The Drowned Valley of Gorth

By R.P. Davis
Kabouter Games
Level 3?

In a foggy valley high on the knees of The Spine, a ruined castle sleeps half-buried in rancid mud.  A fabulous fortune awaits bold adventurers — if they can survive long enough to keep it!

This 36 page adventure details a dungeon with six rooms in three pages. Of generic garbage. No real design. Abstracted descriptions and much hand waving. And, someone, somewhere, believes this is a good adventure. Astounding.

So, yeah, ruined castle, flooded out when a dam broke, washing away the village, castle, etc. You find some rumors and set off to find it and loot it. The backstory tells us that the castles dungeons were deep. That’s a direct quote. This translates to it having six rooms. Six rooms. Described in three pages. In a 36 page adventure. And it’s got one rating, five stars. I’m sure there’s some kickstarter or something associated with this and/or the publisher. This is, folks, is the way to success. Just cultivate a community. Marketing. Don’t fucking worry about writing something good. You don’t need to do that to make a little cash. 

This piece of shit adventure is full of wisdom. It loves saying things like “We don’t order you to use 6 (or even 1d6) CR 1/4 goblins commanded by a CR 1 hobgoblin. For one thing, that reduces your agency as a GM. For another, it might be deadly for some tables and a pushover for others” Yes, gang, telling us that there are monsters reduces your agency as a DM. I think I’ve fuckign heard everything now. Seriously? You can’t even include a set of fucking monsters? Some fuckwit out there is going to cite some culture war bullshit, but I’m sure this is just a publisher with their head up their ass. Fucking reducing agency. Please. It’s a fucking excuse to not put it in and justify a decision made. Transparent as all fuck. 

In this adventure, after learning about a bunch of rumors about the drowned valley, you are then approached by a wizard, Mael, who wants to hire you to find the place. I can’t stand this shit. WHy can’t the fucking party just go there and loot the fucking place? Why do they have to be hired? It’s not like this is some village fucking farmer without cash that needs all magnificent 7’d. It’s fucking dungeon full of loot. And you want me to go dig out the loot so you can pay me? Excuse me, I’m a middle class wage slave in real life, maybe I don’t have to be one in D&D? Of course, the real reason you are hired is so that you can be betrayed by the wizard at the end of the adventure. You see. Lord Farquad was behind it all after all! And when you come out him and his men attack you to take all fo the loot. That you were hired to go find and given a finders fee for finding. Oh Lareth, your legacy lives on as long as there is a fucking idiot, somewhere, writing nonsense with evil masterminds that just pop out of nowhere for no reason. 

“What gear is available for the adventurers to purchase depends on the urban location in which you set the module’s beginning. In no case will Mael supply the party. Neither will she advance any more coin than she’s already paid them. They’ll need to use their own funds, cunning, and player expertise to equip themselves.” Are you starting to understand, now, how we’re getting to 36 pages in this adventure? It just explained to us that the party could go adventuring if they wanted to and were so inclined. 

Let’s see here … the overland journey is abstracted. Well, if you’re playing OSR it tells you to roll a couple of times. If you’re New School or 5e it just abstracts the journey in to a skill challenge, ala 4e, and say something like “ Each adventurer arrives having already taken damage from accidents, encounters, and environmental effects.” I guess the journey isn’t the destination after all, at least for Kabouter Games. 

Let’s see … the front door to the place is two pages long. That’s longer than most Grimtooth shit, isn’t it? For a simple 600 pound door? Uh huh. Once inside we are met with such dazzling descriptions as “Stone columns march down both sides of the room. Hovering in midair in the center of the room, magically suspended in a beam of brilliant silvery light, is a gilded key of

intricate design.” Ok, so, not exactly terrible. A little sparse, but evocative writing is hard. It doesn’t oover reveal and so on. I’m not mad at it. I’m mad that the actual adventure is only three pages long, but, I’m not mad at the descriptions. 

