By Daniel Kingsley Ripped Tabard Adventures Castles & Crusades Level 3
The goblins have killed Sam the Spear, the mayor and leader of the village of Sounding Grove. They have been quiet for a very long time, but no one is wondering why they are active again. The foul creatures have started causing problems again, and no further thought is required! What better way to have them dealt with than send an adventuring party to deal with them? They are only goblins after all, how dangerous could they be for professionals?
This 25 page adventure is pretentious garbage with two combats. And long read-aloud. And terrible everything. A monument to the folly of man and hubris of conceit.
Everything is wrong with this adventure. Everything. Ok, so, it looks nice. I guess the marketing has succeeded. EVerything else sucks ass. And not in a good way.
This is a complete railroad of an adventure. (Which, I would assert, means it’s NOT an adventure, but I know there are fuckwits who disagree with that assertion.) You show up in town and a dude lies dead in the town square, a bolt through the eyeball. The townfolk have gathered and are lamenting. The DM notes tell us that “The party has been traveling for days and living rough. They are tired, hungry, and dirty.” O, really? This is the first clear indicator that this adventure is going to be shitty. It tells the party what they are feeling. We don’t do that. We can set up a description. We can lean that way in our manner, as the DM, but we don’t tell the party what they feel. Or, dictate, to this degree, their own personal conditions. Eight pages later we get through the hook, and town description, and can go fuck up some gobbos that did this to poor Sam the Spear. Well, I mean, after this quick note “The party can go now and suffer exhaustion and poisoning from drinking too much ale” So, I guess, they drank too much? Cause the flavor text says so, that’s why! For the second time, now, we are being told what happens, removing the player agency. Plot. Railroad. And not, I mean, even GOOD plot. ZThis is is just trivia shit. It doesn’t matter. It’s just that the designer has dictated that the thing will go this way so it’s written this way.
The encounters, likewise, are dictated with predetermined results. The intro has some DM advice which goes something like you should talk to people, rushing in leads to dead characters, blah blah blah. And, then, we can look a tthe three creature encounters in this adventure. The first is with bandits in the forest. Four of them, desperate. We are told, without too much more info, that they attack. That’s because the designer has determined that this is a combat encounter and thus they will attack the party. They get no personalities, or detail, because that would be useless … they are attacking. Then comes the one goblin encounter, with the entire tribe. And a matriarch who speaks to the characters, explaining that this is all a big misunderstanding. There’s a LONG read-aloud here. And a predetermined sentry encounter to ensure that the matriarch monologue gets read. This is NOT meant to be combat, so, it gets a fuck ton of detail. Finally, there’s an ogre, bullying the goblins, which is meant ot be a combat. So he gets no personality other than he attacks. Because … that’s what the designer has decided should happen.
No bueno. The designer doesn’t get to determine these things. The designer creates a scenario in which things can happen. Sure, there are percentages here, but when things are written as a railroad plot you have fucked up. I note that, this tendency here, in this adventure, include a completely linear map. No deviations from the path, lowly player! Did I mention that, if you don’t attack the ogre then the ogre smells your horses, on the way back to town, and he attacks you. I guess you have horses. You WILL fight the ogre!
Read aloud is Looooooong. Which is, of course, bad. And, weirdly, the town is described in a combination of locations and actions. One site, in particular, is called “Stealing from the pyre.” I thought dude was laying dead in the middle of the town square? I guess he;s on a funeral pyre now? Who the fuck knows. You can, however, look forward to amazing room descriptions like this one from a ruined temple “Empty Storage Room: This room was once storage for the worshippers of the temple above” ARE YOU NOT ENTERTAINED?! Clearly, value added!
The adventure does do something I like … but, I think, by accident. Maybe. When you meet the gobbos the matriarch gives a speech about how this is all a misunderstanding. I reproduce it here: “I think there has been a terrible misunderstanding. You see, we went to Sounding Grove to ask for help with an Ogre. We have worked very hard at making peace with the other humanoids in this valley. We do not steal from you, eat your babies, or put a curse you, making you break your hoe. We are not evil creatures who lurk in the night to cause you pain and suffering. Instead, we are peaceful creatures who have been persecuted since the dawn of time. We do not match your description of beauty or ethics. We have different gods. We eat different foods and wear different clothes. But does that mean we deserve to have to live in caves for fear of being slaughtered? Simply for being? So in response to how we are treated, we made a home here and removed ourselves as much as possible from your kind. So, brave adventurers, members of the more “advanced” races, before you kill many of my children to make a point, how about you help us stay peaceful and rid us?” Indeed! The poor, much maligned gobbos need your help! I do this shit all the time in my games. To quote my favorite line from the 4e rules “Talking is a free action.” Absofuckinglutely it the fuck is! Meanwhile, my gobbos would be fileting human babies in the back room and maneuvering to ambush. But the designer is, I think, serious. In the monster description, in the appendix, for gobbos it says “They are like any other sentient race, but the bias against them runs very deep. A clear case of socioeconomics and bards telling tales about them.” The socioeconomics line makes me think its a joke, but, I’m not so sure. Because the fucking adventure is WRITTEN for the players to take the gobbo monologue seriously. Fucking weird. Also, to answer the hanging question: yes, it’s time to kill many of your children to make a point, lady.
Also, all that gobbo socioeconomic shit is right below “ALIGNMENT: Lawful Evil” and the gobbo plan is to breed up until there are enough of them to wipe out the human village. Heh
Just another garbage adventure. Disappointing.
This is $5 at DriveThru. The preview is four pages. Enough to see the read-aloud issue, ad the read-aloud of the dude that doesn’t seem to care Mayor Sam is dead. Heartbroken, that one is …