by Jason Sholtis
This is a glorified lair dungeon. But oh, what glory! At one point there is a giant snake that a big lump in it: a still alive hysterically cackling little devil laughing. And that’s what makes up most of this adventure is; a gleeful little romp.
I’ve been on a magazine adventure review kick lately. It’s mostly been a slogfest of vanilla AD&D stuff that, frankly, I could do without in my life. I know some of you like that stuff but I find it hard to tolerate. Enter Knockspell, and more specifically, the appropriately named Font of Glee. This is the kind of D&D I love and want to play. It has almost everything I could ever want in a D&D adventure.
Wizard Bob sets up shop in some passages under a great tree after being kick out of his home city. He summons some little demon minions and one day he gets sloppy and they eat him. It just so happens that he set up shop next to a natural spring that some locals use for Gleewater: an intoxicating brew that many remember wistfully. Wistfully because the little demon buggers are keeping a couple of taverns at a waystation from kegging it.
The waystation is the start of the adventure and is little more than a wide spot in the road. But what a widespot! I LOVE the way Deadwood is portrayed in the Tv series. The mud. The crowds. The frontier excitement. Everything jammed together with The Gem and the Chez Amie across from each other. That’s the sort of place that needs some PC’s mucking about, raising hell and getting in to trouble. Fear Not! The Flying Ham and the Gilded Lady, the two taverns in the adventure, stand ready to assist! Run by feuding brothers they are the central spots in the little waystation, and the only ones described, that serve as the hook. They each are full of colorful characters ready to interact with the party. Lecherous farmers, dancing girls on break, vice, outlandish foreign types, asshole knights, nice knights, a forest ape that talks, walks, and dresses like a man, a repressed chaste girls talking about her encounters with unicorns, vile wizards, sever priests, victims of the wood devils in the forst, and more. The places abound with NPC’s to interact with. There’s some text to wade through regarding the taverns but the NPC descriptions, a sentence or two, provide a wonderful assortment of people for the party to interact with. There’s just enough here for a DM to run with; flavor seeds that imply more and can used to build up a GREAT little town adventure. There is no town, but that doesn’t matter. There’s more than enough going on here to keep a part busy for at least a session if they wanted to. And, of course, the hook. At least three groups in the taverns want the Gleewater. Faction Play! I really can’t emphasize enough how great the NPC’s are. It’s kind of like People of Pembrocktonshire, toned down JUST a little, and contained in two buildings.
The trip to the font has a nice wandering table as well. The aforementioned snake NEEDS to make an appearance; it’s too good to waste. There’s also a highly irritated skink that won’t leave the path, crazed black bears smeared with blue paint, stench cabbages, whip-reeds, Briarmen, tormented Gleewater seekers, and a host of other encounters, including some nice traps. A pit filled willed with hornet nests. A deadfall trap that only an idiot would fall for. These ABSOLUTELY compliment the adventure and provide some build-up to the main encounters with the ‘Wood Devils’ that the wizard summoned.
Things start to get a little more mundane from this point. The Font proper is a bit of a let down, with just the wood devils hanging around to attack the party. The wizards lair under the tree roots, now inhabited by wood devils, continues in the mundane. For the most part it’s just some wood devils in each room. Here and there there are good things scattered about: blue dwarf slaves, distilled Gleewater that even the wood devils won’t touch, and a nice wizard-that’s-really-wood-devils-on-each-thers-shoulders encounter. Treasure is sparse. There are references to some, such as the blue dwarves gem collection, but it’s not detailed. The 200 or so mission reward is probably going to the main part of the loot. There’s a room full or research notes that is nice as well and could lead to some major loot.
There’s enough in this adventure for a DM to work with; It’s not just a vanilla crap-fest. The tavern widespot could easily be a home base, or at least a major visiting spot, for the party. Throw in some rival bands of murder-hobos on the same mission, and play up the little evil shit/wood devils and you can have a rollicking good time.
This is available on DriveThru.