved a girls life when he shot an arrow at the creature swooping off with the girl. He’s guilt ridden over the fat that the monster almost ate the kid on his watch .. .literally. He can/will join the party. Morose guard would be an ice addition, but, also, we need some vignettes with him. SOme sayings. SOme of the shit he’s going through. The DM needs a little bit more to riff on during play. There’s none of that.
The designer is trying to give people personalities, but he’s using that shitty 5e way of explicitly saying “Motivation: blah blah blah. Appearance: blah blah blah. Manner: blah blah blah Weakness: blah blah blah. Sure man, those can be ghood guidelines. Also, you dn’t need them all every time. Also, put it in a natural manner instead of having four bullets with line breaks between each one. We dont’ need separate call outs for each. GJust give us a one or two sentence vibe of the person.
So, new school adventure vibe, which I’m not allowed to comment on, so I spent half the review bitching about how its not D&D. And, a page to encounter ration that reveals Not An Adventure. And, formatting that is not conducive to running it. The beast thing about this is that it’s not 4e. SLAM! Never forget the true enemy, folks.
This is $1 at DriveThru. The preview is ten pages. You get to see the cave. Good luck with that.