By T. Elliot Cannon Sleddog Games OSRIC Level 5
“You must come to Castle Vezio for the Yule season. We have a special present your father told me to pass on to you. Your uncle, Lord Uri of Lake Unterfallen.” You knew the trip to Castle Vezio would take a few weeks, and the story about your father and your relationship with him has never been a topic of your conversations. You wonder though, what gift did he set aside for you? Why now does your noble uncle reach out from his small wintery kingdom in the northern mountain lakes tucked away from the world?
This 44 page digest adventure is … useless? An outline of an adventure claiming to be an adventure? At what point is something a useful adventure and at what point is it just an adventure idea?
We start this adventure with … a two page read-aloud. Because life is pain. I hope, by now, we all know why this is bad. Anyway, what follows is a series of scenes. (Or, outlines of scenes, I would suggest) and then some maps/keyed locations for three places. We get Uncles castle, which is just a generic castle description with no action taking place there. Then a little monastery where everyone is dead … that only impacts two of the rooms though … everything else is standard boring monastery. Then a nine room “glacial cave” that serves as the hack part of the adventure, where you kill giants and drow. Everything ends with you falling unconscious and waking up in chains, so the next adventure in the series and start that way. Joy. Fuck off, man.
There’s a good description in this. EVeryone in the monastery, including A BUNCH of children, have had their hands tied behind their backs, had their throats slit, and then been hung up inside the chapel to bleed out. Gahhhh! That’s rough! That’s the kindo f shit that should motivate people to get hacking! I like!
The adventure doesn’t really start until page twelve, by the time you get through eighteen different “How to Play/To Run This Adventure sections. That say nothing of consequence. Again, not a good portent of Things To Come.
What follows is a series of chapters, that could really be called scenes. Uncle takes you out. Want to explore the castle and talk to people? There are a series of things you could learn … mostly trivia. But … there is nothing there to SUPPORT that play. No NPC’s. No attitudes of people in and around the castle, or even names of anyone other than uncle. You get to make it all up. Yeah You! Each “chapter” follows the same format. Eventually you get some map/keys, at the end, to support the hack portion. And the non-hack portion … even though you don’t in any way need them for anything other than the final assault chapter. You don’t need a map/key if the play doesn’t require one.
Anyway, the outline nature of the adventure is the difficulty here. No real specificity to speak of. A lot of “just handle it” advice in the main text. Or, “in my game the players blah blah blah so I blah blah blah.” There’s nothing really here to support any sort of play beyond the bare minimum that minimally keyed thing might provide.
An adventure needs to support the DM. It needs to provide them the tools to run a great game. Yeah, the party could learn something in the rumors by just talking to someone random, and the DM could make them up on the fly. But, part of the value add is the designer providing something. Something specific. A NPC with a quick, to provide the information, or a vignette to show instead of tell. You don’t have to drone on about it, but the DM needs SOMETHING to hang their hat on to riff on for the party. Without it, youve’only provided an outline of an adventure. And, I would suggest, that even if you WERE providing an outline, as the core product, you’d still owe the DM a little more to help bring it to life.
But, this, has no life. Ins pite of trying RALLY hard to have an heir behind everything, who saves his chick friend from the slaughter, and then gets double-crossed by the giants and drow. Cause thats what always happens. The animosity between the heir and the uncle is NEVER brought to life in any way other than “try to make the party understand he hates his uncle” Great.
This is Pay What You Want at DriveThru, with a suggested price of $5.The preview is thirty pages. More than enough to get a sense of the adventure/outline/chapters thing.