Into the Caves of the Pestilent Abomination

By Marcelo P Augusto
Giallo Games
Levels 1-2

Something evil and cruel has been terrorizing the peaceful villagers of Woodsmen Village. Who will be the brave adventurers to discover the source of this evil and restore peace to the land?

Thi 24 page adventure features a cave with twelve rooms. It is 2023 and OSR adventures continue to be terrible. Including this one.

Ok, I Just typed up a long paragraph that I decided was a harsh personal attack on the designer. So I deleted it. Instead, I poured myself a drink (9:23! I’m doing better!) and am going to write the normal boring ass review of a normal dreadful adventure. But, man, I fucking went there. Cause this dude doesn’t deserve that. It’s not a rip off adventure. It’s just a dude doing his best. Like, you’re having open heart surgery by a dude that saw a cartoon yesterday that had a beating heart in it and now, today, you’re going under the knife.

The dungeon starts on page fifteen. Up until then we get a village description, or, rather, the village backstory description, as well as a couple of pages on the surrounding wilderness. Everything in this describes, pretty much, this wandering priest who used to be around, who stank a lot. Now there’s sheep heads and slaughtered animals showing up. Best go track him down. 

The village, proper, doesn’t really get much of a description. Nor does it really need one. It starts off with a paragraph describing an idyllic little place. And then it goes on and on and on and on, with backstory mostly and a little “pleasant farmers doing pleasant farmer shit.” Absolutely nothing, beyond that first paragraph, is needed to run this village. We all know what a kitchen looks like. Then there’s what feels like six hundred pages of back story that is kind of disguised as rumours that you can hear. There IS a rumour table, but it’s kind of meaningless. “Ocs in the mountains!” kind of shit. The actual adventure backstory has all of the information that you want to tell the players, integrated in to the adventure. You’re not going to be able to do that, of course, since there’s no way to slog though it all except in real time. It’s all mostly about the stinky priest that used to come around. And a little about the traveling heroes that saved their village once. WHich is why, I guess, everyone is afraid of you when you come in to town. Because wandering heroes saved them once and they still venerate tem and remember them and now they are afraid of all wandering heroes. I’d love it if this shit made sense, but it don’t. 

Ok, so, there’s a wilderness map. It has place son it from the rumour table, like that pass with orcs, and where the last sheep head was found and shit like that. They get no descriptions. While the locations are keyed, on the map, there are no descriptions of any of the locales. There’s a short wandering monster table, in case you want to meet “deer” or “1d6 wolves.” Have fun. You need to wander in to the swamp, where you will find tracks that lead to a small mound with a cave entrance in it. 

Great! You’re at the cave. Enjoy such room titles as Tunnel 1 and Cave 2 and Citrine Cave 3. You’ll find a map with about twelve rooms on it. And no grid. Why no grid? Why was that the decision you made?  Have ya played D&D before? You know we need a map grid, right? I mean, yes, you did put on a, like a line that says 1” equals ten feet … but that don’t cut it.

You can then enjoy many confused and overly long descriptions that repeat things form the map and need better evocative writing. You will find a +1 dagger, a cursed necklace, and, I don’t know, 100gp in treasure. Again, have you played D&D before? You know that gold equals XP? No? 

Oh, after all that lead up to the stinky priest, in this stinky cave, it turns out that the priest is long dead. All of that foreshadowing is worthless. It’s actually a stinky troll in the last room. A troll. At level one. You have fucking fun with that, yeah?

There are a couple of decent encounter ideas in this. A spider crab thing lurking under the water outside of the cave entrance in the swamp. Always a fun encounter! Some quicksand in an otherwise flooded cave … that’s a nice little combo that can bring some life to an otherwise staid encounter type. 

Otherwise it’s nothing but repetition, boring words, and abstraction. Houses in town are decorated with various allegories like pumpkins and candles in the windows. Fucking great. DESCRIBE it. Make us FEEL it. Don’t fucking abstract a key component of the adventure.

This is just junk. A step backwards in OSR design, in many ways, from the slightly better terrible offerings generally showing up these days. 

This is $2.50 at DriveThru. The preview is six pages, the first six, so you get about two pages of actual text … and I’m being generous in that. Just imagine that everything int he adventure is like that and you’ll get an idea of it.

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13 Responses to Into the Caves of the Pestilent Abomination

  1. Andy says:

    “Like, you’re having open heart surgery by a dude that saw a cartoon yesterday that had a beating heart in it and now, today, you’re going under the knife.”

    I’ve actually had open heart surgery, but I was boring and opted for the guy who’d been doing it for 30 years rather than the guy who’s seen a cartoon once. I know, I’m so conventional.

  2. Bucaramanga says:

    I detect an EASL = wordiness issue

  3. Melan says:

    It is not uniquely terrible, but it is platonically terrible. Sort of an ur-example of bad low-level adventures.

  4. Imbangala says:

    It makes shock to me that you do not like the cave. It is a cave where boy must become a man. You are one time correct that the village is bad and bad

  5. Anonymous says:

    Another brazilian shitshow. Who would have thought…

    • Bucaramanga says:

      They are still living in the era of the D&D cartoon show…

      • King Arthur says:

        If only. D&D Cartoon was in the golden age. My dear compatriots learned to play D&D as a storygame in the 90’s and that limited their possibilities.

    • King Arthur says:

      Embracing minimalism and shitty art like the pinnacle of Old School. As always, the worst currents of any gringo wave are the ones that get here first, adding to the innate practical ineptitude of the brave people

  6. Anonymous says:

    These people are masochistic of just don’t read this blog (or any good OSR blog, for that matter). I’m thinking more of the latter. It’s impossible to not know how the things will turn out. Go read more and playtest (for real) your shit, people.

  7. Anonymous says:

    Is the bar higher for low level adventures?

    A question of volume, ease or tools/ knowledge

  8. Hi Bryce,
    Thanks for time and words… all of them. Some lessons to be learned on relevant issues pointed out.

  9. D.M. Ritzlin says:

    G1? Didn’t some other adventure already use that product code?

  10. Anonymous says:

    Hummm… believe that a strinking elfish speaking spell casting troll for a bunch of 1st level is truely a pretty decent challenge.

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