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Bryce Lynch
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OD&D feel with B/X rules
OD&D feel with B/X rules

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Can someone help me out with an old adventure title from a previous incarnation of DDAL/RPGA, etc?

Several years ago, my failing memory says 5-7. It was a time loop adventure where you had to replay the same encounter multiple times until you got it "right." Maybe a part of the Living Divine series?

Anyone remember the title?

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Ever feel like a sucker for buying something? Like you're just a wallet that the publisher feels entitled to? 

The author of one of the worst AL adventures, DDAL04-03 - The Executioner, has published a page of fixes for one of the worst adventure of all time. Of course, it's not official.

https://docs.google.com/document/d/1u0j0zeeJEmovCmdRGqHAOR3pKwHLUvETS--DKOvGpsQ/edit#

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DCC #86 - Hole in the SKy
http://tenfootpole.org/ironspike/?p=2741

by Brendan LaSalle
Goodman Games
DCC
Level 0

The Lady in Blue, a mysterious figure of cosmic power, enlists a band of simple peasants for a strange task. They are to follow an invisible bridge until they arrive at a hole in the sky – and then jump through. Death awaits all but the bravest, strongest, and luckiest, but the Lady offers a reward beyond all the riches of the world: the chance to change the very stars these peasants were born under, and thus change their destiny.

Let’s get this out of the way. I like this adventure. It’s linear. It can be arbitrary. It’s also got a strong appeal to folklore, and I’m sure that’s why I like it. It feels like a tale from The Turnip Princess. And I like turnips. And princesses.

Your mob is contacted by an entity and asked to free an ally from a prison. You journey over an invisible bridge, into a bramble tower, and up a ladder, over a sleeping titan, to free someone in a birdcage. You can already see the strong appeal to folklore: the bramble tower, the birdcage, and the sleeping giant.

The hook here is “each of you knows you live a life you are not supposed to, and are haunted by dreams of someone telling you they can help you become your true self”, or something to that effect. A little different than the usual mob hook, but fine. What’s very interesting to me is the mood set by the introduction. It paints a picture and sets the mood perfectly. Frankly , the read-aloud is lame, but the words AROUND it, for the DM, are quite descriptive and evocative. Crazed, haggard, driven to find the cliff from their dreams. It’s a nice little bit and I’m sure inspired enough for the DM to communicate the vibe to the players.

Speaking of read-aloud …There’s too fucking much. The start has none paragraphs, some of which are quite long. In total about ¾ of a page. Bits and pieces are good: the Blue lady entity holds two severed in one hand and three in another and THOSE are what do the talking, simultaneously. Again, this seems to be an appeal to some ancient folklore, although what I don’t know. The various Perseus imagery come to mind, but it seems like something else also. In any event the entire start is quite … lyrical? Classical? A feast! Which includes some maggoty food as well, while a mythic entity talks to you and provides fantastic instructions, from stepping off of cliffs to blindly jumping in to holes in the sky. This same feeling continues through the rest of the encounters on the way to the bramble tower. The bramble tower has the party entering through a crack under the door, unable to open the door proper, and then a slumbering giant of monstrous size and countenance. High above is a birdcage … This stuff all SCREAMS folklore and should appeal to any player. In fact, I think it changes the player’s mindset. I think the folklore elements get the players out of their AD&D head and into a more make-believe mindset. That’s one of the reasons I like folklore elements so much.

The inside of the tower has an arbitrary element. There’s a monster that attack the party and eats people, and then retreats. It’s powerful. It attacks at several places in the tower, explicitly, and advice is given for it to attack more. It certainly drives the party forward; there can be little stalling for fear it will get another person. From this standpoint it’s a nice element. But I can’t help thinking it’s a little arbitrary. “Someone dies when you enter the tower.” or “Someone dies while you climb the ladder.” The impact of the monster is good. You DO get at least one round to save the person before they go into the flaming maw of a mouth, and then perhaps a round or two more as the creature retreats. Maybe something like “Tendrils are AC 15 and 5 HP?” That seems silly to have to say. I don’t know, maybe my own personal feelings while reading that section.

The adventure is almost completely linear, from start to finish. I love the encounter locations, but it’s still linear. Once again DCC earns it’s “Convention Game” reputation … as well as earning it’s “Best Fucking Games Ever” reputation. Someday someone will learn how to marry non-linear elements … a day of days to be sure.

