Monday, June 16, 2014

Shadowbrook Manor Review (Labyinth Lord Adventure)— More Pop Culture References Than Treasure

About a year ago, Goblinoid Games rolled out their online store with a half price sale. This, GBD 1102 Shadowbrook Manor by Patrick Kennedy caught my eye. It's a low level (1-3) adventure for Labyrinth Lord, about 12 pages total for $4.98.

The plot is relatively simple: for whatever reason (several ideas are given), the PCs must explore the home of an old wizard. It's larger than a house, but not really a mansion. Manor house, I guess.

There are about 40 keyed entries, mostly for the house. They are very descriptive and occasionally almost poetic. For instance, "The firelight from area 4 casts fitful, wavering shadows upon the surfaces of this empty corridor."

On the other hand, by and large, the encounters themselves aren't that original, either something obvious (such as undead servants), common tropes (the thief that steals from the party, the summoned demon that could TPK them if they aren't careful), or something borrowed from something else, like a ghostly librarian from Ghostbusters.

That is actually perhaps my biggest complaint - far too many modern culture references. It's like a Working Designs translation, if you are into JRPGs. Ghostbusters, Oil of Olay, Popeye and his spinach, The Princess Bride, Zork, etc. I always find those immersion breaking when used in a game, unless it's obviously based on a real world thing to begin with (like the Dungeonland modules for AD&D).

Especially depending on your players. No Steve, I don't want to hear your Popeye Impression. And enough with the Princess Bride quotes, Larry. Mercifully there are no Monty Python references (at least that I could detect).

There also seems to be a large amount of cursed items and those with serious drawbacks. And a potion of poison, though is there a published adventure that doesn't have a potion of poison in it? And more than a couple encounters that could pretty much screw over the party, such as being trapped into a void (as per the Deck of Many Things card) for being too inquisitive.

Shadowbrook Manor isn't a bad adventure, but it's somewhat short for the price (though I guess comparable to some of the shorter Advanced Adventures) and tries too hard to be funny. Menagerie of the Ice Lord covers the same general type of scenario (explore a dead wizard's house) and is superior in just about every way except the author's descriptive writing.


1 comment:

  1. Thank you for taking the time to review my adventure, and for your kind words regarding my descriptive prose. I knew when I was writing it that it wouldnt appeal to everyone but I'm sorry to hear the humor detracted so much from your enjoyment of it. I'll definitely check out the other adventure you recommend. Cheers!