Grandpappy Cromdar’s Whizbang Zoo!

By David Lewis Johnson
Self Published
Levels 1-5

Who is Grandpappy Cromdar? Grandpappy Cromdar is a battle hardened warrior, a seasoned monster rancher, a salty landlubber, a prancing princess, a slap-happy crazy old coot. Where decent, respectable fighting men might opt to establish a stronghold or build a trade empire, Grandpappy juked left and went with “Converting a dungeon in to a family friendly zoo”. He is me. He is you.

This 52 page adventure uses about eighteen pages to describe about a hundred rooms on three levels. Minimal descriptions, a zany premise, and ‘Cromdar is a pervert’ tone are off putting and better found in a Gamma World adventure. The map can’t save this one.

Hang in there man. Remember S3? Remember that wilderness level with observation overlooks and attached maintenance? That was great! So this could be great also! It’s not, but, that’s not the point. It COULD have been great! And thusly are Bryce’s dreams made.

Comdar was an adventurer. He retired and started a zoo in a dungeon and sells tickets. THe dungeon is. I guess, perfect for his zoo. Anyway, things are bad inside, with the creatures out of their cages and running amok. There’s no real hook beyond “go inside and have fun” so don’t start looking for one in an adventure with a sex swing and Asteroids game in it. 

The map is decent and shares similarities with the S3 Levels. You’ve got the main level, with some admin offices and empty cages as well as a wide open wilderness area with a lake. The level under that has more maintenances and such, with some under da sea detail. The level above is the “sky” with some offices, zipline platform, sex dirigible, the top of a volcano and so on. The traditional room/key dungeon areas can be a little linear in places, but, then again, a hallway is linear, and zoos funnel people in directions. I’m not mad at the map, or the ziplines and personal submarines that make exploration fun. 

But I am mad at the lack of overview text for the vistas. At certain points you get to stand on a platform and survey your surroundings. To look out and take in the majesty of the wilderness. There is no text to help the DM with that. A volcano, an airship, ziplines, a waterfall, and so on. Nothing of the sort here. Which means, as a DM, you left searching through the text looking at a lot of keys, flipping back and forth, trying to put one together during play. This is, obviously, from a lack of playtesting; it would be impossible to escape that without the issue having come up. 

The monsters here are all new, with not even an intellect devourer making an appearance. And they are a bizarre bunch. This contributes to the Gamma World vibe much more than to the D&D vibe, with them being intelligent and having chimeratic features. I love it when a new monsters description starts with “this is a strange and bizarre creature.” Yup, they all are man, they all are. 

The room descriptions are just about as basic as you can get and not be Vampire Queen. Basic, but with a few details, at least one of which will be “look at me ma! Aren’t I zany?!” The first Aid Station tells us that there is: “An examination table occupies the northeast corner of the this room. An emergency aid kit sites undisturbed on a counter next to a wash basin. Bags of syringe-filled biohazard bags have been stacked against the west wall.” The detail here, of the description, is quite basic. The table is NE. A wash basin, and so on. There’s nothing really evocative about it at all, just a basic factual description. Not good. The table and wash basin, fo example, serve no purpose, in terms of adventure, in the room. We could assume them , or not, and the adventure would go right along without an issue. We know that a bedroom has a bed in it. And this will be the norm in this adventure. A very minimal description is basic facts in it and nothing evocative, with something “wacky” in it. lIke a wall full of syringe bags. Or a sex swings. Or the monsters playing soccer with a head. 

Interactivity is almost nonexistent beyond stabbing things. Yes, you can zipline or use a submarine. We might, though, call these “using the stairs.” Beyond this very basic level of interactivity you will not find a lot to fuck around with. Go some place, have a wacky encounter with a deadly monster, and then go to the next place. You will not be encountering treasure in this adventure. 

Someone had an idea. They stated it for the OSR instead of Gamma World. But, even as a Gamma World adventure it would be lacking, with exploration elements minimal and interactivity close to non-existent. And, of course, adventures that try to be zany never work. In the future, I hope I die before I wake.

This is $5 at DriveThru. The preview is six pages and shows you nothing but the intro. Good luck with that. It needs to show actual encounter pages.

This entry was posted in Reviews. Bookmark the permalink.

5 Responses to Grandpappy Cromdar’s Whizbang Zoo!

  1. crooked nose says:

    Is it a case of trying too hard to be different but looking like a bit of a tool instead?
    Funny they can get their act together for the science of biohazatds but everyone still runs around hitting each other with bits of sharp metal.

  2. chainsaw says:

    Good name. I’m reminded of Captain Spaulding’s Museum of Monsters & Madmen…

  3. Derek Holland says:

    Damn. I got his second adventure a while ago and it is better than this. Not great but better. Maybe because it is a weird location within a massive monster, so there has to be more interconnectivity between the rooms?

  4. Anonymous says:

    No SEX in D&D EVER!!!!!!

    • Yomar says:

      Raunchy jokes are one subset of a large range of humour that’s it’s typically best not to bake into an adventure unless you really know what you’re doing, because comedy depends on timing, mood and spontaneity. What the adventure writer thought was funny will most often fall flat when reproduced by a different DM at a different table, and the best laughs always come naturally.

      If D&D were a serious respectable art form rather than an elfgame pastime there would presumably be essays written on how to communicate humour from writer to referee to player. Personally I find the best results are when things that are deadly serious in the notes are ludicrous in play, and when things written to be ludicrous are treated as deadly serious.

Leave a Reply

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