By Idle Cartulary
Self Published

A falling star. Neighbors changed. People missing. Something is amiss in Plum Oleander, and you must uncover the mystery to survive.

This thirty page digest adventure is a muddled mess. It wants to be a subtle power play in a village. It is, though, just a big list of things and ideas.

The designer is trying to a kind of Cult of the Reptile God thing here. At least that’s what they state. You know, snake parasite things slithering inside of people and taking them over and all of that jazz. Complicating things is that the reptile cult, centered around a crashed meteor, landed in a church and the church’s catacombs are coming t life to avenge the sacralidge. So, faction three (normal villagers, cult) is the skeleton avengers of the church. Finally, the kids of the villager are not impacted so they have an alliance with the mole men, who are also subjected by the cult, and are waging a stealth war. This could be pretty cool!

But it’s not.

This is mostly just a long list of things. A long list of places in the village. A long list of entries for some of the buildings (Note that I am not calling these keys.) A long list of people. A long list of treasure that the dm COULD place. And, sometimes, one of the entries in the list has something relevant to the adventure. “Two snakelet-folk. Tossing knucklebones; learning how to have fun” Now see, that’s great! They’ve been taken over and trying to learn how to fit in, all Resident Alien style. Absolutely! 

But what we don’t get is any of that in the village proper. These things are reserved for the four keyed locations. In the village we get a mundane description of a village farmhouse and who lives there and not much else. And those entries are NOT short. They are, in a way charming, in the way that a series booklet might be charming for a series. “Aragon, also called Strider, is the lost heir in hiding.” Well, ok, sure. But it doesn’t really bring us down to earth in a way that is going to drive the adventure forward. We’re looking for the Bree thing, the taproom such. 

Instead what we get is something like this: “Talmage Rawbone, snakeletfolk. Joke-killing, barrel-shaped sheriff. My dreams were all of anger and frustration, always wanting to use my

fists but never submitting. I am free, now” Ok, sure buddy. Or something like “Adult Children. Peace, Raggedy falcon. Sherlock, Ghost drinking a cocktail. Revolution, Thistle, always with an angle.” Hints of a system resource, not well implemented, with form followed but function lost. I don’t know what the fuck I am supposed to do with that shit. I can’t even grok what it’s trying to tell me, as in  what’s the verbs and what’s the nouns. 

The “keys” to the four main sites are exactly the opposite. We’ve got that learning to play knucklebones entry. Or “God-snake idol and kneeling cushions. Coins on the altar. “ or “God-snake idol and kneeling cushions. Coins on the altar. “ Very minimally described. Not exactly evocative. Rather than those giant long entrie the villagers and buildings get, these encounter keys are essentially one liners. And while I’m down for the snake cult members sleeping coiled up on the floor, like snakes, I’m gonna need just a tad more. “Major treasury – Plentiful gold and jewellery for the God-clothier.” just ain’t gonna cut it.

There’s no action here. I’d argue there’s not even any potential energy, in spite of a little war timeline mechanism thing. There’s just a list of people and their allegiances, poorly organized by building, and then nothing to really drive the action. No inciting event. No plots or plans. Thisis the real sin of this adventure. 

And it’s got all the usual shitty hooks. Your mom and dad are incommunicado. A mentor. Caravan guards. Just every bad trope, badly trope. And nonsensical writing, such as “Deeper still, bogguts in Dorp, subdued by the cult, quietly seek allies for their resistance.” Uh, so. Ok. Dorp is a place, I guess? And bogguts are people? 

Finally, let us look at the DriveThru blurb: “”Legitimately creating the lexicon for what I look for in good adventures” – Sandro, creator of Steel Hearts.” Uh. Ok. here’s more of people being overly dramatically nice about this thing. The kind of stuff that makes me immediately suspicious. 

Decent magic items here. Decent window dressing with the learning to be human and sleeping coiled up things and such. But it is, I think, just a village description. And no real timeline or events. 

It’s just not focused around running it, as an adventure. And I don’t mean room/key format. That may be appropriate for some elements of this, but the core element of the gameplay, the secret war and people and plots and such, no. It’s just not organized around THAT type of gameplay.

This is $21 at DriveThru. The preview is six pages. You can kind of get an idea of what the thing is like from it. Just imagine more of the same, about everything except the keys. 


This entry was posted in Reviews. Bookmark the permalink.

9 Responses to Hiss

  1. Haitian Urbanite says:

    This author should be eaten

  2. Anonymous says:

    You can’t have a body without a mind. You can’t have game design without a game. At 21 bucks for 30 pages, anyone who buys this deserves to get scammed.

    Back to real adventures plzzz.

  3. Gnarley Bones says:


  4. AB Andy says:

    21$… insane. My hexcrawl is close to finish with about 200-230 pages and I am thinking of putting it for something like 7-8$.

  5. Bucaramanga says:

    Cairn is a huge red flag by itself. $21 for a 30 pp. adventure is another one. A third one is the whole “village with a dark secret” shtick (obvious, done to absolute death).

    I humbly suggest Bryce should go to his backlog of recommendations. It’s pure sad0masochism at this point.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *