Example from the worst TSR adventure module(s) ever published




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    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
    c. 1984

    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 deer sleeps because a huge sleep potion was put into the lake by a jealous nymph. Anyone drinking just one cup from the lake must take a chance on being put to sleep if he is below 4th level. There is a 20% chance that any water carried away from the lake will not work (DMG p. 117). Mixed with the sleep potion was a duration potion. All who sleep stay so until they are moved away from the edge of the water and the shore; they will then awaken normally. Do not encourage the party to test the water. If they check the deer, they will discover it has a very slight pulse.

    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.
    Evan the Forester (Fighter; Lvl 3; AC 6; MV 12"; HD 2; hp 5; #AT 1: Dmg 2-7 [axe]; SA/SD None) sleeps in the pavilion. The nymph who loved him was afraid he was going to leave her so she arranged to have a special enchantment cast upon the lake. Evan sleeps until awakened. He awakens in one round as outlined for sleep spell (PH p. 68).

    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.
    How many things are just wrong with this encounter and text? I mean, just start with Evan's stat block: 3rd-level fighter with 2 hit dice and 5 hit points? His damage is by an axe, but he only owns a longbow and a dagger. It hurts my head just reading it. And the "plot"?

    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.

    Quasqueton
    Last edited by Quasqueton; Saturday, 22nd October, 2011 at 09:30 PM.

 

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    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...
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    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...
    Robin Williams (1951-2014)
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    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.

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    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."

    Quasqueton

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    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?

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    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?

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    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."

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    And why doesn't the fireplace have any secret compartments?

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    Quote Originally Posted by Patryn of Elvenshae
    So, uh, why couldn't the nymph wake up Evan herself?
    She's too busy wringing her hands! I would have thought that this was obvious.

    Cheers,
    Cam

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