Fangs in the Dark

By Ben Thompson
99c Adventures
B/x ... but really 5e.
Level 1

Look ma! An old school cover!

A daring escape from the clutches of Gnoll marauders liberates you from a life of brutal servitude, yet your struggle for survival continues…  for now you find yourself alone and unarmed, beset by unseen horrors that lie in wait at every turn, with only your wits, your courage, and your strength to sustain you.

This 64 page adventure is shit. Everything about it. Read-aloud, DM text, linear, design. All shit. 

First, it’s not a fucking PSR adventure. Putting “OSR” on the cover and including stats for B/X does not make your adventure an OSR adventure. The fucking game works differently, betweem PSR and 5e. Shit you can get away with in 5e,, like forced combat after forced combat, just does not fucking work in OSR. This is one of the reasons why linearity and plot tend to fail in OSR adventures. One of the first “scenes” is with two gnolls and two hyenas. That’s bad enough for a first fucking level party. But, then, the party has no weapons and no armor. What the fuck happened in playtesting? Oh, right, you didn’t do that.So, this is a 5e fucking adventure with the OSR label slapped on in the most shameless way in order to increase sales, I guess. Fucking bullshit money grab. I say it again. Write something because you love the game, not because you want some fucking money. 

The opening read-aloud is a page long. Read-aloud in this is routinely long. DM text is even longer, with the most basic of encounters running a page in length. Seriously. A fucking SPIDER is a page long. A NORMAL spider, not a giant one. ONE spider. A page long. It’s fucking nuts. 

“Force them to run: Some of you contemplate standing and fighting for a moment, but the overwhelming enemy response breaks your resolve and you decide to escape rather than perish.” It’s just a railroad. Moving from one scene to another. Except, during an overland journey. Then it turns random. Why? WHy then? This is certainly not the greatest of all sins that can be committed, but, if you’re writing a 5e adventure, a 5e scene adventure that is essentially a railroad, but switch to randomness then? Because you don’t understand the purpose of randomness. Just take one or three and flesh them out (to the appropriate degree) and stick them in, for a better experience. If you’re committed to a railroad plot then do a railroad plot.

It ends in the ruins of a castle. Where you meet a dragon. WHo sends you on a fetch quest under it to get a gem stolen by rats. Wererats, of course. At level one. Coming back you get to [pick an item each from its hoard. Very dragon like.

Overwritten to a point of extremes. A railroad from start to finish. This then is D&D.A suck ass review of a suck ass adventure. Is this really the vision you had when you set out to write?

This is $1 at DriveThru. The preview is five pages. Enjoy the opening read-aloud mess, along with the railroad of an escape and combats.

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11 Responses to Fangs in the Dark

  1. SargonTheOK says:

    “The GM is like a movie director.”

    This was some GM advice I received early in my GMing career (4e). I believe its purveyor was well-meaning, but it was ultimately the most destructive advice I ever got on the subject. (I credit 1e Stars Without Number for setting me straight.)

    This adventure reads like it drank too deep of that advice.

  2. AB Andy says:

    You left out the gem that is written before the escspe read aliud.

    “Roll up Initiative for the Gnolls and continue
    to Round 2. The heroes should all be
    running. If not, convince them to do so, or
    force them with a passage such as”

    These people play d&d like that?

  3. chainsaw says:

    Usually if it has OSR on the cover, I steer clear. There are exceptions , but generally a good rule of thumb.

    • Prince says:

      I propose a tiered system. An OSR logo can still indicate a mediocre or below average adventure. It’s the OSR For All logo that is the real shit burger.

  4. Anonymous says:

    PSR = Piece o Shit Rubbish?

  5. Stripe says:

    I guess the author didn’t know that the OSR is the players’ story, not the game master’s.

  6. Melan says:

    “Compatible with 5e and OSR” either tells you the authors don’t have the faintest idea, or they do, but are being dishonest about it. From the description, this sounds more like the former. They have no connection to the experience of old-school play, so this is what they come up with.

    • Chibi says:

      I wonder if an adventure exists out there that plays well in both. I don’t think it’s impossible since nothing prevents you from tackling OSR-style challenges in 5e (same cannot be said for the opposite).

      I guess those TSR 5e remakes from Goodman games would qualify.

      • Artem the Elf Blood says:

        Seconded. B/X, 1e and, to a lesser extent, 2e lend themselves very well to 5e conversions, much more so than 3e and 4e.

        I’ve gone on out on a limb many times that 5e is the most old-school edition published in the 21st century… or at least it was intended to be, until its playstyle coalesced around 2019 around the concept of “fluffy nothingburger”.

      • Prince says:

        The most promising candidate are the Stephen J Jones entries but even these have been altered considerably between OSE and 5e.

        There are different assumptions between the two systems. Although you can probably port a few tricks from oldschool dnd to 5e, it might not hit the same because the systems are different in essence. Different sustainability, healing, turn length etc.

        5e being more oldschool then either 4e or 3e seems correct at face value.

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