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HHSOLO 1 - The Hounds of Halthrag Keep $0.00
Publisher: The Hapless Henchman
by Customer Name Withheld [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 08/31/2016 01:18:12

Note: Normally, I wouldn't bother leaving a negative review of a free product, but since there is print version available for a price and a number of gamers who prefer to handle physical product in lieu of PDFs, I felt there was justification for such a course of action. (As one of the reviewers below notes, given the Choose-your-own-Adventure format of the adventure, using the PDF version is somewhat bothersome, which might encourage a potential buyer to pull the trigger on the print version.) I would strongly encourage you to download the PDF for free and look it over before you choose to buy; after all, reviews inevitably reflect the biases and individual quirks of the reviewers, whether good or bad, so it's important to take a look for yourself in order to judge whether or not the reviewers see things the same way you do.

So, with that in mind, let me explain why I disliked this adventure so much. First off, as you can quickly surmise for yourself should you download the product and take a look, this is a solo adventure written for the Dungeon Crawl Classics RPG, in particular a solo funnel adventure where you play a hapless 0-level adventurer dropped against their will into a deadly scenario. As noted in the afterword, this is based on the old solo Ghost of Lion Castle adventure put out by TSR back in the 80's. This tells you a number of things off the bat: this adventure will be difficult, very much so--you will undoubtedly die many times before succeeding, if you ever do at all. That may turn some people off, in which case you can stop reading now--clearly, you are not the intended audience for this product. This does not bother me, however, having played the old solo TSR adventures back in the day (and no, I do not think I ever legitimately beat one) and also having played in DCC funnel adventures as well (which are a great deal of fun, in a black-humor sort of way). This makes me the intended audience for the adeventure, but two points in particular really turned me off.

First, the adventure is, to put it bluntly...dull. DCC adventures are famous for their crazy, off the wall scenarios and ideas, but this adventure is a bog-standard explore an old, ruined castle taken straight from any number of previously published adventures generated in the last four decades. As I played through it, I kept expecting some crazy plot twist or at least an intriguing encounter or two to really give the adventure some sparkle, but I was disappointed in this regard. There is absolutely no creative spark to this adventure, nothing to make it stick out in your memory. The most creative thing the author was able to come up with was inserting goofy lines from famous 80's flicks such as Ghostbusters. This really is jarring considering the game system he wrote it for; if you're going to write for the DCC system, free adventure or no, you need to bring your craziest ideas and most outlandish scenarios. You need to turn it up to 11, in other words; the best this author could manage was a 2.5 or thereabouts. If he had written this for, say, Labyrinth Lord, I would overlook it, but in my opinion this is a serious flaw for a DCC adventure.

Second, as you are likely aware, DCC is usually classified as an "OSR" game, a term which is defined in many different ways according to a wide variety of criteria based on the individual's preference, but generally refers to a game that (in some way) reflects the spirit of the first generation of fanatasy RPGs played back in the 70's and early 80's (and even this generalization isn't always agreed on). Unfortunately, within the ranks of gamers who self-identify as OSR gamers (and a fair number of DCC players do), there are a number of indivduals who fall into the tiresome practice of forever lecturing the unwashed masses on what an OSR game is supposed to be and why it is the only correct way to play a RPG. The author firmly falls into this camp; he makes this clear at the end of the book when, while explaining why he made the adventure so lethal decides to lecture you on why this is the "correct" way to enjoy adventures. He even says that if you played the game "correctly" (yes, that's the word he uses, you unwashed masses!) by focusing on the play and not the character or the RULES (I assume he capitalized the word just to make sure us, the ignorant readers, wouldn't miss this particularly important bit of his enlightened wisdom), you will have learned an important "lesson" (i.e., the way games ought to be played, according to him).

The sheer pretentiousness of his approach is extremely off-putting, and likely reveals the real reason he produced this adventure--not because he wanted to provide fellow gamers with a free adventure, a labor of love on his part, but rather so he could have yet another opportunity to pontificate on why he is so much more wise than the rest of us when it comes to the "correct" way to enjoy RPG games. It seems lost on the author that some of us have been playing the game for as long as he has and are capable of deciding for ourselves how to approach such games without the benefit of his lecturing.



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HHSOLO 1 - The Hounds of Halthrag Keep
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