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OPD 2019 Reviews (31-40)

Part 3. Part 5.

You can follow along with the reviews by purchasing the OPD 2019 pdf over at drivethrurpg. The purchase price goes towards the prizes for the next year’s contest. Leave a comment here or contact me on mewe if you have a blog, patreon, or social media page you would like me to link to.

Eshan Mitra – The Mad Artificer’s Invention …………………………………..31

Armed with a fantastic new alchemical approach, this mad artificer is holed up in their short tower and the players will have to become quick masters of their unusual deconstructive alchemy in order to retrieve the stolen dragon statue they were hired to get.

The Good: The deconstructive, tag-based alchemy system seems like a fun mini-game that can be bolted onto any existing system, and encourages the players to think non-linearly. Also, the map nicely has small symbols and drawings for easy refence on the DM’s part to remember what is where.

The Bad: On the flip-side such an open-ended device can easily create headaches for a DM in monitoring the power level of what the players create. Also, there isn’t any information about what might happen to an item not listed here, such as items the players bring in themselves. Perhaps it could have been artificially limited by indicating that the items here were created from special distillations by the alchemist, which normal items aren’t made of, and this could be seen in that the items have small gems inset in them of the listed colors/shapes of the dungeon. Lastly, the creatures and items here aren’t given indications of their intended relative strengths.

The Useful: Even if you don’t use this as a small retrieval adventure, this is a very stealable mini-game of an interesting effect that the players will spend hours discussing the best possible uses of.

Euan R and Garry C – Zorpy’s Tall Tale (For Kids!)…………………………..32

A kid-friendly dungeon/adventure where the players play out the memories of an experienced adventurer they meet in the woods.

The Good: Lots of miniature encounters of wildly different biomes and situations for the players to try out different things without having to break from the regular campaign.

The Bad: While the encounters are intentionally simple, they could still give more details like what an animal they are fighting is fighting for, or what the kuo-toa want from the caves. These small details would encourage more creativity in the players to discover alternative paths to victory than just rolling dice until one side runs out of hit points.

The Useful: A comfortable, safe adventure to bring some new tabletop players into a game with minimal consequences. Also, the idea of literally playing through an NPC’s memories has quite the hook to it, and I could see this concept being expanded by providing simple character sheets for a temporary session of exposition where the players take on NPC’s roles, determining the actual past with their actions. 

Finnen Cerises – The Bowels of Holy Mountain……………………………….33

This dungeon is an adventure outline of ascending a dangerous mountain to defeat a great evil.

The Good: Lots of small random tables to either make this dungeon reusable or alternatively to allow multiple combinations of possibilities to flavor each step of the adventure.

The Bad: Minimal concrete details, distances, creatures, items, or the like means that any DM running this adventure will have to do almost all of the legwork themselves to create a playable game. Also, the layout of the small tables is in the opposite direction of the path of travel on the symbolic map, reversing this would make it easy to cross-reference entries with their symbols on the adventure map.

The Useful: Random tables are always good to have when stuck in a rut for inspiration. If you take this adventure to pieces and use its tables to give random results for different aspects of a dungeon or short adventure you are creating, it could help you come up with something totally different from your normal style.

Francesco Pauzzi – The Mad Witch Project……………………………………..34

Multi-colored key pairs control the access to rooms in this witch’s hideout. Players must figure out the key system and best the dungeon’s defenders to win.

The Good: The key mechanic makes for an interesting central dilemma for a dungeon to use the same keys but in different combinations for its various doors. Some of the rooms have small icons to make it easier on the DM to glance at the map and remember what is in a room.

The Bad: Unless I am misreading, the keys are reusable (there doesn’t seem to be enough if they aren’t) which means the players are only going to pay the explosion cost of messing up a key a couple times before they figure it out. It would have been better with either more colors or preferably some minor cost to be paid to rework a key. Also, the treasures and foes in this dungeon are given only the smallest descriptions, where keywords would help make them interesting or at least help the DM decide how valuable/strong to make them. 

The Useful: The combined key idea is the gold kernel in this dungeon entry, but that isn’t to say that the rest of the dungeon isn’t a perfectly suitable adventure able to be reskinned along any type of raid on a lightly fortified enemy.

Glynn Seal – Escape From Dead Bird Isle……………………………………..35

This island the players have shipwrecked on is strangely devoid of avian and human life. They must figure out its ruined temples for a chance to get home.

The Good: The atmosphere of the island is built well with concise flavorful elements in each location. The central puzzle is easy enough to solve with the given clues that players will have a chance to figure it out in that wacky, indirect way they do, and noncentral elements are left open-ended to boost the creepiness factor. Note that they do give the reason the town/island is depopulated even if all the consequences aren’t directly spelled out, useful in case a player gets fixated on these details like they often do. 

