Lair of the Frog

By Chaoclypse
Self Published
Level ?

The Lair contains dark, eldritch secrets and way, way, too many frogs. Survive its horrors, and you may eventually be granted audience with the mythical Frog God…

This twelve page digest adventure features a dungeon with twelve rooms and six outdoor locations. And I’m using “locations” very loosely here. Because te designer seems to have forgotten the primary purpose of an adventure. IE: this is garbage.

“Special Thanks to Chris McDowall for his helpful posts and videos on adventure creation.” Ought oh! I don’t know shit about McDowall, I think?, but I do know that endorsement, of Chris, by this designers, is eyebrow raising, after reviewing this adventure.

Because tis Crap. Let us look at the hook. It is, of course, a d6 table. Because the designer does not understand randomness and its purpose in an adventure. Anyway, our hooks are “You love frogs.” or “You hate frogs.”   or “Rumors of treasure.” and so it goes. Yes, I know, we don’t need hooks. But, when offered, we do expect more than this, correct? No? We’ve given up all hope of anything and everything? Nothing makes sense anymore? Everything is meaningless, now, in 2023. Time to talk to Ohm, my friend!

Ok, ok, let’s look at the actual adventure. The one with a content warning for “Body horror, Hallucinogens, Cults”. Let’s see here. We’ve got a short wilderness crawl before getting to the frog lair. It’s six locations, five of which you’ll visit, so, essentially a linear wilderness. Oh. They all fit on one page. Oh. Let’s see, location one is “The border between the outside world and the valley of the frogs. The journey starts perilously, and climbing down the hills is difficult.” Oh, wait, that the adventure summary. The real location is … oh, no, that IS the location. That’s location one. Good luck suckers! “Starts perilously” Fuck off man. Fuck right off. You know its the designers fucking job to define what “start perilously” means, right? Location 5, the Weel. “Well, well well. It’s a well. Those foolish enough to climb inside find …” That’s it. Nothing more. No table of whats inside even. This is utter and complete garbage. I’m fucking insulted, for the fucking hobby, by this “adventure.” 

THe reallair if twelve rooms on four pages. Each room gets lots of space for all of those fucking door/exit descriptions that some of you fuckwits insist is worthwhile. Bask ye heathens in the glow of “Passageway to an intersection leading to four and five.” Yeah, verily, the best of all exit descriptions! Perhaps rivaled only by “Door to four!” Fuck you all.

Our room descriptions have a header, like “Tadpole nest” which is good. The descriptions come in bullets, ose style, which is a decent format. But, the designer doesn’t know how to use them. “Pile of unusually large tadpoles” is not a description for the nest. It brings little to life. Oh, oh, the treasure room! “Piles of green jewels and treasure.” I fucking hate my life. THis is what it has become. This shit. 

You know, there was a chance here. The wandering table, perhaps the only thing in the adventure with ANY decent ideas, has this entry, which is by far the best “Large tadpoles carried in the arms of human-sized bipedal frog” Meh. But, nursing from a human that is carrying it? That would indeed be the body horror and culty shit we were promised? Cause there is no body horror and no cults, from the warning, in this adventure. At all.

This is $3 at DriveThru. The preview is six pages. You get to see that wilderness crawl. No, thats the crawl, not a summary of it.

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18 Responses to Lair of the Frog

  1. XDM 100% says:

    McDowell is the fellow who wrote Into the Odd etc. His advice is generally sound and he’s a nice mellow guy. His projects lately have tended more towards war games.

    Imagine if Stan Lee were blamed for every terrible piece of superhero art “Drawing the Marvel Way” spawned. Success dooms us all and it’s just a matter of time until someone publishes a sad orc hole with the dedication “Without Bryce’s advice this adventure would never have happened!”

  2. Prince says:

    Its a telling indictment because it illustrates that there is something fundamentally lacking in these rules lights. Mcdowall invented his rules lite from OD&D, and thus had all the knowledge and procedure of OD&D to fall back on and fill in the blanks. But this new wave of creators has only ever played the rules-lites and so their understanding is threadbare and their creations reflect this. There’s also an endemic lack of criticism in those circles, so the bar gets lower and lower.

