You will find with “The Sinister Tunnels of GREENFIELDS” a sorcerer, terrible rituals, forgotten dungeons …. and a little more than that.
This seventeen page “adventure” in a village is more of an adventure outline. Pretty maps abound, but it feels more like the outline for a short story then it does anything usable at the table. The keyed encounters are not actually keyed encounters, but merely mentioned in a long paragraph, while the NPCs and backgrounds get too much text. The hook and villain are, at least, more fresh than usual. I WANTED to run this adventure … but I don’t want to devote the mental effort to do so. I think this is French, translated to english.
There was a plague in a small village about fifteen years ago, followed by a famine since no one was there to work the fields. A merchant moved in and built a spinning mill, providing food & jobs ad place for the orphans in the village, and region, to work. I’m sure you can work out the major thrusts of the rest on your own. He’s evil, caused the plague, and has nefarious purposes. In this case he’s a (relatively) low-level evil wizard who is using the kids to remain young. (A classic! I love the classics!) He only hangs about for fifteen years and his self-imposed time limit in this village is almost up. Two of the three hooks are a bit fresh: you’re guard for a merchant going to visit him for normal spinning-wheel business. This is a decent pretext to put the party in the middle of the village while shit unfolds around them. The second is a lord who lost his entire family 30 years ago due to an epidemic identical to the one in this village, and hires the party to go look in to things. The idea of an ancient dying lord, hunting down with vengeance his family’s murders, but too old not to pursue it, is another trope I like because I think it appeals to players. The wizards low level nature, the classic theme of eternal youth, and his benefactor status in the village all VERY strongly appeal to me. These are things that a DM can work with pretty easily, I think.
In support of the DM there are some column-long descriptions of the village’s mayor (loyal to the villages benefactor), his loyal manservant, and an orphan-finder who roams the countryside seeking out new workers. All three are well done, but their descriptions go on much longer than they need to. A couple of sentences, or maybe a short paragraph is all that should be needed. More than this requires notes & highlighters.
You also get maps of the village (Harn-like … my favorite sort of village-area map) and three maps of underground areas/tunnels. The maps are beautiful, as one would expect from a French illustrator. Top notch (isometric?) cutaways of the areas showing a decent amount of detail. The maps are much more vertical than most, and have nice elevation elements present. There are multiple entrances, through various wells and so on. It is, essentially I think, a linear design with a couple of room hanging off of it. The vertical elements save it, and while it’s not an exploration dungeon-map it IS quite a bit better, quite a bit, than the usual plot-maps. Winches. Wooden platforms, ropes, tunnels in to the dark, ladders stairs, ruins, the maps do a great job of being evocative and providing the chaotic sort of environment that I think a good exploration map provides. Here’s a link to one of them:
There are some things going on to spice things up. He’s getting to ready to move. He’s about to/will sacrifice several children. That also creates ground tremors when he does it. There’s a monster under the water that appears when he sacrifices kids. There are goblins ready to invade the town. The mayor is a die-hard supporter. There is at least one visiting “merchant.” I’m not sure if any of this is faction-like, but it is enough going on to create the sort of chaos I like to see in an adventure … without it FEELING like it’s manufactured chaos (as it is in so many Dungeon Magazine adventures.)
Alas, I am now out of kind things to say. The adventure is only an outline. A seventeen page outline, but an outline nonetheless. No orphans presented (but for one “a mute girl”), no villagers presented but for the mayor. No encounter keys presented. WHAT?!?1 Yes, the entirety of the undergrounds 21 rooms are covered in about three paragraphs of free-text. Imagine if you will, at the end of a paragraph … “Several rooms dug around are used to store weapons and equipment to gear up a small troop of mercenaries and to accommodate it if necessary (16, 17, 20 and 21).” That is the extent of four room descriptions. All of the others are like that. Roughly in order, but skipping around abit, with text mixed freely.
Imagine you came upon a map and numbered it and minimally keyed it. “Storeroom”, “merc bedchambers” and so on. You also scrawled “kindly wizard disguised as merchant who actually sacrifices kids to stay young” along the top of the page. You would have this adventure. And you will again since you’re going to have to print out those map pages and take notes on it.
I’ve been accused of having a rather strict taxonomy on what an adventure is, and it’s because of product this like one. If you sent your husband out to the store to buy an adventure and he came home with this, for your game tonight, you’d probably sigh and pronounce it worthless. It’s not an adventure that one expects to get.
But I don’t think the product is bad if you accept that it’s not an adventure. If it were advertised as an adventure planner, or outline, or something like that then I think it’s an interesting product. As a reviewer you’re faced with a lot of the same and so products like this stand out. I can imagine something similar, for example, as a kind of outline for Scourge of the Demon Wolf. “Here’s the framework for an adventure. Go add the details.” Not an adventure. A framework that you need to work on to add to. Kind of a more expanded “Adventure Seeds” that clog up DriveThru/RPGNow. Something for which to inspire. In that vein, a few more villager details and intrigues, as well as orphans, would be called for, as least in outline.
