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

Chris Danielson

First Post
By the way, I'm new to enworld and posting on these threads, how do I get it to post with other people's quotes in the bubbles? I thought 'reply with quote" would do it,but it didn't.
 

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Dannyalcatraz

Schmoderator
Staff member
By the way, I'm new to enworld and posting on these threads, how do I get it to post with other people's quotes in the bubbles? I thought 'reply with quote" would do it,but it didn't.

Using that button should have done it. If it isn't working, there's a bug somewhere.

Try again. If it doesn't do it, report it in Meta.
http://www.enworld.org/forum/forumdisplay.php?35-Meta

In the interim, if/when the malfunction continues, you can simply type the word "quote" in square brackets (without quotation marks) at the beginning of what you want to quote, and then you close the quote bubble by doing the same at the end, but with a / right before the word quote, inside the brackets.

Like this, but with square brackets, not parentheses:
(QUOTE)(/QUOTE)
 
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David Howery

Adventurer
years after reading it, the story about the lying elf who starved to death because he couldn't tell the truth about being hungry still makes me laugh...
 

Chris Danielson

First Post
Thanks for the tips, Danny. And David Howrey, did you used to write articles for Dragon Magazine? I recall your name from the late80s/early 90s era of the publication.
 


Chris Danielson

First Post
A please to "meet" you as it were . . . I have one letter printed in Dragon, and it was about one of your articles (not negative, I assure you).

And speaking of bad modules, anyone remember Eye of the Serpent? It was one of the UK series. I amend my earlier comment about likely nearly all the modules in that series, as that one wasn't a very good one either. Not terrible, but it really railroads you into the choices you have to make to get to the end of the module. It was more like an AD&D version of a Choose-Your-Own-Adventure or Fighting Fantasy Gamebook.
 

JonnyP71

Explorer
UK5 Eye of the Serpent was not 'bad', certainly not in the way that The Forest Oracle was just plain bad, and there were far worse than UK5 available (A3, B3, B9, X3, C3/4/5 the whole DL series, I10/11/12/13, most of the H series - I;d much prefer to run UK5 to the Temple part of T1-4 even!)

UK5 attempted something different - a wilderness trek for a small party of 1st level characters. There were no editing issues, the presentation was fine, it was easy to use, it made sense, the encounters worked, and it described the changing environments as the party trekked down the mountainside very well. But without much of a plot, or any hook better than 'ooh look, that river looks like a snake and it's eye is glinting', it just felt very average. It needs a spark, some sort of purpose, it lacks personality.

As for the railroad elements - that was easy to avoid - remove the 'open/closed route depending on classes' feature. My group played the adventure a couple a months ago when we started our 1E campaign - I gave them the freedom to roam, assumed all routes were open, and they had a good time. Not a particularly memorable one - nothing on a par with 'crazy frenchmen (X2)', or 'terrifying Monks (X4)', 'or the Web explodes and fills your minds with clear visions of others' lives (UK4). Merely good.
 
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Chris Danielson

First Post
If we are just looking at editing issues, then yes, The Forest Oracle is in a class by itself, putting aside the ill-thought encounters. But we're looking at bad modules, and Eye of the Serpent falls below average. It was just boring, with a lot of random monsters thrown in as obstacles on the way down the mountain. I agree they tried something different, but I'll have to differ with you on the execution. Maybe it would be better if I had DMed it the way you did, but I tired it for the first time and wanted to see if the class-specific focus with the routes worked. It didn't. The party had a lot more fun with modules like N1, which had wilderness as well as town and dungeon features.

I liked the H series, even though the Battlesystem setup was very time-consuming. But I agree H4 got a too over the top with the demon princes and chaotic evil deities everywhere with the conduits, not to mention the lich city. As a high-level adventure, the whole series was better than the Queen of the Spiders supermodule, which quickly became hack-and-slash of giants and drow (I realize that may be sacrilege, but I'm not the first reviewer to say that).

I thought a really great - and tough -module was Dark Clouds Gather, which brought in aerial combat like underwater adventuring was for U3.
 


JonnyP71

Explorer
I agree it was lacking - it was the weakest of the otherwise excellent UK series, and U1, N1 and T1 are all better starting adventures, but it was better than much of the dross that followed in the mid-late 80s... I only used UK5 as a campaign opener because we started our 1E campaign with some players missing, and of those who were there, 1 of them has played N1 and U1. T1 would have been too difficult, so they played that afterwards, when they had 3-4 PCs at level 2.

