Review: Until the Cows Come Home

Synopsis: Adventurers are given the unenviable task of retrieving a few of Mother Haggle’s prized bovine specimen along the edge of the Misty Forest, tempting fate with a chance to be whisked away to the Domains of Dread. 

Review: Like much of his other work, Oliver Clegg’s introductory adventure Until the Cows Come Home is a nice tale of slow-creeping horror with a lite touch of comedic flair. The name of the module alone conjures up a magical quest that this level one adventure certainly delivers on.

A quick, lite-hearted module wherein the party meets the eponymous old crone, Until the Cows Come Home takes Oliver’s long-ago freebie supplement, Mother Haggle’s Notice Board: The Magic Cow, and fleshes out some of those encounters into a quirky and memorable romp through a magical forest on the edge of the mist-shrouded lands of Ravenloft. The result is a very tight, well-written compact story that presents a trio of lost cows caught in compromising situations that require the aid of adventures to ensure they make it to dawn.

It’s by no means an involved plot, nor filled with brutal combat encounters, but it has all the hallmark whimsical writing and scenario building that makes Oliver’s work incredibly endearing. The paraphrase text has its charm, and there is also a great amount of detail given to the setup of each scene and the mechanics, while of course magical, present some unexpected twists that players are sure to enjoy. It felt very much like a fairytale, almost the unfolding of a Grim’s fable, with palpable uncertainty as to the outcome of each encounter. There are a few suspenseful moments, yet also an irreverence to the entire module (note the many vegan jabs in a mod as characters literally go beef-hunting) that makes it a nice and naughty intro adventure, just as described.

So if you’re looking for a fairy-tale romp with some funny cows lost in the woods, why look any further? Buy Until The Cows Come Home now on the Guild for only 2.95.

Now…Is it Horrific?

Fear (Some Cause for Concern). The entire module has encounters that are set up with some truly questionable outcomes for players, driven by their safety, but also more pressingly, the safety of their bovine charges. In a nice, amusing twist on the rescue mission concept,  players are responsible for safeguarding large, mildly intelligent and somewhat belligerent animals. And they are tasked with ensuring this safety as night falls within a darkening forest. Even the questionable nature of their ‘quest giver’, Mother Haggle, adds a layer of fearful uncertainty that, even with its comedic tone, makes this a nice and chilling story. Add to it the nature of some of the protagonists, including their unique abilities and players should definitely get a taste of fear at the table while running this adventure.

Setting (Creepy). Oliver does a great job of describing each scene, separating out elements that trigger responses to each of the five senses for maximum effect on a character. Whether describing the stench of a particular swamp or the eerie anthropomorphic nature of the mist that flows through the tree-line, the setting has a great and creepy tone to it throughout.

Consequences (Cow Down).The fear in this scenario is not only the fear each encounter presents to the characters, but also the consequences each scenario presents in regards to each missing cow. The adventure presents these consequences in terms of immediate and time-restricted situations, adding to very real, and very straightforward consequences and thus forcing players to act quickly, even in the face of difficult choices. The consequences, even though they may only involve ostensibly Mother Haggles future hamburger meat, are real and urgent and feel in keeping with the tone of the module.

Suspense (Spine-tingling). Like any good horror, the module slowly builds up its encounters with more and more tension. While I do think the order of two of the encounters could have been switched (adding to this sense of buildup), the adventure definitely ups the ante by the time players are ready to head back to Mother Haggles home and collect their reward.

Is it a Horror? Verdict: Creepy Com-Chiller

 

 

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