Congealed Witchdoctor is a Blathering Bastard - Review


Should be playing D&D instead
My first review is finished so here we go.
The other reviews will be posted in the specific threads made by Malrex, I'm gonna take a day or two more for them though ;)

Congealed Witchdoctor is a Blathering Bastard!
By Malrex

General Structure

The overarching structure is good and easy to use/understand.
Introduction, short paragraph that summarizes what is probably going to happen/what needs to happen, Factions, Henchmen and Rumors. After that follows the Wilderness Hexcrawl in which a snake lair and the sunken/destroyed Village of Khorjen are integrated. The adventure closes with a tiny paragraph about what happens after “shit went down the drain”, meaning the group got involved. My only gripe with the structure is the way the snake lair is inserted right into the wilderness section, breaking it up in the process. I would’ve put the Snake Lair back at the end with the Village of Khorjen and leave the Wilderness stuff unbroken, though I can see it work both ways.

Malrex has done his fair share of adventures and it shows. The whole adventure is in two column format with monsters, items, rooms/places, tables and such having their own distinct style making it quite easy to scan a page and instantly see what’s what. Bullet points are used throughout making it easy to get the important parts right away. The Adventure lacks page numbers which I see as a minor issue, though not a big one.

Use at the table/in play is high for this thing. Everything is organized neatly and in a sensible fashion. NPC and Monster stats are always where they need to be, meaning they are right in the room/place description the monster is appearing in. The two rival groups are organized in two small tables which allow a DM to quickly get a grasp on them. Tables for Rumors and random encounter are easily scannable and include everything that is needed to make stuff work.
The whole thing is hyperlinked completely back and forth which makes it quite easy to jump from encounter to map and back again.

There are three maps included at the back, all full color pieces. The Wilderness map gives a good overview over the region. Slack Mackeys and the villages of Moovruj and Solunuk are given small Icons, while the Snake Lair and the Sinkhole of Khorjen are given slightly bigger icons. This allows the DM to see at one glance which numbers are “important” stuff and which numbers are merely an encounter. The Wilderness map uses slightly different hues of green to break up the monotone jungle stuff, as no map legend is given it could be hard for a DM to see what is what here… but the map is so small and well designed that this problem will hardly come up in actual play.
As a slight note, while full color is nice, printing the wilderness map in grayscale muddles up the whole thing heavily.
The snake lair map is well done, though a bit boring for my taste. IT’s basically a winding, wet tunnel with a really big snake inside.
The Sinkhole of Khorjen map looks nice in color and shitty in grayscale but is all in all a nice piece or mapmaking that’ll serve its purpose well. The whole map looks as if one sees the region from high up above, the landmarks being drawn in perspective and such. This has the great effect of instantly allowing anyone seeing the map to get a feel for the layout of the place.

General Plot
The Village of Khorjen had a big/important artefact that everyone envies them for, then their witchdoctor casts some magic and , totally unrelated to the magic thingy, the whole village comes crashing down into a giant sinkhole. This fucks up the magic and mutates everyone into a giant, stark raving blob that now wanders the ruins, being worshipped by a tribe of apes.

A Hexcrawl with 12 locations lies between the group and the village, with location 13 being the village. The hexcrawl is well done. The encounters a re interesting: quicksand, strange monsters, a bullied Jungle Giant whose pet just got killed seeking revenge against the other giants, a mad dwarf worshipping a tree infected with some crystal parasite (which helps against insects) … all well done, memorable and enough variety that it never becomes boring.

There’s a “sideplot” about a boys ghost wanting revenge on some big-ass snake hiding in its lair that is totally detached from the main plot. This is not a bad thing though as it hints at a world bigger than the PCs actions. The Ghost boy is well done, with some of the party being able to see him and others not. This will probably lead to some interesting talk for a group, the snake lair then is a pretty straight “go in and kill” situation … Though seeing as the snake is only protecting its young (eggs) there is an element of moral ambiguity that a good DM can work with. Still everyone will kill the damn snake … you know it, I know it… heck the snake knows it…poor bastard. Anyways….

The whole thing is a sandbox with a defined goal of getting the damn artefact (the prism) out of the village with enough stuff going on to keep a group happy and busy.

The biggest “flaw” of the Adventure also lies here. While the whole thing is done really well the ending… just kinda peters out. There is a tiny section about what could happen when the group has the prism, but nothing really definite. Even worse I also found it a missed chance not to include more information about what happened in the village. As the adventure stands now, a group can do nothing to help the poor souls and will also not find out anything. The magic ritual the witchdoctor casted is mentioned in the beginning and then never again. Giving the group the choice to find out about the ritual and the landslide would’ve worked well here. Maybe even some pointers on how to resolve the situation without killing the witchdoctor.

All in all a creative and nicely done Adventure.
Random encounter are fun and memorable (and there are two tables, one for wilderness, one for Khorjen), Rumors are good with a nice mix of useful and funny (and again, each village has a rumor table) and the whole adventure manage to create a living and breathing world that has its own feel.

Short, terse and on point. Background is as long as it needs to be, encounters and descriptions are likewise short and on point.
There are some small typos here and there but nothing too serious.