The adventure also has one of my new favorite art pieces. The title page shows a tall bush, with a door in it. A little line of villagers walk towards it. Mixed in among the trowels and pitchforks is a haggered maid with an iron skillet. This image communicates my favorite thing about D&D: the common man going down into the hole in the ground; better to take a chance with the unknown and encounter the fantastic than face the mundanity of existence. Close to home, maybe?

The strong folklore elements bring this one home for me. It’s overly wordy in many places, including the read-aloud. But when it’s good it’s VERY VERY good.

Does anyone know who did the title page art for Hole in the Sky? I can't seem to find a name in the art.

It's one of my favorites.

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Review: DCC #88: The 998th Conclave of Wizards
http://tenfootpole.org/ironspike/?p=2722

by Jobe Bittman
DCC
Goodman Games
Level 6

Hail, wizard of Aereth! Forget everything you think you know about the magic. Mastery of the occult lies beyond the comprehension of your world’s primitive societies and warring kingdoms. Your cantrips and legerdemain are mere parlor tricks in the face of true power. The Star Cabal, peerless practitioners of the arcane arts, extends a rare invitation to join their ranks. Hurtling through the cosmos in a marvelous flying city, the magicians are revered as lords of creation by the spacefaring races of a thousand suns. Ascend to the stars and seize your rightful seat in the vaunted halls of power… if you dare.

This adventure has problems. Notably, I’m not entirely sure if it is an adventure. It’s probably closer to a setting book. Or maybe an adventure outline, much in the same way Hoard of the Dragon Queen was. I’m not opposed to fluff; I like fluff and think it’s great inspiration to creating your own game. My problem in this area revolves around expectations. When you expect X and you get Y then … well, not good. It’s also got some organization problems and can at times be maddeningly non-specific.

The book describes the conclave of wizards and their floating space city, as well as a bit of outer space around it. It tries to tie thing together by having an “adventure” of three scenes woven throughout it. The party gets an invitation to join the Conclave of Wizards, but has to seek out the portal to get there. Then the city is described, along with some NPC’s. Then a wizard duel is briefly described as part two of the parties initiation into the COnclave. Then they need to go to a planetoid for a briefly described part three. The organization of the three parts, woven throughout the fluff of the city/conclave, is a bit off putting and confusing. Compare this to Scourge of the Demon Wolf or Valley of the Five Fires which give you the setting up front and then spend a few pages detailing their adventures.The barrage of information mixed up in the book makes becoming familiar with the environment a pain and makes picking out the actual adventure a pain. Uncool.

The city/Conclave is an interesting place. A kind of techno/wizard enclave in space, visited by aliens, it comes off a bit like the city in Vault of the Drow, a cosmopolitan place full of wonder. It does a much better job than Vault in conveying that Wondrous vibe, and the Conclave comes to life much much much better than anything in Vault. A rearranging cityscape (Vornheim anyone?) combined with a mysterious wizards guild combined with aliens. All done DCC style so it’s not grim-dark but more Ankh-Morpork turned up to 11. (As DCC is wont to do.) The wizards of the conclave are wonderfully DCC, each different and with a touch of the bizarre. It really does a great job of conveying the weirdness of the city and of the wizards in the conclave.

Parts of the city though are frustrating non-specific, in the same way the 5E DMG adventure generator is. “Hmmm, [roll], there’s an invasion, ok, [roll], and the villain wants power. Hmmm. Ok …” In some ways the wandering table in Vault of Drow is better for conveying the weird of that place. ASE1 may be the gold standard here, with it’s tables providing a wonderful amount of colorful things, events, people, etc. In contrast this book gives us “1d8 cabal guard and 1 guardian” or “a band of rival initiates attacks.” This is part of what gives it the outline feel, as opposed to colorful things you can run at the table. I REALLY disliked Seclusium of Orphone, and this feels more like in that places than it does the more specific and colorfull far of a ‘normal’ DCC adventure.

