The Rot Beneath Winterbrook

By Stuart Watkinson
Level ?

Something doesn’t smell right… Civilisations rise and fall and the bones of heroes turn to dust. In a time before written words, when power was the only currency,  something wretched was killed on the banks of the river. It sank into the mud and festered. Even the most cautious of travellers seek to rest their weary heads from time to time. Their sore, tired feet enter the cold, quiet riverside village expecting to find rustic hospitality but are left wanting. There is rot under Winterbrook.

This 32 page digest adventure is another sandboxy village thing. Less obvious than the last one, it’s 32 pages for what should be a one page adventure, given the content presented. It’s not overly bad, but it also doesn’t need more than page. At least it’s not the fucking well that’s poisoned this time …

Yes, I now judge things based on page count. Or, rather. How well you can bring an idea to life beyond a simple synopsis. Putrid necromancer corpse under village mutates worms in tunnels that drives villagers in to mad cannibals. Situation made worse by the local well meaning zealot cleric and her followers, who have a real “drink and eat the burnt dead” thing going on.

Ok, make your own adventure from that. I’ll wait … la la la, la la la. Done? Ok. The blacksmith has a daughter that makes swords. The local militia leader has one eye and some history books. There are “sacks” of worms in the tunnels that can burst open in to worm swarms, as well as larger, 2HD worms. The final room in the tunnels is kind of alive and can squeeze the party, blood gushing out, worm sacks breaking and so on. Ok. That’s the extra detail that this adventure provides that is kind of meaningful. Everything else is trivia.

And I am seriously NOT going out of my way to cherry pick here. Night one the villagers eat a stew with the ashes of dead people in it and on night two they breathe in the smoke from a funeral pyre. Night three they kill a crazed cannibal in a basement ritual. That’s it. That’s all the extra you are getting. Cannibals? Fun with them? Nope. They are all locked away. Fun villagers? A good mob situation? Nope. Just a table with six randos on it. 

AT first I thought we were getting a good Black Mass thing going on. A crazed priest. A zealot layperson. A village that wants to believe. But, nope, you’re brining all of that yourself. There are hints of it, but nothing more than that. And a lot of “This person will believe any side that makes a good case …” Is there anything ON that good case? Anything to help the priest run as an opposing faction? No.

I’m not even sure how this adventure gets going. You’re in the village. Sure. You stay a night? Sure. The villagers eat the communal stew that night. It’s not until night two that they burn a body and breathe in the smoke, and someone asks for help. Why the fuck is the party still in the village pas night one? Look, I am be handwavey with a lot of stuff, but you’re clearly trying to do a build up thing here, but you’ve got to find a way to keep the party actually in the village past a single night of rest if you want to actually have a build up. And there’s no reason for them to in this one.

There is an off-hand comment that, if the party just go on their way or don’t do anything, then things go bad in the village and it influences what people say about the region in the future, and for the DM to introduce that in their game. That’s good DM advice, regardless. Make he world real by tossing in exploits, or lack thereof, tha the party has been around. 

So, it’s an adventure, I guess, because it says its one. It takes 32 pages to cover what I put in a couple of sentences. Maybe a paragraph. That sounds like a one-pager, at best. The rest of the information provided doesn’t really add to the adventure at all, not in any way that is meaningful. To quote, again, the Kitch Example, you have to tell us why this kitchen is different. Why is it meaningful that it is different from any other kitchen in the world? 

Oh, and there’s no real treasure. And the magic book you find, the Book of a Thousand Deaths, gets no real description. Not physically, or not what it might contain. LAME! LAME! Lame! Lame! LAME! Ten fucking dollars my ass …

This is $10 at DriveThru. The preview is seven rando pages. Good idea for variety. But, art and map heavy, which limits the utility of he preview. That Temple of he All Seeing is ok,  doesn’t overstay, but also says nothing of meaning since this is the SECOND time we get all of this information, after the NPC entries tell us the same thing. WHich is par for this adventure.–A-system-agnostic-adventure-module?1892600

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5 Responses to The Rot Beneath Winterbrook

  1. Bucaramanga says:

    >>>Yes, I now judge things based on page count

    This is it. MUCHO TEXTO has finally broken Old Man Bryce.

  2. Kubo says:

    I don’t know how Bryce can keep reading this stuff and still make the reviews interesting and fun to read. So many writers introduced to the game maybe 3 to 5 years ago and maybe never ran a RPG with players pumping out the same old ideas and thinking it’s novel. Add to it the weakness of their writing skill and poor use of AI, you have an RPG wasteland of mediocrity to wade through to find a gem.

    • Stripe says:

      This is why I signed up to Patreon a few years ago; just so I could toss $2 in the tip jar. I’ve never used it before or since. I just let it go.

  3. Joe M says:

    This “adventure” is a waste of money. The only good things are the cover and the village map. Otherwise, it’s generic tripe with zero editing. I got it from the Exalted Funeral website, and they’d do well to remove it.

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