Beneath the Reeds

By James S. Austin
Tacitus Publishing
Level 7

Magic offers the chance to do amazing things.  But one who practices the arts should be mindful of the proper methods to manipulate the Weave.  One such soul paid the price for his attempts to reach beyond the mortal veil, experimenting with necromancy.  His untimely death has left behind an active circle, continuing to pull upon the corruptive energies.  The lingering effects now bring great harm to those who draw too near.

This twelve page “Q-Encounter presents four ghouls and two wraiths for the party to stab, in one encounter. It is exactly what you think it would be, based on that description. 

I’m working through my wishlist! That means those of you waiting for a review of that $200 adventure, or that 600 page adventure, may begin to hope again! And, it also means I get to review things like this. Twelve pages for one encounter. One. And this isn’t even, like 4e or some nonsense, it’s OSE! That means it is essentially Basic D&D. Twelve pages! For one encounter in basic! The fucking Steading of the Hill Giant Chief was only eight!

We, of course, get a long ass background and lot of padded out pages at the start. In this edition of “Twisted Backstories” we find a necromancer who lives in a hut in the marshes, who make a permanent necrotic circle under the water and then dies. Then Two merchants get killed by bandits and thrown in the marshes … but one of them has a water fey ancestor so some fey reeds grow up around his body. This links the circle to some ley lines. This encourages four ghouls to settle nearby in a burrow and two wraiths to show up near/at the circle that is like twenty feet away. There’s a lot more detail than this. That is all useless. But, in typical Bad Adventure fashion the adventure goes on and on to justify the nonsense it is about. Just present it! Maybe a sentence if you need to, but just do it! It’s fucking D&D man, we’re not explaining quantum theory here.

The hooks are lame. Well, some of them. At level seven you get to go find a missing farmer. I got better things to do at level seven. There are, however, two that are more interesting. I might even call them rumours, or, perhaps, an interesting way of doing rumours that are presented as hooks here. Two fisherman, in the bar, talking about how they heard a crying baby in the reeds, paddling over they met a foul stench from the reeds and hurried off. Kind of nice. Lowkey. And, another that has weeping and moaning being heard and dark figures running amongst the trees. No travels after night anymore … I like the superstition leanings of these two. Creepy. But, yeah, “the local druid says the marsh has darkness in it …” Bleach.

Welcome to the adventure! You get four descriptions, of four different places, all up front, one after another, in long italics read-aloud. Hard to read. Then the read-aloud over-reveals details of the location. Or, to quote part of one “Bunched piles of bones and rotting flesh lay about with two recent kills, a male and female human, in the center—bite and claw marks showing a violent end for both.” It starts strong, yeah? Nicely visceral. And then we get to the male and female and bite and claw stuff, which is too much detail for a quick room scan. And then we get a little “the novelisation of the game” with the Showing A Violent End garbage. 

Ok, so, you got four sections of read-aloud, all in a row and then some tactics, day and night, for the four ghouls and two wraiths. Then you find out they have 257gp of treasure, meaning that the designer has absolutely no idea how OSE works. Joy. It’s just a conversion hack job. 5E, PF1, PF2 and OSE. Fuuuuuuck You! 

That $200 600 page adventure is looking a lot better right now … I know, this is my own fault. But, really, Tacitus? Just goes to show you …

This is $1 at DriveThru. There is no preview. Otherwise you wouldn’t buy it, yeah?

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9 Responses to Beneath the Reeds

  1. Anonymous says:

    Maybe we’ve reached a point in the hobby where we can safely say that thr vast majority of DMs can wing/adjust/personalize quite efficiently. I can’t remember the last time I run an adventure as written. So when we review works, is it fair to review then for how they could be run? Or is 99% of DMs around just looking for ideas and not full runnable adventures?

    Mind you, this is a general comment and had nothing to so with the crappy adventure I comment on.

    • Anonymous says:

      Here’s the issue with that though: if you can wing it, then you don’t need a pre-published adventure; and if you can’t wing it, then you do need one… but the problem is, these types of products work for neither case. They’re too bare to run as-is, and too cumbersome to add anything helpful to a “winging it” campaign.

      • Gnarley Bones says:

        It’s not an either/or choice. I’ve run into folks from time to time for whom it is a matter of pride that they’ve never run an adventure written by anyone. I’ve never understood that viewpoint.

        Has it never occurred to them that someone else might come up with a better scenario than they or, failing that, with a fun idea that would not have occurred to them? Seems like hubris. Their group has been denied some pretty good stuff.

        • AB Andy says:

          Completely agree. A perfect example for me would be Deep Carbon. I read the review and was hooked. I bought it and thought… dude, how does one come with such awesome ideas!?

        • Anonymous says:

          Nobody is saying modules are unnecessary.

          Uncreative, uninspired, generic modules are what is unnecessary.

    • Prince says:

      I suspect the opposite holds true.

      Ideas can be mined from many places. There is a superabundance of ideas available. Adventures are made, at their core, to be interacted with by players. That you can fine-tune or adjust an adventure is fine (many people make at least minor adjustments), but that job becomes easier if it can be played as is.

      That does not mean that adventures should be without soul, inspiration or wonder. If it leaves you cold you probably won’t run it. It also does not mean that ease of use should be the only metric. But ‘It plays great’ is a desirable quality, certainly among the highest.

  2. Anonymous says:

    I assume you slept with whoever suggested this wife?

    Who read this and recommend you review it?

    Maybe you should set up some sort of deposit they put down and if the module fails to meet some threshold they forfeit it.

  3. Shitty Adventure says:

    The wraith parts the edge of the reeds and speaks to the axe-wielding gentleman, “Pardon me, would you have any Grey Poupon?”

  4. Gnarley Bones says:

    Further evidence the author has no idea what game he’s writing for:

    In B/X (and OSE), a 7th level cleric automatically destroys 2d6 ghouls and automatically turns a wraith.

    This supplement provides 8 minutes of play.

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