DMs Guild Review – Quite the Pickle: A Saltmarsh Adventure

A series of tavern events for levels 5-10.

A review copy of “Quite the Pickle: A Saltmarsh Adventure” was provided by the publisher. Find more DMs Guild Reviews on my website and YouTube channel.

Support my work by using my affiliate links and pledging via Patreon.

Designed by: Trevor Salla

Quite the Pickle takes place in and around the Snapping Line, a classic dockside inn and tavern in the town of Saltmarsh. Though advertised as an adventure for levels 5-10, it’s more of a series of events that take place over several days and nights as the players play a game of darts, fend off a pirate attack, and rescue a waiter from a shadowy fate.

The 50+ page adventure is divided into four chapters, though only about half the product is the adventure itself, with the rest including creature statblocks, handouts, and maps. Each chapter takes place on a different night, and could be tackled out of order (for example, investigating the missing people at the end of chapter 1 could lead directly to chapter 3).

Chapter 1 provides a nice introduction to the tavern and it’s colorful patrons, including a robust dramatis personae with the perfect amount of physical and temperamental information for each NPC, including the dwarf brother bodyguards (one of whom is secretly a were-crocodile) and their friendly (but secret) pet mimic.

I was halfway through reviewing this adventure before a familiar feeling crept over me. A pirate tavern? A secret were-crocodile? A friendly bar furniture mimic? I’d seen it before. Searching through my review archives revealed the answer (as well as checking the DMs Guild store page): this adventure is expanded from a single page adventure from The Lonely Scroll Adventure Contest: Saltmarsh, which I reviewed back in 2019.

In my review I specifically called out “Quite the Pickle” as one of the more memorable adventures, and it’s fun to see the designer turn it into a full-fledged, stand-alone release.

Chapter one also features a fun darts game, complete with player handouts to keep score, and an optional bar fight if players try to cheat. In chapter two we’re treated to another classic tavern game of poker, played through skill checks, and interrupted by an attack by an all-women pirate team called the Sea Stars. They have glorious names like Stiletto Sal, Woe Nelly, and the captain, Brass Belle.

quite the pickle dramatis personae

In keeping with the more fun-loving Pirates of the Caribbean theme, these ladies aren’t here to pillage and murder, but just to steal a bit of coin and maybe rough up anyone who gets in their way.

The third chapter is a bit of an odd duck, and the only knew event from the original single page adventure. There the party investigates two of the missing persons who disappear near the end of chapter one: an evil wizard/bard entertainer, and a lazy waiter.

The investigation starts off with the party tracking down the missing wizard, finding a half-finished seagull animal messenger. The evil wizard had been eaten by the were-crocodile, but that’s almost incidental to the main story, which is rescuing the waiter, Tull, from an arcane transformation trap that’s slowly combining him with a shadow mastiff in the wizard’s room.

The shadow trap has some neat ideas, including figuring out a block puzzle to free him, but it feels very out of place compared to the other events that focus more on tavern shenanigans and pirates. I wish we had followed the murder investigation more closely, expanded it to multiple steps and clues, and eventually having to confront the shock of one of the friendly bodyguards being a were-crocodile.

Chapter four directly involves the dwarf brother bodyguards, as the were-crocodile becomes trapped under a cannon beneath the water after an accident with the mimic. It’s basically a puzzle challenge for the PCs, with the extra water complication, and some approaching sharks to spice things up. Not to mention the brother has transformed to say alive and may not react nicely upon seeing the PCs.

Big thumbs up to all the player handouts, including dart game score sheets (and sample score sheets), tavern menu, messages, and a reminder of underwater combat rules. I’m less enthusiastic about the maps, however. Plain black and white graph paper. It’s an extra shame as there are lots of wonderful full color tavern maps out there, and any one of them would’ve been perfectly suited for most of this adventure.

 Pros:

  • Dramatis Personae for over a dozen tavern patrons and pirates.
  • Area descriptions include lighting, sounds, smells, and any other sensory effects.
  • Average Party Level adjustments for every encounter.
  • Friendly furniture mimic that communicates via Thieves’ Cant!
  • Player Handouts for tavern game scoreboards, menus, and messages.

Cons:

  • Chapter 3’s event, while interesting, doesn’t particularly fit the pirate theme.
  • Plain graph paper maps.

The Verdict: Effectively expanding on the single page adventure from The Lonely Scroll Adventure Contest, Quite the Pickle could be run as a series of fun tavern-based events, as well as a flavorful expansion to your party’s favorite dockside tavern.

A review copy of “Quite the Pickle: A Saltmarsh Adventure” was provided by the publisher. Find more DMs Guild Reviews on my website and YouTube channel.

Support my work by using my affiliate links and pledging via Patreon.

Author: roguewatson

Freelance Writer

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