Tabletop Review: Plague of the Dread Acolyte (Tunnels & Trolls)

Plague of the Dread Acolyte (Tunnels & Trolls)
Publisher: Trollish Delver Games
Cost: $1.01
Page Count: 9
Release Date: 05/26/2014
Get it Here:

In early 2013, I reviewed a wonderful release for Tunnels & Trolls entitled The Trollmanac. It contained odds and ends for the T&T system, and it went on to be a runner-up for “Best Supplement” in our 2013 Tabletop Gaming Awards. So when I saw Trollish Delver Games had released an adventure for Tunnels & Trolls, I was more than happy to review it as well. Unfortunately, while interesting, Plague of the Dread Acolyte isn’t really an adventure as much as it is the early trappings or rough draft of one. Still, it’s only a dollar, and what’s here might be of interest to those of you who are diehard Tunnels & Trolls fans.

Plague of the Dread Acolyte is the first of three adventures in the Mask of Destiny series. It’s only nine pages long and all of the art is from the public domain, but it’s also only a dollar, so you shouldn’t be expecting Wizards of the Coast or Paizo production values here. However, it’s not really an adventure. There are only six pages of content (the first three are a cover, title page and introduction) and none of it is really arranged how you might think of an adventure. It’s an attempt at making a non-linear “sandbox” adventure, but at the same time, there is nothing really set in stone except for some locations. It’s left to the GM to flesh out why players are in the village of Rockwood, how to set players on the right path, design clues to lead them to the core antagonist and finally, create a climax and a resolution to the adventure that is open ended enough to let you move on to part two, whenever that comes out.

You are given a paragraph on what the adventure’s plot is about (an evil witch turning people into Plague Monsters), three pages on the buildings of Rockwood (the town has no map so you can place things however you want), a page of magic items (more than there are current residents of the town) and a little information on the main antagonist and its plague demon minions. So it’s more fleshed out than a story seed, but not quite what I’d call a true adventure by any means. It’s somewhere in between, and expect to go into Plague of the Dread Acolyte having to do a LOT of work to make this adventure playable.

Now, this doesn’t mean the adventure is bad – just that it feels extremely unfinished and that it is nowhere near playable right out of the box, so to speak. The core plot idea of a conspiracy to acquire the Mask of Destiny (which doesn’t actually come up in this adventure) is an interesting one. The title is pretty intriguing and helped me to pick up this adventure in the first place. Rockwood is nicely fleshed out, with nine locations getting a paragraph or two of description, including a possible sidequest or red herring leading the PCs into a cavern of orcs and other perils. Of course, you’ll have to flesh out this cavern (and most likely map it) to use it. So as I’ve said, there are a lot of interesting ideas, but the adventure just doesn’t feel finished to me. The author states he tried to take a minimalist approach to this piece to keep players from feeling “on rails,” but I think he took it a little too much to the extreme.

Right now I’d call Plague of the Dread Acolyte a curiosity piece at best. If you’re a Tunnels & Trolls fan, I’d wait until all three parts of the Mask of Destiny trilogy are released and decide if you want to pick up the full set or not. Plague of the Dread Acolyte IS only a dollar and a penny, so it’s not like you’ll be breaking the bank on this one if you do buy it, but be warned, it’s a pretty sparse piece and you might be better off writing an adventure from scratch instead.



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2 responses to “Tabletop Review: Plague of the Dread Acolyte (Tunnels & Trolls)”

  1. Scött Malthöuse Avatar
    Scött Malthöuse

    Thanks for the review, Alex. I was totally prepared for the criticism of the way the adventure is laid out. It was actually a bit of an experiment that was focused more towards experienced GMs. I wanted to present the bones of an adventure to, in theory, allow players to have a bit more of a free reign of the adventure. However, the next one will be more traditional and longer.

    1. Alexander Lucard Avatar
      Alexander Lucard

      Not a problem Scott. I liked the premise of the adventure and am looking forward to the rest in the series. You’re definitely right that an experienced GM can make this into something fun and special. It’s the newer. younger or less experienced that will find this a bit hard to use. There’s nothing wrong with gearing a product towards a very specific audience. I just had to make note of it in my review.

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