Wednesday, March 9, 2011

First Review of Jungle Ruins

... and I'll take this opportunity to mention that I support reviews even when they aren't ranting and raving about how wonderful a module is - Fire in the Jungle's review doesn't give the module a score of any kind, but it's obvious that he's not wowed by it.

His review is of excellent quality, in the sense that one can discern why he doesn't like something about the module and get a feel for whether his preferences match or don't match with your own. For example, he points out that two larger scale maps cover areas without filling in details other than the adventure focus areas - some people will like the flexibility given by that elbow room, others won't. He's in the latter category, unfortunately. :)

So even though I certainly would have liked the first review to have been madly crazy about the module, I am glad that the first review is a well crafted job, even if the reviewer's conclusions aren't totally positive.


  1. Wow...sorry, Matt. From his description of the module, it sounds exactly like a "sandbox style" to me. But maybe because I'm older and used to doing the filling in for myself. Looks interesting. Unfortunately, my monies are short until the NTRPG con. I'll have to pick up a copy there (hint, hint, bring some!) and get you to sign it.

  2. A map is a good starting place for creating a sandbox, but a map alone is not a sandbox, IMO.

    My beef is with the description on the Frog God website: "sandbox style short adventure". It would have been better for them to describe it as a "location-based adventure with unkeyed maps of surrounding territory for fleshing out".

  3. I agree with you, FireintheJungle. I wouldn't have called this a sandbox either. I can see how it can be called one, but I definitely would have called the adventure "location-based," and the other maps basically extras.

    By the way, if I have a chance I will make a pdf of those stone heads so that they are larger.

  4. Following on briefly with that, Scott's original module didn't contain the city map, but since the three locations (gatehouse, plaza, and palace) are separate buildings, I wanted to add a context for the Referee to visualize their relative locations. Hence the city map. But I didn't want to turn the adventure itself into something that Scott hadn't intended, or add material that was generated solely for the purpose of filling a map. That's why the city map is done the way it is, with the focus only on the core buildings.

    The overland map was really just an extra. The idea was that since most characters would just be "visiting" in a jungle area, it might be helpful to have a larger scale map ready to hand for the Referee if needed. But again, filling in the map would have been done just to fill in the map, which is never good. When you've got a good core adventure it's best not to try and gild the lily.

  5. Steve,
    Doug and Mike are going to have a lot of our stuff at the con's table, and we're also giving a lot of stuff for the auction.

    Not many people will be chasing me for signed copies this year, though, because with Bill there, they will have a much higher profile autographer available. :)

  6. Matt,
    Thanks for some insight into the creation process of this module. It helps explain the presence of the maps and how they were used (or not used).

    "Going to waste" may have been too strong of phrase for me to use, but I think it is indicative of how much I liked the maps. They are arguably the strongest visual components of the module and I wished they were further utilized in the module, especially when the module was seemingly billed as "a sandbox".

    Whether the core of the adventure is great or not, I believe filling up all that blank layout space with more description of the jungle and outer city would have made a more valuable product.

    For example, I've read many accounts of how even the sparsely keyed keep and wilderness maps of B2 Keep on the Borderlands have provided many memorable moments at the game table, despite the fact that they're barely related to core of the adventure, the Caves of Chaos.

    To clarify, I didn't purchase the module expecting Dwellers of the Forbidden city (though such a comparison is reasonable whenever the words "sandbox ruined jungle city" are heard), or any expectations that it could be used as-is in my jungle setting. All that would have been a great bonus, but I bought it simply because I like jungle stuff. I still appreciate it for that reason, despite its shortcomings. For gamers that just want a One Night Stand with the jungle, it gets the job done.