Into the Sapphire Mines

By reddJack
Self Published

A complete one-shot adventure for the EZD6 system that sees players exploring an abandoned mine that uncovers a sprawling underground tunnel system filled with goblins and an ancient colony of crystalline arachnids.

This nineteen page adventure details a trip in to some “Sapphire Mines”, that contain no Sapphires. It’s an exercise in random locations and experimental layout. Neither of which ends up being as effective as was intended. Onward, to die rolling!

Page eight of this adventure is the critical one. Before this page we get a little blurb on the mine entrance, and some pages describing the goblin tribes (and factions) and the Sapphire Spiders (bestiary) and some backstory. But page eight is where the adventure comes together. You see, their’s this little four section flowchat and six entry random table for “what room do you encounter next.” Antechamber, goblin warrens, the back entrance to the goblin warrens, crystal cavern, underground oasis, or the Spider Queen room. And the little four entry flowchart tells us to roll for the room layout (three types) and then for what “danger” there is in the current tunnel, and then for a tunnel encounter, and then roll for the next main room type. IE: random AND linear. Oh, also, don’t step on the sand/loose earth or you will summon a worm/spider. Zzzz….

So, the designer is looking to set up this thing where a couple of goblin factions live in a cave/mine, that is also inhabited by these mutant spiders. The spiders have a queen and also some elf dude is who is the spider ally/leader/something like that. So you’ve got this band of goblins allied to the elf/spiders and another that is “free” goblins, currently out of power and being repressed. And you roll on the table and randomly wander around until you get bored and go home. I guess. I don’t know. There’s not much point here. Oh, look, our first room was the queens chamber. Themes the breaks of randomness. And how can you have an expressive faction play environment with six rooms? You can’t. And thus all of that text on the factions is relatively meaningless. 

The magic items get some decent description an are sufficiently unique. The room descriptions, and even the monster descriptions, are sorely lacking though. Bland, when they do exist, “Wolf-sized spider covered in crystalline carapace that shines like a moonlit pool. Agile and venomous.” Meh. Hippo sized spider that swims through soft earth. Meh. There’s not much here.

The main feature of the adventure is the layout. We’re being interesting with it, to help make all of the information readily accessible. I’m a big proponent of the formatting lending itself to those concepts. Further, I think that you must ruthlessly violate your own formatting guidelines when appropriate. Every situation you are trying to get across is different, with different goals, and thus the formatting for everything should be specific to that. This is more than just using a different format for the social town vs the room/key dungeon. Does the tavern need a different format than the general store? If so, then we don’t try to pigeonhole one in to the other. But, also … we do not want to tall in to the trap of listing lighting, door, lock, walls, ceiling, floor, sound, tase and smell in every room description at the top of them. We note things when appropriate. What I’m saying here is that there should be a general formatting style that you use throughout your adventure. Some standards. And, then, as exceptions arise, you tailor your formatting for them to those exceptions. But there should generally be some common standards. If EVERYTHING is different on every page then you face some serious cognitive dissonance, as the DM, in trying to context shift to the new formatting. What am I supposed to pay attention to on THIS page? 

And this is going to a problem here. Every page has a wildly different format. Yes, even the room pages. You’ll get to dig through all of everything fresh and new each and every time. Good luck with that. Just as with the adventures that list the lighting, door, and floor and walls and smells and noises for each room, this adventure has taken a principal to an extreme. Yeah, sure, lighting in a room is good to know. But, also, maybe we can assume most rooms are dark if in fact 90% of the rooms are dark? A format used excessively. And, with this, perhaps not EVERYTHING in the adventure requires a totally new format? Is there so much variation thats the case? (And if so … why?)

Plus, you know, no sapphires.

This is $5 at DriveThru. The preview is four pages. Which in this case is enough, if you know already that everything is going to be like that.

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27 Responses to Into the Sapphire Mines

  1. AB Andy says:

    Bryce thanks so much for reviewing adventures from all these different systems. I have no desire to ever run Starfinder, Rlerrant, EZd6. And so I’d never browse their adventures. These reviews may reveal hidden gems that I otherwise would never find.

  2. The Middle Finger Of Vecna says:

    I’d rather Bryce review more D&D-type adventures than some odd vanity rulesets (EZd6???? what the hell is that?) and/or science fiction like the last review. The utility for this stuff is low, even in the rare event that a “hidden gem” turns up.

    • Anonymous says:

      Bryce was bought and paid for long ago.

      • Anonymous says:

        If he was bought you would expect him to start hyping astro-turfed junk. Mork Borg, Cairn etc. If he covers it but he is dismissive, that seems to be going against the grain.

        Ruleset is such a strange word for this stuff. What do you call something with less functionality, content and replay value then the 1974 LBB’s?

        • Anonymous says:

          Not really. Bad publicity is better than no publicity for new products and companies. Bad publicity can stimulate sales when a product is unknown simply because it stimulates product awareness. Specific to this case, you can’t hype bad products because it would be too obvious, so instead it’s done more subtly. There is no reason what-so-ever to review these products otherwise.