The actual adventure is vaguely described, again leading to the outline comparisons. You get a message, maybe a bird drops it. You go to an island with a volcano. There’s a monster outside a tower. You go in the tower. End of part one. I’m obviously being hyperbolic here but there really isn’t much more than that. [Also, the amulet you need to gain entry to the tower is never given to you. Not a big deal, you can throw it in, but its absence is, I think, representative of the confusing nature of the organization.] The second part is perhaps even terser. It amounts to little more than “You need to challenge a wizard to a duel. The map of the arena is on page X.” Again, hyperbolic, but not overly so. The guidelines are “pick a wizard for the party to duel.” The third part of the adventure is longer, but again maddeningly generic. There are a dozen or so planetoids, a wandering table that doesn’t have enough to support a breadcrumbs adventure, and a finale location that, again, is more generic than evocative.

The book DOES do a good job of making Wizard characters feel special. From special quarters for the wizards to NPC’s referring to the rest of the party as hirelings, the wizard in the party will get a kick out of being special. The city and Conclave/guild is also a good plot hook device for launching the characters into grander adventures. In a sense, you’ve graduated from defending your planet and are involved in Bigger Things, Green Lantern of Earth.

It does have some nice DM advice, in particular explaining the hook and how characters might come to find out more about the rumors in it. The entire “adventure” is more of an outline. “Here’s a bunch of stuff. Pick one of these plots. Listen to your players and determine what happened to the missing NPC based on what the party is talking about.” Clever, but … unfulfilling?

This is a nice setting/locale supplement for DCC. You can certainly get a lot of inspiration from it, and it would be a much more interesting model for Sigil than I ever found any Planescape product to me.

I don’t often mention art. The cover is kick ass. It probably set expectations with me that could not be met.

Also, I’m now out of peach vodka. :(

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Review: The Weird Worm-Ways of Saturn
http://tenfootpole.org/ironspike/?p=2711

by Daniel Bishop
Moon Dice Games
DCC
Levels 5+

Saturn. Well known for the weird magnetic energies of its core, which attract even non-ferrous metals, and which pulled many a would-be Crawljammer to his doom in the early days of space exploration. Saturn. Legendary home of fierce Ape-Men and even fiercer giant worms, which devolved from a great civilization that once worshipped the vast demon-god Tsathoggua before the first great reptiles appeared to dominate long aeons upon the Earth. It is said that the collapse of that civilization caused the weird energies of Saturn’s magnetic core. Many, but not all, of that demon-haunted culture’s works were drawn into the planet’s crust, there to be crushed and consumed. Even so, there is a flux to that strange magnetic attraction. Once in several thousand years, the magnetic forces wane for a period, and ships may safely approach or land upon Saturn. The technomancer Satrampa, who has long made her cold dwelling upon the frozen ocean-moon Tethys, has predicted that such a time is near, and seeks adventurers willing to brave the ringed world’s dangers. There they must locate the Vault of Zin the Meticulous. She will pay a man’s weight in gold for the black onyx ring long-dead Zin once wore upon his right hand. Failing that, she will pay the same weight in silver for proof that the Idol of Tsathoggua which one strengthened the ancient sorcerer’s spells is no more.

I bought this based only the strength of the front cover. I’ve got some weird fascination with what I call “70’s fantasy art”, but which in reality probably spans the late 50’s to the early 80’s. Anyway … This is part one of a two part adventure. It represents the hex crawl with the Vault of Zin presumably appearing in part two. There is something appealing about this adventure … even though I find many of the elements difficult. It could be that I found some of the elements very appealing and am romanticizing them over the other content.

Saturn has intense magnetic fields and you can only be on the planet with metal items for a brief window every 1000 years or so. The amount of time the window stays open is variable, and even then using metal objects can be difficult. The party hears about the window and Zin and maybe even Satrampa, and goes to Saturn. A hex crawl ensues, from the Crawljammer landing site to the Vault of Zin.

The group could meet Satrampa at the beginning. They could not. She’s a very interesting NPC and it’s one of the elements I found appealing. Unknown to all, she’s Zin’s former lover. She spreads rumors/hires groups knowing that either they will recover Zin’s ring … and be possessed by him, thereby bringing him back to life to join her, or that their souls will be gobbled up in pursuit of the ring and thereby fuel Zin’s continuing undeath. I’ve seen “NPC sending the party to their doom” before, but this one appealed to me. A kind of melancholy “Killing an Arab” bit of mood, the enui that immortality brings, but with a purpose behind things. I also liked her guards and the mechanical brain controlling them. Nice opportunities for mighty deeds and built with weaknesses that the players can exploit. It’s too bad that this entire section may not get used. Nice fluff/background material for a Crawljammer game though.

