The Tomb of the Baboon King

By Sage Paoilli, Dean leonard, John R. Brennan
Armored Storyteller Publishing
Levels 8+

The civilization that once worshipped the Baboon King no longer exists, and only a few scattered ruins remain. None remember its name. A few rare scholars and priests deciphered fragments of the ancient city- state’s history. The humidity of the region devoured most scrolls and painted images left behind. Only the stories recorded in worn stone provided a clue into the past.

This 33 page adventure details a dungeon with 24 rooms. I kept thinking I was in a 5e adventure instead of an OSR one. It’s fine, I guess, as linear dungeons go. Whatever. It’s so bland and yet polished that my eyes have glazed over in looking at it.

I don’t know why your level eights are afraid of a baboon, king or otherwise. AC0 with 101hp, I guess. Along with a 4d6 bite and two 6d6 claws. Meh. What is that, more than a huge red dragon? Or a Trex? Sure thing man. I guess  this is one of those “Bryce doesn’t know classic fantasy fiction” things again, where Conan or Elric or someone masturbated a bunch of baboons and now we have to think they are cool or something.

The map is terrible. It’s too small to read. It’s one of those full color things, with detailed floor tiles. A garish monstrosity that you can’t make out any detail in, or even the room numbers. And it’s linear. Yea, linear. So you are almost doing, like, 24 rooms all in a row, in a straight line, to make it to the end of the adventure. That is SOOOOOOO anti D&D that I don’t even know how to describe WHY it is. There’s no exploration. No choice. No unknown. No mystery.Just a boring nonstop of first this and then this happens to you. Who the fuck would want to play something like that? Room after  room in a straight line. I’m not sure I even made dungeons like that when I was eight. 

Let’s see … book magic items. A wilderness and dungeon wandering table in which 95% of the entries have a sentence or two of text that amounts to “They Attack!” Yup, we’re doing everything right it seems.

The encounters, the rooms proper, are … something. Basically it amounts to a surprise in each room. In this room your surprise is: water pours in to flood the room. In this room your surprise is: walk the CORRECT path of wisdom on the floor tiles. In this room your surprise is: poison gas drives you crazy. In this room your surprise is: wait, it’s just some monsters attacking if you open some caskets. That’s the first four rooms. Then there’s eight mummies. Then a spear trap. Then the ever-present falling portcullis and bronze golem. And then vines in the room. It’s all the same. It’s shit you have seen a thousand times before implemented in exactly the same way it’s been implemented a thousand times before. 

For each room you get a paragraph or two under the heading of What Is Noticeable and a whole lot more text, many paragraphs, under the heading of What Is Not Immediately Noticeable. Nice idea. Terrible implementation. Rooms take a page. The first room takes a page and a half for a flooded room trap. There’s a one page stat block in another room. This is just TERRIBLE. What were they thinking?! There’s three of them. Did NO ONE stop and say “Hey maybe this is a bad idea.”  

I’m just incredulous. AT level eight. In B/X. OSE is basically B/X, right? Level eight. How the fuck do you make a level eight D&D adventure boring? How do you put a challenge in every room and STILL make the adventure boring?1

GenCon is in two days. Dear baby jesus, please let me find some joy there …

This is $3 at DriveThru. The preview is four pages. You get to see that first room. It could be a longer preview, but, I guess it does show you a room.

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21 Responses to The Tomb of the Baboon King

  1. Gnarley Bones says:

    OSE is shiny polished B/X.

    One of my biggest “Get Off My Yard” grumps are modern maps. Full-color, 3D rendered and … the players will never see it. I, the DM, do not need a garish micro-detailed map. I need to know where the doors, secret doors, stairs and pit traps are. I need to see how the rooms are oriented for purposes of other inhabitants hearing combat. I don’t need to see every floor tile. It seems to be a sign of a designer who may be newer to the hobby. Yes, with our nigh-magical technology, one can make a glorious map- but should one?

    • Knutz Deep says:

      This! THIS! Sweet elderly Beelzebub, THIIIIISSSSSSS!!!!

      Not to mention that many computer-rendered maps just look bad. I’m not suggesting that the old TSR-style maps created by folks like Diesel and others are the be-all and end-all of RPG maps but one thing they have is decent usability and clarity. You aren’t fighting all the pretty pictures (of dubious value in some cases) that so many modern designers are enamored with.

