Encephalon Gorgers on the Moon By Casey W. Christofferson Frog God Games Swords & Wizardry Levels 7-8
The Forest of Night has always been a strange place. The trees are far too tall and far too thick here. Even the bravest of hunters shy away the forest’s higher paths. Now, the folk who live upon the slopes of the mountain have complained of strange occurrences, especially around the time of the full moon. Weird shrieks have been heard in the trees. Some suspect an ancient curse centered on the mysterious ruins on Midnight Mountain. Who will investigate on behalf of the terrified locals?
This 25 page adventure details about twenty wilderness pointcrawl encounters and about ten more rooms … in Moon Domes! Good ideas abound, spoiled by an overly generic style betraying the attempt at THE FANTASTIC and the Frogs, now seemingly typical, lack of care in editing.
Hmmm, how to organize this review? The party is engaged because of fears of a plague in the local animal population. They explore a point crawl forest that leads to a moon gate, travel through a pointcrawl weird moon, and then hit some rooms in side a crystal dome, hopefully saving the earth from these weird invaders.
It’s doing a pretty good job at some of the theming. The forest section hashas some theming around cats, with Cat Lord backstory, which fits in well with the moon theme and those half-remembered tales of cats and the Dreamlands. On top of this, intellect devourers are featured, with packs of house cats hunting them, protecting the forest. Again, nicely done and it fits in well with the descriptions of the environments given and, ultimately, the “weird moon environment” that is to come. The moon is full of crystals and fungus and brain eaters, almost certainly the Frogs version of the (IP protected) Mind Flayers.
The use of the cats, intellect devourers, mind flayers, crystals, fungus … it all works together well. This is augmented by other encounters, like an evil red mist in a dome of vampires and a small child hooked up with golden wires to machines, with vat brains the like coming calling as well. As an alternative Mind Flayer vision, or a weird moon environment, the ideas here are good ones that work well together and the text tends to use of language which both emphasize each and fit them together. During the lunar transport the party feels “… a sensation like a hook snagging their guts as it rips them across the gulf …” That’s good language to convey a mood.
The Frogs, though, have an issues in their presentation. The editing is sloppy. I’m usually forgiving in this area, especially with frced language issues with our non-English speaking friends, but the Frogs issues are different. Theirs are issues of care: Random simple editing mistakes and logic flaws. In many places in the text there are just random characters hanging out. ”… figure appears. egd Another intellect devourer …”
But logical inconsistencies about. At one point the text tells that a certain farmers land is the first place the characters pass before getting to the bend in the road that leads in to the Night Forest, the first wilderness pointcrawl. Except it’s not. The map show another path in before this. A lack is mentioned as being 300×600 yards. Except the map clearly indicated it’s about 120’x350’. In fact, the scale of the map proper seems WAY off, with one pointcrawl map indicating a scale of 1 square is 50’ and the moon pointcrawl map indicating one square is 60’. Clearly noted on both maps. This, of course, makes for a laughably compressed adventuring areas. “Fields of massive semi-sentient and sentient fungi coat the craters and cliffs of the region.” … which might be 500’ in diameter. Not my definition of fields. On top of this there are hold overs in this version to other converted systems. “Make a Delicate Tasks check …” to unhook the brain child from the wires. No one caught this? Again?
And then there are more serious issues. Treasure is light. VERY light. Unless you’re playing 5e or Pathfinder, which I assume this is converted from. But the Frogs should know better, they’re an OSR company, right? Right? On top of this the entire upper half of the moon map is empty, devoid of encounters. Wasted opportunities.
Wanderer encounters are in a small bold font. But the actual monster stats for that encounter are in a LARGER bolded font AND they are “outdented” from the encounter header. Who thought this was a good idea? The first encounter is at the inn, which has a list of guests present. But the timeline is PRESENT in their entries. Thus to understand what is supposed to happen you reference the NPC descriptions. This is a mixing of “NPC” and “timeline” … again … WTF?
Some stairs connecting the moon domes can be moved. Some cannot be. This is noted in a section of offset text. But the maps here are very good … why not note it on the maps as well, in another color? Doesn’t that help the DM with the tactical situation once the mind flayers are alerted? You know … the thing the text keeps mentioning but provides little guidance on. These themes continue … one room has notes on what happens if the players are captured … but itsn’t that more appropriate for some other text section instead of burying it in a rando room description?
This is $8 on DriveThru. The preview is the first six pages of the product. It would have been better if, say, one of the moon pages were shown also. As is it’s hard to get a feel for the actual writing from the preview. Page six has the farm ‘description.’ Note the nifty idea and also the somewhat outliney description. Page four has one of those 50’ scale maps.