Thursday, November 21, 2013

The Axe of Morgosh -- Free Bad Adventure PDF from ENWorld

As you may know, I've been taking trips down memory lane on ENWorld recently. Morrus has thread-necromancied a couple of classics. I'd almost forgot about these, even though they're hilarious.

Examples from the Worst TSR Adventures Module(s) ever published: where the ENWorld community proceeds to bash The Forest Oracle, an AD&D 1e module written by Carl Smith. It got to the point where people were posting large blocks of the text--which sort of went against ENWorld's policy--so people started writing their own bad encounters. Which led to...

Let's Write a Bad Module. Wherein the ENWorld community came together and wrote a bad module: The Axe of Morgosh, filled with encounters that don't make sense, railroad the players, automatically failed saves, and contains back story that has no bearing on the adventure whatsoever.

ENWorlder Olgar Shiverstone compiled all of the entries into a single document and made it available for download for free here. EDIT: Apparently you have to be an ENWorld member to get the free product. Hmmm...

Why I am pushing this module? Certainly, there is some nostalgia involved. I still find each of those threads funny. Heck, I even own and have run The Forest Oracle, so I know how screwball many of the encounters are. TSR did put out some bad modules in its day.

But here's the real reason: I'm always looking for ideas--even bad ones. There's something truly liberating about throwing out all conventions and just throwing stuff against the wall and hoping it'll stick. The Axe of Morgosh features a Cryohydra in a volcanic cave and only The Axe of Morgosh itself can defeat it, but the item can only be found underneath a bed back in encounter #2.

Why is there a creature of ice and cold in a volcanic cave? Why can only the The Axe of Morgosh defeat it? Why the hell did somebody leave a potent magic item underneath a bed?

Yes, the scenario defies logic.

But let's throw logic out the window. Let's just have cool stuff happen. Let's just make the game our own. Instead of "A Cryohydra in a volcanic cave? That doesn't make sense! Bad DM!" let's have "A Cryohydra in a volcanic cave? What's going on here?"

The Forest Oracle itself was like this. Some stuff didn't make sense but I could see the author trying to have "cool stuff" happen. The problem was execution. The Axe of Morgosh is a spoof of a lot of those TSR modules that just railroaded the player-characters into situations just because "the story" called for it. The Forest Oracle could almost be played like a sandbox, but many of the encounters just override player choice. You can read about them on ENWorld link. Or you can purchase the module in pdf at DrivethruRPG.

I'll probably take another look at the The Forest Oracle and review it. I've found you can learn more about adventure design from mediocre or lousy adventures than good ones. The interesting thing about the The Forest Oracle is that it has a neat premise, but the execution isn't sound.


  1. Do you have to be a forum member for the download to work?

    1. Oh damn. That slipped my mind. Yes, you have to be a member of ENWorld to get the free product.


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