The Curse of Vecna

By Dave Hartlage
Self Published
Levels 8-10

An 8-year-old child hands the party a note, which reads, “I poisoned my parents. I am a very wicked boy and I should hang.” He offers a reward for help waking his sleeping parents. This quest takes characters to a dungeon under a ruined estate to break a curse Vecna put on the feuding family that served him. This adventure combines unforgettable roleplaying scenes, a dungeon to explore, and secrets to unravel.

This seventeen page adventure features a dungeon with 23 rooms. It’s got some decent ideas, here and there. It’s also trying WAYYYYY too hard on the formatting front, which ends up making it confusing. And the descriptions are less than stellar. It’s promise ends up being mostly a one trick pony.

That intro is pretty good, eh? “I poisoned my parents, I am a very wicked boy and I should hang.” That’s pretty fucking sweet, man, as a fucking hook or inciting event or whatever. That shit is irresistible! Warms my  jaded heart. I’m fucking in, man! And we’ve got deputy dickhead batting the kid away, while asshole sherif is hiring you to find a stolen book. Both asshats, acting like asshats, and this fucking kid is there. It’s quite good. 

Fucking eight year old in D&D-landian writing a note? No way. His friend gave it to him. Turns out it’s a boggle who has set the illiterate kid up.  Funny looking boy who lives in the ruined chapel. Turns out it’s a boggle who has set the illiterate kid up. His idea of a joke. Fucking awesome man! The first kid has a little sister. She’s hungry. If you give her food then she doesn’t eat it all. “We should save some for the hungry people int the basement” or some words to that effect … oh man! Can you imagine?! The players should be LOSING. THEIR. SHIT. about now. 

Oh, oh, that sheriff? That hires you to find the book? Here’s his opinion on the local ruler, the one who killed her entire family to take power, the legend says: “Salis smiles in admiration and says, “That’s how a strong ruler shows strength and keeps stability. Show me a king called ‘the good’ or ‘the pious,’ and I’ll show you people beset by invasion and civil war. Lady Vis- cec showed the price of unrest, and so she ruled over peace and prosperity.” Fucking wonderful man! Fucking wonderful!

The boggle, and book for that matter, are in room one of the dungeon. Everything before room two is great. I fucking love  it. The inciting event. The sheriff. The deputy. The kids. The bogle. Fucking great. Then the dungeon starts and shit goes downhill fast. Basically, you go to the nearly-the-last room and fight The Skull Lord and and a couple of undead. Along the way you can pierce together a puzzle, of how Lady Despot killed her siblings, and do things like put the right head on the right body to have that body tell you a secret. Which  is something like “watch out for the floor in the last room when you are fighting the big bad.” IE: some hint to that boss fight. There’s really not much more going on than that. 

Along the way we get fine rooms like room eleven. “Salon” “This room is empty” That’s if you’re on the material plane. If you’re on the Shadowfell then its “This room contains comfortable chairs and empty bookshelves.” Great. I am inspired. I love my life. IE: the room descriptions are some combination of non -existent and joyless. And the entire thing is a fucking mess with formatting. Traditional black font. And red font. And blue font. And line section separator. And italics read-aloud. In ref. I get it. Your heart is in the right place man, but execution is lacking. The material plane/shadowfell thing, requiring a couple of descriptions for each room, doesn’t help AT ALL. 

And, you know, there’s this over explanation of things. Like every little thing has to be justified, or explained to the DM in detail. “The deputy is acting like this because …” Nah, find some other way to get the point across. “Ingratiating/blllied” does it in two words. 

Fixing the formatting crap would make this an ok short adventure. Nothing special. Just, like, one of those side-trek things from the Old Dungeon mags. It’s really too bad. It started so strong before falling in to its “solve the riddle!” shit.

This is $5 at DriveThru. The preview is six pages. You get to see that intro/inciting event, and you can start to get an idea of the formatting issues.

This entry was posted in 5e, Dungeons & Dragons Adventure Review, Reviews. Bookmark the permalink.

6 Responses to The Curse of Vecna

  1. Bucaramanga says:

    At least it’s not about Marxist cat people in a shower. A glimmer of hope for 5e?

  2. The Middle Finger Of Vecna says:

    This adventure gets 1 (out of 5) fingers of Vecna. Is it the middle one? Perhaps not in this case.

  3. Sevenbastard says:

    The kid and note intro is something I read before. Not sure where but it definitely wasn’t this adventure.

    It’s a solid intro but this author didn’t come up with the idea. It was a hook presented in another place that he ran with.

  4. SargonTheOK says:

    Solid review. I agree, it’s a great opening, spoiled only by difficulty to parse what’s going on. That sheriff encounter seems overly detailed and could have been condensed. Everything after that delightful quote re: Lady Viscec is basically “Secret cultist, prickly when pressed.”

    The “roleplaying opportunity” section of that encounter is complete fluff. One shouldn’t need to state that multiple outcomes are possible; the potential for it should be implicit in the situations (and to its credit here I think they are, or would have been had they not been made explicit).

    The highs sound excellent, though, so kudos to the author for that.

  5. Bailey says:

    For being 5e and Dungeon Masters Guild, flashes of inspiration are all the more impressive. On the evidence of his peers, its hard for 5e GMs to break the conditioning of bad organized play adventures.

  6. Artem the Centaur Conqueror says:

    The tyranny of format in 5e is just the worst.

    The “cultural sensitivies” of “modern audiences” aside, everything has to conform to a 4-hour one-shot format or it doesn’t sell.

    What isn’t a 4-hour heavily plotted (and railroaded) one-shot is some Brobdingnagian adventure path (also heavily plotted and railroaded).

    So this indeed might be a step in the right direction.

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