The Diluvian Disaster

By Mike Myler
Legendary Games
level 8

Up from the Depths! Dark and disturbing dreams of the deep wash over Marriwell harbor, and the townsfolk wonder if that nightmare of a vast wave was terrifyingly real. For the heroes, something has changed as their bodies now crave the salt and the brine, with their skin slowly sloughing away to reveal gills and scales. The scummiest seaside wharves hold secrets long hidden, and a voyage into the deep must brave savage storms to reach a sunken city where maelstroms above and below the surface hide a fleshwarping tide of mutation and madness that threatens surface dwellers and merfolk alike. What strange magics are bubbling up from the ocean floor in The Diluvian Disaster?

This 32 page adventure describes a thirty room underwater dungeon. There are two encounter types: set piece monsters and room with a DC skill check or take damage. It reminds me of a 3e adventure. It is boring. 

Ok, so, an illusion tidal wave washes over the party, and the party only, and now they can breathe underwater and have to be immersed in salt water for ten minutes before they can take a long rest. Three random buildings in town have some sort of information that says there is an underwater city off the coast. I guess the party should go there? It’s the usual underwater problem: how do you keep the party alive? In this case, you turn them in to fish people and tell them they have to go underwater to stay alive. Ta da! They can now breathe water, and nary a level 1 adventuring party being gifted 2 billion go in underwater breathing magic items to be found! It’s all just a pretext, I know, I know. But when the pretext is this blatant, with so little effort behind it … whatever, I guess.

Three locations in town. A tavern, a merchant, and a sea temple outside of town. Who the fuck knows who you find your way to each of thr three. There are no real hints, or guidance, just three isolated places. Fine, ok, I can work them in, i guess, but it IS traditional to provide the DM just a few threads to hold an adventure together, even in the bullshit “investigation” portion before the combat starts.

Underwater adventure! Yeah! Except it’s not. It’s dungeon, essentially, but filled with water. No real 3d element. You face two kinds of rooms. First, monsters attack. Standard stuff. Second, make a DC check. In the most monotone voice you can manage I want you to say “The room is full of corrupted coral. Make a DC 15 Strength(Athletics) check to avoid taking 4d4 damage.” That’s about half the rooms, right there. Serious. Gee, that’s fun. Wonder. Whimsy. Exploration. Discovery. Or, just make another fucking DC check.

Speaking of … DC checks abound! For the most trivial things! Make a DC8 check to figure out you’re covered with seawater. Make a DC check to see who falls asleep first. Make a DC check to see who wakes up first. Make a DC check to see that the people don’t notice you freaking out about the tidal wave. Fucking garbage. Useless rolls. Rolling dice for the same of rolling dice. And in some cases, at the cost of horror. It would be great to add the horror-ish elements of the seawater and people not noticing the tidal wave … great horror elements there. Hope someone sees that so it can happen! Why the fuck would you hide this behind a DC check? Just make the fucking thing happen to build tension at the table!

Unlike, of course, the skeleton attack. “If the party is having an easy time so far, then 8 skeletons in this room attack,” ARRRGGGGGG!!!!!! What the fuck is the point of it all? Read-aloud in red italics, because THATS easy to read in long chunks … Read-aloud that over-shares details of the room, destroying the interactivity between player and DM that is the heart of RPG’s. A lack of section headings in places, causing text to run in to each other. Meaningless detail. Boring encounters. One room tells you that in the final room you get to roll a DC 15 check if you’ve been in this room. Why the fuck would you put that in this room and not the final room, where ts actually fucking relevent? . 

Yeah, the adventure is comprehensible. If you can make it past the red italics rea-daloud, that assumes you go counter-clockwise around the circular dungeon hallway (why would you assume that and write it that way? Was is that important?!) You can figure out what is going on. Because it’s just a boring fucking combat and then a boring fucking DC check. There is no wonder of being under the sea. There is no interactivity. I missed the Necromancer era, but is touting people from Necromancer as being involved. Is this what Necromancer was?


This is $7 at DriveThru. The preview is six pages. You get to see the ? of the tavern description on the last page, as well as all of the “make a pointless DC check” stuff for th tidal wave illusion. Useless fucking preview, showing nothing of what you’ll actuall be buying.

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8 Responses to The Diluvian Disaster

  1. ‘A five-story wave crashes over the town, ripping the air from your lungs and scouring your skin with salt. The next moment, you stand in place as you were before, coated in seawater, but the town around you is untouched.’

    That’s not a bad setup, but it shouldn’t have just affected the players. Make it something that happened to the whole town, and the players only come later, to find everything abandoned, and the entire population forced to live under the waves by the wave’s curse. I’ve been working at an old school underwater play hack for a little while, and the handwaved temporary waterbreathing grinds my gears.

    For an adventure called The Diluvian Disaster, there doesn’t seem to be much of a flood… or a disaster. Maybe that was the author being self-aware.

  2. Evard’s small tentacle says:

    I’ve always felt the necromancer modules to be overrated. The core elements were decent but way overwritten and have never been a fan of their format and wall of text.

  3. Gus L. says:

    This sounds like it’s mired in two of the basic problems of 5E – a lack of alternate character resources besides HP and an over-reliance on skill mechanics.

    Without supplies and similar classic resources/mechanics every obstacle has to drain HP to create risk by limiting character combat potency.

    Played as a tactical combat games where set-piece encounters are strung together by skill challenges and largely passive GM delivered narrative, DC check based non-combat obstacles are also functional enough. They don’t take much time so you’re not going to ‘waste’ 1/2 a session struggling with a puzzle. As anything else though, any other playstyle, 5E struggles mightily with these baked in limitations – so no dungeons for 5E.

    • Owen Edwards says:

      I think it’d be fairer to say that, though 5E nominally talks about food and light (and ammo), there are so many mechanical ways to bypass these limitations that they’re not very serious. The same problem applies to HP, of course, unless using multiple of the optional rules for it.

      High Moors, which Bryce reviewed recently, does deal with some of these “problems of assumption” by: (1) changing the main XP sources – gold=XP and there are measurable “Secrets” which you gain XP for learning; (2) giving a fairly detailed discussion about avoiding skill checks; and (3) having a setting that generally encourages real exploration and interaction. The last one is possible, in one sense, with any 5e adventure.

      It’s notable that the most serious 5e dungeon adventures – Tomb of Annihilation and Princes of the Apocalypse – bypass the wider rules issues in different ways: ToA creates a killer tomb with a variety of genuine tricks but also gimps; and PotA fragments the dungeon so that it’s all fairly bitesized, and the resource issue disappears from sight.

      (My 5e campaign is heavily houseruled on this stuff – XP largely comes from spending money on certain things, especially training, and somewhat from discovering locations. We track food, though one character Background does bypass it when on land. I require records of light if people don’t have darkvision. Healing is not automatic on a Long Rest – they have to spend Hitdice – and requires Healer’s Kits. Level up only happens in a safe place. All that makes random encounters/wandering monsters are pretty important events, and rest for healing and training is vital. It makes time an important resource again, if nothing else.)

      • Gus L. says:

        Houserules and hacks can make 5E into something where classic dungeon crawling is possible … but … as you point out, WotC doesn’t. WotC’s solutions involve creating adventures that give the outward appearance of the dungeon crawl while retaining a largely scene-based tactical combat focus. There’s also the problem of player expectations if one suddenly shifts to a play style where supply, time and exploration matter. This sets the tone and focus for most 3rd party 5E content.

  4. Stripe says:

    Antediluvian is my Baader-Meinhof phenomenon of the week . . .

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