by Jobe Bittman
The rumors are true! The secret cave of the mystics holds a hoard of treasure vast enough to buy the kingdom seven times over. Gold coins piled as high as snow banks! Gleaming swords and jewel-encrusted wands crackling with arcane energy! Precious gems as large as your fist! The only thing standing between your present circumstances and a life of fabulous wealth is a pesky, slumbering elder god with a penchant for consuming entire worlds, an endless army of vat-grown hybrid monstrosities, a veritable tidal wave of disembodied eyes with awesome powers, giant acid worms, and a curse with the power to rip the still-living eyes from your skull. Do you have the mettle to stare down a god or will your eyes forever adorn the vault of The One Who Watches From Below?
Uh … I usually do an intro here, summarizing the adventure. Go read the publishers blurb again. It’s pretty accurate. AND AWESOME! All the more so because it’s a level-1 adventure.
What’s the line from Anna Karenina? All good DCC adventures are alike, while all bad ones are bad in their own way? Freaky-deaky monsters. Great treasure. Nice environments. Gonzo Appendix N Numberwang. Charm great enough to choke a pig 1,000 times more charming than that pig Arnold from Green Acres. The good DCC adventures are impossible to review because the reviews all sound the same. This is a good DCC adventure.
I’ve been offline for 7 months and have seen a grand total of FOUR 5e adventures. With that wealth of experience I’m going to make the baseless assertion, with confidence, that the best 5E adventures being published have the label “DCC” on them. The power levels appear to be close enough and unless you’re an idiot you can adapt on the fly. Besides, does YOUR 5e adventure have Eye slime? A two-headed cockatrice? Disembodied eyeballs floating around? Laser Harpies? No, your suck-ass 5E adventure does not have Laser Harpies? LAZZZER HARPIES! How the fuck can a “normal” 5e adventure compete with one that has laser harpies?!!?! Oh, you think they can? Did I forget to mention that the LAZER HARPIES have the faces of little girls? Suck it 5e, you got nothing on DCC.
[As an aside, at what point will Goodman/DCC run out of ideas to do with eyeballs? When will they decide that disembodied eyes have been done to death and switch things up to earlobes, or uvula’s?]
Oracle temple. Rumors of gold. Your first level party hits the place. Inside you find freaky stuff, freaky creatures, and a treasure horde the size of 20 huge ancient red dragon hordes guarded by an ancient bloodthirsty titan and a wall with 100000000000000000000 active beholder eyes. Uh …. brief interlude here. This TYPE of play-style is something I really like. You see this in some of the early LotFP adventures, like Stargazer. You also see in a couple of Greenwood adventures: A level-1 group can succeed while a level-20 group could fail. A general environment is presented, ALMOST without regard to challenge level. It’s up to the party to negotiate it. The Brave Little Tailor can succeed while the char-opts will fail. This requires the adventure to be more open ended. The maps must be more complex. A straight-line means you MUST face the challenge directly, usually by combat, and therefore the challenge rating must be appropriate. But with a complex map and an environment that is more fluid then the party has options. That’s what makes this type of “hard” adventure possible: options. Those options are also what make D&D fun. Those are the whacky character plans and the stories told forever on Bills birthday.
The monsters are great DCC monster, unique and freaky. The treasure is good DCC treasure, unique and interesting. The environments are wonderful DCC environments, full of tentacle columns, giants eyeballs, disembodies eyeballs, creatures without eyes, warped and misshapen halfling in jaw-stye robes, cutout illustrations to show the players, a decent enough map, and, of course, the curse and the main treasure vault.
The curse is a fun gimmick. Greedy folk can get cursed, causing their eyeballs to fly out of their head and their body to fall in to a coma. The player then gets to wear a face shield with eye cutouts. They get to control their eyeballs, but they can only communicate with the rest of party through te movement of their eyes. Very cute. I’m a sucker for a fun gimmick and this is a fun gimmick. There are also amble opportunities for the eyeballs to contribute to the party by exploring hard to reach places, taking over/dominating creatures, etc.
The main treasure vault is quite fun also. You come down some stairs. Below you you can see another set of stairs, and at the bottom a big room with a big old pit in the middle. Treasure is piled up around the pit. A LOT of treasure. Like the size of 20 dragons hordes worth of treasure. The closer you get to the pit the more treasure there is … PERFECT fucking setup. EVERYONE knows what is going to happen: something is going to come out of that pit. Much hilarity will inevitably ensue as the tension is ramped up to epic proportions while the party plan & plot and try to execute … all before the primordial bloodthirsty titan emerges from the pit the instant the treasure is touched. Oh, and then all of the eyes on the walls open and start shooting eyebeams at the characters. 🙂
One more shout-out: you can find large glass jars full of tiny, awake, monstrous fetuses. Drinking the fluid promotes healthy hair & nail growth. Nice! It’s the little touches, the little throw away one-liners that can add so much to an adventure.
This is available at DriveThru.
For some reason I can’t stand the layout and art -certainly including the maps- of this whacky DCC adventures, but you make this one sound intriguing enough. Well done, sir!
* these (of course) =P
Great write up! Don’t ever, ever leave us again!
By the way, this review made me buy DCC for the first time ever.