The hex crawl is … not the strongest. Saturn is briefly described as a kind of Dakota badlands sort of environment. It’s not very interesting. Riverworld-like canyons run through it, and these represents the paths the characters will most likely take. The hex-crawl map is about 42×42, with each hex being ½ mile. In these 1764 hexes there are about 10 static encounters and a simple d7 wanderers table. If we are generous in saying only about 10% of the hexes have a chance to be realistically explored, then it’s still about a 5% hit rate for pre-programmed. I’m not a hex-crawl expert but it seems sparse with a far too small wandering table. I may be wrong here. The wandering table DOES give a nice activity, four or so, for each encounter. IE: a returning war party has four or five different things they could be engaged in. This bring the wandering table up to 30 or so entries, which IS enough to sustain play. Particularly with the social element of the ape-men emphasized the way it is. This social element, and the detail on the wandering table, is one of my favorite parts of the adventure.

Some of the ten static encounters are quite nice. Different sorts of ape-man villages, from friendly to war-like. A large decaying Dune-style sandworm. Nothing gonzo off the charts but nice solid little encounters. I particularly like the way the ape-men are portrayed. Not explicitly war-like … even the war parties. They got their own business going on. This lends an air of authenticity to them while still proving some contact opportunities in which the party can either get in to trouble with them or help them.

I’d like to call attention to something the adventure does that is important. The mechanical guards of Satrampa (that the party will likely never meet) have a weakness (or two) that the party can take advantage of. Likewise, the “evil” ape-men in the adventure have a weakness, built in. If the party is captured then they are taken for sacrifice. Not too surprising. But Bishop has built in an escape plan. Their idol reacts to the player’s presence by opening it’s mouth! Which scares the shit out of the evil ape-men villagers since they’ve never seen it before, their village being MUCH newer than the last time non-Ape men visited the statue. This is a nice way of building in an escape plan for the party. Both of these are good examples of a “neutral tone” for the adventure. (The social villagers, who don’t attack on sight, might be another good example of this) This reflects the DM as neutral judge rather than the adversarial relationship that some (most?) adventures tend to take. It’s refreshing to see.

The imagery in this is a little flat. The canyon-lands environment is not presented as … alive? as I think it could/should be, especially for being on Saturn. Otherwise, it’ a decent adventure. It’s right on the edge of something I would keep, I think. It’s got enough different elements though I think I’ll keep this one. Let’s hope part two lifts it up even more.

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DCC #84 - Peril on the Purple Planet

http://tenfootpole.org/ironspike/?p=2584

by Harley Stroh
Goodman Games
DCC RPG
Level 4

The Purple Planet: Where tribes of man-beasts wage an endless war beneath a dying sun. Where mighty death orms rule the wastes, befouled winds whistle through ancient crypts, and forests of fungi flourish in the weirdling light. Where ancient technologies offer life … or a quick death.

Bereft of patron, friend or god, your survival depends on quick wits and a strong blade. Will you and your companions stand as conquerers atop this alien land? Or will you fall beneath the blast of an ink-black death rays, just another corpse left to litter the wastes of the Purple Planet?

One of the best published adventures. Ever. It fits. You need this. Harley Stroh is surely the latest to take up the banner of a race of romantic dreamers.

This is a gonzo sandbox hex crawl under an alien sun, but it would fit in just in an underdark cavern or some such. The party ends up on the purple planet Stargate-style, trapped in a pyramid with bad air. To get home again they need to find a new powerstone to charge the gate. That’s pretty much as simple an appeal to a trope as it gets, and yet it’s done masterfully. The pyramid is simple, two rooms. It’s deadly with stale air. It’s got a withered skeleton king on a throne illuminated with the dying light of the powergem that brought the party through the gate. It’s FLAVORFUL. It put into your head the scene and your mind fills in the rest. This is EXACTLY what the encounter description is supposed to do. Not spoon feed. Not bore you with detail. Not be so generic as to be meaningless. It inspires.

Breaking out of the pyramid you encounter a huge warband/horde of bipedal humanoids charging the pyramid. Eeek! Talk about In Medias Res! Then another war band rises up out of ambush and attacks! Chaos! All Hail Discordia! They fight over banners hung from war lances! War lances which are obviously alien death ray rifles! If they see you on the pyramid they both attack! Helping one side or another can lead them to victory and you can all jointly lot the bodies of your slain foemen and take trophies and feast on strips of raw flesh roughly cut from the bodies! Wait … what? Oh man, if that opening don’t hook you then your soul is dead.