The campaign is planned to be:
UK5 - T1 - (part of U2)- UK2 - UK4 (just finished) - UK3 - UK1 - I1 - UK6 - C1 - S2 - S4/WG4 - GDQ1-7

They didn't kill Lareth in T1, so he is coming back next session - it will be him, his Bugbears and his remaining guards who have sacked Gannaway at the start of UK3 instead of marauding Gnolls, and he wants the Gauntlet too...

Depending on character deaths/player availability I'd like to try to shoehorn a few more in (C2, EX1/2, parts of I3-5, UK7, I7/8) for example. It's a trip full of nostalgia for me, and a chance to play for the classics for the group of relatively new players.

....they won't be playing the Forest Oracle!
 

Chris Danielson

First Post
I agree it was lacking - it was the weakest of the otherwise excellent UK series, and U1, N1 and T1 are all better starting adventures, but it was better than much of the dross that followed in the mid-late 80s.

That reminds me of I13, Adventure Pack I, from 1987 (did TSR ever make an Adventure Pack II?). It had one really great adventure (To Kill a Kraken), some really bad ones both in plot and editing (like Reign of Triumph), and some that were good plot ideas but marred by editing errors (The Circus of Gandolfo). The editing staff was just awful then; I don't know how much of it had to do with Gygax's departure from the company and the resulting Williams era.
 


Schmoe

Adventurer
So, I agree that looking back at this with a seasoned eye, the adventure is pretty cringeworthy and outright hilarious in places.

That being said, I remember running it as a young teenager, and we all had fun. I was already used to not being able to understand all the rules in the 1e DMG, so when I didn't understand something in the module, I just made it up! I think I decided that the nymph had been cursed to watch her lover sleep for years, and part of the curse was that she couldn't interfere. Waking the woodsman broke the curse. Easy fix, and still a fun RP encounter which was a big part of making me realize that non-combat encounters could be fun! I handwaved the whole sleep thing for the wererat ambush, because I was worried it would TPK my group of totally casual and non-optimized friends, and then I flat out ignored the part about the innkeeper knowing that they were actually wererats. "What, it was them!? I thought they were up to no good! Thank the gods ye weren't too hurt. Here, have an ale on the house." It wasn't even that hard or something that I agonized over. As it came up, if it didn't make sense I just sort of changed it.

In the end, I've always looked back fondly on this adventure as one that we had a lot of fun with. So I guess three cheers for bad adventures! They can still be a great time. :)
 

Parmandur

Legend
So, I agree that looking back at this with a seasoned eye, the adventure is pretty cringeworthy and outright hilarious in places.

That being said, I remember running it as a young teenager, and we all had fun. I was already used to not being able to understand all the rules in the 1e DMG, so when I didn't understand something in the module, I just made it up! I think I decided that the nymph had been cursed to watch her lover sleep for years, and part of the curse was that she couldn't interfere. Waking the woodsman broke the curse. Easy fix, and still a fun RP encounter which was a big part of making me realize that non-combat encounters could be fun! I handwaved the whole sleep thing for the wererat ambush, because I was worried it would TPK my group of totally casual and non-optimized friends, and then I flat out ignored the part about the innkeeper knowing that they were actually wererats. "What, it was them!? I thought they were up to no good! Thank the gods ye weren't too hurt. Here, have an ale on the house." It wasn't even that hard or something that I agonized over. As it came up, if it didn't make sense I just sort of changed it.

In the end, I've always looked back fondly on this adventure as one that we had a lot of fun with. So I guess three cheers for bad adventures! They can still be a great time. :)
Whelp, that's how adventure products work: toolsets, not novels.
 

JonnyP71

Explorer
.... but when you pay for a complete set of tools, and all you get is a pretty box, the tools themselves being cheap and fragile, and only fit for the bin, there is a problem....

A few more iffy adventures - C3 - Lost Island of Castanamir. Wordy, badly edited, and messy. Woefully short for the effort required from the DM in trying to understand the damn thing.

And, a little bit of heresy maybe - I5, The Lost Tomb of Martek. A disappointing finale to a great series, should have been fleshed out to 64 pages and given a decent editor. Hickman ran rough-shod over too many rules. My players really enjoyed it, I didn't have the same pleasure while running it.
 


JonnyP71

Explorer
The whole thing just needed more detail and more meat to it - it was a jumble of great ideas shoehorned into 32 pages. The Abyss with the shifting time and magical effects was another wonderful idea, sadly it ended up being little more than a sprint to the end with maybe a few random encounters.

Clearly Martek is far from the worst, it's not a total turkey like the Forest Oracle, but it was disappointing in its execution.
 




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