    McDowell’s Into the Odd is quite interesting as a sort of tech demo of minimum viable DnD and the setting was very unusual but he is also responsible for the trash fire that is the OSR discord and arguably this entire plague of low effort ultralites so he’s about on par.

    • Jacob72 says:

      The rules lites are occasional pick up games, almost commodities with a bit of flavour but no ability to sustain a campaign.

      In that they remind me of conceptual art – all idea and no real substance.

  3. SargonTheOK says:

    I’ll be one of the fuckwits for a moment and defend situational uses of exit descriptions. Before I get to that: For a dungeon with a floor plan style map, yeah, chop ‘em. That info’s on the map, and including them is just a waste of words.

    But for the pointcrawl… It’s an abstract map, circles connected by dotted lines (effectively, that’s all point crawl maps, no matter how much they get dressed up to try and make us think otherwise). The map is not the issue: I LIKE abstract maps for this sort of thing. But you gotta do something with those paths.

    Frankly, it’s info the GM is expected to convey to the player – is the path some long-abandoned road, sloughing down a gentle grade? Is it mud up to your knees, squelching over the top of the PC’s boots? Is it along the bank of a meandering stream, where you can’t even hear yourself think because of the croaking legion of toads? If the points are scenes, then the paths are scene transitions. So describe them with some “exit descriptions” and make it interesting!

    Second, use them to convey how landmarks (i.e. nearby points) look from the current position – you know, how people navigate between points in real life? Knowing landmarks and what the paths look like helps players make informed decisions about navigating point crawls, and informed decisions are fun decisions. (Granted this adventure is a linear example, but whatever). Making that text evocative is a big plus, but including something at all would improve the scenario design in most cases (unless it’s just “door”, of course). Because the alternative is “dotted line east” or “dotted line south.”

    It’s frustrating the author got it backwards here – using them where they don’t belong, and dropping them where they would have contributed to more interesting design.

  4. Anonymous says:

    If the module has a “trigger warning” it becomes instant garbage. Don’t tell me what I should and should not be concerned about.

    • Anonymous says:

      Ironsworn and Starforged are two of the great solo RPGs (and definitely worth the time), but man can they be painful to read for stuff like this.

    • A nony mouse says:

      So sorry that those words hurt you. Do you need a trigger warning for trigger warnings?

  5. The Middle Finger Of Vecna says:

    I think we’re at the point where using frogs as antagonists in an adventure has become overdone, maybe even cliche. It’s not quite at the level of orcs in a hole yet but it’s time to move away from frogs and into some other creature type. Enough is enough.

  6. Reason says:

    Nah the frogs just need to be doing cool froggy stuff like tadpole swarms operating like piranhas;
    big frogs tongue zapping stragglers from stealth and hopping away with them;
    frogs using bigass tadpoles as flails to beat you to death with (because there’s a million of them and uncaring amphibians that’s why);
    big frogs disgorging swarms of smaller frogs (akin to a grease spell or insect swarm for killer frogs);
    fat warty British Bulldog sized frogs riding bit & bridled human cultists into battle;
    or potions/curses/pools which slowly devolve you into a tadpole (maybe on a nat 2o by those tadpole flail commandos they explode and cover you in goo, save or begin to devolve. Now you _really_ need a favour from the frog god).

    • Anonymous says:

      Hell yeah that sounds great. Frogs doing creepy frog stuff is fine, is it’s sufficiently frog-themed.

    • SargonTheOK says:

      I think we often underrate the horror of Mother Nature. One of these days I’ll need to make a starfish dungeon, where 5-armed monstrosities devour you from the inside-out, via stomachs that get everted out of sphincter mouths. Chopping them apart only instigates regeneration of the original and asexual reproduction via the parts.

      Cthonic horror? Probably, but most people would be all “ooo, look, a starfish!” when they casually find the beast’s husk washed up on shore.

      • Kubo says:

        I suppose you steer clear of fish tanks with starfish in them. My wife is also currently wearing starfish themed jewelry this summer. Please don’t spoil it for her. LOL

      • Kubo says:

        BTW I recall there was a giant starfish in Ravenloft in the Ship of Horror 2E module. I think you may be onto something SargonTheOK. I don’t recall them being as horrifying because adventurers weren’t attacked by a hoard of them and they weren’t quickly regenerating and multiplying.

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