          • Anonymous says:

            This approach betrays rigid thinking. On the one hand it is true that most NSR material is of such low quality that criticism is all but impossible. How do you rate the faeces smeared on the walls of an asylum by one of its inmates? One the other hand, by following this critical line, Bryce only confirms a self-evident truth, that its output is worthless to anyone actually interested in oldschool gaming and their position in the OSR is illegitimate. Shadowdark and a few rare others exempted of course.

          • Anonymous says:

            How is shadowdark really excempt? He reviewd, what? 10 adventures? Most were shovelware.

            It would be interesting to get an insight on how Bryce decides to review a product t. Is it only by recommendations (emails + todo list?), does he browse drivethru and when so, who’s he pick some at random? Do people send him stuff? At the end of the day though, Bryce will do his thing. And it’s why all of us keep coming back here to read. Because this thing is done well.

          • Anonymous says:

            I’d observe its pretty easy to yell ‘he’s bought and paid for’ without any form of reasoning or any evidence whatsoever. I’d also observe that Bryce being on a payroll is not a sentiment of the regulars here.

          • John says:

            If you’re paying money to get panned in a review you’re being overcharged. I got a “The Best” review from Bryce, and all I had to do was give him a quick handy – over the pants even.

          • Jeff V says:

            “It would be interesting to get an insight on how Bryce decides to review a product”

            I suggested two products to Bryce in the “to-do list” and he reviewed both of them. Not only did he not like them, in one case he vowed never again to review a product suggested not just by me, but by anyone called Jeff.

            Which is a bit unfair on all those other, innocent Jeffs out there.

          • Bryce Lynch says:

            Jeff …
            I see you there.
            Don’t think I don’t

        • AB Andy says:

          I actually see Bryce reviewing adventures for what they are. He never mentions system specific mechanics that may be against his play or running style (other than too many roll checks, but that is not really system specific)

      • Anonymous says:

        If you try to donate an adventure to Bryce to review, as some people have, you will notice he does not accept it. Not even something as simple as a free module PDF.

        Maybe you should try it sometime (if you’ve ever written anything). Try to give your module to him for free. Heck, try to bribe him! Let us know how that goes.

      • Anonymous says:

        Ahhh here it is! A fine vintage of the conspiratorial nuttery that one expects from brain-rotted boomers any time something doesn’t cater to their exact obsessions and perversions.

        If Bryce said “Relax” the next thing we’d see in comments is: “Bryce is Frankie Goes to Hollywood shill! Confirmed!”

        • Anonymous says:

          American boomer hate is a complex issue. On the one hand it is completely fair to hate a monstrously selfish generation that oversaw the massive transfer of wealth and power from a native middle to a foreign ruling class. On the other hand, the people parrotting those sentiments tend to be dodo-like simpletons indoctrinated by their universities and media into further accelerating that disenfranchisement*.

          * Occasionally they are just perverts that don’t want to feel guilty about being perverts so they will support whatever party will give them leeway to satiate their appetites until they expire, childless and in debt.

          • The Middle Finger Of Vecna says:

            What the fuck do boomers have to do with anything? This is a RPG adventure review blog. Why do idiots need to bring this shit into this space? What purpose does it serve but to stir up garbage? Don’t we deal with enough of that in real life?

            However, since it’s been brought up I think the hate these people feel towards boomers is just jealousy that they didn’t live within such a glorious time.

          • The Middle Finger Of Vecna says:

            How’s that for trolling?

  3. Anonymous says:

    What if you get the spider queen room twice in a row? Or even three times?
    This is simply bad design.

  4. rekalgelos says:

    “Anonymous says:
    April 16, 2024 at 8:00 pm
    Bryce was bought and paid for long ago.”

    I’ve read every single post on here and probably 65% of the comments. I wish this person wasn’t anonymous just so i could find them and shake their hand for coming up with the stupidest thing ever said on here.

    • More Anonymous Than You says:

      I nominate “you could get the same result twice or even three times in a row on a finite list – that’s bad design!” as a close runner up.

      • Reason says:

        Oh c’mon, how is a grown adult supposed to know how to deal with rolling results multiple times? That’s impossible to compute!

        I blame boomer privilege/ zoomer entitlement for that issue and ascribe negative values to them arbitrarily.

        • Avi says:

          Of course a decent DM can ” deal with it”, but if we take in the lessons in these pages we should not…
          The designers job is to “deal with it” in any one of many fantastic ways like:
          Assigning a logical dice spread to the results…
          Making sure the “End game” happens only after a certain number of throws (“depth”)
          or something else….

  5. Chibi says:

    I actually play and enjoy EZd6 and this is basically the only published adventure for that system. I excitedly purchased it once to try out the system and when I opened it I NOPED. I couldn’t make heads or tails of what was going on, it had all these faction writeups and lore but then it’s just supposed to be a oneshot!! And then when you figure it out it sucks anyways.

    Thanks for reviewing this. I needed someone to vindicate my hate for this book. What a bad showing for a decent system.

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