Great, you made it to room six and found the treasure vault. Money time! “Roll all the dice everyone has. That’s how many gold pieces the adventurers recover from the hoard.” Ok, so, I’m down for the roll every die part. Thats the kind of shit that is going to make the [players giddy. Good gimmick. It’s far, FAR too little treasure though. Maybe multiply by ten, or a hundred, at least. You do know, Kabouter, how XP works in OSR, right? Since you say the adventure is designed for use in the OSR? And you put the logo on your cover? 

At hte end, when youtube out and fight Lareth, you get this tidbit “If combat swings too far against or in favor of the party, Gorth’s dead show up and help you keep things exciting.” So, maybe Kabouter doesn’t exactly know how OSR games work. Or, games in general. Maybethey know how books and Tv work. Bad books and Tv.

There’s more, lots more, like this. This is a six room dungeon with a couple of traps and monsters. Nothing terribly exciting in any way at all. It’s padded the fuck out and full of bad advice. Oh, also, note that there is no drowned valley. Tha’ts abstracted away also. You just get dumped in front of the front door to the place.

This is $5 at DriveThru. The preview is ten pages. You get to see the “hook”, such that it is, and a little of the overland journey. IE: words telling to you roll randomly.

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12 Responses to The Drowned Valley of Gorth

  1. Prince says:

    Now THIS is a properly optimized shovelware merchant, pages and pages of cheap low effort content just enticing enough to easily snag low-information customers, the Dutch VOC mentaliteit in action. Sean F Smith with a work ethic. You love to see it.

    • Glenn says:

      Why cast shade on the VOC? Greedy and rapacious, I’ll grant, but they were as lambs compared to this.

      • Prince says:

        O contraire! I was admiring the entrepeneurship and pioneering spirit on display. The comparison was meant to be flattering, as indeed, all such comparisons must of necessity be.

        You didn’t check the preview, you put down 5$ and now you feel, dare I say it, G E K O L O N I S E E R D. Vrolijk Sinterklaas!

  2. Bailey says:

    Castle/dungeon half-buried in mud is a decent enough concept. Could do something with that in a home game.

    I’ve run a few bare bones, randomly generated dungeons in my home game, just never thought to publish them. The old DMG could use a table of prompts like this to turn the dial up just one notch.

    • Bluecho says:

      Can confirm, because I did exactly that. A town that got buried in a mudslide by secret Elemental Evil Earth cultists, who still operate out of a complex of tunnels in and under the old chapel. I ran it for my siblings whenever we could all get together.

      What I did was lean into the “buried town” bit, and make it a string of mini dungeons. The old buildings were buried, but often still had spaces inside their structures. Connected in some places by cultists, enterprising bandits, or a ghoul that believed the world ended and was rooting around in the dirt for corpses to eat. The party gained access through broken roofs, old wells, or down chimneys or the chapel’s belltower.

      If I had drawn a proper town map (rather than a vague sketch), I might have turned the thick foliage that grew up over the site into the “first dungeon level”. The party following footpaths through the brush.

  3. Melan says:

    Drowned Valley sounds interesting as hell, but it is not featured. Oh-kay. If you roll all the dice among the players, you’ll probably get something you could describe as “a modest amount for a starting-level mudcore game”. All right. 36-page dungeon with six keyed areas? Now we are cooking with gas!

    This is apparently someone who did writing and editing for Wizards of the Coast. So what you have seen here is probably the future of game design, the true successor to the five-room dungeon – the SIX-room dungeon!

    Perhaps shuffling off Mearls to some background department wasn’t the brightest idea they had. Fascinating.

  4. I’m going to shamelessly say, check out my 5e adventure “Six Faces of Death” on DMsGuild! I hope you like it! Stay awesome, I love your writing!

  5. Oldhat says:

    The fact that it talks about CR, and is worried that an encounter might be too easy or too hard, is a smoking gun that this product is 5e masquarading as OSR.

  6. Sparklemtn says:

    The rainbow “OSR FOR ALL” logo is enough me to stay the hell away from a product. It’s the kiss of death knowing I’ll be preached to, told how to do my job as a DM, and then scolded if a player dies because “Death is a tragic end to a character’s journey! Think of the player!”


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