Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Reviews: Children of the Void, Ruin of Darkfir Castle, Challenge of the Frog Idol

So y'know I was like "Hey, there's all these free modules, grab one and review it for us". Well I did that, here are 3 reviews...

Children of the Void is a short adventure which is really basically a small island with 4 kinds of (mechanically standard) foes on it. One is just sort of there, ecologically--like hey, these standard monsters live on this island, maybe you'll meet them--one is a pair of criminals hiding and if you find them, then, hey, you can fight them and bring them back to civilization for fabulous prizes and the third and fourth are really the adventure proper.

Basically there's what appears to be a regular guy but investigations will reveal he makes sacrifices every night to Tentacled Horrors From Beyond the Stars and…ok, that's about it. Like I said: it's short. It's so short and simple, at its core, that my review hovers between: "Hey, here's a classic idea done well with no frills, fix it up as you will and 'Well I think I just told you everything you need to know about this adventure, do you even have to read it?"

Personally I have some mystery islands on my hexmap and might stick most of this adventure (heavily modified) into it, because reading it reminded me "Oh yeah, I guess I could do that". On the other hand I do not expect to have to actually use the adventure itself for reference when doing that--the idea presented is that simple. It's not exactly lightning in a bottle but if you want a short adventure that does a classic schtick in a wholly inoffensive way, here you go.

It's for a system I don't recognize, but making it fit any fantasy system should take you a solid 8 seconds of work.

1. What kind of adventure is it? (Location based? Dungeon? Town? Etc.)
Island. Location based with one location that's pretty obviously supposed to be the interesting place to go.

2. How long is it?
Short. A few pages. Shorter than this blog entry, in terms of need-to-remember data.

3. Were there any particularly noteworthy things in it? (Monsters, traps, plot ideas, mechanics, etc.)
The wizard's in a protection circle that protects him from the monsters but not you. You can get in it. Is that memorable? Maybe.

4. What sort of vibe is going on in it? (Creepy? Gonzo? Sword and sorcery? Chivalry? etc.)
What mood there is room for is like Lovecraft-but-rustic. It's simple enough that you could push it in any direction.

5. Would you run it? Why or why not?
Kinda. See above.

6. Does it resemble anything we might've seen before?
A starter Call of Cthulhu adventure.

The best thing about Ruin of Darfir Castle is it's short. The second best thing about it is it's free. Most modules are this boring but cost money and take time to read. I haven't read any other adventures written specifically for the Basic Fantasy RPG but if they are all like this, then that game is well-named. I don't want to be a jerk about this: this adventure is a free thing given by some committed gamer somewhere to other gamers out of sheer niceness and the goodness of that is better than the badness of how boring this is. I won't waste anybody's time by doing the whole 123456 thing. Just don't read it, ok?

Note: To be fair it is marked "under construction". I have no idea if this means it is going to have a lot more added or if it just means it hasn't been proofread yet. At any rate: it is currently available for download and downloading now is not a good idea. Maybe it will be later.
On the other hand, Challenge of the Frog Idol is one of the best modules I have ever read free or otherwise. Now this is by the admittedly very very very very very very low standards of published adventure modules, but still, it's rare I read a module and don't go, at some point "Oh my god just kill me".

In terms of an open-ended adventure area with different zones which interlock in interesting ways, this beats anything I've read for free or for money. No joke. Including Majestic Wilderlands. Seeeeeriously impressed. And it's fuh-ree, dude. If I had one complaint (one, really one. From me, that's pretty amazing) it's that several of the monsters are variations on "lizard"--like lizardmen, troglodytes, giant geckos, etc. but: A) there are lots of other monsters. and B) you can change that pretty easily.

1. What kind of adventure is it? (Location based? Dungeon? Town? Etc.)
Swamp hexcrawl with attached town. Actually more than that: the titular Frog Idol wants 3 things that are buried in various places on the map and if you get them good things happen. It is a simple but effective structure to hang the rest of the crawl around. It has a good rumor table too.

2. How long is it?
20 pages. Most of which is not filler.

3. Were there any particularly noteworthy things in it? (Monsters, traps, plot ideas, mechanics, etc.)
The oracle is actually a very intelligent and magically prescient Alabaster Living Statue and was once the bride of the Frog God.

Also, the monsters and magic are explained by the area once having been a battleground of the gods. There are nice touches in every area of the map, really--none of this "paddingpaddingpaddingTherearethreelizardmenherewhohateyoupaddingpaddingpaddingpadding" that you usually get,

And the maps are those nice, clear hand-drawn Dyson Logos ones.

4. What sort of vibe is going on in it? (Creepy? Gonzo? Sword and sorcery? Chivalry? etc.)

5. Would you run it? Why or why not?
Yes. I'd probably add a little more variety to the monsters, but pretty much, yeah.

6. Does it resemble anything we might've seen before?
Lots of things, I suppose, but most of them are so much lazier than this it'd be misleading to compare it to them.

Another review of it here.


Unknown said...

To be fair, Darkfir Castle is marked as being "Under Construction", so it would seem to be a work in progress.

John said...

I kinda figured we were shooting for brevity on these. Reading a short review is easier than reading a module, yeah, but if I was sorting through dozens of adventures, what I'd really want is a couple paragraphs on each, tops, and when something pricks my fancy I'd download it and check it out myself. That also makes the reviews faster to knock out, which means more of them. Maybe I'm just lazy.

Zak Sabbath said...


Then I don't know why it's up, and I kinda wonder what the 1864 people who have already downloaded it thought.

Zak Sabbath said...

If it's some transitional state I don'tunderstand or there's some mitigating reason here, I apologize.

What I'm saying is: it's downloadable now. Don't download it.

Peter D said...

I grabbd the Frog adventure based on your review. Nice stuff, and since I just happen to have this handy and as-yet-unexplored swamp next to the Keep on the Borderlands . . .

James said...

The Basic Fantasy modules are always (or at least often) put up while under construction and then tinkered with forever, until it's reached whatever completion point they've decided upon.

They recently declared The Chaotic Caves to be finished, which has been regularly updated for and worked upon for well over a year.

Dyson also has his Mini-Megadungeon, Dyson's Delve, available for free download. If you liked his Froggie thing, you might like it as well.

Zach G said...

The Frog Idol is the Bomb! I have been working slowly on my own module, trying to make one I would like to play and when I was looking for examples of other peoples stuff, I ran across Frog Idol. It was really fresh and original, I have the PDF on my PC and I have referred to it more than a couple of times. Seriously, if it was for sale I would have bought it. Hell if it goes up for sale (or if it already is, I haven't checked) I will buy it.

So long post short, I second the Frog God.

Loquacious said...

I have to say, solely on your review, I will be checking out Frog Idol and I don't know that I have any real reason to use it yet. But I think I'll find one!

Necropraxis said...

Challenge of the Frog Idol: awesome. It has a floating island made of zombies, which is one of the more interesting things I've seen in any adventure in a while.

Anonymous said...

Maybe I'm blind but on that link to BFRP I can't find anything like "Children of the Void."