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Wednesday, 14th September, 2005, 02:24 PM #1
Cutpurse (Lvl 5)
Example from the worst TSR adventure module(s) ever published
I was looking through some of my old D&D modules last night, and I came across The Forest Oracle, what I think is the worst TSR module ever published. It is so bad you have to read it to beleive it. So, just for the fun of seeing your reaction to it, here is one "encounter area" of the module.
Adventure module (AD&D1):
The Forest Oracle
by Carl Smith
The below is quoted exactly -- I've inserted nothing, changed nothing, and removed nothing. The "boxed text" is for the DM to read to the Players.
Note: the lake is called "Quiet Lake", and is minimally described before the below text as "strangely different" with no bird song or animal movement. "It does not seem as ominous as sad."
6. THE PAVILION
A deer lies at the water's edge. Further south stands a small pavilion. (See Area 3A Map.)
The pavilion sits at the edge of the lake, small and slightly raised on stilts. It does not appear to have been lived in for some time. The wood is old, and a few cobwebs hang across the windows. Curtains keep out the sun and block the view inside. The door is tightly closed.
The pavilion on the lake shore was built for the nymph's lover. The front door to the pavilion is not locked, nor is the back door. Party members going up the steps to the front door will step on a squeaky board. This alerts no one, but it was here to let Chloe, the nymph, and Evan, her lover, know if they were about to have unannounced guests. The only access to the back door is to go into the water and swim to the door.
INSIDE THE PAVILION
The front door is not locked. The sound of gentle breathing comes from inside.
When the door is opened, sunlight illuminates the room (Map 3A). A young man sleeps on the bed. The room is furnished with two wooden chairs, a table, couch, pantry, bed, chest, and a stack of firewood for the fireplace.
In the pantry, the party finds an old, moldy sack of flour, a corked jug of wine, three wooden plates, four wooden spoons, and two pewter mugs. In the chest lie blankets, two candlesticks, tinder and flint, and a dried-out wreath of water lilies which Evan kept as a remembrance of Chloe.
The fireplace has no secret compartments. There is no treasure in the room. Evan owns a longbow and a dagger. The longbow and quiver of 10 arrows rest in the northeast corner of the room. Evan wears his dagger on his belt.
Chloe, the nymph (AC 9; MV 12"; HD 3; hp 15; #AT 0; Dmg nil; SA Blind/kill if victim sees her; SD Dimension Door), regretted her actions after she caused Evan to sleep. If the party manages to awaken Evan, Chloe shows her gratitude by giving them 100 gp each and a potion of invisibility. But she will not choose to appear until the party has searched the pavilion or unless the party tries to leave without attempting to awaken Evan.
If the party does not wake Evan, Chloe approaches them and pleads for their help. She offers them the invisibility potion for helping her. Chloe appears as a young, innocent girl of sixteen. She cries and wrings her hands, telling the party that her lover needs their help. She cannot awaken him and is obviously too distraught to think of a clear solution to her problem.
After the party awakens Evans, Chloe gives them a potion to pour into the lake. This is the antidote for the sleep enchantment on the lake. She gives them enough to purify the whole lake, but the entire potion must be poured in. Once the potion is poured in, the area around the lake seems to revitalize and become more pleasant. The birds sing, and the area appears as wild as the rest of the woods.
And this is not the worst encounter scenario in the module. The whole thing is like this, just non-sensical encounters, screwed-up stat blocks, and contradictory descriptions. God this is so bad.
When I played this adventure (as a PC 3rd-level fighter), our party got all kinds of sidetracked because of encounters like this. We saw conspiracies in every encounter because the setup made no sense and explanations were so flimsy ("Why don't you pour that potion in the lake, yourself?"). We never finished the adventure. After getting about 1/3rd through it, the DM just couldn't go on because we were completely confused by the nonsense.
I'm interested in seeing text from other adventures that you think are really bad.
Last edited by Quasqueton; Saturday, 22nd October, 2011 at 09:30 PM.
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Wednesday, 14th September, 2005, 02:28 PM #2
Orcus on an Off-Day (Lvl 22)
My eyes were bleeding so badly from the actual grammar, sentence structure, and general "voice" of the writing, I didn't even notice the stat block errors...
Ari Marmell, aka Mouseferatu--Rodent of the Dark
Wednesday, 14th September, 2005, 02:35 PM #3
Other than WG7 Castle Greyhawk, I can't even THINK of an adventure as bad as you described, and that one only because of the nonsense and puns laced within...
I really don't get the sort of logic behind training in a specific place every level... What, the sorcerer can't manifest new powers randomly except in the designated zip codes?
--ehren37, ENWorld Forums
Wednesday, 14th September, 2005, 02:38 PM #4
Scout (Lvl 6)
Now I certainly don't mind minor details included in an encounter description, especially when it may pertain to the reasons behind an encounter, but going into the minutiae of Nympho and Sleepy's relationship and history seems like a waste of time. It seems like the author really wants to be a novelist or something.
Wednesday, 14th September, 2005, 02:57 PM #5
Cutpurse (Lvl 5)
It's also funny how there is this note: "The fireplace has no secret compartments."
Earlier in the adventure, the party is accepted into a mage's home to spend the night before going on the quest. There is this note in the text: "The party will not find anything worth stealing in Delon's quarters."
Wednesday, 14th September, 2005, 03:28 PM #6
Gallant (Lvl 3)
Wait, I'm confused. The deer must be dragged away from the lake to be awakened, but..does Evan? It seems from the text that he can just be awakened in 1 round just be shaking him. Are we to believe that the nymph hasn't thought of this?
Also, doesn't looking at a nymph have a chance of killing you? Does she have control over that ability?
Wednesday, 14th September, 2005, 03:30 PM #7
Novice (Lvl 1)
I didn't even notice the stat blocks (mainly because I didn't really pay attention to them). What I did notice though is that it says Evan can be awakened as per the rules for the sleep spell. Slapping him should be enough to wake him up. So, why couldn't the nymph figure that out? Did she not even try to wake him up?
Wednesday, 14th September, 2005, 03:37 PM #8
Enchanter (Lvl 12)
So, uh, why couldn't the nymph wake up Evan herself?
Yeah, this is just bizarre ...
"A rock on a stick has a 5' reach unless otherwise specified."
Wednesday, 14th September, 2005, 03:43 PM #9
And why doesn't the fireplace have any secret compartments?
Wednesday, 14th September, 2005, 04:00 PM #10
Scout (Lvl 6)
She's too busy wringing her hands! I would have thought that this was obvious.Originally Posted by Patryn of Elvenshae