      Yes, you can make very nice and functional maps with computer programs. Hyqeuous Vaults is just one example of maps done well. It is functional, detailed, and helpful. It gets the job done well.

      • Jacob72 says:

        I’m with you both, it’s my bugbear too. There’s a 21st century trend to form having greater weight than function. Everything is per formative rather than substantial. Politics, business, culture – even art. All infected.

    • SargonTheOK says:

      It’s a consequence of the rise of VTT, I think, with all the features (expectations?) of vision-blocking walls, dynamic lighting, and dungeon ambience soundtracks. The common trend there is it’s all player facing, and encourages ”asset creation” at the expense real GM material. You can do both if you have the time and resources, but many will make the player map and call it good enough for the GM, despite its different purpose (info-graphic vs. eye candy).

  2. Prince says:

    A pity. Someone who honestly tries to push the boundaries of B/X should be encouraged. I don’t know where they would face the Baboon king but even a very tough single monster without spellike abilities can get dissassembled pretty quickly at higher levels. A Confusion or even a Web spell is enough to cripple them.

    Sounds like an Alphonso Warden adventure.

  3. Stripe says:

    I’m not going to bother downloading a preview, but this sounds like AI output. The cover art looks like AI output as well. :-/

    • A Nony Mouse says:

      The cover art is great. And if it’s AI, artists should be scared. The cover layout itself is bleh, but that baboon is wonderful.

    • AB Andy says:

      You can tell by the hands mostly that this is not an AI image. AI will always mess up fingers and such. Now, if they used AI to generate the general proportions, stance etc and then drew it themselves, it would be a very acceptable use for AI in my opinion.

      • Anonymous says:

        “AI will always mess up fingers and such.” AI will be fingering ur gf in 2 years

      • SargonTheOK says:

        Nope, still AI. You can tell by the noodly “thumb” on the baboon’s left hand. Midjourney is also credited in the preview.

        I agree with you that it’s a powerful tool for drafts, sketches, visualization, and briefs to send to a real artist.

        • AB Andy says:

          Ah ops, idiot here. Talked about the fingers and didn’t see the thumb that looks like soft noodles.

          About the other point, it really is how it should be used. Not as a copy paste cover art.

  4. Artem the Centaur Conqueror says:

    Baboons are cool. IIRC, Demogorgon already had two baboon heads in his 1e incarnations. In fact, you could reimagine the Baboon King as Demogorgon’s servant or whatnot.

    I respect what Armored Storyteller are going for. They are clearly trying to recreate a certain old-school adventure archetype (Gothic horror with Horsemen of Reinhorn, Indiana Jones pulp adventure with this). But yes, the execution is all over the place, and a 24-room LINEAR dungeon? That’s sad.

    • Anonymous says:

      “I respect what Armored Storyteller are going for. ”

      Pumping AI sewage into the OSR stream for money?

      • Bucaramanga says:

        For money? Golly, you can earn DOZENS of dollars a YEAR publishing modules, probably hundreds if you do this shit full-time, but you would be still better off flipping burgers.

        • Anonymous says:

          The point in churning out AI garbage as fast as possible is to increase the time/profit margin. That’s why it should be called out for what it is, a grift for money.

  5. Eric says:

    Did you notice that each of their products on drivethruRPG has two 5-star ratings but no written reviews?

  6. Bailey says:

    Eyrie of the Dread Eye got The Best, deservedly, so high level B/X can be done, but is strangely thin on the ground. And Eyrie is nominally for ACKS, another B/X clone so easily converted, but OSE fans may not find it. I’m continually surprised by how many people treat their favorite clone as an independent stand-alone game.

  7. rekalgelos says:

    Midjourney credited? if so this falls into the “quit the hobby before buying” category.

  8. JB says:

    “How the fuck do you make a level eight D&D adventure boring?”

    I’ll take that a step further: how do you make an adventure titled TOMB OF THE BABOON KING boring? Sorry, Bryce, but baboons are fucking terrifying. This adventure should be terrific, based on theme alone.

    Instead, it’s just the usual garbage. *sigh*

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