Grimslingers: The Northern Territory on March 9th, so mark your calendars!
Simplified and Revised Rulebook
We’ve listened to all the feedback from our amazing players, and have worked hard to improve and clarify, so you can jump right in to slingin’ spells.
New “Child of Light” Campaign
The story picks up where the Valley of Death campaign left off, as players are sent to the Northern Territory to investigate recent rumors of a mysterious “child of light.”
Explore five new areas
Players will adventure throughout the Forgotten West using a new system of procedurally generated maps and dungeons.
All new 56 card “Fate” deck!
A unique deck of playing cards, featuring illustrations and designs from Noah Whippie’s Bone and Ebon card deck (https://tinyurl.com/zc5ugqc) and re-stylized by Stephen Gibson. Doubles as a fully functional (and beautiful) poker deck!
Combined forces of James Ernest and Patrick Rothfuss bring Tak to life
Described by Patrick Rothfuss as “a beautiful game” in his bestselling novel The Wise Man’s Fear (Book Two of the Kingkiller Chronicle), Tak has been made reality be renowned game designer James Ernest. An elegant two-player abstract strategy masterpiece, Tak feels like an old classic reminiscent of mancala or Go.
Thanks to a legion of Kingkiller Chronicle and Tak fans, players can try Tak for free at fan-made site PlayTak.com. They can also explore organized play opportunities via the US Tak Association (USTA). The USTA’s goal is to share and promote the game of Tak and support fair and competitive play by establishing a comprehensive set of rules and standards that can be used for tournaments and other events.
ROM KAIJU ISLAND TO SUB-TERRA, SYRINSCAPE’S NEW SOUNDSETS FOR MUTANTS & MASTERMINDS SURROUND GAMERS IN FANTASTIC SOUND ENVIRONMENTS
SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA (February 23, 2017) – Syrinscape, creator of the award-winning apps that bring tabletop games to life with movie-like sound, announces today the release of two new SoundSets for the Mutants and Masterminds Roleplaying Game, taking gamers from the tropical and monstrous Kaiju Island to the underworld of Sub-Terra with custom-made sounds on the Syrinscape Sci-Fi Player app.
Kaiju Island SoundSet: The Island is alive with the sounds of tribal drums, flutes, rainfall and biting insects and the air is thick with humidity. Gamers will hear a distant presence and have the constant feeling of being watched until an epic hit and the roars of dinosaurs, giant apes and insectoids let them know, they have been brought to Kaiju Island with Syrinscape’s Kaiju Island SoundSet.
Kaiju Island SoundSet demo video – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2CLes-pAwag
Sub-Terra SoundSet: Fantastically atmospheric, tension building and immersive, the Sub-Terra SoundPack immerses players in Mutants & Masterminds’ realm of darkness, Morlocks and Serpent People. The SoundSet includes sounds for a long, unsteady climb down into the darkness, deep flooded passageways, disturbing skitterings in the dark, the thrum of Mole Machinery and more.
Sub-Terra SoundSet demo video – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NGx0ubvFRHE
“Kaiju Island and Sub-Terra are memorable regions of the world of Earth-Prime,” says Chris Pramas, Green Ronin Publishing. “Close your eyes while listening to these SoundSets and you’ll think you’re there!”
The Mutants & Masterminds SoundSets join the ever-growing Syrinscape Sci-Fi library of fantastic sounds for any sci-fi tabletop adventure and are available from Syrinscape ($3.99/ea), or as part of the Syrinscape Sci-Fi ongoing subscription for $6.50/month.
The award-winning Syrinscape apps bring fantastic, realistic sound to tabletop gaming and are compatible with nearly any mobile device or computer. Syrinscape’s Fantasy Player, Sci-Fi Player and Board Game Player apps are free to download and the official sounds of Pathfinder, Mutants & Masterminds, Catan and hundreds of other sound creations for nearly any tabletop game are available for sale individually or as part of the Supersyrin Subscription for $10/month.
Syrinscape can also be completely unlocked for free for 30 days at Syrinscape.com/freetrial and includes two free SoundSets to keep after the trial.
About Mutants & Masterminds
Since 2002, Mutants & Masterminds has earned its title as the World’s Greatest Superhero RPG, inspiring countless game sessions and winning many awards for excellence. Its detailed character creation system lets you create the hero you want to play, choosing from a wide range of skills, advantages, and powers. The streamlined system of game play requires only a single die roll and features easy to use rules. Now in its Third Edition, Mutants & Masterminds is supported by a robust line of sourcebooks, including Emerald City and The Cosmic Handbook, and provides for the rules engine for Green Ronin’s companion game, DC Adventures.
