B8 Journey to the Rock
B8 Journey to the Rock Capsule Review by James Landry on 14/04/01
Style: 2 (Needs Work)
Substance: 1 (I Wasted My Money)
This tournament module was the low-point of the B-series.
Product: B8 Journey to the Rock
Author: Michael Malone
Line: Basic D&D
Page count: 32
Year published: 1984
Capsule Review by James Landry on 14/04/01
Genre tags: Fantasy
This is one in a series of reviews covering most of the Basic D&D sets and modules. I was digging through my old D&D materials before selling them, and decided to write reviews of them for people to know what is worthwhile and what should be avoided.
These reviews will contain spoilers, so avoid at your own risk. Of course, since these modules have been out for 17 years or so, maybe it is a little late for spoiler warnings.
Journey to the Rock
Journey to the Rock was written by Michael Malone and came out in 1984. It started out as a tournament module and it really shows.
The PCs are hired to journey to a rock outcropping (called the Rock) and return its secret to their employer. Along the way, the path splits into three, and the characters must choose one of the three paths. Each path has a series of encounters the characters must pass through to succeed. Eventually they reach the rock, battle the crone of chaos there, and recover the secret after passing a couple of tests.
The main problem with this adventure is that the PCs will only take one of the three paths. That means all the work and effort put into developing the other two is basically worthless. In addition, moving these encounters is not that easy. Some of them rely on the presence of an enormous city, others on certain terrain features, and some of them are similar to others along different paths.
This is essentially an adventure by the numbers. The PCs have a clear goal. They head toward it, surmounting whatever obstacles are placed in their path. Once they succeed, that's it. In addition, there really isn't any subtlety in this adventure. The crone of chaos disguises herself, but everything is completely programmed. She attacks with three attacks in a row, and eventually is revealed, and then presumably is dispatched by the PCs.
The tournament nature of the module, where the whole point is to complete it with the fewest mistakes and in the shortest time, makes is fairly dull. The design of the module is completely based on it being easy to judge who has done best in going through the module. It seeks to make winners, when it's pretty hard to do that for a generic role-playing experience.
This module has another fault: too many new monsters. More than half of the monsters encountered are new monsters, and most of them are pretty lame. High up there has to be the crone of chaos, who is supposed to use deception to cause suffering. Of course, her powers are animal control and fairly blatant magical daggers. There is a mismatch, and the name has no justification. Other creatures are yet more humanoid creatures with new powers, like rockmen and blink-dog like chameleon men, who seem to have been created solely to exact tolls on passerby. One nice monster is the winged warrior, a type of living crystal statue that attacks with its razor wings.
Another problem is the wasted space in the module. There are four full-page illustrations (none of them particularly good) along with four pages of maps and handouts. These maps are copies of the DM maps with the numbers and special golden magical portal missing. The handouts are a full-page two paragraph fairly pointless letter and some sample characters. There just isn't much adventure here.
The boxed text and background material is also fairly pointless. There is supposed to be this magical city Tuma (with no doors or windows) that reappears only at certain times. Ghostly horsemen roam it and its inhabitants are in another dimension. The man who hired the PCs is trying to get an amulet to free his people, but he cannot recover it himself because of his evil enemies's spells. So he hires a bunch of low-level yahoos (the PCs) to do what no one before could do. Once he has the talisman, he can restore the city and rescue his people.
Like B3, this module has delusions of grandeur. There is nothing in the text or the way the module plays out to ignite the imagination of the PCs, but the module refers to this cosmic events while entrusting the fate of the universe to second-level PCs. It doesn't make sense.
Don't get this module. There really isn't much here worth using, and what is useful would have to be extensively reworked.