Village on the Borderlands

By Mark Taormino
Dark Wizard Games
Levels 1-3

Enjoy those fucking hill giants at level one, you fucking idiots!

The Hamlet of Taldren has been a peaceful settlement for many years, however dark times have fallen upon its denizens. Roving bands of Ogres have been raiding the stockpiles and animal pens in the night! It is believed they answer to a rambunctious giant living in a nearby lush green valley known as the Hill Giant Highlands. There have also been reports of strange animated fungi plant monsters appearing in the Caverns of the Wicked Peaks. Folks have even spotted bandits lurking around the ruins of Sternholm Keep and wandering skeletons in the old cemetary in the Forest of the Fallen Oaks. The villagers have cobbled together a ragtag group of willing adventurers to put an end to these dastardly fiends wherever they spawn. Fame, fortune and glory await those brave souls who can defeat these evil monsters and restore order to the Village on the Borderlands!

This 64 page adventure describes a village and four small dungeons. It represents all that is wrong with the universe and I literally do not give one shit about it. 

Fucking garbage through and through, that’s what this is. A complete insult to every other adventure ever written, the last fifteen years of the internet, and every bit of common sense that should be available to even the most casual fan of Dungeons and Dragons. I hope I die before I wake.

64 pages is what we get. For fifteen fucking dollars. Fifteen dollars. I’m not usually one to bitch about price, but it’s this kind of shit that gives moderately priced supplements a bad name. Why the fuck would I ever spend even five dollars on something if this is the kind of quality I can expect to get from it? Why not just pirate the fucking thing since it’s going to be garbage anyway. Sure, tell yourself you’ll pay for it if its good, whatever gets you through the night. The real issue is that this dude took fifteen dollars from me and gave me this great steaming pile of shit. Why ever buy anything? Just take the shit they shovel down your fucking throat and be fucking happy that they didn’t also kill you when they fucking did it. Expectations. Don’t have any. Ever. Just expect that you are burning your fucking money. If anything else happens then be fucking thrilled about it.

But, of course, the first 36 pages describe the village. An utterly boring village. I’m not even sure how you get to 36 pages describing a village. Oh, wait, I know, you describe fifteen farmers hovels. All idyllic. All with chicken and all french country kitchen and tuscan kitchen. No, don’t get your fucking hopes up, the descriptions aren’t that good. Oh, they are long as all fuck. Long, overlong, read-aloud. And long DM text. Paragraphs. Long ones. With lots and lots and lots of bolding. Of Entire sentences. Multiples sentences at a time. Half of a long paragraph bolded. Whats the fucking point of doing this? You’re calling attention to what exactly? That there’s a jar of pepper on the shelf? It’s a fucking abomination. Theres NOTHING going on in this place. NOTHING. Take this, one small snippet from an overly long DM text that happens after an overly long read-aloud about Yet Another Farmers Hovel “He is looking for extra money so he may offer to sell the PCs his Potion of Water Breathing for a reasonable price (GMs discretion). His wife is dressed in a modest, but well-kept dress that hints at elegance despite its simplicity and her blonde hair is tied back in a neat bun” You could have fucking done something with that. But, nope, nothing. The highlight is a druid that is blind. If you steal from him it’s a “moral challenge”, but, also, he’s got 400pp in a chest along with a +3 dagger and a necklace of prayer beads, along with other goodies. Moral test indeed! And these ARE the highlights, by far, so don’t go fucking telling yourself that you can handle something with that kind of content. 

Oh, oh, all of the read-aloud is in second person. Everything. EVERYTHING. Second person. “

As you survey the area you can’t help but wonder what other dangers and mysteries this valley holds” Pardon me while I throw up in my mouth from the hackneyed writing and then throw up again from the second person writing. 

And this extends to the writing in the dungeons. Fucking railroaded encounters. Oh, no, not that kind. Oh no it’s the absolute worst kind. After suffering through a long read-aloud about a throne room in a cave it ends with the figure on the trone standing up and saying “My blade and I have been waiting for you.”  If you stumble upon some ogres in the hill giant caves then one of the read-alouds ends with “The one with the club drunkenly grumbles about him cheating as he turns around and notices your party. He speaks in Common, “Any of you want to play Knucklebones with me… hiccup?” So fuck you and fuck your stealth. Fuck your invisibility. Fuck your wizard eye and gaseous form. Fuck everything you, as a player, do. Fucking railroaded second person read-aloud. I thought I had seen everything but this is surely a new low in adventure design. 

Page long read-aloud. Quarter page read-aloud. That throne room? The art above the room entry shows a skeleton dude on a throne. Turns out though that it’s just a normal human dude. Perfect. The art is not just not contributing to the adventure it is actually working against comprehension. Just the fuck what I want in an D&D adventure. 

It’s all fucking garbage. The village. The dungeons. All trash. Second person. Too long read-aloud. Too long DM text. Bolding EVERYWHERE to the point it actually causes more confusion than not using it. Boring ass dungeon full of stabbing things and a few traps. “Use DMs discretion” advice everywhere. 

This thing can go fuck itself. FIfteen fucking dollars. Fuck you man. Fuck You. Dark Wizard Games needs to get a lot smarter a lot faster.

This is $15 at DriveThru. The preview is ten pages. Check ou preview page five/real page three for an idea of the bolding issues, but, imagine MORE bolding.

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13 Responses to Village on the Borderlands

  1. Bucaramanga says:

    No The Worst EVAR? NioMy Life is a Living Fucking Hell?

  2. Skull of Vecna says:

    Bryce, it was good of you to give Mark Taormino and Dark Wizard Games yet another chance to see if there was any improvement in module quality – unfortunately there is clearly no improvement! Mark and Dark Wizard Games go do your homework by reading and running a number of adventures from Bryce’s The Best list!

  3. Sevenbastard says:

    Looks like it made $33k on Kickstarter. This dude has found an audience or at least can market his adventures.

  4. Anonymous says:

    Does level 1-3 mean start at 1 end at 3, or that it works for a mix of PCs between levels 1 to 3? Not that it makes much difference against giants… just curious.

  5. squeen says:

    Wait. $33K? How is that possible? Who is the audience (in a super-saturated RPG adventure market) that is clamoring for this?

    Is the writer a celebrity? WTF?

    • AB Andy says:

      I think (from quickly scrolling through the campaign), that the premise was that the village is going to be a dynamic and lively locale. I guess people liked the idea. Slap some old school art to go with it and raise 33k.

    • SargonTheOK says:

      Step 1: drop the word “Borderlands” in your product title.
      Step 2: have some old-school art ready.
      Step 3: exploit grognard nostalgia.
      Step 4: ???? (Normally, produce good module, but let’s be honest, that’s optional.)
      Step 5: Profit!

      • Skull of Vecna says:

        Step 4.5: Pray to the D&D gods that the nostalgic grognards DO NOT search for reviews of your previous modules by either Bryce, Prince or Melan!

    • rekalgelos says:

      “Is the writer a celebrity? WTF?”

      ummmm… yes actually…. he is an actor (shorts and music videos mostly) who has worked with Keisha, Lil Wayne, and Jenna Jameson to name a few. He has a Hollywood following and is a bit of a jack-of-all-trades. He targets people who want old school trappings and things that “aren’t politically correct” so the audience of grognards is already built in.

  6. Gnarley Bones says:

    But Bryce, the module comes with 16 recipes!

    Good heavens.

  7. rekalgelos says:

    If you do want what is the best of Mark’s products…I highly recommend
    Monsters of Mayhem #1. It’s pretty darn good. Art and formatting are both really nice.

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