By Mike Mylar Legendary Games OSR/5e Level 6
Rumors spread of a mysterious group at the top of Mukkiya Mountain paying high bounties for live halflings—not just gold coins but even items imbued with magic. Raiders far and wide have started abducting whole settlements of smallfolk yet the village of Stillwater is trying to stand up to these foul kidnappers, seeking out hardened protectors to defend them. Whatever side the adventurers take brings them to the mountain but ascending it is no simple matter and the party must bypass the baring horde, climb the Cliffs of Madness, cross the territory of a dreaded ayutam, or maneuver up the Spiked Slopes. When they reach their destination the PCs discover the truth behind the halfling bounty and face perhaps the mightiest creature they’ve ever seen!
This 26 page adventure uses about three pages to describe a five room dragon lair. It hints at some interesting design decisions, perhaps by accident, and at least doesn’t enforce morality on the party. Poor quality, but interesting to me for the points it brings up.
Halfling village leader spies on you and tests you to see if you are good people. If so, she has you brought to the village to protect it from raiders abducting them. If not then a raider contacts you offering you gold for bringing in halflings. Either way, you either track captured halflings ot bring your own captives up a deathtrap mountain (conveniently ignoring how OTHER raiders get up the mountain) to a cave where someone buys them. A poly’d dragon. Fight fight fight.
Good things: The lack of enforced morality is nice. The adventure is clearly written for the party to be heroes, but it doesn’t ignore the alternative … and doesn’t just give a one sentence throw-away line about it either. Allowing for the party to be creative in their play, and supporting that, is a Good Thing(™.) The mountain has four paths up, each with a different challenge. A horde of beasts on one slope, a long mega monster on another, a treacherous climb on another, and a path full of super sharp rocks on another. This COULD have been iconic, and I like the concept of giving the party an actual choice in how to play things out instead of railroading them up only one path. There are, also, little bullet points at the end of each location section. These are one sentence things about the environment description for the DM to emphasize during that section. Easy to find, and easy to understand with strong themes. I sometimes note that these sort of “always on” things could be put on a map border, as an aid for the DM remembering them. In this case there is not map and so putting them at the bottom (or top, or whatever) and bulleting them serves the same purpose.
The whole thing ALMOST (with some major major major fucking caveats) comes across as an adventure outline. An adventure outline at almost EXACTLY the right level for detail to let the DM fill in and expand upon things. It’s a little loose, the bullets add to that vibe. Kind of sandboxy in way. Well, not really, in practice here, but I can see how with some major effort it could get closer to that … and you’d have something terse and evocative to run.
Just to be clear: that’s not what this is.
This is just, mostly, the usually 5e poor quality stuff. It’s listed in the OSR section but has nothing related to the OSR in it, so I’m unclear what the fuck is up with that. Just more marketing bullshit, I guess.
The descriptions of the “Scenes” are long and stuffed full of mechanics and “then this happens and then this happens and then this happens” with little to no thought given to organizing it for ease of play at the table.
It includes one of my favorite things: the roll to continue. If you want to go on the adventure you better make a DC13 check to notice the X, or else you don’t get to continue on! Related to this is another thing this adventure does over and over again: hide interesting things behind DC checks. As an example, you have to make a trivial DC check to find a notice on a rock wall describing the payment for halflings. Why do this? Why hide something like that from the party? It amps up tension and realizes the threat, but, somehow, this isn’t worth noting to the party? Not every fucking thing in an adventure has to be behind a DC check. Use the checks to learn MORE about something. Don’t lose a good foreshadowing/tension builder because of a DC check. Those blog articles (Alexandrian?) on “how to actually use skills in 5e” should be in the next version of the PHB/DMG.
Oh, oh, did I mention that the halfling village raids happen every d4 raids … and three have to happen before the elder sends you to the mountain? Who the fuck is hanging around that long? And there’s NO content to help support a length of stay of even one day.
Congrats. You killed the dragon. You get a piece of raw mana, 120gp, 400sp, and one uncommon magic item. Fuck. You. Talk about sucking the joy out of the game.
This is $5 at DriveThru. The preview is six pages long. It shows you the “test” as well as the halfling village and raiders attack. I’m not sure any amount of pages, other then the entire thing, could fully explain the format and how it works.