Dead Man’s Bounty

By Ben Thompson
99c Adventures
OSR ... and 5e ...
Level 3

Deep in the unforgiving bayous of Chaumont, a weathered journal found among the bones of a long-forgotten officer hints at solving a tantalizing, decades-old mystery — the final fate of the notorious Bloodsail Rovers. The lost treasure of these cruel pirates was rumored to be immense… but perhaps some ghosts are best left undisturbed. Twenty years ago, a vicious group of pirates known as the Bloodsail Rovers terrorized the coasts and inlets of the Kingdom of Chaumont. Under the command of the fearsome Captain Jacques de la Rouge Beausoleil, these pirates earned their fame with the daring capture of the royal galleon Navarette, which at the time was carrying a huge payload of gold and gems from the Frontierlands… as well as a mysterious artifact imbued with powerful dark magic. The Bloodsail Rovers disappeared from history not long after capturing the Navarette, and were never heard from again. No coins from the galleon’s treasure hold were ever recovered, leading to wild speculations ranging from deadly sea monster attacks to buried treasure hoards on remote desert islands. Perhaps there was no Navarette at all, and the entire thing was just an old fisherman’s tale, made up to fill childrens’ imaginations with dreams of fantastical wealth. Our heroes are about to discover the truth.

His 62 page adventure features a ruined swamp fort with nineteen rooms. Long italics, overwritten DM text. First person narrative. Mary Sue. It’s all in here, waiting for you. To mourn the death of modern world. Down progress and up the wild tyrannies of barbarism!

Ohs Nos! Pirates! Better go get em! Or, maybe, you find a coin from a long lost pirate treasure. Anyway, you travel through the swamp to a little town. Inside you pick up Mary Sue and go to an abandoned fort five days away. Grrr! Bugbear pirates! Better kill em! Ohs Nos! Then a pirate skeleton comes to life and attacks! Yeah! Adventure! 

This resembles the late 1e and 2e era, with massive amounts of DMs text and a loose plot line to hang shit off of. As you travel towards the swamp town you see a rowboat sailoverhead, full of skeletons. Turns out there’s a necromancer and a swamp giant fighting in the swamp up ahead, on the way to the town. I guess he lives, like, 80 feet from the town? There’s no scale on the map. Anyway, whatever, there are eight or so encounters on the way to the town, the majority somehow related to this necromancer/giant fight. No doubt because “a rowboat in the sky full of skeletons!” would be cool. 

Inside the town you get attacked by the local tough. Your group of level threes is attacked by the local tough. Your group of level threes.  It is at this point that the text reminds the DM to remind the players that killing people in the streets is illegal in this town. Uh huh. In a dark alley. Behind the inn. With that being the only real building in town. Uh huh. Don’t worry though, the Mary Sue show sup to save you. A LONG text block describes the bard in the inn and how everyone masturbates over him. He’s a level six illusionist. A level six. Hanging out in the inn. SInging like a bard. Saving your ass. And ready to join your party! So, yeah, the Mary Sue is coming along! How fun for all the players! 

The text, both the read-aloud AND the DM text, are in first person. “You pick your way through the swamp …” or “He’s the leader of the group that’s going to try and beat you up in section 2-2 …” or “He tells you that the guild …” This is so fucking basic, in terms of adventure writing, that it is beyond me how it still shows up in 2023. Oh, the read-aloud. The LONG read-aloud. That no one will pay attention to. That is in italics, so it’s hard to fucking read. That’s full of “it appears to be” padded out shit. And that goes for the DM text also. Full of appears to be. And long. LOoooooonnngggggg. Like, two pages for a simple encounter long. “What appears to be a lone man … You mean, a lone man?

You want some XP? How about 750gp worth of it. That’s your loot.

This thing is just garbage, front to back. 63 pages for twenty encounters in the dungeon. Fucking christ. It amazes me that people do this shit. Put together a whole adventure. Manage to get it all down on paper. Make it look like one of those fancy pants formats and even stick some fucking art in it. But there is no attempt to actually figure out how to do it well. How to avoid the most common mistakes. It’s the same shit now for forty fucking years. Pople thinking this is how you do it. 

This is $1 at DriveThru. You get to see the first seven pages, which includes the first few wilderness encounters on the way to the town. So, you do get to see the quality of the writing. Good preview.

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8 Responses to Dead Man’s Bounty

  1. AB Andy says:

    You have reviewed another from them.

    Anxiously awaiting LC3, where they will have learned nothing from their mistakes.

    • Knutz Deep says:

      Is it truly not learning from mistakes or could it be simply that this is the type of content they want to release? I do ask myself these questions.

      For this publisher, I have no idea which it is and I am certainly not defending what is clearly a subpar adventure but not everyone subscribes to Bryce’s ideas of adventure design.

      • AB Andy says:

        It’s a good point. After all, many of us who frequent here may disagree with a few of Bryce’s standards. So I guess it could certainly be that this (or any other) designer simply think that this is the way an adventure should be written.

        Having said that, Bryce often rates adventures highly even though they might contradict some of his standards. For example his demon bone sarcophagus was a no regrets, although extremely text heavy and with some questionable design choices. So at the end of the day, I like to think that he reviews an adventure for what it is (in his opinion), and not by wether or not they check box his standards.

  2. The Heretic says:

    On the bright side, they’re not trying to charge $15 for this adventure.

  3. Edgewise says:

    There’s a right way and a wrong way to use AI generated art. This cover demonstrates the latter. At least, I hope so…I hate to think that a human drew that “skull.”

  4. Max says:

    > The text, both the read-aloud AND the DM text, are in first person. “You pick your way through the swamp …” or “He’s the leader of the group that’s going to try and beat you up in section 2-2 …” or “He tells you that the guild …”

    “I, me, my, mine, myself, we, our, ours, ourselves — First person

    You, your, yours, yourself — Second person

    She, her, hers, herself, he, him, his, himself, they, them, themselves, their, theirs — Third person”

    Is there noone here who knows what first person is?

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