Wednesday, February 28, 2024

Adventure Site Contest: Review #6 The Fountain of Bec

By: Stooshie & Stramash

Ruleset: Lab Lord (Advanced or Basic Versions)

Recommended Levels: Party of 3-5 of levels 4-7  LMAO

The Gist: You had some monastic nuns who were trad wives of their god, until the entire area was wrecked by raiders.  After several decades, the area has been lightly resettled but ominous trouble seems to be coming from the ruined monastery.  Clearly a job for our PCs!

So this is one of those pieces where the strength and weaknesses are uneven.  There's a lot of potential here - the strengths are very good, and the weaknesses are the type more experience and craft will shore up.

The ideas are very strong and flavorful.  If you can come up with great ideas, its easy to write stuff people want to run.  But the execution of these ideas is off.  They don't "fit"; they're too large for the piece and the maps chosen don't work with them very well (primarily the above-ground map).  A ruined monastic nunnery to adventure in leveraging a sacred theme and a neat minor relic to boot is a great location idea.  This is some great meat for a party with a paladin character, or even just the party cleric getting thrown a thematic bone.  I like this very much! 

I also like fitting in Fiend Folio monsters, I do love me some FF.

Pairing that with a simple square ruined fort map with two towers and an open courtyard is poor execution.  There's not a group of women in history, married to their lord or otherwise, that is going to set up shop in this location.  I feel like this pair of authors would be well served with one of them (or both) developing rudimentary mapping skills so that their great ideas aren't detracted by the map.  (Also, sisters of education, community health, and farming aren't likely to set up shop in the mountains, but I digress.)  It always hurts to see what could be a great adventure shoehorned into ill-fitting free/generator maps.

It also feels like the authors aren't intimately familiar with what the monsters chosen will do, on average, in a combat situation.  Especially when placed in environments that pose their own penalties on PCs (such as fighting in water).

But these are all things that come with experience.  And you only get experience by using over-ambitious ideas and seeing what happens.  

Ask my long-ago former players.  

Actually, take my word on it.  I think some of them might still be a little salty.

But man, like I said, the ideas and flavor are here in spades for a 2-page adventure location.  The main foes, the trolls, have a plan for conflict and aren't just "there".  The random room locations are nicely thought out so that the DM has something to work with if PCs leave and come back without having to think very hard about it.  (FYI - the two towers are structured to set up a killing field in front of the fort feels like if this site were intended for a bit higher level PCs this could be utilized if the trolls put up log barricades and waited until the PCs were trying to negotiate that).  

You've got some verticality with the towers that both the trolls and the players can play with - at least the west tower - granting the trolls have the advantage there.

Once you get into the basement, the layout and details of the trolls fit well and will play well (although there are some non-troll nitpicks for the basement, below).

And putting a minor relic in brings a nearly abandoned aspect back into campaigns and worldbuilding.  Everyone remembers artifacts, but relics are where its at.  Artifacts are apocalypse fuel, relics are social fabric builders.  You don't have to have a 97th level cleric everywhere, you just need someone properly anointed pastoring a location blessed with a relic. MORE RELICS.

Overall, great job even if an uneven one.  Keep putting stuff out guys.  Play a lot.  We need more of this stuff, just match up the scope of the idea with the physical space!

Monster Roster: Trolls, a 10 HD giant 2-headed troll, death dogs, an invisible stalker, and some fucked up cthulian octopus with shadow powers (?).  I don't have LL so don't know the details on that one, but holy hell.

Treasure: There's some nice jewelry pieces so the party can grab around 10K in gold value...and did I mention the RELIC?  I can't remember if I mentioned the RELIC.

Do I think this will work: If you go into this adventure with five level 4 characters you're getting wrecked, even if you have some lower level henchman.  Two headed trolls, regular trolls, death dogs, and an extra-planar octopus aren't going to fall to your level 2 spells and fighters able to hit AC 0 on a 17 before you fall to them.

It definitely can work, but the DM needs to ignore the authors and peg it at a minimum of 40ish character levels, including at least two 6th level characters and ideally a level 7 spellcaster, primarily to handle the octopus and resolve the death dogs before those glass cannons do much damage and Pfizer half the party. Damage is going to occur here.  Healing will need to be more than a handful of CLW spells and maybe a potion or two.

Do I like it: Yes, it's broken as fuck but I like it.  I can fix her.


1) I don't know if XP was downshifted for LL, but the death dog XP is light.

2) It feels like some early changes were missed in editing - after rolling to see exactly where the trolls are, we're then told later that there's a 1:6 and 2:6 chance of trolls in the round/west towers.  But I already know exactly where the trolls are...and the chances of trolls in those towers is much higher.

3) Pop the maps open in MS paint and put a compass rose on them. Rotating to match would be preferable, but that might require some photoshop chops.  At least a rose would allow orienting to it on the basement levels without having to mentally realign the two maps together based on the stairs when reading rooms with directional info.

4) If Remove Curse is required, that should be the minimum level for that ruleset (5th level in AD&D, not sure about LL) - or have one of the scrolls in area 9 contain a remove curse spell

5) Speaking of area 9, the general rule about water and absorbent treasure applies - if the scrolls are useable, all the rest of the documents in the room probably shouldn't be "sodden".

6) this might be a difference in LL, but in AD&D invisible stalkers are limited time servants to MUs (aerial servants are the clerical version, also "limited time, specific use" monsters)  - there are a bunch of "indefinite time" guardian monsters, however, so if running with AD&D I'd recommend switching one in for the invisible stalker. Also whether aerial servant or invisible stalker, both are air elementals so it's questionable if gas would hurt them (even though gas isn't strictly listed as an immunity - their being "snatch and grab" monsters instead of location monsters likely means interaction with gas wasn't considered much at the time). 

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