In front of you, splayed out for your viewing pleasure, is the terrain of the plateau you have arrived on. This place has EVERYTHING: Weirdling sun, mushroom forests, stinking lakes, purple mountains majesty, lights, psychos, Furbies, screaming babies in Mozart wigs, sunburned drifters with soap sud beards. By this time you’ve learned you’re REALLY not in Kansas anymore: you might have made some allies, you’ve found an alien death ray rifle, and you know you need a powergem. Let the crawl begin!

The tools you need are here. How far can you travel? How far can you see? Both of those are covered briefly but quite well. That’s the mechanics. And then there’s the flavor. What keeps a hex crawl going is things to do and places to be. Harley adds those with tables. The humanoids have a nice table that can be used to add variety. There’s a GOOD table of random encounters, brief but each with enough detail to run with it. A table for ancient relics. A table for looting ancient cairns. This is the make it or break it part. Yeah, there are fixed encounters to go see. But the adventure builds by the random shit happening in the hex you cross to get from point A to B. Each random encounter, each thing, has a little burst of flavor to drive the thing home. THAT’s a hex crawl. That’s what a lot of the Wilderlands did. That’s what a lot of the HCC encounters do. That’s NOT what Isle of Unknown did. When I talk about wanting to know ‘what are wanderers up to?’ it’s for that reason. Unchock the wheels of the cart and give it a slight shove. Where it goes is then up to the party and the DM running the thing.

You’ll be wanting an example? How about an ancient throne room, replete with massive thrones. On the walls surrounding are grizzly trophies from the battles that wage without. Atop each throne is is a massive but spindly android, without a head. At the feat is a sarcophagus, containing the head-in-a-jar of each of each of the Masters. Awakened, the androids try to reach their heads and attach them, or perhaps the heads zoom about the room firing off death ray. Each Master replete with their own personalities and goals. This stuff is GREAT.

If I have a complaint it’s that it is too short. There might be seven fixed locations. Like a greedy boy shoving turkish delight in his mouth I want more More MORE! Is it ACTUALLY too short? Almost certainly not. But it the kind of product that makes you want more. Alien artifacts to play with floating heads in jars that attach to giant android bodies. Smoke monsters. A citadel carried on the backs of slaves. (WTF?!) Giants sandworms to ride. It’s a ripped off mashed-up madhouse of Chaos and it’s wonderful in every way! Three of those locations are the resting places of powergems, one of which you need to go home. Will you brave the slave-toted smoke citadel masters, the fortress of the heads-in-jars masters, or the abyss holding the mother of all sandworms? Factions. Intrigue. Crazy giant worms to ride.

Is your soul dead? No? Then why don’t you own this?

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Review - Dragora's Dungeon
http://tenfootpole.org/ironspike/?p=2562

by Harley Stroh
Goodman Games
DCC
Level 1

Eons past the fabled sorcerer-kings of Parhok perished in a rain of eldritch fire. But legends hold that one tribe survived the apocalypse, fleeing with their slaves to a hidden city, where the greatest enchanters of all time could sleep away the centuries, and awaken in a future age as rulers of a ruined land. Now once more the forbidden spells of the Parhok threaten the good folk of the Known Realms. A kingdom lies ensorcelled, a royal family ensnared by the forgotten dweomers of a long-dead race. When the best attempts of seers and diviners have failed, it falls to the heroes to save the kingdom. Have the sorcerer-kings risen to reclaim their bejeweled thrones? Or has a more sinister power bent their ancient magics to its sinister will? Only the most courageous and cunning of heroes will emerge victorious from Dragora’s Dungeon.

This is weird. This doesn’t seem like a DCC RPG adventure. It’s written more like one of the older DCC 3.5 adventures. The cover even looks nonstandard, showing some heavy metal cheesecake instead of the usual appendix N gonzo. The back-end is stronger than the front. It’s worth skipping.

Uh, the royal family is under a sleep spell and you chase an ape-man for four days, in to a portal. It takes ou to a steaming jungle with an ape-man city. You have a fie time, ala D3 – Vault of Drow, and kill the bad guys. Uh, the HEAD bad-guys.

