Thursday, February 29, 2024

Adventure Site Contest: Review #9 Lair of the Grim Gasher Orcs

(Full map not shown)

By: Daniel Herz

Ruleset: B/X

Recommended Levels: 1-3

The Gist: It's a nicely done orc lair.

This is good vanilla.  You need orc lairs, they are what they are.  This one feels like an orc lair, and it feels like part of the world.  You get lots of little details players might latch on to for some idea they have, it's not "wonder" but it's attention-keeping and gives a path to player satisfaction from using the environment and circumstances to their own benefit.

The entire lair is coherent, easy to read, and tight.  There's zero need for the DM to try to anticipate exactly how the players will choose to tackle it because it's competent world building and complete as its own thing.  Since the DM knows who the orcs are, and what they're like, anything the players come up with makes an orcish reaction immediately come to mind.  And that's stress-free DMing; it's DMing out of a position of curiosity. This is why good vanilla can make great gaming.

nice touches:

  • note about ransom attempts ending badly thus preferring other uses for captives
  • sentry system is given
  • possibility of submittal (and conditions) mentioned
  • These orcs aren't hyper competent - they can ignore their dogs warnings, foul their well while collecting rainwater in barrels, can be fooled by disguises, will shoot arrows even if possibly killing their own, really only have one plan for invasion and fall apart if circumstances are different etc.
  • However neither are they hopelessly dumb - the make barricades for cover
  • The dogs might attack their owners, which players would find fun
  • a human boy who's got a touch of Stockholm syndrome
  • You get an expansion point if you want to add some more
  • A goblin slave, if freed, will spill the beans and also take out its frustrations on the corpse of its master
  • Doors that work differently get a note before they'll be interacted with, and another at the point of interaction - a DM isn't going to "whoops" these
  • It's possible to use the ventilation system to surprise orcs away from the main hall
  • The orc chief has a touch of OCD and arranges skulls in order of size

Monster Roster: It's almost entirely orcs, with the handful of dogs.  Assorted slaves or prisoners aren't significantly different from a roster standpoint.  This is fine for an orc lair.

Treasure: Also fine for a level 1-3 orc lair.  The chief has a potion (but might use it) and otherwise there's about 6,000 gp worth of various coin and jewelry/art objects.  Also a church bell (with no value given) that a DM could give a reward for if the players want to attempt taking it. 

Do I think this will work: Yes

Do I like it: Yes, seeing an orc lair executed like this immediately makes me want to play in this DM's campaign.  If you can do the basics like this, you're not relying on flashbangs to create fun.  I bet the wow stuff really sings.

Nitpicks: Mismatch in numbering fireplace rooms on map vs text numbering

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