By Dave Hartlage Self Published 5e 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.