Monday, October 14, 2013

The Vile Worm and The Manse on Murder Hill

Today's review are both courtesy of Tenkar's Free Game of the Week/Free OSR posts. 

I downloaded The Vile Worm after seeing this over at Tenkar's Tavern:

Arcana Creations has released the S&W adventure, The Vile Worm, for free. It's a conversion of the DCC adventure of the same name published by Brave Halfling, which itself was a conversion of The Vile Worm of the Eldritch Oak, which was included in the Swords & Wizardry White Box boxed set by none other then Brave Halfling.

So yes, The Vile Worm conversion for Swords and Wizardry is a conversion of a DCC RPG conversion of a Swords and Wizardry White Box adventure. Talk about returning to one's roots.

Deep within the forest, an ancient oak has grown huge, twisted, and evil. Ages ago, a savage cult haunted these woods and this tree became the focus of their unspeakable rites. Below it, they carved out a chamber of sacrificial horror where innocent victims were offered to a hideous worm-like god. As the centuries passed, the cult faded into the mists of time, but the twisted old oak stood fast, awaiting the day when the creeping evil in the dark below would be summoned once more.

This isn't really an adventure... it's more of a side-quest or a really involved random encounter. Given that it's so short, I can't say a whole lot about it without spoiling it. Suffice it to say that The Vile Worm is interesting enough to keep your players entertained for a couple of hours, so it's definitely worth the price, but don't expect it to take the whole session.

It clocks in at 7 pages, plus cover, map page, and OGL page. It has a couple of pieces of decent art, and a very nice map.The adventure doesn't give a level range, but it would be a tough fight for a 2nd level party.

The Manse on Murder Hill

Several children of Little Flanders have gone missing near an abandoned house of evil repute. A desperate town has begged your heroes to exorcise the house of evil spirits and rescue the children. Will you brave the dangers of the Manse on Murder Hill?
A Labyrinth Lord adventure for levels 1-3

I haven't run very many rescue adventures, and I don't think I've ever run a rescue adventure like this. It's well thought out, it has things in one room responding to things in other rooms, there's a rumor table, two wandering monster tables, a couple of interesting NPCs, a fairly well fleshed out small village (probably more so than it needed given how small it is), and a fun twist at the end.

The manse itself is great location all by itself. A boarded up, abandoned mansion at the top of the hill with a dark reputation? Just the sort of spooky place that's perfect for a Halloween game. I also like how the ongoing back story goes on, and can lead into the next adventure.

I did note a couple of editorial errors, but they were pretty minor. The map of the mansion is in that old TSR blue style that I never cared for, and the map of the village seems to show the Manse much closer than the text indicated. Aside from that It's really solid product and well worth your time, and the price (free) is absolutely perfect.

The art by Stuart Robinson is a surprising and welcome addition to an already solid free adventure.

29 pages long, including 2 maps, a set of pre-generated characters, handouts, and the cover.  

On a personal note, I really wish more products were formatted for booklet style printing. The Manse on Murder Hill was very compressed with wide margins and tiny type when I printed it as a booklet.

I am curious, how do you read your PDFs? I've added a new poll on the right.

1 comment:

  1. Doubt I'll ever have the chance to run it, but I can concur that Manse on Murder Hill was a very fun read.