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

Ancalagon

Dusty Dragon
More adventuring material.

I submitted this paragraph to the OSR server

"A group of men head by. They are not tarrying or running. Nor are they singing. They don't seem to be making apple pies. As far as you can tell, they're not talking about sports. They neither have sombreros nor stilts. These men are not acrobats. They have no expression as they don't dally to the west."

The GLOG hivemind (specifically the user RandomWizard) then created a new class based on it :D (in the GLOG you gain one template (A, B, C....) per level, up to a max of 4).

Faceless Walker (start with basic clothes, a face-covering mask, and a knife)
A. While wearing your mask, you can perfectly hide your conversation, your movement speed, sombreros, stilts, and your facial expression.
B. While wearing your mask, people can't see you have your weapon drawn until you attack something with it.
C. You can exert an anti-acrobatics field. All attempts to perform acrobatics within 100 feet of you go horribly wrong, likely resulting in broken bones.
D. You learn a secret: the reason your mask does this is because of the machinations of something far to the west. You may join together with a band of other Faceless Walkers and travel to seek it out.

No mention of pies though....
 

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Well, consider how in the H--- this even got green-lit for publication!?

I started reading a pdf of this about 8 or so years ago and never got past the first page.
 

Maxperson

Morkus from Orkus
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."



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
Yeah. There's a bunch wrong there, but as far as level, hit dice and hit points go, it's probably a typo with hit dice and someone put in 2 instead of 3. Remember, this was old D&D and you didn't get max hit points at first level and only got a con bonus at 15 or higher. I think I got a fighter to level 3 once with single digit hit points. He could have had 3.

Edit: Dangit all. Gotten by yet another thread necro.
 

Dannyalcatraz

Schmoderator
Staff member
Yeah. There's a bunch wrong there, but as far as level, hit dice and hit points go, it's probably a typo with hit dice and someone put in 2 instead of 3. Remember, this was old D&D and you didn't get max hit points at first level and only got a con bonus at 15 or higher. I think I got a fighter to level 3 once with single digit hit points. He could have had 3.

Edit: Dangit all. Gotten by yet another thread necro.

A group of threads exist. They are not tarrying or running. Nor are they singing. They don't seem to be making apple pies. As far as you can tell, they're new. They neither have sombreros nor stilts. These threads are not recently posted. They have no expression as they don't dally to the west.

Edit: my post is a paraphrase of another post- the unaltered witty text was originally post #14 of this thread.
 
Last edited:

More adventuring material.

I submitted this paragraph to the OSR server

"A group of men head by. They are not tarrying or running. Nor are they singing. They don't seem to be making apple pies. As far as you can tell, they're not talking about sports. They neither have sombreros nor stilts. These men are not acrobats. They have no expression as they don't dally to the west."

The GLOG hivemind (specifically the user RandomWizard) then created a new class based on it :D (in the GLOG you gain one template (A, B, C....) per level, up to a max of 4).

Faceless Walker (start with basic clothes, a face-covering mask, and a knife)
A. While wearing your mask, you can perfectly hide your conversation, your movement speed, sombreros, stilts, and your facial expression.
B. While wearing your mask, people can't see you have your weapon drawn until you attack something with it.
C. You can exert an anti-acrobatics field. All attempts to perform acrobatics within 100 feet of you go horribly wrong, likely resulting in broken bones.
D. You learn a secret: the reason your mask does this is because of the machinations of something far to the west. You may join together with a band of other Faceless Walkers and travel to seek it out.

No mention of pies though....
Good grief...
 

Orius

Adventurer
Well, consider how in the H--- this even got green-lit for publication!?

I started reading a pdf of this about 8 or so years ago and never got past the first page.
The publication date was 1984, which was when Gary was out in Hollywood. I believe it was also when TSR had their first big economic crisis or was about to have it. I'd imagine some quality control at the time got cut and then this module slipped through.
 

The publication date was 1984, which was when Gary was out in Hollywood. I believe it was also when TSR had their first big economic crisis or was about to have it. I'd imagine some quality control at the time got cut and then this module slipped through.
Yeah. But my adventure, WG5, was also a product that year; but come to think of it, they didn't mess the editing on it but did get one of my maps positioned wrong. But given the writing in the addie under question it doesn't even meet RPGA/Dungeon Magazine standards of the time.
 

John R Davis

Explorer
I remember some of the early 3rd party 3.0 edition modules being garbage. One called The Horror Beneath sticks in my mind. Early years of digital maps which added to the poor quality.
 

Orius

Adventurer
Yeah. But my adventure, WG5, was also a product that year; but come to think of it, they didn't mess the editing on it but did get one of my maps positioned wrong. But given the writing in the addie under question it doesn't even meet RPGA/Dungeon Magazine standards of the time.

Possibly it was was rushed to meet a deadline or something too, I don't really know.

I recently read an article that described how TSR handled module publishing back in the early 80s and it described how one of the X series modules (X6, 7, or 8, I don't remember which, and I don't have the link here) was put together from start to finish. Somewhere during the editing process the module got looked by someone like Gary or Frank Mentzer. I wouldn't be surprised if N2 skipped that part of the process, though this is only speculation of course.
 


Ha! I read the whole thing! Sure, there was a lot of crying in a fetal position on the floor afterwards, but I read it all!
:ROFLMAO: Yeah. I suppose my reaction bears from having been given so many mss BitD to proof. If one can't get past the first printed page (about 2.5-4 typed pages, depending on the font, kerning, words/page ratio) then the ms is a wash. It's a sign of what's to come in fact. It's like a novel or short in that regard. You're either hooked or you're crooked. ;)
 

Possibly it was was rushed to meet a deadline or something too, I don't really know.

I recently read an article that described how TSR handled module publishing back in the early 80s and it described how one of the X series modules (X6, 7, or 8, I don't remember which, and I don't have the link here) was put together from start to finish. Somewhere during the editing process the module got looked by someone like Gary or Frank Mentzer. I wouldn't be surprised if N2 skipped that part of the process, though this is only speculation of course.
Frank was a go-to guy at TSR for final editing as he had established great standards for such in the RPGA.
 

Mannahnin

Adventurer
Possibly it was was rushed to meet a deadline or something too, I don't really know.

I recently read an article that described how TSR handled module publishing back in the early 80s and it described how one of the X series modules (X6, 7, or 8, I don't remember which, and I don't have the link here) was put together from start to finish. Somewhere during the editing process the module got looked by someone like Gary or Frank Mentzer. I wouldn't be surprised if N2 skipped that part of the process, though this is only speculation of course.
This one?

 

Ancalagon

Dusty Dragon
Good grief...
Jokes aside, the GLOG crew has been very creative at making classes that seem silly but are perfectly playable. A good example of this was the Monkey Dad, which gives you the powers of being a monkey and allows you to "adopt" other party members, boosting their stats.

Whatever concept you have, it can be turned into a GLOG class. Makes for great custom priests too.
 

ECMO3

Villager
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."



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
That is really bad. I don't havve text that bad but the chult companion (FRM1?) had a module in it, with numbered encounters and references to a map .... but the map did not ship with the module.
 

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