Should be playing D&D instead
The henchmen are a good mixture of strange, cool and totally useless, all presented in a nice table.
The rival groups are also well done, giving a DM enough to efficiently roleplay them.
There are also pointers on what the rival groups do and what their tactics are which is always a nice addition.
And there’s a mad dwarf which is always a treat.

The monsters are a good mixture of strange and unique creatures and stuff that fits right into the jungle setting.
Lots of giant animals that do stuff.
The congealed witchdoctor is well done and even comes with a nice little blather table… though Malrex could’ve done more with the table. While it is funny and kinda helpful for the DM it would’ve been nice if the Witchdoctor’s blathering could’ve included some important hints to background stuff or something. He drops hints about an animate jaguar statue… but that’s it.
At first I kinda felt the mudmen where the odd one out and didn’t quite fit … on second thought this makes them all the better.

A really good mix of “standard” +1 items, spells and potions mixed up with some unique items that do great stuff.
I loved the weapon “recoil” simply for the dumb look a player will have if the thing finally pierces him when coming back. “Allure of Elephants” is mean but well done and the “Angelic Shield of Thrynius” hints at a larger world and has a sweet description.
I liked the idea behind the mineral/crystal Jerlenium.
All good here… except I was promised a treasure table in the village of Khorjen (Point 4: the Witch Doctor) and never got one ☹
Maybe Malrex meant the generic treasure table from the FG&G Core Book… in which case this needs to be communicated better.

The whole thing is written for the “For Gold&Glory” Retroclone of AD&D 2ed and most of the implied mechanics are found there.
Still, whenever a little subsystem or simply mechanic is needed, Malrex put one in.
There are simple rules how moving through the jungle affects characters (heat, speed,…), how the quicksand pits work, rules on climbing some cliffs and so on.
Whenever one needs a quick system, there is one.
One tiny thing I noticed was, that Glyceria weed has some mild hallucinogen effects, though nothing specific is given.

I suspect Antonio Banderas approves of this 😊
The Cover is simple but works well.
The dire elephant has some Return of the king vibes but works as well.
The Malrex stick art… is beyond the scope of this review to judge…but I laughed a few times so it’s a plus in my book. And a nice callback to some of the “so bad its good” cartoons of early D&D modules.
Also squeen gets namedropped here which is always a good thing.
Always remember kids… support your local squeen!

Congealed Witchdoctor is a Blathering Bastard.
There is a witchdoctor which got congealed into a mad mess of flesh. It’s blathering all the time and it is kind of a bastard.
That’s bullseye in my book ain’t it?
Yeah, yeah … you only get to see the witchdoctor at the end… but come on people “Armageddon” was also named that way and guess what … no Armageddon happened :p

General Impressions
A well done Adventure by an author who obviously knows his stuff.
Some small misses here and there don’t distract much from an enjoyable Hexcrawl with memorable encounters that’ll give a group a few evenings of good fun.
The really big thing for me was the lack of an implied resolution to the Problem of Khorjen and the witchdoctor.
A group can sneak in and steal the prism or they can kill their way out of it… would’ve loved one or two alternate ways to maybe undo the botched ritual or “solve” the whole thing. I don't want some esoteric "everyone Lives" happy ending ... but some pointers on the fucked up ritual and such would've been nice.

Still a really good adventure.

7 from 10

And leave Guppy alone … poor dude had enough shit happen to him already 😉
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So ... slow work day? Every day?
I totally agree with everything you said.
I remembered later about the page numbers but it was too late...also immediately remembered that I forgot table of contents when I was reviewing TerribleSorcery's adventure. The snake lair map IS completely boring but just wanted to throw in a little side show. And I can't believe I forgot to insert the treasure table....sloppy!!! Here it is below, nothing special.

A basket of gold nuggets worth 150 gp.​
Silver alligator armbands embedded with emeralds (300 gp).​
A potted plant of Glyceria Weed (500 gp).​
A bronze shield (25 gp).​
A box with 57 cp and 22 pp.​
A pair of great elephant ivory tusks (150 go ea).​
Two vials of scorpion venom (save vs. poison at +4 or die).​
An electrum encrusted mirror (55 gp).​
A Potion of Healing.​
A jade circlet (75 gp).​
A jar of golden ants (75 gp).​
A girdle with a lion’s face (25 gp).​
A string of beads (15 gp).​
A painted, wooden voodoo mask circled by pearls (350 gp).​
A Potion of Gaseous Form​
A Spear +1​
A pair of morganite earrings (65 gp).​
A jar of Olumaner Mud—Cures Disease (2 doses).​
A large amber nugget (40 gp).​
A giraffe skin cloak (50 gp).​

I also thought several times how PCs could fix the witchdoctor while I was writing....and got distracted and forgot to add any details.
Glyceria weed...I really want to add more plants/herbs to my adventures as I think it has potential for interesting stuff. I should of done a random table for effects for the weed. I think finding strange plants and maybe alchemy recipes could be a cool treasure to find.
Jerlenium--you will definitely see this again someday....
Colored maps--Im not sure I'm a fan of them, but wanted to try something different out.

Definitely should of given this another eyeball or 2 before submitting, but needed to get it out the door while I focused on KS.