By Ethan B No Artpunk #2 OSE Levels 3-5
The frontier town of Vacuous Hollow is on a precipice of chaos. Wizards of some kind are digging in places they should not, trying to be sneaky about it.
This 28 page adventure is bat shit crazy. A couple of dungeon locations, flavour out the ass in every aspect of the adventure/ The rantings of the deluded entice for those who can withstand studying them. A mess. A glorious glorious mess.
Humite! Humite! Humite! Kumite! Oh, wait, no, it’s the Black Lotus Society in this adventure, not the Black Dragon Society. Shit. Anyway, I gave my only skillet away yesterday, so this morning I got nothing to cook an egg in. So, it’s back to breakfast Chartreuse.
Ethan B has got it going on. A HUGE number of elements are present in this adventure. Everything every adventure has ever, in the history of the world, included is also included in this adventure. You want an intro? You got a short little intro that ends with “Don’t despair for the future. Like plagues and famines, an ancient chaos god is just another disaster. The world has seen worse apocalypses. It always recovers.” You want rumours? You got rumors. “The Green Dragon of Viper Rock has stopped demanding whiskey, and it’s piling up. (T) The thing must be dead (F) but nobody has been brave enough to check (T).” Fucking flavour man. You want hooks? You got some fucking hooks. A madman with ten rings to give, a wizard who encourages you to throw a broick through a window or something to fuck with his buddies digging up the god. Timeline? Sure. It includes a nice blood rain and meat spoiling under starlight. Oh, and the chais god waking up. “Or you can just ignore him. He won’t be a problem in your lifetime. Unless you’re an elf.” The wizards in question who are digging dude up like to do a horoscope once a week to determine their actions. One of the portents? “A group of killers with no home will raid your domain and ruin your plans.” Sometimes it rains. How about some changing shit in one of the caves, it flooding. Are we are the blood rain level yet? “After the first flooding from blood, the floor will have an inch of congealed blood crawling with maggots and flies and ghastly beetles” There’s a little regional encounter things. There’s wanderers. A couple of dungeons. A little town of, like three businesses described, just the shit you need. Dude in the church can “provide healing services at a generous rate of 5000gp and a Geas … usually a forbiddance from harming snakes.” That’s all you’re fucking getting, besides a little price list and name. Fucking A man, that’s what ytou need from the church in town and the dude delivers it PERFECTLY. It’s aimed at actual play in so many ways. Just enough to bring the encounter to life with the name and the geas shit … I can riff the shit out of that. And a little nod to the mechanics of play with the price list and utility of wanting/needing a healer in town. The town has “enough industry to equip an expedition in to the dungeon.” YUpyup.
Dude has packed a bunch of shit in to this adventure. It’s mostly a disorganized mess, or, close to being so anyway. But man, that fucking content is wonderful isn’t it? Dude is delivering the flavour. The specificity that brings something to life, that inspires the DM so that they can riff on it. He’s delivering it, page after page. Never baroque, but delivering just enough stabs of it to run a mother fucking game of Dungeon and fucking Dragons man! A beatutful woman, appearing as a blue misty form … as she gets closer it turns to a black mist and an ugly hag. Know what that is? It’s a wraith. Fuck you, every single one of you pieces of shit that have described a wraith as “a wraith.” Fucking delivers man, just like this dude has. Angrily weedeater giant wasps. Good descriptions. These descriptions are specific. It delivers a sentence that is specific and moves on. It doesn’t pile on with line after line of overwrought description. Here’s your specificity, here’s your mechanics. Here’s your oob. Lets keep this thing moving along. It’s very good in this respect. The specificity, and thus ability to inspire the DM with a single line of description, is among the best I’ve seen. Hey, man, also, I learned, from this adventure that people without a face have a CHA of 3.. Sly little comments. Great little encounters. I’m in LUV.
Thing is a mess. I’m being more than a little hyperbolic here, but still. I can, perhaps, forgive the timeline, weather, regions, town, rumors, etc. All the extra shit, not being the best organized and integrated. That’s a tough thing to get right for a DM to run during play. I am less forgiving on actual encounters. Scattering important description elements throughout the encounter. What room am I in? It’s in the second paragraph. How many things are trying to eat me? It’s at the end of the description. It’s not so much excess words. I think the adventure does a good job of keeping things relatively tight. But it is the order in which those words appear. A good rewrite here would help a lot in the individual encounters.
But this isn’t enough to make you turn away from the adventure. It’s got a love of D&D written all over it. The tough of absurdity that makes a good D&D adventure, without it being gonzo or a jokey adventure. Great encounters. Great detail. Maybe the last few encounters on the last level of the dungeon are a little weak. But otherwise full of gold. I’m drinking at 7:30am on a Monday morning, your adventure doesn’t make me hate my life, and I no longer own a skillet. Have a Best and do better next time.