Tuesday, February 27, 2024

Adventure Site Contest: Review #4 Etta Capp’s Cottage

By: Scott Marcley of thegloomyforest.blogspot.com

Ruleset: AD&D/OSRIC

Recommended Levels: 3-5 characters of 3rd to 5th level

The Gist: Crazy lady of the forest lives in spiderweb house that seems to have a pretty dark secret the author leaves entirely up to the DM's imagination.

This is a really tight lair that I'll plop down in a fey woods hexcrawl faster than Ye Olde Jeff writes adventures.  All the little details are great, work together, and will intrigue players as they go through it.  Poison is still a bitch at these levels, so tension will be high.  Some examples of what makes this next-level:

  • the spider web-cloth material itself can form a unique treasure of sorts for players who want to run with that detail, if they realize it
  • the location allows players a great deal of leeway in how they approach it - if they're willing to risk getting a bite they can make their own doors that last for a short time, but if they try to stand off and shoot their way through at reduced risk they're not going to get anywhere (and probably get buried in random encounters).  Just a neat balance/tactical choice.
  • The flavor details are creepy because they're seemingly mutually exclusive, yet internally coherent in isolation.  All the options to bridge the two sets of details together are really, really dark and yet something you'd totally think a hag would do, even if you don't know exactly how it happened.
  • The grand showdown is set up to be a heck of a fight for the party, given the difficulty they have with closing the distance.  And yet, if a party already has something like a potion of flying from previous adventures (and uses it here) it will feel like that usage tipped the scales in their favor - which is what magic items are supposed to feel like when used.  The use of verticality is nicely done.

Monster Roster: Spiders and ettercaps, but it all makes sense here and reinforces the theme.

Treasure: If players find everything, around 12,000 gp and a small number of magic items that are well-chosen for both the location and party levels.

Do I think this will work: Yes, this will work tremendously.

Do I like it: I love it

Nitpicks:  Very small nitpicks, and the total details involved would fill out more than two pages, but some light touches that could present interesting situations are:

1) An extra sentence giving how long spider silk armor/garments last, and what damages them, would be cool.  How much cloth to make them?  Also what characters might know it was usable this way (druid?), as I think the odds of players making the connection will be low.

2) In the cellar, show the tunnel walls (I presume the "tunnel" is interior and not exterior) and have the multitude of small spiders start sealing it off some number of rounds after the players go inside.

 3) Having one empty chair/setting in the dining room. What would they have to say if spoken with?  (I'm wondering - the author shouldn't feel obligated to define this last bit.  Nice touch with the family!)

4) Add "and assorted beasts" in Area E to prompt the DM with an answer if the players search the other 12 cocoons.


  1. Thanks for the review...glad you liked it! I was dying for a third page to flesh out a few more details I had to strip out of the site to make it fit the contest guidelines. To answer your questions/comments...

    1) I had no guidelines for how long spider-silk lasts or how much it would take to make clothing (I imagine a few sq. yards per garment, twice that for padded armor). It was meant to be super-strong, so I didn't imagine it wearing out or falling apart unless the character's items were damaged from failing an area effect save.

    2) There aren't interior walls in the "cellar," just a tunnel-like entrance. It's an open space. Love the idea of Etta having her minions seal off the exit behind the party. I'm adding that to any future uses of this location.

    3) There are three empty chairs at the dining table (one for Etta). The original version had some more details about her family (and in her bedroom, clues to a mysterious suitor that leads the party to a second, fey-insect-themed adventure site) that I had to trim out for the contest.

    4) The other cocoons contain "carcasses of recently-killed beasts" (i.e., animals).

    Thanks again for reviewing it. Drop me a line if you ever use it and let me know how it turned out!

  2. I'll definitely let you know how it turns out when I run it - thanks for the extra info, and thanks for submitting