About Green Ronin Publishing
Green Ronin Publishing is a Seattle based company dedicated to the art of great games. Since the year 2000 Green Ronin has established a reputation for quality and innovation that is second to none, publishing such roleplaying game hits as Fantasy AGE, Dragon Age, and A Song of Ice and Fire Roleplaying, and winning over 40 awards for excellence. For an unprecedented three years running Green Ronin won the prestigious GenCon & EnWorld Award for Best Publisher. Last year it worked with Wil Wheaton to create the Geek & Sundry web series Titansgrave: The Ashes of Valkana.
Using a powerful audio engine and complex algorithms to produce ever-changing soundscapes and rich encounter-specific music, Syrinscape conjures every aural landscape imaginable, from ethereal forests and stony shorelines, to dank, vermin-filled dungeons, to the spooky depths of the underdark. Designed by accomplished composer and tabletop gamer Benjamin Loomes, along with the developers at the Interaction Consortium, Syrinscape builds on more than 8 years of prototyping and community feedback. Syrinscape is based in Australia. Syrinscape is available for a wide range of devices, including PCs, Macs, Android Tablets and phones, iPhones and iPads, and the players can be downloaded via syrinscape for free.
* * *
In this Box Breaking Matt Takes a look at Colditz from Osprey. The game that depicts real life event of Major Reid while imprisoned in Germany. If you are a history buff this game is for you.
This is coming to you far later than I wanted it too, because I had several technical difficulties that for whatever reason prevented about twenty scheduled posts from scheduling. Anyway they will be coming to you soon.
The 5-8 player social deduction game is based on the classic “Almost Got ’Im” episode of Batman: The Animated Series in which Gotham City’s most infamous rogues play poker and tell stories about almost defeating Batman, not knowing one of them is actually Batman in disguise. Players take on the roles of various DC Super-Villains of the Caped Crusader, one of whom is secretly Batman.
This thing goes by Mines of Wexham and also by Mines of Wexcham. The adventure says Wexcham while most of the marketing/references not in the adventure refer to it as Wexham. I believe the designer has passed away since publishing, and I think I tend to grade on a curve when details like that pop up. Be Warned.
This is a nineteen page adventure in some old caves/mines with small wilderness portion. It has some of the charm and all of the problems that one would expect from an pre-1975 adventure. Minimal keyed in places, weird formatting & layout that do NOT contribute to usability, and, in places, the idiosyncratic encounters of imagination before rules. I’m not sure what the history of this is; it looks like a kickstarter add-on, but I THINK it’s a new adventure, not a find from pre-75.
You get a map that shows the supposed location of a legendary lost mine from an ancient empire. It’s three days by foot or a day and half by ship. EITHER you’re playing the pre-gens provided OR they are a rival NPC party (or, more specifically, YOU’RE the rival party to them!) Anyway, off to the mines you go. The mines are presented on three maps: the ground level, an old troll cave, and the underground mine map proper. The maps are basic but well done, by which I mean they provide the complexity required to run an exploration adventure. Loops, with all three maps connecting, and multiple entrances/exits from the maps lead to an element of mystery, with about 34 locations total across the three maps.
The encounters fall in to three types. First you have the traditional minimal keys. “6 giants rats” with stats, is the total of the encounter description. Two trolls. Four spiders. You get the idea. The second type is that of the “old room.” The old room has something old in it. Duh. Some old bones. Some bits of leather. And then when you touch something it disintegrates due to age. These almost always have some sort of clue or minor treasure associated with it. Finally, there are the Type III demons. These are the core rooms with something nontrivial in them. There’s really only one or two of these, and the clues and several minor treasures relate to it. There are ghostly soldiers in the mine (but … not actually undead that can be turned …) They attack those not associated with their old empire. You can find some objects, like armor with insignia, that let you pretend to be old empire soldiers also. Eventually you find a banner which will allow you to command them. The clear presumption is that you will use them to attack … the room with seventy orc warriors in it … Yeah. The last couple of rooms have masses of orcs in them.
The wilderness adventure is laid out on a day by day basis. One day one roll for wandering monsters twice. On day two rolls to hear a howl in the distance. On day three … and so on. If you instead choose to go by ship something similar ensues, except the DM gets to roll every other TURN for monsters … and if you roll a 6 you see a pack of sharks in the water … This is all mixed in with what I presume to be read-aloud, not set apart from the text, and the phrase “How do you wish to proceed.” It all a colossal mess. You can decipher it, but it’s VERY stream of consciousness. The “Wish to proceed”, being used as a section break, tapers off through the adventure, disappearing halfway through the mine room descriptions. To be fair, the nonsense settles down by the time you reach the mapped/keyed encounters with only the introductory pages and wilderness adventure being victim to the issues.
There’s a certain nostalgic charm to this adventure, that kind that comes from the early days. A clumsiness of format/layout combined with the sorts of minimal keying with the sort of embedded-adventure that one would find in B2/Borderlands. The kind that fights you all the way. A good DM can take this and run the hell out of it. But then again a good DM can do that with anything. It’s hard to suggest this, even to the nostalgic crowd. Other older products, like Dungeon of the Bear, conjure much of the same vibe.
It’s on DriveThru.