This is one weird adventure. And I don’t mean weird in a good way. It’s completely unlike any of the newer DCC RPG adventures and resembles something closer to the suck-fest that was the old DCC 3.5 line. It makes me wonder if DCC is taking the line in a different direction? As if Goodman suddenly said “Hey, all those awesome adventures we’ve been doing? Let’s do some suck-ass ones instead!” I mean, the departure is really strange. The number of elements it shares with the recent batch is almost zero. There’s an interesting magic item or two, and the city portion has some decent random encounters, but it’s otherwise a fairly normal adventure with none of the joie de vivre in the adventure, the locales, the descriptions, or almost anything else.

A couple of things about the beginning stand out … as bad. After the initial ‘hook’ the party has to chase a single ape-man through the countryside for four days until you get to something interesting. That seems … excessive? given the weakness of the hook. The inn you are in falls under a slumber spell, the party stops an assassin ape-man who takes off on a run, escaping, and learns from the others at the inn that the royal family is under a similar sleep spell. Which is evidentially enough to get you to chase a guy for four days?

When you finally get somewhere you face … a roadblock. At the end of the small dungeon/temple complex is a room with an altar. The altar needs a key to open a portal to take you to next location. There’s no indication of this … just if you search you see a small indentation in the altar. The key is at the VERY beginning of the dungeon complex, under some ruble that you have to explicitly search and make a non-trivial check (DC:15) to find. See?!?! It’s bizarre. It’s like Stroh has forgotten everything that makes a sucky adventure a sucky adventure. Then there’s this weird ziggurat room that has a bunch of hokey rube goldberg set-piece stuff. A net, with a globe, full of ‘dragonstings’, triggered by an imp, who’s invisible. It doesn’t make sense! Why is he doing this? When did Harley start hating freedom/beating his wife?

The descriptions are generally shitty. Green serpents. Seriously? You have ape-men and snakes and a bazillion years of fiction with leering idols and damsels in distress and all you can come up with a green coiled serpent? Uh … derp? The city of the ape-men is eventually found, and it has some Vault of Drow stuff going on. A couple of factions, some interesting ‘what do you find when you are running around/hiding’ tables. The entries are a mixture of good stuff and not so good stuff. I like Mad Wraiths who whisper insane secrets to you, shrines weeping oil that enchants weapons, and the sacrificial square with the KINGMAKER spear in the stone in the middle (I’m a sucker for the classics.) The whole section is a little light on details, and in particular how the two big baddies interact. There’s a general vibe of two factions who are loyal and one which is not, but a few details about how the rulers interact, and a few more personalities. The magic items, good though they are, don’t make up for the logistical mess in the inside. Added to this are the questionable choices about … balance. I don’t usually mention this, but there are several parts in the adventure where the party appears to be forced in to certain actions to face overwhelming odds … at first level. And then, of course, there’s the dragon the cheesecake from the cover tucked in to the last pages of the adventure.

This entire thing is just bizarre. It doesn’t seem like DCC AT ALL. It’s completely different in flavor and tone and quality. there might be a decent adventure in this, but you’re gonna have to tear AT LEAST the city part completely apart and rebuild it, adding A LOT of additional work to get it to make sense and be in a position where you can run it.

Is it worth it? Well… there’s something there in the city part, and in the overall plot. But man, I gotta think there are easier ways to get there.

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Review - DCC #80 - Intrigue at the Court of Chaos
http://tenfootpole.org/ironspike/?p=2559


by Michael Curtis
Goodman Games
DCC
Level 1

At the mercy of Chaos! Abducted by the Court of Chaos, the adventurers face hard choices if they want to return home. The Host of Chaos desires a legendary artifact held by the Scions of Law and need patsies to retrieve it. Faced with an eternity of servitude, the party must sneak into the Plane of Law and steal the Yokeless Egg from under its guardians’ watch. But not all is what it appears when the Court of Chaos is concerned and serving the Host may destroy the party from within. Can they survive the Intrigue At the Court of Chaos?

This adventure tackles some hard gameplay subjects and does so well-enough that I consider it a keeper. Intra-party conflict is hard, but it’s pulled off well here. The party treats with powerful forces; again done well-enough. It has a kind of “proving grounds” dungeon behind it … usually something I loathe but it fits in ok here. Finally. it also deals with planer adventure to the “good” locales, which it misses the mark with. It’s wordy, especially with read-aloud, and the freakishness usually present in DCC is not to the degree I’d like to see it. Then again, I don’t ANYONE has ever done a good adventure on the planes of Law.