The Bad: Uncommon variants of common monsters are listed but given nothing other than a name, leaving the DM to have to decide how strong, numerous, and skilled those creatures are. There is a missed opportunity to create some treasures in this place, not even necessarily things of value, but weird or quirky items fitting the flavor of the island and its lost religion. 

The Useful: Shipwreck scenarios are few and far between, usually as a starting point for a campaign or possible alternate resolution for a party facing a wipe at sea. Luckily, this entry doesn’t completely rely on the shipwreck and could be reskinned as hiring players to investigate a reclusive or mysterious isle; even an archeological dig could be hiring adventurers to search this island whose natives have stopped scaring them away. 

GM Lily – The Lost Crystal ………………………………………………………….36

An unusual dungeon shape holds a crystal thief and stolen crystal that the adventurers have been commissioned to go and retrieve. Traps and monsters await in the castle’s dungeons.

The Good: A fun dungeon shape holds a couple fun puzzles that can easily fit anywhere a DM wants to reuse them. The number puzzle is of a type that can be adjusted in order to suit a range of mathematical abilities in a group. I also liked the friendly spider, as anything to encourage players to think outside of just killing everything they come across is a useful speedbump to murderhobos. 

The Bad: There could be more clues tying the spider back to being a pet of their employer. Monsters and bandits within aren’t given much of a description of their tactics, abilities, or even relative intended strengths. I am also confused as to why the thieves would flee into a dungeon with no other exit from the castle.

The Useful: This sort of job requires some familiarity with whatever town or leader is hiring the group, but could work as the sort of maintenance or distraction job within a larger campaign to defend a province or ally of their main water source.

Goblin’s Henchman – In the Heart of the Sea …………………………………37

Less of a dungeon, this entry is a mini-game and DM aid to help with creating a random sea voyage. It includes hazards, weather, and by extension, journey-time. 

The Good: This tool can help the DM with planning their sessions and keeping a long sea voyage interesting without having to use the blank canvas of their own imagination. The hex movement with wrapping is an interesting mechanic, especially with the dice results weighting of the 2d6 that tends to move it down.

The Bad: With the weighting, it seems like it would be very difficult to ever reach the topmost “destination” hex unless you get lucky with the wrap-around. Shouldn’t it be that 7 is the “down” and the other numbers of the dice splitting around the hex? The wrap around effect is very confusing, and there are a number of hex edges for which I am not sure what the intended wrapping point is.

The Useful: A nice tool to have for either a one-shot voyage or as the main tool for a sea-faring campaign, although you may want to tweak the numbers to center around the types of results you want more of.

Grant W. – Hidden in Plain Sight………………………………………………….38

A four story walk-up with a first floor magic shop is the epicenter of some magical weirdness going on and the players shall investigate. 

The Good: The final battle with the wizard is given some hints about the wizards tactics, which is always useful for classes like that which can have so many permutations.

The Bad: Very little is spelled out in specifics on this entry, leaving most of it up to the DM to create before they can run this. The rooms are given the barest of descriptions with no mention of layout or relative locations of things within.

The Useful: This could serve as inspiration for some background buildings in a larger city in case the players go knocking on unexpected doors.

Idiomdrottning – city on a bird or whatever…………………………………….39

An abstract comic describes a city built on the back of a bird, along with some of the encounters that can be had therein.

The Good: Fun art evokes the absurdist premise nicely. The possible random encounters fit the theme and are creative in the directions they can be taken. 

The Bad: This is less of a dungeon or even adventure, and more of an idea with art, as there isn’t much playable content included. There are no maps or even relative locations indicated of any interesting places or people, and the monsters aren’t given listed strengths or abilities so listing how many appear is useless. Sadly, the treasures and missions are fairly boring, breaking with the vibe of the rest of the entry.

The Useful: Good when you need something wacky to either lighten the mood or as part of a high magic world that already has built in silliness.

J. A. Kordosh – Rampage Boulevard ……………………………………………..40

Rampage Boulevard is a self-contained campaign in the style of a retro-adventure-brawler ala Double Dragon or the like. Pick or create a character and get going to fight through mooks to the big bad.

The Good: Providing a few flavorful characters helps set the mood for custom player creations nicely, and the various scenes give enough detail for a DM to run without bogging down. Words are nicely highlighted with matching colors to keep relevant details popping out from the page. Enemies here are well described in the succinct words that give the weapons they use, their rough tactics, and relative strengths to the players. 

The Bad: Handwritten text is hard to read in places. While I can see the intent is to be system neutral, with how stand-alone this entry feels, it wouldn’t have been out of place to put in a simple and custom die rolling system to match. 

The Useful: Great as a one-shot adventure when players want to get into the roles of old beat-em-up game heroes. Alternatively, this could be reskinned to a montage-y sort of brawl adventure where the players need to wade through waves of mooks through a larger hostile area while abstracting through the minuatae of it.

2 thoughts on “OPD 2019 Reviews (31-40)

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