Parlour Tricks

By Daniel Herz
Stromberg Press
Levels 1-3

Zolberg the magician runs a small discreet tavern called The Silver Globe. With the use of a magic item, he charms the unfortunate patrons to stay and suffer through his magic show, day after day.

This four page adventure describes a tavern with nine rooms. More location than adventure, it has no idea how to do what it wants to do: be an adventure.

Zolberg runs a mundane magic  show at a little tavern he owns. It’s a really bad show. But it feeds his ego. So uses a Gem Of Control to poison the ale. It forces people to stay and enjoy the show. When he’s done with them he kills them and put them to rot and be eaten by a green slime in his basement. He’s got a couple of thugs in the bar, also, to keep order. That’s the adventure. That’s all of the adventure. There are not events. It’s just a nine room room/key. The party drinks the ale and stays in the bar, watching the show, or they don’t and, presumably, do something about the show. It has exactly one interesting thing in it: there’s a red disco ball over the stage … a red herring for the party. 

The bar has nine or so NPC’s in it. One of them, the miller, has the following description: “The miller. His wife believes him to have abandoned the family but his son doesn’t believe it.” None of that is from the millers perspective. It’s what people OUTSIDE the tavern think. It’s not gonna have any outcome on the adventure. Maybe you can riff on it. But, the other descriptions for the NPCs are generally as weak as this. 

The entire adventure centers on this gem of control in an ale keg. It turns the ale in to potions of human control. Like, 192 doses a day of human control! This is an absurd magic item to put in the parties control. Further, the description of the potion, that it lasts two hours, as given in the appendix to the adventure, kind of contradicts the adventure plot as a whole … what happens when it wears off? It doesn’t make sense. Or, even better … the only actual mention of kegs in the adventure is in the kitchen. Mixed in to its description It says “A collection of large beer kegs sits in the southern corner.” That’s it. The main focal point, the gem and the ale, is not even really mentioned in the adventure!

The magic show? The one that runs three times a night? Another focus of the adventure? He does popular tricks like pulling a rabbit from a hat or sawing a lady in half. I think it’s a one sentence description and nothing more. There’s no interactivity here. There’s nothing for a DM to riff off of.

This thing is a fucking mess. I wouldn’t even call it an adventure. It’s the description of a tavern with a magic show. It’s like you took one location, a tavern, in one city supplement, and then took one NPC from that tavern and tried to expand the entire thing in to one adventure. I can’t possibly see how this thing could last more than … ninety minutes? At best?

This is Pay What You Want at DriveThru with a suggested price of $1.

That was short. Bleech.

There’s a one pager on DriveThru called Frans Cave. Here’s the description for room three: “Lower Chamber: The north entrance to the cave leads to a large chamber that slightly descends into the earth. It’s cold and wet, yet due to its large size there’s not a lot trouble moving around. There’s various candles lighting the chamber (and the rest of the cave).

Terrible description. Mostly filler. If we trim the filler we get to Cold & wet with various lit candles. I’d work that concept and try to make it more evocative.

Bonus #2!

The Heart of St Bathus (OSE) by Frog God. No page count listed in the DriveThru description. Also, NO ACTUAL DESCRIPTION in the DriveThru description. A new low from the Frogs? They do not give a fuck and only want your money.

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10 Responses to Parlour Tricks

  1. Anonymous says:

    Ref. Bathus: it is very much like Vault of Larin Karr. I really like it. But it is horribly edited. Walls of text. Monsters hidden in paragraphs. It is horribly presented. Aesthetics are ghastly (have been for few releases now). FGG managed to get even worse with their production values. Kenower deserved better.

  2. John Paquette says:

    I gave up on the frogs a while ago.

  3. Bailey says:

    “With the use of a magic item, he charms the unfortunate patrons to stay and suffer through his magic show, day after day.”

    I like this. Very much the use someone, somewhere would put a Charm Person spell or item to.

    “Then he kills them and disposes of the bodies.”

    Right there it goes wrong. Its a way of dodging dealing with the original premise. You’re stuck in a Hotel California lounge act, now what? Kill him, upstage him and show him how its done, help him fix his act so he can let people go and still get new customers?

    There’s probably a way to write that. You’d need a detailed yet concise writeup of the Magician, plus some of the other audience, plus the magicians pretty assistant, or perhaps the behind the behind the scenes Igor figure. Have to give the players something to work with, as much as the GM.

  4. Vorshal says:

    So rename the tavern the Ostrich Inn in the 17th century, and the magician is name John jarmen

  5. Daniel says:

    Thanks for the review, even if you didn’t much like it!
    This is an adventure site designed for a single session of play, something to throw at your players when you need something to fill a single session (perhaps even 90 minutes). There are no story events, such things should be generated through play rather than specified in the text in my opinion.

    Regarding the statement “he kills them and put them to rot and be eaten by a green slime in his basement”: this only occurs to patrons who expire during the performance, Zolberg is only interested in performing his magnificent show, his thugs deal with such unpleasantness. So in answer to Bailey’s comments of how to resolve the scenario: “Kill him, upstage him and show him how its done etc.”, these are all possible resolutions to the encounter.
    Still, I have noted all criticisms, and I hope future releases will be better received.

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