Your level-1 party is summoned to the Courts of Chaos. They have a mission for you: grab a spark of chaos from where it’s being held on the planes of Law. After some intrigue in the Court of Chaos you go to the Planes of Law, solve a few puzzle rooms, and head back to the Courts with the fallout of deals made, or not made, earlier.

The Court of Chaos is done pretty well. The Lords of Chaos are sufficiently freaky, but the bystanders in the court could use a little more work to communicate their freaky nature. Chaos & Misshapen are generally as well as the descriptions go for the “commoners” of the Court. It was a pretty good opportunity to throw in some delegations ala Flash Gordon Ming Throne Room. After the party gets the mission described the fun begins. They have to decide if they’ll go on the mission, and get a private suite to do so in. During this time one of the Lords of Chaos appears to each party member and offers them special rewards if, when they come back, they give the egg/chaos to THEM instead of the entire Court. There’s a whole section on advice for the various Lords and how to run this. It includes the class “take each player out of the room separately” DM technique, as well as the advice that you should take the LEAST trustworthy player out and just have a talk with them; don’t offer them anything. The way the players interact with each other after they have all been out should be DELICIOUS, especially for the poor untrustworthy player. “No, really, no one offered me anything!” Thus the seeds of mistrust are sown for the rest of the adventure. This is the best kind of motivation; it motivates and manipulates the PLAYERS as well as the characters. Intra-party conflict is usually a terrible thing. It’s one of those few things that most DM’s come down HARD on. It’s taken head-on in this adventure, and I think it’s done very well. You’re just level-1, so there’s not as much investure. Further, it’s the Courts of Chaos; OF COURSE it’s going to happen. It’s in your face, and yet … the betrayal, if it comes, probably doesn’t happen till the very end. The potential betrayal is right in EVERYONES face, right at the start, not a sudden knife-turn out of nowhere with no particular motivations beyond “I’m evil.” or the dreaded worst phrase in RPGing “thats what my character would do.” As the adventure points out: everyone has the entire adventure to both fret and to prepare.

The ability of DCC to confront these tropes in fresh ways os one of the best aspects of its published adventures. At level-1 you’re treating with the Lords of Chaos. That’s not something other systems tend to take on. (Again, this is pointed out explicitly in the introduction, but I, being far wiser than your average bear, have noticed it previously.) At the end you get a boon from the Lords of Chaos. How cool is that? These are the things that make your character stand out and that make campaigns memorable.

The adventure is one of those “proving grounds” things. You do room 1, then 2, then 3. I hate those. Yes, it makes sense sometimes, and it does here as well, so I’m giving it a SLIGHT pass … but it feels so … I don’t know. Lazy & railroady are not the right words. Maybe Done to Death? Each room in the main location on the Planes of Law is a little puzzle-thing. Prove you’re a servant of Law by X, then Y, then Z. Sometimes you get to combat if you fail. This is where the wordiness of the adventure gets to you. The text in the adventure up to this point, while long, isn’t really needed during play. You get the idea of what’s going on and the tone and how to run it and you don’t really need to refer to it during play. But the “test” rooms are things you need to reference during play. The real-aloud tends to be longish and the rooms are puzzle-things, so there’s a decent amount of text. This could use some work.

They are not particularly evocative rooms either. Adventures on the planes of Law iis something that I don’t think anyone has mastered yet in an adventure. Celestial Ox, crystal humanoids, angles and blinding light. None of it is very interesting. I guess our fertile imaginations dwell much more in the nether regions while the good remains unknowable in our psyche?

It’s all generally straight-forward. The puzzle-room aspect is something I like, but I generally like it when it’s NOT an explicit puzzle-room adventure. The descriptions and so on are generally just ok. A cut-above the usually but no to the usually DCC level. The core premise though is WONDERFUL. The intrigue and the Court of Chaos start strong and the impact resonates through the erst of the adventure, touching everything. THAT’S what makes this a GREAT adventure. Treating with Chaos gods at level-1, and the fun that ensues …

Intra-party conflict may not be your thing. It’s not my thing. But this adventure is the exception to the rule.

Did I miss this? "We're with the Band. And the Band is about to undergo some changes."
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