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Author Topic: 100 Horror Adventure Seeds  (Read 3680 times)

RPGPundit

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100 Horror Adventure Seeds
« on: September 12, 2006, 06:27:40 PM »


The product is pretty much what it sounds like, a set of adventure seeds for a Horror-based campaign.
Before getting into that, a few words about the format: this is a PDF product (at least what I got was that, I don't know if they have a PoD option or not), and a relatively basic one at that, but nicely made. There was nothing that really made it stand out as far as production values, but it was well-formated, easy to use and read, and fine in the technical sense. No gold star or anything here, but nothing to complain about either.

There's a few pages worth of introductory blurb at the beginning, which I didn't find particularly inspired or useful, but there's not too much of it, so I'm cool with that.

The point of the book, according to the author, is to "spark your imagination, at least a little", so I'll be taking that as the mission statement and judging the book's success or failure on whether it lives up to that.

I should note that the writing style is almost conversational, and that the author isn't afraid to be pretty blunt with his own opinion of things; I've noticed this in the brief glances of the other products for review he sent me as well. This isn't a bad thing per se, its a little refreshing, but it can also become annoying at time.

Next you have a two-page section on "Creating Adventures". Here is a case in point of the "conversational blunt opinion" thing I'm talking about. Grim starts this section out by outlining his definition of a "traditional" module, and why he thinks it doesn't really have a lot of use.  I more or less agree with his position on this, but did it really need to be put into the product? Wouldn't just presenting the product as it is send the same message without having to turn the thing into a damn manifesto?

He goes on to explain that the main thing that frags adventures/modules in the published sense, or even in the GM-prepped sense is how no plan survives contact with the players.  This is true, but its also true that these days many adventures/modules worth their salt have already taken this into account and are not as rigidly linear as Grim would make them out to be.  Is this a case of a "module heartbreaker"; where Grim is claiming a kind of brilliant insight that is actually already pretty common? I mean shit, even some very old adventure materials (like Chaosium's Masks of Nyarlathotep) take this sort of thing into account and generally work with a format that goes a long way to handling this.

Next he goes into some brief and very basic advice about tips/props a GM can use to give atmosphere to his horror games. Nothing original here.

Finally, we get to the meat and potatos of the book: the adventure seeds themselves.
Each is formatted in a style that presents a description of the basic concept, a number of "twists" that can turn around the concept or adapt it to a different situation, and finally an epilogue where possible resolutions are presented.

For example, you have the "transylvania high" scenario: the basic concept is that the local high school is being plagued by a clique of teenage vampires made up of the "in-crowd" of the most popular students. The Players are students, teachers or other people associated with the school who have to discover the presence of the vampires and deal with them.  Possible twists include that the master vampire is in fact a Teacher; that a gang of Goth-wannabes have found out about the vampires and plan to kidnap one to force him or her to make them into vampires (thinking they deserve it more than the "cool kids"), that the vampires have the power to mentally enslave students or teachers as "followers".  The epilog in this scenario is pretty obvious: defeating the vampires. But that can lead to the discovery that this is just one group, a split-off from the local college frat, or from captains of industry, or even part of a whole worldwide conspiracy of oligarchs who are trying to take over the world, opening the door to a wider campaign possibility.

The basic format is a good one for getting the most out of each idea.
The seeds themselves vary from the fairly stereotypical to the Lovecraftian to relatively original stuff.

Some of the "ideas" offered for some of the seeds as sidebar notes are pretty clever, suggesting ways the GM can make additional research to add more sophistication to the theme, others are a little patronizing (like suggesting that the GM check to make sure his own players aren't suffering from mental illness before playing one seed that deals with that as a theme).

On the whole, the writing style (especially in the introduction and the "ideas" sidebars) strikes me as a little too self-important for what really amounts to a pretty humble book.
That said, the mission statement itself is a humble one, and I would say that the book does manage to "spark the imagination".  Some of the adventure seeds are far better than others, but there's enough good ideas here to make it worthwhile to someone who is specifically interested in running a horror campaign, and yet isn't able to come up with enough ideas of his own.
That's where the issue lies with this book, though. On the whole, a GM worth his salt will probably be able to think up enough material that he wouldn't need this kind of book.  The seeds are just that, seeds. There's no maps, no actual plotlines, just ideas. Some are very good ideas, and if we were talking about a free netbook this would be a really good one, but I'm not sure if it quite measures up to a book that's worth having to pay for.

If you feel like you would want to though, like this is something that would be useful enough for you to buy (again, if you were planning to run a Horror campaign and needed some fresh ideas), the product is available from RPGnow.
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Mcrow

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100 Horror Adventure Seeds
« Reply #1 on: September 12, 2006, 06:36:29 PM »
Quote from: RPGPundit
There's a new bookreview entry added:

100 Horror Adventure Seeds


I have to agree with most of your review.

Sometimes I wonder how much use some of these style product are to GMs. The content is outlined in such a basic manner that you endup having to do all the leg work yourself any way. But I suppose for the GM who needs ideas or inspiration this product would be a good pick up.

BTW, What would you score it on a scale of 1-10?

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100 Horror Adventure Seeds
« Reply #2 on: September 12, 2006, 11:00:35 PM »
I intentionally chose not to give it a score.

On the technical level, it was well produced, but nothing really fancy.  So I guess purely on that level I'd give it a 7/10.

But as far as overall value, it would entirely depend on whether the very specific purpose of this product had any relevance at all to your needs. If it did, then this product could be really valuable. If not, it won't be worth anything at all to you.

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GRIM

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100 Horror Adventure Seeds
« Reply #3 on: September 13, 2006, 01:31:13 AM »
Quote from: Mcrow
I have to agree with most of your review.

Sometimes I wonder how much use some of these style product are to GMs. The content is outlined in such a basic manner that you endup having to do all the leg work yourself any way. But I suppose for the GM who needs ideas or inspiration this product would be a good pick up.

BTW, What would you score it on a scale of 1-10?


Yep, that's the person these products are for, the person who needs a kick in the arse, a hook, a starting point.

The trouble with traditional modules for me has always been that most of the time the majority of info in there is useless, or the players ignore it.  What's actually useful, to me, are the plot hooks and ideas in sourcebooks like, say, Five Fingers for Iron Kingdoms or the Forgotten Realms main sourcebook.

It seemed odd to me that the most useful part of a lot of these books was limited to a tiny box-out.
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Mcrow

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100 Horror Adventure Seeds
« Reply #4 on: September 13, 2006, 10:41:57 AM »
Quote from: GRIM
Yep, that's the person these products are for, the person who needs a kick in the arse, a hook, a starting point.

The trouble with traditional modules for me has always been that most of the time the majority of info in there is useless, or the players ignore it.  What's actually useful, to me, are the plot hooks and ideas in sourcebooks like, say, Five Fingers for Iron Kingdoms or the Forgotten Realms main sourcebook.

It seemed odd to me that the most useful part of a lot of these books was limited to a tiny box-out.


Yeah, when reviewing a product like those in your "100" line of suplements you have to take into account the purpose of the product. That is why I gave 100 Kingdoms 8/10, it suits the prupose and people it was writtne for very well. Though if someone who was not totally aware of what is included pciked it up they might be very disappointed.