The Crimson Monastery

Sebastian Grabne
Dawnfist Games
Adventurous RPG

The adventure takes place in the Shaded Valley, where the village of Lakeview is located. The Crimson Crusade is a fanatical religious order that have recently arrived in the valley, and made an old monastery their home. At first they kept to themselves, but about a month ago they started to violently interrogate the locals, suspecting them all to be undead in disguise. Which is of course false.

While looking through things to review I came across a lot of “trouble in my community” shit. Ala Yor First Gamma World adventure. What is it with my community? Next thing you know my mom is gonna get kidnapped/murdered off screen, as an inciting incident. Pfft. Anyway, this one don’t do that, which is why I’m reviewing this one …

This 32 page adventure presents, in eleven pages, a small region with a few things going on. It’s got some good ideas  but fails to execute any of them with enough life to make a solid impact. 

We got this valley. It’s got this small village in it. They herd a lot of goats. Some crusaders showed up and have started being rough and interrogating people. Recruiting/investigating. Also, a wyvern has been eating goats. Also, there’s this trading post about a days walk away. Also, there’s this hidden tomb somewhere in the valley. These are the major points of a small sandboxy regions for the party to explore. It starts with the party seeing the end/march out of the order from the village and the gossip of the villagers. WHich might include the local worthy bitching about his goats. And can include some clues to the lost tomb. Also, people gone missing, you could get hired on to do that, or escort some folk to the trading post. You can even go visit the newly arrived religious order, in the Crimson Monastery, and they can ask you to look in to some of THEIR missing men … yet another wyvern incident. So, you can talk to a lot of people and there are clues in the wilderness to certain things, brought up by the wandering table, people to talk to, and so on. 

There are some decent ideas here. The idea of the inquisition in town. Or, perhaps, a freelance inquisition. That’s fun. Some low level violence with the threats of ULTRA violence. That’s pretty chill. The  entire idea of a small region, with things going on … I mean that’s the classic regional setup. Up to and including being able to talk to the inquisition and maybe do some missions for them without actually joining … with some subtle and not so subtle pressure on them to join up. You even, in the lost tomb, have some skeletons, reanimated without consent, screaming DESTROY ME as they attack. That’s fucking brilliant! 

But, also, it’s all missing. All of it. It’s just … missing.

So, what do I mean by that? The concepts introduced are a little clumsy and not followed through on. They are almost abstracted. Not quite, but pretty close to that. The undead, for example, the skeletons. They scream DESTROY ME!! Does that sound right to you ? Destroy? Maybe, Kill me? Maybe pleading? Maybe regrets about the people they left behind, or things left undone or some such? The pain of it all is just too much? No? Just DESTROY ME? 

And you need to hold on to that DESTROY ME, because the same thing is going to happen in about a dozen other places in this adventure. I get that may be enough for you. I don’t think it is. I think it is, at best, cumbersome. Maybe more clumsy than Orcs Shooting Knucklebones as a room description, since I think the word choice is off. But, that same thing happens all over this thing. It’s almost abstracted. 

One of the quests is something like the religions orders patrol gone missing. Little to no clues. But, in the wyvern lair we’re told: “Among the waste the PCs will find evidence that the missing patrol was killed and eaten by the wyvern, see “Missing patrol” on page 7” Hmmm, that’s a little anticlimactic, yeah? “Evidence the missing patrol was killed” That’s a conclusion. A classic conclusion. And an d adventure should not work in conclusions. It should work in evocative descriptions that allows the players to draw conclusions for their characters. One room tells us that “Multiple chains are attached to the western wall, used to restrain Snowmane’s victims as she experiment on them.” Well now that’s not really the chamber of horrors of an inquisition, is it? You gotta work, really work, to bring that to life and make the connections you need to get yourself some viscera on the floor, bloodcrust, the implements, etc. This follows for the NPC descriptions as well. While nicely summarized, with wants, goals, and secrets, they come off a little abstracted and conclusion rather than actionable. 

The formatting is mostly right. There is weirdness here as well. An overreliance on bullets for meaningless information and a need to indent here and there to call out sub-information. For the cultists/templars/whatever they are … do you bury the fact that they veins are all bright red and stand out at a distance? Or do you kind of lead with that? I should think one would lead, instead of burying it. The map of the cathedral is more of a dungeon map. Yadda yadda yadda. 

But, none of those are too major. The kind of abstracted descriptions are … and the lack of proper motivations for an adventure. It comes off a little MERP adventure, as in here’s a site and then a paragraph about how to have an adventure there. It’s not quite that, but it’s still closer to that side of the spectrum then I think can make a good adventure. 

This is $3 at DriveThru. The preview is eight pages. You get to see the town on pages seven and eight, along with the NPC’s. The town and NPC”s are both pretty well done, but missing that extra ACTIONABLE and STICKY stuff … although the town information is almost correct.

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6 Responses to The Crimson Monastery

  1. Gnarley Bones says:

    System neutral, check.
    No suggested PC levels, check.
    No playtesters, check.

    The hat-trick of shovelware.

  2. Anonymous says:

    Isn’t that just the Scarlet Monastery from Vanilla World of Warcraft plus wyverns?

    • Anonymous says:

      Absolutely not! It’s crimson.

    • Anonymous says:

      Lacks the interesting drops, connection to setting, and memorable hats but the party is less likely to be corpse camped by level 60 Alliance players roleplaying genocidal freaks right as you leave.

      • The Heretic says:

        The “interesting drops” part is somewhat questionable. I suppose maybe the Chain of the Scarlet Crusade might be cool as transmog gear.

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