Castle Brookmere

By Roderic Waibel
Izegrim Creations
Level 2

Rediscover a classic story, converted to an adventure for your enjoyment! Castle Brookmere converts the old Return To Brookmere book into a playable adventure with added areas to truly flesh out an adventure.

This 22 page adventure fleshes out the Endless Quest book with a total of 35 rooms (in eight pages) on a dungeon level as well as a token wilderness area. It’s got that non-traditional whimsy that comes from an outsider to the hobby. And it’s descriptions are abstracted to a degree that makes it relatively useless. 

Yes, it’s based on the Endless Quest book. And it’s got a little three or so page description in the front of the process and history of them, as well as quite the long section, a life history of sorts, of Rose Estes, the author of the original books. If you were SUPER in to these books then that might be worth it. For most of us though it’s not gonna be worth the $5 to just read that section.

I don’t remember much, if anything, from the Endless Quest book. There is, though, a sense of whimsy, but dangerous, and a non-traditional approach to the fantasy in this. And I assume a lot of that comes from the original book. A doorway to nowhere that turns you in to a kind of firefly trapped within? Absolutely, that’s the kind of thing you don’t typically see. And the ever popular giant crystal in front of a wizard that then crumbles? Yup! It’s these points in the adventure, when we encounter things not out of Tolkein or the last forty years of D&D, in which the wonder and delight of the game, fresh and new, shine through again. No de-rigueur. THe gnoll who hates killing and two guards passing out drunk. Ogre twins, and the ending with Fang the wererat. These all feel wonderful … is a little scripted when talking about Fang. And they certainly bring to the forefront the situation … and ol Brycey Bryce LOVES a situation in his adventure. And loves an adventure full of situations. If only there were mof this in the adventure. 

How’s this for whimsy and wonder? “The regional leader has hired the PCs to scout the castle” Hmmm. no. This is abstracted detail. That’s not good.Or, a hook about a reclusive hermit. That’s not much to go on. We want the designer to fill in just enough details to inspire the DM, to bring the thing to life in their head enough that the DMS head fills in the details and it springboards them to other things and it all comes pouring out in a wonderful encounter for the party. Instead we get “a regional leader.” Wonderful.

Likewise, we’re told that “It is recommended that you start the part in a small town or village just off the map” Now, I would been ok, I think, f that had never been mentioned. I wouldn’t have cared at all about a town or village. But once you put it in, and especially once you tell me that its RECOMMENDED that I do it, then the obligation balance falls to you, the designer, to give them three sentences on it. 

The map had one loop and is otherwise linear. The overland journey is … weird? There’s not really a path in, or any seeming rhyme or reason to the locations of the encounters. But, there is a cave with 50 goblins in it? Err, five caves. Anyway. It’s just a forest map with the castle ni the middle and a few other encounters scattered around haphazardly. I really don’t get how this is supposed to be an overland adventure. I guess I might describe it as a hex crawl (with the same sized map) at level two, with a wandering table that doesn’t support that scope, and encounter locations you’ll never find that all have an overwhelming number of enemies in them? It’s fucking weird.

The writing is subpar. “The winding tunnel opens up to a cavern where dozens of varying types of fungi appear to be cultivated in some version of a mushroom farm. Oribius used this area to grow alchemical components for his experiments. One of the dozen types of fungi is deadly poisonous. The creature must succeed on a Saving Throw vs. Poison if ingested or die.”The classic appears to be. And another with the classic if/then statements. We see exclamations and backstory embedded in the description. A description that, at its core, is rather boring. It’s almost, again, like this is cliff notes version of the adventure. Or the script guide version. A placeholder for future expansion. “Yo, put a mushroom garden here.” And entry after entry in this adventure falls in to that pattern of weird abstraction … and yet wordy at the same time. There’s a lack of focus on the intent and purpose of a room, for literally and figuratively in the sense of the role that the room description has during the running of an adventure. 

I don’t know. I like the firefly doorway a whole lot. Even if it a save or die … with no save allowed. But so much of the rest is just devoid of any life, even given the potential of the various situations presented. Bleech.

This is $5 at DriveThru.The preview is six pages. You get to see the overland map. A  very poor preview to help you determine if you want to buy it or not. But, also, you get to read all of that Endless Quest author background detail I mentioned earlier!

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5 Responses to Castle Brookmere

  1. Knutz Deep says:

    Interesting to see someone do what many of us who read these books back in the 80s have been thinking about doing lo these many years. Not necessarily interesting in a good way though. I applaud the attempt. The actualization not so much. I once tried to draw a dungeon map from Pillars of Pentegarn. Maybe I’ll give that another shot.

  2. Sevenbastard says:

    He also did a conversion of Mountain of Mirrors which I had as a kid and loved. You play an elf with a pet giant lynx (no 10 year old can resist). I want to check it out for nostalgia and this “meh” review gives me enough confidence that it’s not great but worth a fiver.

  3. JB says:

    Yeah…what Knutz said. I’ve had the thought a couple times about doing the same with Dungeon of Dread. Brookmere wasn’t one I owned (I owned…and sill own!…several of these books), but I seem to recall this being the only book in which there is an illustration of an “invisible stalker” withOUT its invisibility.

    I might buy this just for the Rose Estes info. She doesn’t get enough praise for her EQ books.

  4. Gnarley Bones says:

    But where is the Revenge of the Rainbow Dragons write-up?

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